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05/25/2017

Key Issues

Privacy

Telco-Backed Politician Wants to Restore Privacy Rules She Helped Kill. Sounds familiar? Probably, because last year the Federal Communications Commission passed a sweeping set of privacy rules that did much the same thing, rules that Republicans voted to scrap just two months ago. (Wired)

A new privacy bill in Congress has some companies preparing for a long political fight. Congress scrapped the government’s last privacy rules, and one of the leaders behind that push has another idea in mind. If it all feels like a bit of deja vu, that’s because it is: It was Rep. Marsha Blackburn, after all, who led Congress on a campaign this year to quash similar privacy protections. (Recode)

Google and Facebook lobbyists try to stop new online privacy protections. Lobbyists for Google, Facebook, and other websites are trying to stop the implementation of a proposed law in the US that would strengthen consumer privacy protections online. (Ars Technica)

Internet lobbying group is skeptical about new privacy bill. The Internet Association, a leading Silicon Valley trade group, expressed skepticism about a bill introduced last week by Rep. Marsha Blackburn that would strengthen privacy protections for internet users. (The Hill)

Your Data Is Way More Exposed Than You Realize. The truth is, pretty much everybody does something online they have reason to keep private. And many of Silicon Valley’s smartest minds are making billions mining you. (Wall Street Journal)

DOJ pitches agreements to solve international data warrant woes. The Department of Justice is asking Congress to permit it to pursue reciprocal agreements to serve warrants on data with other countries, addressing what has become a sticking point in investigations at home and abroad. (The Hill)

Encryption

U.K. Takes on Social Media Giants After Terror Attack. The U.K. government urged social-media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to tackle terror posts on their sites as it reinforced its demand to allow access to encrypted messages. (Bloomberg)

Tories reportedly plan to force tech giants to remove encryption after the Manchester attack. Less than 24 hours after Salman Abedi blew himself up at the Manchester Arena, killing 22 people in the process, the UK government reportedly intends to lobby MPs to ensure that new rules — being referred to as Technical Capability Notices — get passed through Parliament soon as the general election is over on June 8. (Business Insider)

Proposed New Anti-Terror Law Could Leave Us Vulnerable To More NHS-Style Hacks. As the world mourns the dead from the Manchester Arena attack, it appears that the government is already preparing an inevitably draconian response. If this sounds familiar, it is because the idea has already been touted by Home Secretary Amber Rudd. After the Westminster Attack in March, she went on Andrew Marr where she gave a disastrous interview, calling for a ban on encryption. (Gizmodo)

The problems with ending encryption to fight terrorism. Forcing tech firms to create a "backdoor" to access messages would be a gift to cyber-hackers. (New Statesman)

NSA Says New Encryption Standards Needed to Resist Quantum Computing. Quantum computing's potential for cracking encryption worries the National Security Agency, so it is developing standards and strategies to support encryption in a post-quantum world. (eWeek)

Trade

Foreign Firms Fret as China Implements New Cybersecurity Law. Just days before China’s new Cybersecurity Law goes into force, foreign companies are grappling with rules that could tighten what is already one of the world’s most restricted technology regimes. as a broader definition of those affected, could drag in a wider array of services and products. (Bloomberg)

Trump faces rougher reception in NATO, EU meetings. After a warm welcome in the Middle East and a "fantastic" visit with the pope, U.S. President Donald Trump walks on shakier ground on Thursday when European Union and NATO leaders will press him on defense, trade, and environmental concerns. (Reuters)

Would-be US envoy calls EU a 'failure'. America’s interests are not served by a more federal Europe, but by an EU of strong nation states, said Ted Malloch, an academic and adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, who says he is in line for the US ambassadorship to the EU ahead of Trump's visit to Brussels. (EU Observer)

Post-Brexit EU Unity May Not Hold. The biggest surprise of Brexit has been the remarkable cohesion of the remaining 27 members of the European Union. No one has been more surprised by this unity than the EU itself. But it may not last. (Wall Street Journal)

Federal officials consider tariffs on imported solar panels. Federal officials have launched an investigation into whether the government should impose tariffs on certain imported solar panel technology after bankrupt solar manufacturer Suniva Inc. accused China and other Asian nations of “flooding” the United States with solar cells and modules. (The Hill)

Environment and Energy

With Gift and in Conversation, Pope Presses Trump on Climate Change. Pope Francis gave President Trump a copy of his encyclical on preserving the environment. In a broader meeting, the Vatican’s secretary of state urged Mr. Trump not to pull out of the Paris accord. (New York Times)

