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Tech News Roundup

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Key Issues

Cybersecurity & Privacy

U.S. Ups Ante for Spying on Firms.  Corporate officials at the conference welcomed the move as a start. Dean Garfield, CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council, an industry group, called the administration's new strategy "a catalyst for action," adding, "we can do a lot more." (WSJ)

Trade Secret Theft Could Bring DOJ, In-House Counsel Closer.  As the White House unveiled a new comprehensive strategy to combat U.S. trade secret theft February 20, lawyers and business leaders suggested the plan could lead to more collaboration between the Department of Justice and corporations.   Dean Garfield, the chief executive officer for the Information Technology Industry Council, said the new push could mean a better understanding of when companies could go to federal law enforcement instead of pursuing trade theft through the civil courts.   (National Law Journal)

Some Victims of Online Hacking Edge Into the Light.  Hackers have hit many American companies in the last few years, but few have admitted it. Now, some of them, like Facebook, Apple and Twitter, are going public.  (NYT)

Chinese have hacked most of Washington.  Targeting law firms, Capitol offices, news organizations, nonprofits and embassies, the cyberspies get a map of how the capital works, security experts say.  (Washington Post)

Identity fraud in U.S. is on the rise, report.  Scammers are increasingly gaining access to people's personal information through data breaches and malicious software attacks.  (CNET)

W.H. order fuels banks on cyber lobbying.  The president’s plan, unveiled in the State of the Union address, lays the groundwork for safeguarding the country’s critical infrastructure from cyberattacks.  (Politico Pro)

Workforce & Talent

Obama says immigration leak won't hurt reform talks.  President Barack Obama denied on Wednesday that the leak of a backup immigration bill being drafted by the White House would hurt Senate negotiations on immigration reform and he confidently predicted Congress would pass legislation.  (Reuters)

More than half of Congress has never debated immigration reform.  The high turnover rate bolsters the argument of Republican leaders, who say Congress must move methodically on immigration.  (The Hill)

Meet The Virginian Shaping The House GOP's Immigration Plan.  Bob Goodlatte says President Obama "should calm down, back off and let the Congress do its work."  (NPR)

Three Ways To Totally Transform U.S. Immigration Policy.   Three economists dream big when asking the question:  If you could create any immigration policy for the U.S., what would it be?  (NPR)

Emails track immigration officials’ focus on finding more criminal aliens.  Concerned about falling short of congressional deportation targets, federal immigration officials last year beefed up efforts to remove thousands more illegal immigrants convicted of crimes.  (McClatchy-Tribune)

Immigration Reform and Workers’ Rights.  Any worthwhile overhaul will have to attack the systemic abuses of immigrant labor.  (NYT editorial)

Chinese Companies Getting Good at Attracting Talent.  As China’s economic clout grows, its largest companies are giving foreign firms a run for their money in securing the best talent in the country.  (WSJ)

More elite universities offer free online courses.  More of the world's elite universities are joining the rush to offer "massive open online courses," but it's still uncertain whether so-called MOOCs will help more students earn college degrees.  (AP)

Global Trade

Japan's Abe seeks to show off alliance, gets Obama nod on Abenomics.  Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be seeking to put a strong U.S.-Japan alliance on full display in the face of potential threats from a nuclear North Korea and an assertive China when he meets U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday. (Reuters)

Trade, not Syria, dominates John Kerry’s first speech as secretary of state.  In his first major speech as secretary of state, John Kerry on Wednesday didn’t mention Syria even once or delve deeply into other urgent world crises. Instead, he focused on defending his department’s budget and encouraging international trade, especially with Asia.  (McClatchy-Tribune)


Firms Puzzle Over Tax Riddle.  Business owners can't change the tax code, but many of them say they might change the way their businesses are structured in order to pay less tax.  (WSJ)

U.S. Corporate Tax Rate Forcing Corporations To Hide Their Money Overseas.  The loopholes that allow the corporations to shelter their profits in tax havens overseas force the U.S government to lose billions of dollars in revenue — revenue that could help the U.S. close the budget deficit.  (PolicyMic)

G.O.P. Is Resisting Obama Pressure on Tax Increase.  House Republicans have dug in against President Obama’s proposals to avert $85 billion in wide spending reductions set for March 1, believing they hold the upper hand in this fight.  (NYT)

A Simple Route to Major Deficit Reduction.  In The Wall Street Journal, Martin Feldstein writes that a 2% cap on tax deductions and exclusions would reduce the national debt by $2 trillion.  (WSJ column)


FCC takes first step toward allocating more Wi-Fi spectrum.  The commission opens a rule-making process to allocate additional high-frequency spectrum for unlicensed use, paving the way for faster Wi-Fi and less congested hot spots.  (CNET)

Amid Lawsuits, Aereo Brings Broadcast TV To The Internet.  Backed by broadcasting powerhouse Barry Diller, a new service picks up broadcast TV signals and makes them available over the Web — and the TV networks don't like that one bit. Currently available only in New York City, Aereo is planning to expand ... if it makes it through the legal challenges.  (NPR)

Energy & Sustainability

Why we need a new model for electricity.  Emerging technologies can transform our electricity grid, but new financial mechanisms are necessary to realize the vision of a smart grid.  (

EPA, Energy picks may be on hold.  It's not clear when the administration will make its choices known.  (Politico)

