ITI Daily News Roundup

11/26/2014

Key Issues

Workforce

Diversity: A bridge for the D.C.—Silicon Valley 'disconnect?' (Op-ED by ITI’s Dean Garfield). ITI will follow the example of several of our companies and publicly release our own workforce data. We do so with the hope that it will motivate other organizations to look at their own data and query what they can do to improve, and as well to inspire a constructive conversation on building a more inclusive workforce and economy. It’s time to spark action – and not just in Silicon Valley – but in Washington and beyond on how we can all achieve a workforce that is truly inclusive. (The Hill)

Tech’s Gender Gap Wasn’t Always So Bad. Here’s How It Got Worse. A new documentary film called CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap, which explores the glaring lack of American female and minority computer science engineers, as well as the many reasons behind this shortage.  (Wired)

Tax

Veto threat derails tax deal. The White House on Tuesday threatened to veto an emerging deal that would restore several lapsed tax breaks for good. Negotiators had hoped to wrap up the deal, hashed out largely by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), as soon as Tuesday. But the White House veto threat upended those talks, underscoring that both President Obama and House Democrats had some problems with the agreement that Reid was negotiating. One Capitol Hill aide said Tuesday that a deal was no longer closer at hand. (The Hill)

The 'mom and apple pie' corporate tax break. It’s the corporate tax break neither Republicans nor Democrats will slander. Lawmakers in both parties are lining up to back making a pricey corporate research tax break permanent as a starting point to renew a package of expired tax breaks. (PoliticoPro)

Small business owners push for online sales tax bill. Small business owners called out congressional Republicans on Tuesday for failing to back a proposal that would give states more power to collect sales taxes on online purchases, a key priority for many retailers.  (The Hill)

Global Trade

United States says EU's Google case should not be politicized. The United States voiced concern on Tuesday over a draft plan by two EU lawmakers to break up Google Inc , saying politicians should not influence the EU's antitrust inquiry into the world's most popular Internet search engine. The U.S. Mission to the European Union said in an email it "noted with concern" the call for competition regulators to consider splitting search engines from other Internet services. (Reuters)

US lawmakers protest European plan to break up Google. More than a dozen members of Congress are outraged at a plan in Europe that threatens to split up Google. Key lawmakers sent multiple letters Tuesday to members of the European Parliament expressing “great concern” at the nonbinding plan to force Google to break off its search engine services from the rest of the company. (The Hill)

At China online coming-out party, Beijing spells out Internet control ambition. China showed governments and the planet's biggest tech firms last week its vision for global Internet governance - clean, controlled and choreographed. Many attendants saw China hosting the summit as a step forward, and yet, the controlled environment of the summit reinforced industry concerns that Beijing's lip service to a "free and open" Internet rings hollow, with the government's iron grip on the online industry intact. (Reuters)

Australian Official Eyes Mid-2015 To Compile EGA Product List; Outlines Hurdles. An Australian trade official last week said countries participating in the negotiations for a plurilateral agreement to eliminate tariffs on environmental goods are hoping to compile a complete list of products that could be subject to tariff cuts by mid-2015 at the latest, although he identified several challenges that members could face in the negotiations. (Inside Trade)

Swiss referendums challenge nation’s business-friendly image. Few nations have been more sympathetic to business than Switzerland. But on Sunday, the Swiss public will vote on a trio of popular initiatives, concerning gold, immigration and taxes, that are setting corporate leaders on edge and raising questions about whether the Alpine nation’s longstanding affection for business may be waning. (Financial Times)

Tech Business

Apple becomes the first $700 billion company. Apple stock mania got an emphatic exclamation point Tuesday when the company’s market value exceeded $700 billion — the first time that a company has ever topped that level. (USA Today)

U.S. economy grew at 3.9% pace in Q3. The U.S. economy grew more rapidly than initially believed in the third quarter, as solid consumer and business spending more than offset lower estimates for exports. (USA Today)

Will the New Congress Pass a Tech Agenda? Orrin Hatch Says Yes. The head of the GOP High Tech Task Force wants bills on patent trolls, email protection and high-skilled immigration. But no action on net neutrality or the NSA. (Backchannel)

Consumer Confidence in U.S. Unexpectedly Dropped in November. Consumer confidence unexpectedly declined in November to a five-month low as Americans became less upbeat about the economy and labor market. (Bloomberg)

Venture Money Pours into Robotics Startups. Robots are creating work for at least one kind of human: venture capitalists. They poured $172 million into robotics startups last year, according to an annual survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP—nearly triple the $60 million two years earlier. Travis Deyle, a robotics blogger who keeps his own yearly tally, pegs it even higher—at least $250 million in 2013. (Wall Street Journal)