At G-7, Trump's Paris Agreement opposition will face economic arguments from world leaders. One of the biggest questions being asked ahead of the G-7 summit in Taormina, Italy, is whether President Trump will fulfill his campaign promise to pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change or if his European counterparts can convince the U.S. leader to keep his country in the historic – and controversial – accord. (Fox News)

Donald Trump's climate change stance under fire from world leaders as Theresa May keeps 'pact of silence'. Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and other world leaders will try to convince Donald Trump that the US should remain part of the international fight against climate change when they meet at the G7 summit. (The Independent)

How Do You Save the Statue of Liberty From Drowning? Lady Liberty is a towering symbol of our national vulnerability to the changing planet. (Bloomberg)

What Does Trump's Budget Mean for the Environment? His proposal would gut federal enforcement and effectively halt many Superfund cleanups. (GovExec)

Cybersecurity

Classified Senate briefing expands to include Russian cyber firm Kaspersky under FBI scrutiny. Current and former U.S. officials worry that state-sponsored hackers could try to exploit Kaspersky Lab’s anti-virus software to steal and manipulate users’ files, read private emails or attack critical infrastructure in the U.S. And they point to Kaspersky Lab executives with previous ties to Russian intelligence and military agencies. (ABC News)

In Modern Cyber War, the Spies Can Become Targets, Too. Over the past eight months, a mysterious hacking group released what it says are National Security Agency computer-espionage secrets. Former intelligence officials now fear the hackers are taking a new tack: exposing the identities of the NSA computer-hacking team. (Wall Street Journal)

Senators push for enhanced powers to battle botnets. Senators are seeking expanded powers for law enforcement to go after botnets, the networks of infected Internet-connected devices leveraged by cyber criminals and other malicious actors. (The Hill)

GOP chair eyes DHS cyber reorganization bill next week. McCaul is expected to introduce legislation as soon as next week that is similar to a bill last year that would have replaced the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unit in charge of securing the nation’s cyber and physical infrastructure with a new, operational agency to handle cybersecurity. (The Hill)

DHS cyber info-sharing program comes under scrutiny amid Trump-Russia probe. The Department of Homeland Security’s cyber information sharing program has been brought to the center of a partisan debate over the Trump administration’s sharing of classified information and connections with Russia, prompting a letter from Democratic leaders on the House Homeland Security Committee about allegations that the Trump White House is considering undermining the DHS program to deflect criticism of the administration. (Inside Cybersecurity)

Safe From WannaCry? Thank the Government. DHS secretary describes an active government campaign to limit the virus’ spread. (GovExec)

Taxes

Ryan: House could pass bill that doesn't include border tax. The border-adjustment tax (BAT), which would tax imports and exempt exports, was a key part of the tax plan Ryan released last year, but it is facing mounting opposition. (The Hill)

Mnuchin wants to keep deduction for businesses' interest expenses. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that he wants to keep the deduction for businesses' interests costs — a position that's at odds with the tax blueprint House Republicans released last year. (The Hill)

Healthcare bill would cut taxes by $663 billion. The healthcare bill passed by the House earlier this month will cut taxes by about $663 billion over the next 10 years, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation. (The Hill)

Budget

Mnuchin asks Congress for clean debt hike before August. Mnuchin’s message is the clearest sign yet that the Trump administration does not want to get into a broader fight over reducing government spending as it seeks to raise the nation’s debt limit, possibly to as much as $20 trillion. (The Hill)

Lindsey Graham: Trump's budget 'doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell'. GOP lawmakers have knocked the proposal, arguing that it both doesn't increase defense spending enough while also proposing unrealistic cuts for some domestic programs, and are expected to craft their own legislation later this year. (The Hill)

Net Neutrality

2.6 million comments in, the FCC has changed almost nothing about its net neutrality proposal. After an initial draft rule proposal was published last month, yesterday we got to see the revised draft that ended up being voted on. In between, there were plenty of comments made for the FCC to look at: 2.6 million as of today. But if the commission began taking them into account, it isn’t very clear. (The Verge)

Group accuses Comcast of trying to 'censor' pro-net neutrality site. Comcast has sent a cease-and-desist letter to an advocacy group, Fight for the Future, asking it to shut down a website set up to promote net neutrality called Comcastroturf.com to urge supporters to comment in favor of the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules, which are in the process of being repealed. (The Hill)

