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Tech News Roundup - 10/31/2017

Tech News Roundup

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10/31/2017

Key Issues

Tech Politics

Facebook's 2016 Election Team Gave Advertisers A Blueprint To A Divided US. During the 2016 election season, Facebook provided political advertisers with a targetable breakdown of a fractured United States, which could've been used as a blueprint for exploiting the country's divisions. (Buzzfeed)

Google, Facebook will testify to lawmakers they've splashed with cash. When Google and Facebook testify before Congress on Russian election interference this week, they'll face committees filled with lawmakers who have collectively received hundreds of thousands of dollars in political donations from the companies. (Politico Pro)

Twitter's former elections head: Political ads need transparency. Adam Sharp has a rare view into how we got to this week, with Facebook, Google and Twitter set to appear before three congressional committees over Russian election meddling. (Axios)

Americans don't trust tech firms, feds to police Russian election meddling. Americans don't trust tech companies or the government to prevent foreign manipulation of online platforms to influence elections, according to an Axios/SurveyMonkey poll. The result underscores the complexity of the issue that brings top lawyers for Facebook, Google and Twitter to testify on Capitol Hill this week. (Axios)

Americans worried about Russian influence on elections. This week is a showdown on the topic with Facebook, Google, and Twitter testifying on the Capitol Hill for the first time in years to answer for Russian actors' influence on their platforms to directly target U.S. voters. (Axios)

Google's Dominance in Washington Faces a Reckoning. Search giant is battered from all sides amid a populist turn against Silicon Valley and reaction to Russian meddling. (Wall Street Journal)

Russian-Backed Facebook Accounts Staged Events Around Divisive Issues. They publicized or financed at least 60 events-on all sides of most polarizing issues-before and after the 2016 election. (Wall Street Journal)

Facebook's last-minute effort to keep Congress at bay. On Friday, Facebook announced stronger guidelines for transparency in advertising on the social network, part of a campaign to forestall government regulation. (Wired)

Facebook: Russian pages may have reached majority of U.S. users. More than half of the Facebook's users in the United States were exposed to Russian attempts to sow discord before and after the 2016 presidential election, a company executive will tell lawmakers Tuesday, while arguing that the reach of the campaign was still limited given the platform's massive scale. (Axios)

Want to attack foreign election meddling? Hold internet ads to the same standard as radio and TV. It's now clear to everyone - with the possible exception of Donald Trump - that operatives linked to Russia took advantage of Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to stoke divisions among Americans during last year's presidential campaign. This meddling ought to outrage Americans regardless of their party affiliation. (LA Times)

Big Tech forced to answer public questions on Russia ads. Big tech companies are preparing to set aside their rivalries to present a united front in Washington this week as they are forced to answer questions for the first time in public on Russian election interference. (Financial Times)

Russian Influence Reached 126 Million Through Facebook Alone. Russian agents intending to sow discord among American citizens disseminated inflammatory posts that reached 126 million users on Facebook, published more than 131,000 messages on Twitter and uploaded over 1,000 videos to Google's YouTube service, according to copies of prepared remarks from the companies that were obtained by The New York Times. (New York Times)

Russian content on Facebook, Google and Twitter reached far more users than companies first disclosed, congressional testimony says. Facebook plans to tell lawmakers on Tuesday that 126 million of its users may have seen content produced and circulated by Russian operatives, many times more than the company had previously disclosed about the reach of the online influence campaign targeting American voters. (Washington Post)

Silicon Valley's Capitol Hill strategy: Fess up. The three most consequential platforms in the 2016 election are taking a similar approach to their appearances in front of congressional investigators over the next two days: They'll come clean about the millions of users who were exposed to Russian-bought ads and other content on their platforms before and after election day. (Axios)

America loves Google, torn on Twitter. It's unlikely these companies face serious regulatory threats under the Trump administration, which has rolled back regulations and passed new laws that have favored tech and telecom companies. But they risk a narrative forming around whether they can be trusted to police themselves, and that could alter user confidence and thus affect their lucrative advertising businesses. (Axios)

Majority of Americans are wary of regulating big tech. Calls to regulate technology platforms like Google and Facebook aren't likely to result in new regulations anytime soon - and that's fine by a narrow majority of people who say they are concerned the government will go too far, according to an Axios/SurveyMonkey poll. (Axios)

Google, Facebook will testify to lawmakers they've splashed with cash. When Google and Facebook testify before Congress on Russian election interference this week, they'll face committees filled with lawmakers who have collectively received hundreds of thousands of dollars in political donations from the companies. (Politico)

Tech executives head to U.S. Congress under harsh spotlight. Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google head before U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday for two days of grueling hearings on how Russia allegedly used their services to try to sway the 2016 U.S. election. (Reuters)
Taxes

Tax reform could change the way Americans save. Republican tax writers are wrestling with the future of the American savings system as part of the tax overhaul plan they expect to release on Wednesday. (Politico Pro)

Tax writers mull crackdown on U.S. companies headed for exits. House Republicans are considering cracking down on U.S. companies that move overseas while still selling their products to Americans, as part of their tax-rewrite plan due this week. (Politico Pro)

How the Senate tax bill is shaping up. The House is set to release its tax planon Wednesday, but the Senate is planning on releasing its own bill about a week or so after. The bill will differ in some significant ways from the House bill, and is geared toward attracting moderates like Sen. Susan Collins - and even potentially Democrats. (Axios)