The Next Big Thing You Missed: Tech Superstars Build ‘Startup Factories’. The startup world is driven by a familiar formula: you get an idea, you build a product based on your idea, you start a business to sell your product, your business succeeds—or, more likely, it fails—and you start all over again, looking for a new idea. Lately, however, a new formula has begun to take hold, one that challenges the very idea of how a business should be built. (Wired)

Pandora sinks off downgraded rating. A down analyst rating is fueling a slide in stock price for Pandora. Shares of the streaming music service plunged 4.5% in pre-market trading after FBR Capital Markets downgraded the company's stock to sell. Last quarter, Pandora's revenue and earnings beat forecasts, but listener hours fell short of estimates. (USA Today)

How Silicon Valley Created America's Largest Homeless Camp-Welcome to "The Jungle." The current tech boom has made Silicon Valley one of the wealthiest and fastest-growing regions of the country. That has created one of the country's most expensive rental markets, pushing low-wage workers out of Santa Clara County or onto the streets. (National Journal)

Net Neutrality

Digital tsar urges Europe not to weaken net neutrality rules. The European Union's new digital tsar voiced alarm on Monday at the efforts of some EU governments to water down equal Internet access, just as EU plans for "net neutrality" were being echoed in the United States by Barack Obama. (Reuters)

Italian EU Presidency Puts Net Neutrality On Hold. The debate over net neutrality  – the concept that all Internet traffic should be treated equally –is heating up on both sides of the Atlantic. Now, an initiative from the Italian government –occupying the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union — could substantially weaken proposed rules that would uphold net neutrality in Europe, according to a document seen by Real Time Brussels. (Wall Street Journal)

Wikipedia’s ‘complicated’ relationship with net neutrality. The Internet's biggest encyclopedia is a lot like other major sites on the Web: It's been a little hesitant to weigh in on net neutrality, the idea that all Web traffic should be treated equally by Internet service providers such as Comcast or Time Warner Cable. That's because the folks behind Wikipedia actually see a non-neutral Internet as one way to spread information cheaply to users in developing countries.  (Washington Post)

Privacy

What we know about 'Regin,' the powerful malware that could be the work of NSA. For many years, a sophisticated and unprecedented cyberespionage campaign known as "Regin" has been targeting hundreds of computers and networks in dozens of countries around the world. Yet its existence has only been unearthed in the last couple of days. According to several security researchers who have been investigating it and published reports on Sunday and Monday, this is the sophisticated work of hackers who dabble as government agents. (Mashable)

Case Suggests How Government May Get Around Phone Encryption. The Justice Department is turning to a 225-year-old law to tackle a very modern problem: password-protected cellphones. Prosecutors last month persuaded a federal magistrate in Manhattan to order an unnamed phone maker to provide “reasonable technical assistance” to unlock a password-protected phone that could contain evidence in a credit-card-fraud case (Wall Street Journal)

NSA Files Decoded: The Extended Interviews.  The Guardian releases extended NSA interviews. The video interviews were shot last fall, but only small segments were previously available. Watch Sen. Ron Wyden, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, former NSA general counsel Stewart Baker, and privacy advocates like Amie Stepanovich of Access discuss government surveillance. (The Guardian)

Uber and a Fraught New Era for Tech - Consumer-Privacy Troubles Are Likely to Transform Silicon Valley. Tech has always been a cage fight among the companies involved. The emphasis of early tech companies was on being an enabling force, on improving life first and perhaps changing the world in the process. The emphasis of the tech companies being built now is much more zero-sum. (Wall Street Journal)

U.K. Faults Unnamed U.S. Tech Firm In Soldier’s Slaying. The U.K. government on Tuesday said U.S. and Canadian tech companies should be monitoring their users for signs of terrorism, specifically targeting one unnamed U.S. company for failing to help thwart a terrorist attack that left a British soldier dead. The criticism was leveled alongside a 200-page report reviewing U.K. intelligence agencies’ actions before the May 2013 murder of British soldier Lee Rigby. The report comes as the U.K. government pushes anti-terrorism laws that include giving police more ability to track Internet users. (Wall Street Journal)

What Is End-to-End Encryption? Plenty of companies brag that their communications app is encrypted. But that marketing claim demands a followup question: Who has the key? (Wired)

Cybersecurity

Sony Pictures hackers say they want 'equality,' worked with staff to break in. The hackers who took down Sony Pictures' computer systems yesterday say that they are working for "equality" and suggest that their attack was assisted or carried out by Sony employees. The hackers' goals remain unclear, but they used the attack yesterday to specifically call out Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, referring to him as a "criminal" in a tweet. (The Verge)

Cybersecurity for the holidays: A non-stop job. The holiday sales season and the online crush that accompanies it might seem a natural field day for hackers looking to attack the small and midsize retailers who depend on these sales to bump them into the black. Surprisingly, it's not. (USA Today)

