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05/03/2016

Key Issues

Encryption

Brazil judge orders WhatsApp blocked, affecting 100 million users. A Brazilian judge ordered wireless phone carriers to block access to Facebook Inc's (FB.O) WhatsApp for 72 hours throughout Latin America's largest country on Monday, the second such move against the popular messaging application in five months. (Reuters)

Brazilian Judge Puts Temporary Ban on WhatsApp. A Brazilian judge issued a 72-hour ban on Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp throughout Brazil on Monday, the latest in a series of clashes between the technology giant and the Brazilian government. (Wall Street Journal)

Judge Seeking Data Shuts Down WhatsApp in Brazil. WhatsApp, a messaging service owned by Facebook, was shut down in Brazil on Monday after a court order from a judge who is seeking user data from the service for a criminal investigation. (New York Times)

Global Trade

U.S., EU far apart on food safety, leaked TTIP text shows. The United States and European Union appear to have disagreed on almost everything to do with food safety or animal welfare by the date reflected in the negotiating texts Greenpeace leaked Monday. (Politico Pro)

Broadband/Communications

Congressmen think FCC’s set-top box plan is just like “Popcorn Time”. The Federal Communications Commission proposal to boost competition in the cable TV set-top box market is facing opposition from some members of Congress who claim the plan will lead to copyright violations. (Ars Technica)

California Department of Technology to Extend Fiber to City of Sacramento. The Department of Technology in April agreed to extend the department's fiber ring to the city of Sacramento in an arrangement that the department says will save the city and the state money over the long term. (Government Technology)

FCC box plan raises alarms among House Judiciary leaders. The top Republican and Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee are worried that a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposal to open up the market for the set-top boxes that consumers use to watch television could lead to "an expansion" in the distribution of pirated content. (The Hill)

Cybersecurity

Technology trade groups urge world leaders to enhance cybersecurity. The Information Technology Industry Council, Digital Europe, and JEITA, three global technology trade groups, on Friday announced what they described as a “successful engagement” with G7 government policymakers on cybersecurity and tech policy issues. (ITI Quoted, Inside Cybersecurity)

Samsung Smart Home flaws let hackers make keys to front door. Computer scientists have discovered vulnerabilities in Samsung's Smart Home automation system that allowed them to carry out a host of remote attacks, including digitally picking connected door locks from anywhere in the world. (Ars Technica)

Drive for more information sharing approaches critical juncture. Information sharing is at the core of cybersecurity strategies for both government and industry, but the multiple efforts on sharing threat indicators are also raising questions about how these programs are intended to work together, including the regulatory and legal liabilities of sharing through numerous networks. (Inside Cybersecurity)

Class-action suit against Wendy's could be next cybersecurity bellwether. A lawsuit filed last week against Wendy's restaurants for a massive data breach of customers' credit card information could be the next major legal showdown to watch in establishing the role of federal regulators on cybersecurity. (Inside Cybersecurity)

This Innovative West African Lab Is Turning E-Waste into 3D Printers and Robots. Growing up in the remote, arid terrains of Dapaong in northern Togo, Lalle Nadjagou was always fascinated by technology and design. (Motherboard)

House bill would require DHS report on threat to seaports. The House Intelligence Committee’s annual spy policy bill — approved by the committee on Friday — would order the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to submit a report to Congress on the threat of cyberattacks on U.S. seaports. (The Hill)

Privacy

Google and Microsoft have made a pact to protect surveillance capitalism. Microsoft and Google, two of the world’s greatest monopolies, have been bitter rivals for nearly 20 years. But suddenly, in late April, they announced a startling accord. (The Guardian)

Privacy activist launches EU-wide challenge to ‘ad blocker blockers’. Publishers who use “ad blocker blockers” face a range of legal challenges across the EU in the latest fight over the increasingly popular but controversial technology. (Financial Times)

Secret US spy court approved every surveillance request in 2015. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the one that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed is allowing the government to obtain the metadata of every phone call to and from the United States, approved every surveillance request from US authorities in 2015. (Ars Technica)

A judge has partially dismissed Twitter's surveillance case against the government. A California court has dismissed part of a lawsuit brought by Twitter that challenges U.S. government restrictions on what it can say about surveillance requests on its users. (PC World)

Twitter suit over surveillance stats battered, but not dead. A federal judge delivered a blow Monday to Twitter's drive to release more details on surveillance orders it receives, but the tech firm won a chance to try to reformulate its case. (Politico)

Judge orders woman to unlock iPhone using her fingerprint. Just weeks before the government announced it will no longer pursue its bid to force Apple to unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino, Calif., shooters, federal officials in Los Angeles compelled the girlfriend of an alleged Armenian gang member to unlock her own phone using her fingerprint. (The Hill)

