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WashingTECH Tech Policy Podcast with Joe Miller

The WashingTECH Tech Policy Podcast is your resource for tech law and policy news and interviews. Each week, the WashingTECH Policy Podcast presents the latest developments across the tech policy landscape plus interviews with a diverse array of tech policy influencers.
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Jul 18, 2017

 

 Philanthropists in Silicon Valley Want Your Ideas

The provincial Silicon Valley that was loathe to step outside of Northern California is practically ancient history. An industry that once shunned Washington, D.C.'s buttoned-up bureaucrats now leads in lobbying and campaign contributions. Increasingly, philanthropists in Silicon Valley are making investments that in many ways are changing the very structure of our institutions. The New York Times is running a series on the institutional investments Silicon Valley titans are making.  For example, Netflix's Reed Hastings and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg are making investments to enhance and experiment with innovative new educational tools and models. Other tech philanthropists have long invested billions to fight more global, humanitarian problems, such as climate change and malaria. They also offer microloans to small businesses in developing nations.

The election of Donald Trump to the presidency as not caused the mass tech exodus from Washington that was initially feared. Indeed, while Big Tech and the Trump administration remain worlds apart on net neutrality, there is some common ground. Issues like cybersecurity, government efficiency, and the effect of artificial intelligence on jobs are largely bipartisan. It is now inside-the-beltway institutions that are struggling to tweak their own insular tendencies.

What should policy professionals be thinking about as they develop their outreach efforts to philanthropists in Silicon Valley? How does tech sector philanthropy work? The goal of this episodes is to help answer these questions and more as you structure your efforts.

Bio

Gina Dalma (@ginadalma) is Special Advisor to the CEO and vice president of government relations at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF). SVCF is the largest community foundation in the world, with more than $8 billion in assets under management. Gina is responsible for leading SVCF’s ongoing lobbying efforts in Sacramento and its emerging efforts in Washington, D.C.  SVCF’s California lobbying work is currently centered around education, affordable housing, immigration and economic security. In Washington, D.C., SVCF hopes to be a leading voice on topics that have the potential to advance the philanthropic sector.

Gina was pivotal in the passage of the California Mathematics Placement Act of 2015, which Gov. Brown signed into law on Oct. 5, 2015. SVCF sponsored this legislation.

She serves as a member of the California Department of Education’s STEM Taskforce Advisory Committee. She is also a member of the National Common Core Funders Steering Committee and an Advisory Board Member of the Silicon Valley Education Foundation.

Prior to her promotion to special advisor in 2015, Gina was SVCF’s director of grantmaking. In that role, she led the grantmaking team in using a diverse set of tools, including strategic investments, to solve our region’s most challenging problems. She also led SVCF’s education grantmaking strategy, as well as the Silicon Valley Common Core Initiative.

Prior to joining SVCF, Gina was director of innovation at the Silicon Valley Education Foundation. Before moving to the United States, Gina held several positions related to urban economic development and regulatory economics in the federal and state public sector in Mexico.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in economics from ITAM in Mexico City, a Master of Science in economics from the University of London and a Master of Arts in international policy studies from Stanford University.

Resources

Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF)

Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-1963 by Taylor Branch

News Roundup

FCC's Net Neutrality Initial Comment Window Closes

The FCC's initial comment period regarding its proposed rules to overturn  the Obama-era net neutrality rules closed on Monday. The comments span the gamut. Some commenters favor overturning the existing rules. Other commenters advocated for new legislation that would replace the FCC's rules. Still others advocated for upholding the existing rules entirely, without new legislation.

A couple of data points this week on net neutrality -- Civis Analytics released one showing 81% of Americans are against blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization of some sites over others. Interestingly, Civis Analytics counts Verizon Ventures and Alphabet Chair Eric Schmidt among its investors. Another poll, this one by INCOMPAS and the GOP-polling firm IMGE, showed 72% of Republican voters oppose throttling and blocking sites like Netflix.

Further, a Morning Consult released a report showing Senators who support net neutrality enjoy high approval ratings. Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey has a 55% approval rating, and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has an approval rating of 61%.