Home Depot faces dozens of breach-related lawsuits. Home Depot says it faces at least 44 lawsuits in the United States and Canada over a data breach earlier this year that affected 56 million debit and credit cards. The nation's biggest home improvement retailer said Tuesday in a regulatory filing that several state and federal agencies also are looking into the data breach and it may face more litigation from customers, banks, shareholders and others. (Los Angeles Times)

New approaches on cybersecurity could be on the table in 2015. Congress may have plenty of cybersecurity leftovers to pick through in 2015, but the new year also could bring a few new entrees to the cyber policy debate. Several "big ideas" and departures from the usual debates were floated over the past year -- and could get fresh consideration in a new Congress featuring new chairmen and players on cybersecurity policy. (Inside Cybersecurity)

Analyst: Federal cybersecurity marketing campaign lacks broader context. The federal marketing campaign urging industry to improve defenses against hackers lacks a broad framework for managing such risks, according to Jack Whitsitt, a cybersecurity analyst with the non-profit Energy Sector Security Consortium. (Inside Cybersecurity)

After inaugural cyber meeting, Patent Office plans roundtable, follow-up discussion. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is planning continued dialogue on ways to encourage development of new cybersecurity technologies, after holding an inaugural cybersecurity meeting in California on Nov. 14, a PTO spokesman told Inside Cybersecurity. (Inside Cybersecurity)

Insurance regulators form panel, take no position on repository idea. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has formed a cybersecurity task force but has not taken a position on a federal report that urges the development of a new repository of anonymized cyber incident data. (Inside Cybersecurity)

IP Enforcement

Leahy pressures Visa, MasterCard to ban piracy sites. A top Senate Democrat wants Visa and MasterCard to block payments to sites that spread illegal movies, TV shows and other files on the Internet. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is sending letters to executives at the two credit card companies on Tuesday asking them to write new policies banning sites that host stolen content online. (The Hill)

Environment and Sustainability

‘The most expensive regulation ever’ - Obama ready to roll out major EPA rule. The Obama administration will issue a draft air pollution rule on Wednesday that business groups charge would be the costliest regulation of all time — setting up a test of how hard the president will fight for his environmental agenda against a newly strengthened GOP to limit smog-creating ozone pollution from power plants and factories. (Politico)

Supreme Court to review EPA mercury emission rules. Federal limits on mercury emissions from power plants, nearly 15 years in the making, will be reconsidered by the Supreme Court. The justices on Tuesday agreed to hear complaints from states and industry groups that regulations first imposed in 2000 on coal-and oil-fired utilities are too expansive and expensive.(USA Today)

Leaked: The Oil Lobby's Conspiracy to Kill Off California's Climate Law.  They say, it’s not paranoia if they really are out to delay, rewrite, or kill off a meaningful effort to reduce the build-up of carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere. A Powerpoint (MSFT) deck now being circulated by climate activists—a copy of which was sent to Bloomberg Businessweek—suggests that there is a conspiracy. Or, if you prefer, a highly coordinated, multistate coalition that does not want California to succeed at moving off fossil fuels because that might set a nasty precedent for everyone else. (Bloomberg)

Nestle Is Using Chocolate to Power a Factory. Nestle is giving Willy Wonka a run for his money. The confectionery giant has started using chocolate to gin up electricity at a factory that manufactures Rolo's candy in the United Kingdom. (National Journal)

Public Sector

OMB to seed digital services team across the government. Digital services teams will begin sprouting up across the government over the next year. The Office of Management and Budget plans to expand the number of teams of technology experts to work on troubled or high-profile projects. (Federal News Radio)

What feds need to know about Regin malware. Cybersecurity professionals should be paying close attention to Web browsing and email services in the wake of a highly sophisticated malware application being compared to some of the most elaborate threats in recent memory. FedScoop)

NRC struggles with continuous monitoring, recurring security weaknesses. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is failing to perform required continuous monitoring measures and update other security weaknesses it’s known about for years, a new report from NRC’s Office of the Inspector General found though it continues to improve its IT system security and apply recommendations from prior Federal Information Security Management Act-based evaluations. (FedScoop)

Bobbie Stempfley explains DHS’ new network scanning authority. Bobbie Stempfley, deputy assistant secretary for cybersecurity and emergency communications at the Department of Homeland Security, joins FedScoop TV at FedTalks 2014 to discuss her agency’s new authority to scan agency networks for cybersecurity vulnerabilities. (FedScoop)

Glitch takes down DOD’s open source IT collaboration environment. The Defense Information Systems Agency announced today that a technical glitch forced all of its Forge.mil collaboration and project management sites offline since Sunday, and the agency cannot “reliably predict” when the systems might be back online. (FedScoop)

