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Tech News Roundup - 10/16/2017

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Amazon Turns on the Charm Amid Criticism From Right and Left. On a sunny day in July, commuters arriving at Union Station, in the shadow of Capitol Hill, were greeted with free bananas passed out by Amazon employees. In a Senate building, lawmakers and their aides attended policy panels on how Amazon manages privacy on its Echo devices and how sales for small businesses are booming on its online store. (New York Times)
Facebook Users Were Unwitting Targets of Russia-Backed Scheme. 'Blacktivist' and 'Secured Borders' lured followers by communicating on Messenger, other platforms. (Wall Street Journal)
The Russia Investigations: Facebook Makes Nice, Imbroglio Sucks In More Tech Firms. Facebook hits Washington with a P.R. blitz, the imbroglio sucks in more tech giants and the White House weighs how nicely - or rudely - to treat Robert Mueller. (NPR)
Google, Facebook putting an early mark on political advertising bills. Google and Facebook are looking to make an early imprint on legislation being drafted in the House and Senate that would force them and other online networks to disclose information about the buyers of political ads. (Politico)

U.S. and Europe May Collide on Taxing Apple and Amazon. President Trump and congressional lawmakers are not the only ones interested in collecting taxes on global profits that American corporations are hoarding overseas. European regulators, knee deep in a campaign to stamp out tax avoidance, have their own plans for that money. (New York Times)

Trump's 20 percent corporate rate conundrum. President Donald Trump says he has a clear red line when it comes to tax reform - getting the corporate rate down to 20 percent. (Politico Pro)

Poll: Majority think GOP tax plan will benefit the wealthy. A majority of Americans say that Republican plans for changing the tax code will favor the wealthy. (Politico Pro)

White House paper: Corporate tax cut would boost wages. The White House on Monday is rolling out a paper arguing that the GOP's plan to slash the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent would "very conservatively" increase average household income by $4,000 per year. (The Hill)

Global Trade

How Trump is about to make the 'worst deal ever' even worse. President Trump has called the North American Free Trade Agreement "the worst deal ever," but one thing might actually be worse: no deal at all. (Washington Post)

Industry compromise on NAFTA produce proposal elusive. For U.S. trade negotiators and the agriculture sector, this may be a case of having to publicly name a favorite among your children. (Politico Pro)

Japan exasperated by Trump's trade policies. Japanese officials are expressing growing frustration with the Trump administration's economic policies, vowing to continue striking trade deals with other countries that undercut U.S. agricultural exports rather than seek a new trade agreement with the United States. (Politico Pro)

As Trump Moves To Renegotiate NAFTA, U.S. Farmers Are Hopeful But Nervous. President Trump made his view of the North American Free Trade Agreement very clear during the presidential election. He called NAFTA "the worst trade deal in ... the history of this country." And Trump blamed NAFTA for the loss of millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs. (NPR)

Brexit: EU 'to prepare' for future trade talks with UK. The EU is to begin preparing for its post-Brexit trade negotiations with the UK, while refusing to discuss the matter with the British government. (BBC News)

Nafta Needs an Update, Not Repeal. Canada, Mexico and the United States belong to a North American neighborhood, and all three countries benefit from being strong and prosperous. (New York Times)

Public Sector

This D.C.-based startup is helping government agencies prepare for the future. Without even looking for it, the opportunity to work with the Department of Health and Human Services came to them - something Data Society CEO Merav Yuravlivker says is a testament to the close-knit data science community in Washington, D.C. (FedScoop)

US government agencies are buying ads on Facebook - in Russian. In the midst of the frenzy of trying to determine how Russia influenced the US elections through buying ads on Facebook, The San Diego Union Tribune reminds us that basically everyone-including the US government-can buy ads on the platform to push their agenda. (NextGov)

Equifax's Latest Security Foil: A Defunct Web Service. Visitors to company's website were met with malicious software. (Wall Street Journal)

Severe flaw in WPA2 protocol leaves Wi-Fi traffic open to eavesdropping. An air of unease set into the security circles on Sunday as they prepared for the disclosure of high-severity vulnerabilities in the Wi-Fi Protected Access II protocol that make it possible for attackers to eavesdrop Wi-Fi traffic passing between computers and access points. (Ars Technica)

The World Once Laughed at North Korean Cyberpower. No More. When North Korean hackers tried to steal $1 billion from the New York Federal Reserve last year, only a spelling error stopped them. They were digitally looting an account of the Bangladesh Central Bank, when bankers grew suspicious about a withdrawal request that had misspelled "foundation" as "fandation." (New York Times)


Intelligence, Judiciary divides complicate House's 702 debate. Fault lines are emerging between the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees on legislation that would reauthorize warrantless surveillance programs well before a critical end-of-the-year deadline. (Politico Pro)


Encryption legislation on back burner despite DOJ official's call for action. Congressional sources say there is little likelihood of encryption legislation advancing any time soon, despite a top Justice Department official's call for a new law to address what he described as "warrant-proof" technology being installed on mobile and other internet-connected devices. (Inside Cybersecurity)
US voices frustration with 'warrant-proof' encryption. The US deputy attorney general says the use of "warrant-proof encryption" in popular apps and operating systems, is hampering law enforcement. (BBC News)


Hispanic lawmakers press tech for details on representation in Silicon Valley. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus says it wants major Silicon Valley firms to provide detailed statistics on diversity within their companies. (The Hill)

Men give their companies' gender diversity efforts a much better grade than women do. Corporate executives like to say gender diversity is one of their top priorities. They mount publicity campaigns, tout their equal pay measures and start up women's networks to help promote female leaders. (Los Angeles Times)