Patent

Nvidia settles feud with Samsung over graphics patents. Graphics chip maker Nvidia Corp announced a settlement of a patent dispute with Samsung Electronics Co Ltd on Monday, hours before a U.S. trade agency was due to rule on a complaint that could have blocked importation of some of Nvidia's products. (Reuters)

Samsung and Nvidia make peace by ending their patent lawsuits. Nvidia and Samsung have avoided a potentially ugly court battle with a settlement that ends all outstanding intellectual property litigation between the two companies. (PC World)

Public Sector

Contracting groups challenge DoD’s ‘flawed’ plans for $17.5B contract. Two federal contractor associations are challenging the rationale behind the Defense Department’s plans for a multi-billion dollar procurement. (Federal News Radio)

Report: CBP lacks 'clear authority' to collect SSNs for system access. An IT system used by the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection agency to collect Social Security numbers of employees and contractors is operating without "clear legal authority," according to an agency privacy assessment. (FCW)

Agencies unveil plan to encourage development of smart gun technology. The departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice released a report on April 29 outlining a strategy for promoting smart gun technology to reduce gun violence. (FCW)

Techies make the 'Sammies' finals. The Partnership for Public Service announced the 32 finalists for its annual Samuel J. Heyman Service to America awards (the "Sammies") on May 2, and more than a few tech-literate feds are in the running. (FCW)

New Labor Department employment portal targets veterans. The Department of Labor is launching a new web resource for veterans seeking jobs. (FCW)

TSP shows signs of stability, but no new success stories. The Thrift Savings Plan posted across-the-board positive numbers for the second consecutive month in April, a period of calm that stood out against the retirement fund’s dismal start to 2016. (Federal News Radio)

VA names new deputy chief of staff. Two senior officials who oversee issues of personnel and accountability at the Veterans Affairs Department are taking on new jobs within the VA. (Federal News Radio)

OPM proposes to ‘Ban the Box’ for most federal hiring. Reentry Week is over, but the real work to ease Americans’ transitions from incarceration back into society is just beginning. Amidst a flurry of federal activity around this issue, the Office of Personnel Management published a proposed rule that would “ban the box” on most federal job applications. (Federal News Radio)

DoD is setting up the third offset for the next president. One of the biggest buzzwords in the Defense Department since Ash Carter took office has been the third offset strategy, but despite all the hype many wonder if the strategy will translate into the next presidential administration. (Federal News Radio)

A transitional approach for the 2018 budget request. Agencies are off the hook to submit a formal budget to the Office of Management and Budget by September. They also will be relieved of having to go through an OMB Director’s review or await the news from the annual passback memo. (Federal News Radio)

SBA aiming above lowest common denominator. How is federal contracting like a coffee shop? Ask Helen Russell, co-founder and CEO of Equator Coffees & Teas, and she’ll tell you success in both lines of work comes down to knowledge. (Federal News Radio)

DARPA director cautions on AI's limitations. The Pentagon's blue-sky research agency is heavily invested in driving the future of artificial intelligence and machine learning but knows the technology isn't without limitations, its director said Monday. (FedScoop)

FirstNet board: ‘We need federal participation’. FirstNet, a $7 billion government initiative to construct a nationwide broadband network for first responders, is on track to be financially self-sufficient by 2022 — so long as it can effectively coax federal agencies into embracing the program. (FedScoop)

Evolving for Agility: 6 Areas for CIOs to Address. In the digital world, challenges and opportunities emerge ever-more rapidly. (Government Technology)

Environment/Sustainability

Researchers Aim to Put Carbon Dioxide Back to Work. Think, for a moment, of carbon dioxide as garbage, a waste product from burning fossil fuels. Like other garbage, almost all of that CO2 is thrown away — into the atmosphere, where it contributes to climate change. A small amount is captured and stored underground to keep it out of the air. (New York Times)

Are fuel cells worth the investment?. In mid-April, giant electrical component supplier Legrand flipped the "on" switch for a 500-kilowatt Bloom fuel cell at its manufacturing facility and North American headquarters site in West Harford, Connecticut. (GreenBiz)

Community solar: An unlikely utility savior?. It’s no mystery that utility animosity for rooftop solar is as deeply entrenched as the animosity consumers often have toward their utilities. (GreenBiz)

Community solar: An unlikely utility savior?. It’s no mystery that utility animosity for rooftop solar is as deeply entrenched as the animosity consumers often have toward their utilities. (GreenBiz)

Maritime industry refuses to change emissions course. Two weeks ago, the eyes of the world were on the U.N. headquarters in New York, watching 175 national governments step up to the stage and in (relatively) quick succession formally commit their countries to the most wide-ranging and ambitious climate deal in history. (GreenBiz)