Innovation

Global online population hits 3 billion: ITU. The world's online population has edged over more than 3 billion people, according to the United Nations' International Telecommunications Union (ITU), with internet usage globally growing at 6.6 percent in 2014. (ZDNet)

Three-quarters of Americans don’t know this basic fact about the Internet. We spend most of our lives either online, or at least within arm's reach of something that can get us online. But how much do we really understand the Web and how it works? A study from the Pew Center for Internet and American Life released Tuesday decided to try to determine the average "Web IQ." (Washington Post)

Why Virtual Reality Is Happening Now. Since the Oculus Rift first made waves with its successful Kickstarter, there’s been a consistent line of criticism based in the notion, “why would it work this time?” It’s a fair question — you can go back decades and see myriad failed attempts to build virtual reality gear for the masses. That perspective misses one of the most important (and, almost always, obvious in hindsight) factors in tech: the actual technology that makes up a product. (Tech Crunch)

The spoon that could make Thanksgiving more enjoyable for those suffering from tremors. Many of us take for granted how easy it is to eat with a spoon or fork. But it’s a luxury not everyone has. Eating can be an uncomfortable and difficult chore for those with essential tremors and Parkinson’s Disease. In September Google acquired Lift Labs, which makes spoons that stabilize themselves and plans to make attachments for a fork and knife too. (Washington Post)

How the World’s First Computer Was Rescued From the Scrap Heap. Eccentric billionaires are tough to impress, so their minions must always think big when handed vague assignments. Ross Perot’s staffers did just that in 2006, when their boss declared that he wanted to decorate his Plano, Texas, headquarters with relics from computing history. (Wired)

4 ways we’re reinventing Thanksgiving online, as told through hashtags. We’ve come a long way from Norman Rockwell’s highly stylized 1943 painting of the classic American Thanksgiving. Quite simply, we’re steadily reinventing Thanksgiving for the way we spend our digital lives — and each new interpretation of Thanksgiving comes with its own set of hashtags. (Washington Post)

Mobility

FCC says T-Mobile can’t hide throttled data speeds. When T-Mobile US customers exceed their monthly data caps, they aren't cut off from the Internet entirely. Instead, T-Mobile throttles their connections to 128Kbps or 64Kbps, depending on which plan they have, for the rest of the month—except when you run a speed test. (Ars Technica)

Are smartphones the right gift for West Africa’s Ebola fight? Technology giants including Google, Amazon and Ericsson and techie charities such as the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation have donated thousands of smartphones for use across the region, where better communication is key to stopping the epidemic. But some tech experts with long experience in Africa say the phones could end up overwhelming fragile digital networks and electrical grids and actually complicate the effort.(PoliticoPro)

What Twitter Can Tell Us About Ebola.  The Ebola virus is spreading and mutating, and so is the chatter about it on social media. Luminoso, an MIT Media Lab spinoff that helps companies monitor consumer sentiment, has been tracking tweets about Ebola. Luminoso’s software reveals trends –- some worrisome –- that show how online conversations may be shaping public opinion. (Wall Street Journal)

Ferguson prosector slams “non-stop” social media while calling for increased attention to race. St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch delivered a sometimes combative 25-minute address Monday night to announce a grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson, M.o, police officer Darren Wilson for the Aug. 9 shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown. During the announcement, McCulloch focused particular attention on the role of social media in covering the story, which he blamed for misleading the public and making the investigation of Brown's death fraught from the start. (Washington Post)

ITI Member News

Facebook video draws Thanksgiving ads from Macy's, others.  Macy's Inc, which traditionally kicks off the U.S. holiday shopping season with a nationally televised parade in Manhattan, also will join a handful of other companies this year parading their ads on Facebook's fledgling video feeds. As the social media platform slowly rolls out its premium video offerings to advertisers, Macy's will launch its online video ads Thursday evening. (Reuters)

Samsung Takes Eye-Scrolling Technology to Disabled Community. Samsung Electronics said Tuesday it has developed a next-generation mouse that can help people with disabilities type, scroll and navigate the Internet without the use of hands. The project, called EYECAN+, uses a sensor mounted below a computer monitor to read a user’s eye movements, with a blink of the eye used to register a click of the mouse to either copy, paste, select all, zoom in or activate another of 18 basic computer functions. (Wall Street Journal)

1600 Penn.

In the morning, the President will receive the Presidential Daily Briefing in the Oval Office. In the afternoon the President will pardon the National Thanksgiving Turkey in a ceremony on the North Portico, reflect upon the time-honored traditions of Thanksgiving, and wish American families a safe and healthy holiday. Later in the afternoon, the First Family will participate in a service event in the Washington, DC area.

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