Surveillance

Apple: National security requests for data skyrocketed in second half of 2016. The computer and phone company released its twice-yearly transparency report Tuesday evening, showing that the number of National Security Letters more than doubled between the first and second half of 2016. (The Hill)

Trump wants to be able track and destroy drones flying over the U.S. Yesterday the Trump Administration circulated a draft of a new proposal that would allow the federal government to track, commandeer, disable, hack or destroy drones flying in the United States. (Recode)

Artificial Intelligence

Google’s AlphaGo Levels Up From Board Games to Power Grids. When researchers inside Google’s DeepMind artificial intelligence lab first built AlphaGo—the machine that plays the ancient game of Go better than any human—they needed human help. But then, about a year ago, DeepMind redesigned the system. In essence, they built the new AlphaGo without help from human moves. (Wired)

Workforce

Talent Battle: Hedge Funds vs. Silicon Valley. The battle for quantitative talent has turned some of the richest money managers into underdogs, pitting them against the likes of Google and Facebook for hiring the world’s top minds. (Wall Street Journal)

Airbnb is running its own internal university to teach data science. Tech companies, and increasingly even non-tech companies, are struggling with the fact that there are not enough trained data scientists to fill market demand. Every company has their own strategy for hiring and training, but Airbnb has taken things a step further — running its own university-style program, complete with a custom course-numbering system. (TechCrunch)

Apple now has a VP for diversity. Denise Young Smith has been at Apple since 1997 and was most recently vice president of HR worldwide. (Silicon Beat)

Broadband

Apple to test new 5G connection speeds in Cupertino and Milpitas. Apple filed an application with the FCC for an experimental license to potentially increase the speed and bandwidth of the iPhone’s connection. (Silicon Beat)

Immigration

Bloomberg View: American Prosperity Depends on a Nonwhite Future. Without immigration, mostly of Hispanics and Asians, economic growth will falter. (Bloomberg)

Public Sector

Veteran GOP official on personnel policies named to head OPM. President Trump has nominated George Nesterczuk, who has been involved in federal personnel policies from the Republican side in a variety of roles for more than three decades, to become director of the Office of Personnel Management. (Washington Post)

GSA chief: Central IT fund is a start, not a remedy. While President Trump's budget proposal includes a $228 million investment for a general IT modernization fund, the head of the agency overseeing the fund sees the initial investment as more of a proof of concept than a panacea. (FCW)

Boeing will build DARPA’s XS-1 experimental spaceplane. You can hear the champagne corks popping here in Seattle as Boeing is awarded the contract to make DARPA’s cool experimental spaceplane. The XS-1, as it’s called, would allow for relatively cheap and simple trips to space for launching and testing satellites and all that sort of thing. (TechCrunch)

Federal spending on technology could reach $95 billion in 2018. The federal technology budget would increase by $1.6 billion in 2018, under President Donald Trump’s budget request sent to Congress May 23. But a majority of the agencies — 14 in all — would see decreases or stay flat as compared to 2017. (Federal News Radio)

Amid $52 billion plus-up, DoD looks to trim spending on service contracts. From now on, the Pentagon’s deputy chief management officer will have to sign off on any new business IT investments that cost more than $1 million over five years. DoD expects that change to save $77 million in 2018 alone. (Federal News Radio)

There Is a Place for USDS, 18F in Trump Administration. U.S. Digital Service would receive $19 million, while 18F would get $21 million. (GovExec)

Standalone U.S. Cyber Command would take big budget bump, Adm. Mike Rogers says. The U.S. Cyber Command would need a 16 percent increase in its budget to separate itself from the NSA and become a full-fledged combatant command, Adm. Mike Rogers told House lawmakers Tuesday. (FedScoop)

Trump’s 2018 budget gives VA a big boost for Choice, but cuts IT spending. The Veterans Affairs Department is one of few civilian agencies that received a multi-billion dollar budget boost from President Donald Trump. The President proposed $186.5 billion for the department in fiscal 2018, an increase of $6.4 billion or 3.6 percent over 2017. (Federal News Radio)

How agile and APIs drive state digital services to the next level. Technologies like agile development are fundamentally changing how states do business, says an executive of digital transformation company CA Technologies. (StateScoop)

#TBT Innovation

Before Twitter and Facebook, there was Morse code and social media’s true inventor. The history of social media began almost two centuries earlier, on May 24, 1844, when Samuel F.B. Morse, a painter-turned-inventor, sent a message from Washington to Baltimore. (Washington Post)