Can superfoods boost the planet’s health, too?. It can seem like new health food fads pop up every week — fads that often fade as quickly as they appear. Two gaining steam lately, though, may be worth a longer look: baobab and moringa. (GreenBiz)

Protecting the environment is critical for a stronger America. It's budget time again, and the House Republicans have released a new plan: "A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America." (The Hill)

Tech Business

Tim Cook on China: 'I could not be more optimistic'. In his first public appearance since Apple announced its first quarter sales drop in 13 years, company CEO Tim Cook on Monday said reports and speculation of its slow fade are a "huge overreaction." (USA Today)

Fitbit Strives to Escape the Shadow of Apple. Earlier this year, Fitbit invited guests to a Las Vegas hotel to witness something that it promised would “ignite the world of health and fitness.” (New York Times)

Russian creator of malware ordered to pay $6.9 million. A Russian man who spent about three years behind bars in the United States for creating the computer malware known as Gozi was ordered on Monday to pay $6.9 million to cover losses to bank customers but spared further U.S. prison time. (Reuters)

Warren Buffett says more likely to buy IBM shares than sell: CNBC. Warren Buffett, chairman and chief executive of conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, said Monday he would be more likely to buy than sell IBM shares over the next two years, and that he did not seek to profit from global central bank actions. (Reuters)

SoundCloud extends paid-for music streaming service to UK, Ireland. German online music start-up SoundCloud said on Tuesday it has expanded its new subscription service SoundCloud Go to the United Kingdom and Ireland, weeks after launching in the United States as it chases competitors such as Apple and Spotify. (Reuters)

U.S. Stocks Regain Ground After Last Week’s Tech Selloff. U.S. stocks posted their biggest one-day advance in more than two weeks, putting the Dow industrials and S&P 500 within 2.3% of their records. (Wall Street Journal)

Tencent backs down in mobile payments war with Alibaba. Chinese online gaming and social networking group Tencent has pulled back from a high-stakes battle with ecommerce company Alibaba for control of China’s mobile payments market, after spending billions of renminbi on subsidies to attract users. (Financial Times)

Dell plus EMC has a name: Dell Technologies. Dell’s planned US$67 billion acquisition of EMC will create a broad collection of businesses called Dell Technologies. (PC World)

'Burning Man for the 1%': the desert party for the tech elite, with Eric Schmidt in a top hat. A red Ferrari with the top down swerved past on the winding dirt road, heading to what looked like a small Mars encampment. (The Guardian)

Uber Is Texting Customers Asking For Their Support At The Polls. In advance of a public vote this Saturday, Uber is texting customers at their personal phone numbers to encourage them to vote for a pro–ride hail proposition in Austin. (Buzzfeed)

Banks, tech companies move on from bitcoin to blockchain. As a debate raged across the internet Monday over whether the mysterious founder of the bitcoin digital currency had finally been identified, executives at a major bitcoin conference in New York had a simple message: we've moved on. (Reuters)

Salesforce’s Marc Benioff Has Kicked Off New Era of Corporate Social Activism. When North Carolina passed its law in March restricting certain gay rights, Marc Benioff was ready with his rapid-deployment response. (Wall Street Journal)

ITI Member News

Left Behind In The Mobile Revolution, Intel Struggles To Innovate. Intel was once known for its success in branding personal computers with microprocessors, a technology that fueled the digital revolution. (NPR)

Twitter lawsuit partly dismissed over U.S. information requests. A U.S. judge on Monday partly dismissed a lawsuit filed by Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) in which the social media company argued it should be allowed to publicly disclose more details about requests for information it receives from the U.S. government. (Reuters)

Amazon bolsters voice based-platform Alexa with investment in TrackR. Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) is investing between $250,000 and $500,000 in Bluetooth technology company TrackR to extend the reach of its Alexa virtual assistant, according to a source familiar with the matter. (Reuters)

Amazon didn’t get the NFL deal, but it’s getting more serious about sports. Heads up, ESPN: Amazon wants to get into sports on the web. (Recode)

Oracle to buy utility software maker Opower. Oracle Corp (ORCL.N) will buy Opower Inc (OPWR.N), a maker of software for utilities, for about $548 million in cash. (Reuters)

Oracle to Buy Utilities-Software Maker Opower for $532 Million. Oracle Corp. said it agreed to acquire utilities cloud-services provider Opower Inc., expanding the database giant’s portfolio of cloud software for the utilities industry. (Wall Street Journal)

1600 Penn.

Today, in the morning, the President and Vice President will receive the Presidential Daily Briefing in the Oval Office. In the afternoon, the President will meet with Secretary of State Kerry; the Vice President will also attend. Later in the afternoon, the President will honor the 2016 National Teacher of the Year and finalists at the White House, thanking them for their hard work and dedication each and every day in the classroom. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. will also attend.

Today on the Hill

Today, the House is not in session.

Today, the Senate is not in session.