Tech News Roundup

02/17/2017

Key Issues

Tech Politics

Alexander Acosta Nominated for Labor Secretary. President Donald Trump announced his nomination of Alexander Acosta as Labor secretary. Mr. Acosta has served as dean of Florida International University’s law school in Miami since 2009 and was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the National Labor Relations Board. (Wall Street Journal)

Billionaire said to be considered for Trump intelligence role. At Cerberus, Feinberg Built a Web of National Security Ties. Through his $30 billion investment firm, Cerberus Capital Management LP, Feinberg has bought companies that refuel spy planes, train Green Berets, make sniper rifles and watch America’s foes from space. He’s handed out jobs, lobbying contracts and campaign cash to some of the most powerful people in the nation’s capital. (Bloomberg)

In Trump legislative void, Republicans slow to tackle big issues. President Donald Trump, after nearly a month in power, has yet to unveil major legislation or publicly endorse bills from others, getting Republicans off to a slow start on the sweeping reforms they promised on the campaign trail. (Reuters)

Hatch Rolls Out Tech Agenda, Warns Industry Against ‘Provoking’ Trump. Sen. Orrin Hatch on Thursday introduced a sweeping tech-focused agenda that aims to bolster the H-1B visa program, prevent forum-shopping by patent trolls and improve data privacy both at home and abroad. (Morning Consult)

Taxes

Ryan struggles to sell tax reform plan to fellow Republicans. GOP senators are wary of a pillar of the speaker's proposal, an ominous sign for one of Donald Trump's top agenda items. (Politico)

As Tax Debate Heats Up, Lawmakers Struggle to Think of a Plan B. Despite widespread criticism, border adjustment isn’t dead, and that is partly because Republicans haven’t developed palatable alternatives that avoid huge budget deficits or prevent the corporate tax base from fleeing abroad. (Wall Street Journal)

Trade

U.K. Seeks to Limit Post-Brexit Trade Pain. Britain is already putting out feelers about its future trading relations outside the EU, which has handled its global trade arrangements for more than 40 years, Stephen Fidler writes. (Wall Street Journal)

Congress Tests Trump Officials on Trade. Lawmakers from both parties are showing early resistance to President Donald Trump’s trade policy, a key pillar of his 2016 “America first” campaign. (Wall Street Journal)

Mike Pence Hopes to Reassure Skeptical Allies Over Trump, Putin and the US Commitment to Europe. Making his debut on the world stage, Vice President Mike Pence will seek to reassure skeptical allies in Europe about the U.S. (Time)

Facebook’s Zuckerberg, Bucking Tide, Takes Public Stand Against Isolationism. Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, on Thursday stepped into the raging debate about globalization. In a 5,800-word letter he posted publicly, the Mr. Zuckerberg expressed alarm that what was once considered normal — seeking global connection — was now seen by people and governments around the world as something undesirable. (New York Times)

Peterson analyst: Trump trade strategy 'doomed to failure'. President Donald Trump's strategy of negotiating bilateral trade agreements is "doomed to failure," so he should revive the TPP and turn that into an even bigger regional trade agreement, a veteran trade analyst said Thursday. (PoliticoPro)

Privacy Shield

EU privacy watchdogs seek assurances on U.S. data transfer pact. European Union data privacy watchdogs will seek assurances from U.S. authorities that a move by U.S. President Donald Trump to crack down on illegal immigration will not undermine a transatlantic pact protecting the privacy of Europeans' data. (Reuters)

Facebook says Irish challenge to U.S. data transfers 'deeply flawed'. Facebook said on Thursday a legal challenge against the way it transfers EU user data to the United States was "deeply flawed" and should not be referred to the EU's top court because ample privacy protections were already in place. (Reuters)

Cybersecurity

Trump reps skip big cyber security conference, a break with past. This week more than 40,000 attendees are expected to come through the doors of RSA, one of the nation's largest computer security conferences, now underway in San Francisco. But one group is markedly absent — officials from the Trump administration. (USA Today)

Android Phone Hacks Could Unlock Millions of Cars. Phones can be hacked. And when they are, those car-connected features can fall into the hands of hackers, too. (Wired)

Cyber steers clear of tech vs. Trump feud. Cybersecurity companies are steering clear of the growing feud between President Trump and Silicon Valley, underscoring their willingness to continue to do business with the federal government. (The Hill)

FBI is ‘moving towards’ predictive cybercrime-fighting tools, assistant director says. The FBI’s cybercrime unit is developing predictive policing capabilities, Assistant Director Scott Smith said during a panel discussion at the 2017 RSA conference. (FedScoop)