America's Cybersecurity Issues Intensify

Verizon announced that "human error" that resulted in misconfigured security settings caused the personal data of some 6 million Verizon customers to be leaked online. We're talking customer phone numbers, names, and PIN codes. Apparently, an Amazon S3 storage server's settings were set to public instead of private. Selena Larson has the full story at CNN Money.

As far as Russia is concerned--President Trump keeps equivocating. One day he says he thinks maybe Russia interfered with the election. The next day, he's publicly less sure. This is all amidst an intensifying investigation that has zeroed in on Trump's son, Donald Jr. Trump senior also met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Germany 2 weeks ago, as you know, at the G20 Summit in Hamburg.  After that meeting, Trump talked about needing to move forward with forming a cybersecurity unit with Russia. President Trump said he had questioned Putin about the hacks and that Putin had vehemently denied them. Republicans and Democrats quickly condemned the president's statements, questioning  the president's trust of Russia.

Then, 3 days later, the Trump administration moved to limit federal agencies' use of Kaspersky Labs. Kaspersky Labs is the Russia-based cybersecurity firm.  Several officials believe the Kaspersky may be a Trojan Horse the Kremlin uses to hack government data. You can find coverage in the Washington Post by Phillip Rucker, as well as Politico, by Eric Geller, and Reuters' Phil Stewart.  

Meanwhile, Joe Uchill reported in the Hill on a new poll conducted by the cyberscurity firm Carbon Black which shows 1 in 4 voters do not plan on voting due to cybersecurity concerns.

Feds Uphold NSA's Gag Orders

The gag orders the National Security Agency routinely uses when it requests identifying information from tech companies don't violate the 1st Amendment. That was the holding of a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision last week in a matter brought by Cloudflare and Credo Mobile. The companies wanted to notify customers when the National Security Agency obtained their information. The companies argued that notifying customers of such inquiries is their First Amendment right. But the Court disagreed. As long as certain civil liberties protections are in place, those gag orders that prevent companies from notifying customers that the NSA is investigating them are Constitutional. Joe Uchill has the story in the Hill.

New Documents Suggest Backpage.com Facilitated Sex Advertising/Trafficking

New evidence suggests Backpage.com did know alleged prostitution was going on on its website and that it indeed allegedly helped facilitate it,. Johnathan O'Connell and Tom Jackman report for the Washington Post. Documents show Backpage apparently did things like troll its competitors' websites for sex ads. After finding sex ad buyers, Backpage allegedly had staffers and contractors contact those buyers and offer them free advertising . 

A 16-year-old girl the FBI says was being trafficked on the site was found dead in a Chicago-area garage on Christmas eve. Again, you can find long form coverage in the Washington Post.

To report sex trafficking happening anywhere--you can contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888. That's 1-888-373-7888. You can also text HELP or INFO to 233733. That's 233733. And those coordinates are available 24 hours a day 7 days per week.

DraftKings/Fanduel Merger a No-Go

DraftKings and FanDuel--the two leading fantasy sports sites--have dropped merger talks. The Federal Trade Commission was blocking the merger after finding the merged company would have controlled between 80 and 90% of the fantasy sports market. Ali Breland reports in the Hill.

Musk: AI is "Biggest risk we face as a civilization"

At a meeting of the National Governor's Association last week, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said Artificial Intelligence is "the biggest risk we face as a civilization". He called for more effective regulations. The Economist also published a report that shows China and the U.S. in head-to-head competition for dominance in the Artificial Intelligence market.  The article suggests China may account for up to half of the world's Artificial Intelligence-attributable GDP growth by 2030. By 2030, AI is expected to comprise some $16 trillion of total global GDP.

Racist Airbnb host to pay Asian customer $5,000

Finally, Tami Barker, the Airbnb host who denied a UCLA law student her reservation because she is Asian will have to pay $5,000 in damages to the student, Dyne Suh, and take an Asian American studies course. "It's why we have Trump", is what Barker wrote to Suh via the Airbnb app. "I will not allow this country to be told what to do by foreigners," she said.

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