A new survey reveals that most men in tech don't think sexism is a big deal. Pew Research Center has confirmed what we know: The majority of men in tech don't think sexism is a big deal. (NextGov)

Apple Co-Founder's Woz U Aims to Train Tech Workers, Affordably. Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak has formed a relationship with a for-profit university to help people enter into the technology workforce. (Wall Street Journal)


Trump's NBC threat puts new pressure on FCC chief. President Trump's threats to revoke media outlets' broadcasting licenses have put Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai under new pressure. (The Hill)

Internet of Things
Would You Buy a Self-Driving Future From These Guys?. When the owner of an automated Tesla was killed in a crash last year, the carmaker's founder, Elon Musk, urged journalists to peer into the future. (New York Times)

Totally driverless cars could be allowed on California roads by June 2018. Driverless cars - with nobody behind the wheel - could be on California roads and highways by June 2018. (Los Angeles Times)

Alphabet is training law enforcement on how to handle self-driving car crashes. The company has also taught its cars to hear and see sirens and pull over. (Recode)

Do you own your data and have free rein? The answer in an Internet of things, cloud world may surprise you. If data is the new oil, then there is going to be a land grab and plenty of squabbles over who owns it. And the battles are just beginning. (ZDNet)

Trump Names Former Texas Regulator as White House Environmental Adviser. President Trump has nominated a former top Texas environmental regulator, who has argued that carbon dioxide is a harmless gas that should not be regulated, to be the White House senior adviser on environmental policy. The former regulator, Kathleen Hartnett White, will lead the Council on Environmental Quality if confirmed by the Senate. (New York Times)

Drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge: How the G.O.P. Could Finally Break the Impasse. The Trump administration and congressional Republicans in recent weeks have renewed the fight over opening part of an enormous wildlife refuge in northern Alaska to oil and gas exploration. (New York Times)

The Challenges for the Energy Industry. This week, more than 500 senior executives, policy makers, financiers, strategists and experts from the international oil and gas industry are meeting in London for the 38th annual Oil & Money Conference co-hosted by The New York Times and Energy Intelligence. Before the conference, The Times asked some of the participants to describe what they viewed as the biggest challenges facing the energy industry. Their answers have been edited and condensed. (New York Times)

Oil Firms Learn to Move an Ancient Product With New-Age Tech. BP's troubleshooters here received a call for help from colleagues in Azerbaijan. Sand was invading oil wells from the rocks outside. To avoid damage, the operators were choking the wells back, reducing revenues. (New York Times)

Global Gas Producers Turn to Next Challenge: Finding Buyers. Beyond delivering LNG to ports, energy firms look to build infrastructure to boost demand in developing markets. (Wall Street Journal)

America's Chinese solar dilemma. America has built a booming solar industry thanks largely to cheap Chinese solar panels, helping to create jobs and cleaner energy. But one part of the sector -- U.S.-based manufacturers -- has been decimated by the overseas competition. (Axios)

Your Next Home Could Run on Batteries. A combination of solar power and the rise of residential energy storage paves the way for a new kind of cable cutting. (Wall Street Journal)

With OK From EPA, Use Of Controversial Weedkiller Is Expected To Double. The Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday that it will let farmers keep spraying the weedkilling chemical dicamba on Monsanto's new dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. The decision is a victory for the biotech giant and the farmers who want to use the company's newest weedkilling technology. (NPR)

Tech Business
Amazon Bookstores Offer Peek Into Whole Foods' Future. At physical stores, customers use phones to scan for book prices, which are lower for Prime members. (Wall Street Journal)

Samsung's Leadership Crisis Deepens as CEO Plans Exit. The head of Samsung Electronics Co.'s components business, in a surprise move, announced plans to resign, acknowledging that the firm faces an "unprecedented crisis" and is struggling to find new growth prospects. The development came after the South Korean tech giant said it expected another record-breaking quarter. (Wall Street Journal)

Amazon makes push into sportswear. Amazon has contracted the largest sportswear manufacturers to produce for its own private-label brand of activewear, Bloomberg reports. (Axios)

ITI Member News

As the World Tweets, Social-Media Chiefs Remain Tight-Lipped. If only Twitter, Facebook and Google could keep their stories straight. (New York Times)
Amazon Studios cuts ties with Weinstein Co. following Harvey Weinstein sex scandal. Amazon Studios on Friday severed ties with the Weinstein Co. in the wake of the sexual harassment scandal engulfing Harvey Weinstein's struggling production company. (Los Angeles Times)
What does Roy Price's suspension mean for Amazon's future?. As the head of Amazon's entertainment studio since 2014, Roy Price was tasked with shaping the e-retailer into a major player in the film and TV world. (Los Angeles Times)
Twitter rolling out new rules on hate speech, sexual harassment. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced late Friday that the social media platform will unveil a stronger set of rules against sexual harassment and threats of violence after women, led by actress Rose McGowan and others, boycotted the platform. (The Hill)
Twitter Users Split on Boycott Over Platform's Move Against Rose McGowan. Activists, celebrities and journalists joined a boycott of Twitter on Friday to protest the social media platform's locking of the account of the actress Rose McGowan, a fierce critic of the film producer Harvey Weinstein over his alleged sexual harassment and assaults of women. (New York Times)
#WomenBoycottTwitter to show support for those harassed on the social media platform. Twitter Inc. gave the world the hashtag. Now the social media company is witnessing the power of the pound sign firsthand. (Los Angeles Times)

Today on the Hill

The House is not in session today.
The Senate will convene at 4:00 PM and proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the nomination of Callista L. Gingrich to be Ambassador to the Holy See.
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