Have we reached 'peak sustainability'? Thankfully, not...Day 1 at GreenBiz Forum New York shows that business is striding forward — with more innovation to come.  (

Energy R&D Faces a Cliff.  In last week’s speech, Obama called for returning R&D levels to what they were during the space race, which would double spending from current levels, adding $5 billion to energy-related R&D, says Matthew Stepp, senior policy analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. (MIT Technology Review)


How Large Companies Can Innovate.  I am going to show you how one GE exec (at GE HealthCare Hungary) figured out how to instill a sense of creative freedom among the employees that led to a real burst in innovation.  (Huffington/Peter Diamandis)

Survey: Feds believe analytics can save lives, money.  A majority of federal IT officials believe big data and other analytics tools have the potential to make the government more efficient and improve public health and safety, according to a new study released by the TechAmerica Foundation on Feb. 20.   (Federal Computer Week)

Print Me An Ear: 3-D Printing Tackles Human Cartilage.  Print-out ears may be one step closer to reality, now that scientists are figuring out how to tweak 3-D printers to craft customized ear cartilage out of living cells. Though the printable ear hasn't been used in humans, the goal is to make these ears reliable enough to be used for children born with deformed ears, and adults who lose them from injuries.  (NPR)

Tech Business

Big Data ready to dig into D.C.  A lobbying coalition is holding calls with major players and startups as it works to secure memberships.  (Politico Pro)

Marissa Mayer Puts Her Stamp on  On Wednesday, Yahoo introduced a new site design. Gone are the cluttered ads and irrelevant content. In their place will be customizable, personalized content and new social features.  (NYT)

Facebook co-founder sees opportunities in healthcare, education.  Eduardo Saverin believes the next big thing in Internet will come from the two industries, while others say the definition of innovation in Asia needs to be adapted.  (ZDNet)

Pinterest secures $200 million, pushing value to $2.5 billion.  Popular social network Pinterest has secured approximately $200 million in funding, raising the San Francisco start-up's valuation to $2.5 billion.  The company announced its latest round of funding Wednesday afternoon, saying Valiant Capital Management led the effort. Existing Pinterest investors, Andreessen Horowitz, Bessemer Venture Partners and FirstMark Capital, were also involved in the latest round of funding.  (LA Times)

The “LTE-Advanced” silicon keeps coming: Altair has a new super-chip.  Altair Semiconductor may be the latest vendor to malign the term LTE-Advanced, but it does have an impressive new 4G chip. It’s new device silicon is the first we’ve seen that uses envelope tracking battery-sparing technology.  (

ITI Member News

Google to debut Chrome for touchscreens.  Google’s Chrome operating system is poised to make its debut on touchscreen machines, opening a new front in the company’s battle with Microsoft just four months after the launch of Windows 8. (FT)

How Google is preparing the world for Glass.  Amid skepticism and name-calling ("Glassholes!"), Google makes a strategic effort to bring wearable computing to the mainstream.  (CNET)

Jazzed-up Microsoft is cooler than before: poll.  Microsoft, often derided in Silicon Valley for failing to dream up products that captivate a new generation of social media and mobile savvy consumers, is regarded as cooler than many might think, a Reuters/Ipsos poll of technology trends showed.  (Reuters)

Microsoft adds Crossroads's Collegio.  The software giant hires his company for PR consulting as it battles Google.  (Politico)

Sony seeks head start over Microsoft with new PlayStation.  Sony Corp said it will launch its next-generation PlayStation this year, hoping its first video game console in seven years will give it a much-needed head start over the next version of Microsoft's Xbox and help revive its stumbling electronics business.  (Reuters)

IBM launches enhanced mobile services offering.  International Business Machines unveiled its expanded mobile strategy on Thursday in an effort to gain an advantage over rivals amid a proliferation of devices such as smartphones and tablets.  (Reuters)

Apple victory in Google patent case to be reviewed by U.S. trade agency.  Apple’s preliminary victory will be reviewed by a trade agency that has the power to block iPhone imports.  (Washington Post)

Hedge fund manager Einhorn takes Apple campaign to shareholders.  Hedge fund manager David Einhorn, who is battling Apple Inc in court as part of a wider effort to get the iPhone-maker to share more of its cash pile, will now make a direct appeal to the company's shareholders.  (Reuters)

Broadcom chip may ease your phone's location-tracking thirst for power.  Broadcom says it has invented a chip that can tell your phone where you are all the time without quickly draining your battery.  The BCM47521 chip, which will be demonstrated at Mobile World Congress next week, should make it easier to use apps that react to the user's location, said Richard Najarian, senior director of business development for GPS at Broadcom. (TechHive)

Jerry Yang Joins Lenovo Board as 'Observer'.  Jerry Yang, who co-founded Yahoo and resigned last year from the Internet company's board, has landed a plum position with Chinese computer maker Lenovo, making nearly $200,000 in equity and cash.  (WSJ)

1600 Penn.

The President doesn’t have any public events on his schedule, though he will conduct sequester-focused radio interviews with Al Sharpton, Joe Madison, and Yolanda Adams in the Oval Office.  Meanwhile, the Vice President will travel to Danbury, Conn., where, at 12:30 p.m. ET, he will deliver remarks at a conference on gun violence at Western Connecticut State University hosted by Senator Richard Blumenthal, Senator Chris Murphy, and Representative Elizabeth Esty.

Today on the Hill

Both the House and Senate are in recess this week.  They'll return to work on February 25.