FBI to private sector: work with us. The FBI has a message for the private sector when it comes to cybersecurity: Please don't make us your last call. (FCW)

Why NIST's Framework avoids a one-sized-fits-all approach to cybersecurity. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework, a sort of guidebook for good cybersecurity, has been adopted by about 30 percent of U.S. companies since its release three years ago and that number could reach 50 percent by 2020. (NextGov)

Privacy

Court: Unsupported Assertions And Broad Language Aren't Enough To Support Cell Phone Searches. Another court has stepped up to inform law enforcement that just because criminals are known to use cell phones doesn't mean any cell phone possessed by a suspect is fair game -- warrant or no warrant. (TechDirt)

Senate Dem blasts GOP for trying to repeal broadband privacy rules. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) called out Republicans on Thursday for trying to undo the FCC broadband privacy rules that passed late last year. (The Hill)

Energy and Environment

The future of solar power technology is bright. Technologies for harnessing the thermal energy in sunlight have only continued to grow over time. (Ars Technica)

German Power Glut Leaves Neighbors Tilting at Windmills. As Germany ramps up its wind and solar energy, its electricity surpluses are spilling over the border into Poland and the Czech Republic, straining their grids and forcing them to make costly upgrades. (Wall Street Journal)

Antarctic sea ice used to be the darling of climate doubters. Not anymore. In recent years, one of climate change doubters’ favorite arguments has involved the floating sea ice around Antarctica. It’s growing, they contended — to this, climate scientists always responded: Not so fast. Floating sea ice in another cold place, the Arctic, is clearly shrinking, as are Arctic and Antarctic glaciers. (Washington Post)

Broadband/Spectrum

The FCC wants you to be able to listen to FM radio from your smartphone. That's what the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission has just proposed. Urging companies to switch on FM chips — long supported by the nation's broadcasters — Pai said the move could allow smartphone users to save on their data usage and to get the same emergency alerts that drivers get in their cars. (Washington Post)

Immigration

Trump says he’ll issue a new executive order on immigration by next week. Justice Dept. lawyers asked a federal appeals court to hold off on taking action in the legal battle over the president's initial travel ban until a new directive is in place. (Washington Post)

A ‘Day Without Immigrants,’ When Workers Stay Home. Many workers and business owners in the New York region and around the country chose to not work as part of a protest of the Trump administration’s policies toward immigrants. (New York Times)

Here are three ways that immigrants make a tech company stronger. Individuals who immigrate often embody qualities that are highly sought after by employers — bravery and adaptability, for starters. (Re/code)

Finance chairman to propose overhaul of worker visas. Senate Republican High-Tech Task Force Orrin Hatch on Thursday said he plans to introduce legislation to update the visa system for highly skilled immigrants. (The Hill)

The Arrest of 680 Undocumented Immigrants in One Week Is Not So Unusual. Last week, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials arrested more than 680 people in at least 12 states, shown below, stoking fears that the Trump administration is increasing the arrests and deportations of undocumented immigrants. (New York Times)

Workforce

What Betsy DeVos means for edtech. Betsy DeVos was barely confirmed last week as the new Secretary of Education –- or should I say bearly. So it’s ironic that Betsy DeVos is positioned to become a champion of technology and upend many of the broken practices that litter the landscape of American education. (TechCrunch)

Public Sector

Hiring freeze could add to government’s risk, GAO chief warns. Shortages of employees already contribute to putting some federal programs at high risk, and the hiring freeze will make it “more difficult” to address that problem, the government’s top auditor said Wednesday. (Washington Post)

Civic tech quantified: Citizen satisfaction doubled in two years, survey shows. Government services are far from perfect, but a new report says the civic tech movement's technological crusade is yielding results. (StateScoop)

Outgoing DOD CIO: 'There's still a lot of work to do'. Data center consolidation continues to vex the Pentagon's top technology officer as he prepares to retire. (NextGov)

How health IT hints at the future of innovation for DOD. The back-end work to integrate the Cerner electronic health record into Department of Defense networks and systems represents a new direction in Pentagon IT culture and practice, according to CIO Terry Halvorsen. (FCW)

April showers bring legislative flowers for defense. April is shaping up to be a pivotal month for Congress, especially for the House Armed Services Committee and the 2018 defense authorization bill. (Federal News Radio)

Prime time for the Data Act? The cause of government transparency is due to hit a major milestone in May, when machine-readable federal financial data is finally published online under the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act. (FCW)

RSA 2017: Cybersecurity More Vital for Localities Than Ever. Including local government partners in the larger cybersecurity conversation is extremely important, federal and state officials said. (GovTech)