Tech Business

Health-Tech Startups Pivot as Obamacare Uncertainty Mounts. Many health-technology startups are revamping their business strategies and others are finding it tougher to attract fresh capital amid the prospect of repeal of the Affordable Care Act. (Wall Street Journal)

Bitcoin soars above $2,400 to all-time high. Digital currency bitcoin hit a fresh record high on Wednesday, surging above $2,400, as demand for crypto-assets soared with the creation of new tokens to raise funding for start-ups using blockchain technology. (Reuters)

J.Crew’s CEO Confesses: I Underestimated How Tech Would Upend Retail. The retail legend didn’t understand how speed and price would drive internet shoppers. After 10 quarters of falling sales, the brand wants to create a more accessible image and add digital marketing. (Wall Street Journal)

SoftBank Takes $4 Billion Stake in U.S. Chipmaker Nvidia. SoftBank Group Corp. has quietly amassed a $4 billion stake in Nvidia Corp. making it the fourth-largest shareholder in the graphics chipmaker, according to people familiar with the situation. (Bloomberg)

Venture Funds Flood Startups With Cash. Investments in first quarter rose 37% from the previous period, to $14.5 billion. Social Finance pulled in $500 million. (Wall Street Journal)

ITI Member News

Amazon Sets Up Shop in the Heart of the Publishing Industry. After contributing to the demise of many bricks-and-mortar bookstores, Amazon has made a surprising pivot, with plans for a growing constellation of bookstores around the country. (New York Times)

Facebook signs BuzzFeed, Vox, others for original video shows. Facebook Inc has signed deals with millennial-focused news and entertainment creators Vox Media, BuzzFeed, ATTN, Group Nine Media and others to make shows for its upcoming video service, which will feature long and short-form content with ad breaks, according to several sources familiar with the situation. (Reuters)

Google Angles for More Marketing Dollars With Product Updates. Google is trying to give marketers even more reasons to spend their money with the company. (Wall Street Journal)

HP Inc. Sales Show Momentum as Both PCs, Printer Units Grow. HP Inc. showed accelerating sales momentum in the second quarter, delivering growth in both personal computers and printers for the first time in more than a half-decade. (Bloomberg)

Intel’s Plan to Thunderbolt 3 All of the Things. Two years ago, Intel gave a major boost to Thunderbolt, its zippy hardware interface, by embracing USB-C, the do-it-all port that will eventually eat the world. Now, the company’s attempting another kickstart, this time focusing on making Thunderbolt available to anyone who wants it. (Wired)

Microsoft to buy cyber security firm Hexadite for $100 million. Microsoft has agreed to acquire cyber security firm Hexadite for $100 million, Israeli financial news website Calcalist reported on Wednesday. (Reuters)

Samsung Says It's Serious About Foundry, Creates Business Unit. Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s second-biggest chipmaker, is increasing its effort in semiconductor outsourcing, separating the company’s foundry business into a new unit as part of a challenge to market leader Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (Samsung)

1600 Penn.

In the morning, President Trump will arrive at the European Union Headquarters. The President will then participate in an expanded bilateral meeting with European Union leadership. In the afternoon, the President will meet with President Emmanuel Macron of France. The President will then have a working luncheon with President Macron. Later in the afternoon, the President will participate in the NATO unveiling of the Article 5 and Berlin Wall memorials. The President will then participate in the handover ceremony of the new NATO Headquarters. In the evening, the President will have a working dinner with NATO leaders. The President and First Lady Melania Trump will then depart Brussels, Belgium, en route to Taormina, Italy.

Today on the Hill

Today the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business. First and last votes expected from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. with votes expected on:

  • H.R. 1973 - Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act of 2017, Rules Committee Print (Structured Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Susan Brooks / Judiciary Committee)
  • H.R. 1761 - Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act of 2017, Rules Committee Print (Structured Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Johnson / Judiciary Committee)

Today the Senate will meet at 10:30am, and following any Leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of Executive Calendar #59, the nomination of Amul Thapar, of Kentucky, to be US Circuit Judge for the 6th Circuit with a vote at 1:30 pm expected on the nomination.

As a reminder, cloture has also been filed on Executive Calendar #54, the nomination of Courtney Elwood, of Virginia, to be General Counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency. Unless an agreement is reached, the vote on cloture would occur upon disposition of the Thapar nomination. It’s possible an agreement is reached to move the timing of this vote.

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