Internet

China Imposing More Oversight on Foreigners Who Live-Stream. China is moving to rein in the freewheeling world of live online video, and one of its first initiatives is to impose more oversight on foreigners who live-stream on Chinese apps. (Wall Street Journal)

Shopping Online for $26,000 of Herbicides. Farmers are turning to the internet to save on purchases of seeds, fertilizer and other supplies, threatening a decades-old system built around local farm stores and co-ops. (Wall Street Journal)

Innovation

Texting and Driving Isn’t a Millennial Problem. It’s an Engineering Problem. In a survery of more than 2,511 licensed drivers, more than 40 percent of respondents admit they’ve used their phones while driving; nearly a third say they’ve taken the time to send a text or email behind the wheel. Oh, and 81 percent responded that kind of behavior poses a “very serious threat” to their personal safety. (Wired)

Intellectual Property

Patent Ruling for Crispr Gene Editing Favors the Broad Institute. In a closely watched legal case involving one of the most important new gene-editing tools, U.S. patent authorities said patents issued to the Broad Institute giving it the rights to use the technology to edit genes in humans can stand. (Wall Street Journal)

Tech Business

I talked to Mark Zuckerberg about his manifesto on the future of Facebook (and the rest of us). It was pretty clear once I got on the phone last night with Mark Zuckerberg that he has become of late very, how shall we put it, woke. (Re/Code)

Snapchat Parent Sets Valuation of Up to $22.2 Billion. Snap set a valuation for itself between $19.5 billion and $22.2 billion, as the disappearing-message app company nears its landmark initial public offering. (Wall Street Journal)

Snap lowers valuation expectations in highly awaited IPO. Snap Inc, owner of the popular messaging app Snapchat, set a lower-than-expected valuation range on Thursday, amid mounting investor concern over its unproven business model, slowing growth and tight founder control. (Reuters)

Europe’s Tech Sector Shrugs Off Regional Uncertainty. Despite political problems and sluggish economic growth, the region’s start-ups and venture capitalists are investing big to challenge Silicon Valley’s dominance. (New York Times)

Auto union courts Tesla workers, amplifies 'buy American' message. United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams said on Thursday the union is contacting workers at Silicon Valley electric car maker Tesla Inc , and plans to boost efforts to convince U.S. consumers not to buy vehicles built in other countries, including those sold by the Detroit automakers. (Reuters)

Airlines Phasing Out Screens Because You Are All on Your Devices. Shifting in-flight entertainment systems to streaming content over wireless systems can save money and space, though the rollout is expected to happen gradually. (New York Times)

ITI Member News

Alphabet Scraps Plan to Blanket Globe With Internet Balloons. In 2013, Google ran its first tests for Project Loon, an ambitious effort to circulate broadband-emitting balloons across the globe. On Thursday, the company said that’s not necessary anymore. (Bloomberg)

Apple Vowed to Revolutionize Television. An Inside Look at Why It Hasn’t. The company is testing a new Apple TV capable of streaming ultra-high-definition 4K. It may not be enough to take on Amazon and Roku. (Bloomberg)

Google Fiber Sheds Workers As It Looks to a Wireless Future. Alphabet is sending hundreds of employees at Access—the division that runs the high-speed internet service—to work at other parts of the company, an Access spokeswoman says. It’s not the end of Fiber, not exactly. But the slimming-down likely signals a future for Alphabet’s broadband ambitions that involves less fiber. (Wired)

IBM links with Indiegogo, Visa, Bosch and more in $3B IoT push. IBM is today taking the wraps off its new Internet of Things headquarters in Munich - a $200 million project at over one year in the making. (TechCrunch)

Samsung chief Lee arrested as S.Korean corruption probe deepens. Samsung Group chief Jay Y. Lee was arrested early on Friday over his alleged role in a corruption scandal rocking the highest levels of power in South Korea, dealing a fresh blow to the world's biggest maker of smartphones and memory chips. (Reuters)

Yahoo May Pay a Steep Price for Data Breaches. Verizon is poised to buy the fading internet pioneer, but hacking in 2014 and 2013 could shave close to $300 million off the purchase price. (New York Times)

1600 Penn.

In the morning, President Trump will depart the White House for Joint Base Andrews. The President will then arrive in North Charleston, South Carolina. Later in the morning, the President will meet with Dennis Muilenburg, the Chairman of the Board, President, and CEO of the Boeing Company. The President will then tour the Boeing Company facility. In the afternoon, the President will make remarks at the unveiling of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The President will then tour the Boeing Company 787 Dreamliner aircraft. Later in the afternoon, the President will depart North Charleston, South Carolina en route to West Palm Beach, Florida.

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