U.S. House tangles with top tax issues, bill's timetable in doubt. As a self-imposed mid-week deadline for unveiling a tax-cut bill loomed, Republicans in the U.S. Congress were still grappling with key provisions and some lobbyists expressed concern that a bill might not be ready as expected on Wednesday. (Reuters)

Senate GOP: We are unified on controversial tax policy change. Senate Republicans say that a brewing controversy in the House on state and local tax deductions won't be much of a problem in the upper chamber. (The Hill)

Kevin Brady: The Texas Republican Behind the Tax Overhaul. When Texas congressman Kevin Brady needs a sense of peace, he reaches into his desk drawer, pulls out a prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi and props it up on a Diet Coke can for easy viewing. (Wall Street Journal)

Global Trade

Commerce memo a takedown of China's quest to gain non-market economy status. The Commerce Department issued a lengthy memo on Mondaythat reaffirmed the Trump administration's view that China's economy operates far outside the realm of market forces and should continue to be treated as a non-market economy in the context of trade cases. (Politico Pro)

Xi Jinping, Newly Exalted, Tells C.E.O.s China Will Continue to 'Open Up'. Just days after being likened to a king by President Trump, President Xi Jinping of China on Monday reiterated his commitment to reform while holding court before a group of wealthy and influential business leaders from his country and the United States. (New York Times)

Apple's Cook, Facebook's Zuckerberg meet China's Xi in Beijing. Apple Inc chief executive Tim Cook and Facebook Inc's Mark Zuckerberg met Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday at an annual gathering of advisers to Beijing's Tsinghua University business school. (Reuters)

Chinese investors are making moves to increase their spending in Silicon Valley. Leading Chinese financial institutions are slowly increasing their physical footprint in Silicon Valley, mirroring the moves made by Middle Eastern investors in recent years as foreign countries look to capitalize on the U.S. tech boom. (Recode)

Russia Uses Its Oil Giant, Rosneft, as a Foreign Policy Tool. Russia is increasingly wielding oil as a geopolitical tool, spreading its influence around the world and challenging the interests of the United States. (New York Times)

Manufacturers go after Trump nominee for Export-Import Bank. A powerful industry body representing manufacturers is homing in on South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott to crush the confirmation of Scott Garrett - President Trump's nominee to run the Export-Import Bank. (Axios)

Garrett, Trump's pick for Ex-Im Bank post, faces stormy hearing. Former Rep. Scott Garrett, President Donald Trump's pick to lead the Export-Import Bank, is about to face a public beating from his old colleagues on Capitol Hill. (Politico Pro)

Artificial Intelligence

Ford's Argo AI acquires lidar startup Princeton Lightwave. In order to ensure its self-driving cars have the best vision possible, Ford's Argo AI is doubling down on its lidar efforts with a new acquisition. (CNET)

How AI could (really) enhance images from space. People are Digitalglobe are fond of saying they've built a "time machine of the planet." And, if we're being metaphorical, that's true: The satellite imaging company has used orbiters to take and store super sharp images of Earth for 17 years. Their eyes have gazed down as trees have disappeared and appeared, floodwaters have flowed in and out, and cities have boomed and busted. But that time-lapse is only useful if someone can make sense of its meaning. (Wired)

Antitrust

Alphabet's Google Responds to EU Antitrust Fine. Search-engine giant argues in court papers released Monday that European regulator failed to prove its behavior hurt rivals. (Wall Street Journal)

Cybersecurity

DHS is too slow to share cyber threat info, companies say. The Homeland Security Department should speed up how quickly it shares information about cyber and physical threats facing critical infrastructure sectors, according to half the respondents in a Government Accountability Office review. (NextGov)

Privacy
Is your phone listening in? Your stories. Facebook has always denied using smartphone microphones to gather audio from people's real-life conversations and then use that data to serve advertising. (BBC)

Censorship

Chinese Internet Regulators Target Social Media Use. New rules rolled out for messaging apps, new content platforms a week after Communist Party congress. (Wall Street Journal)

Broadband/Communications

FCC chair wants to impose a cap on broadband funding for poor families. Pai proposes Lifeline budget cap and new limits on which ISPs can get subsidies. (Ars Technica)

Internet of Things

In the race for driverless cars, are other safety items being left in the dust?. As Washington focuses on pressing forward with regulations to enable driverless cars and their safety benefits, safety watchdogs caution that the race to market means other low-hanging fruit that could decrease traffic deaths is being neglected. (Politico)
Toyota's Talking Car Wants to Be Your Clingy BFF. AI 'Yui' just needs to track your social-media activity and record what you say. (Wall Street Journal)

Toyota will test its self-driving cars in California on a closed obstacle course. Toyota is ready to expand work on its self-driving platform. Next up: The automaker will run its cars through the ringer on a private AV test course known for tough conditions. (Mashable)

The urgent case for IoT security training for civilian agencies. It's no secret that the rise of the internet of things has complicated cybersecurity. The exponential increase in the number of connected devices over the last five years has led to a corresponding rise in the number of potential network vulnerabilities. (NextGov)

Energy

Longtime Ally of Offshore Drillers Oversees Safety Agency. When Houston executives Don Armijo and Jon Unwin arrived earlier this month to meet with the offshore oil-and-gas industry's chief safety regulator, a warm message awaited them in the hallway of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. (Wall Street Journal)

Get ready for a bump at the pump in California. California drivers normally catch a bit of a break this time of year, when gas stations switch over to winter blends, which usually run about 12 cents a gallon less than summer-blended fuel. (Los Angeles Times)

Environment/Sustainability

What we've learned about climate change since Hurricane Sandy. When hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria recently pounded Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, the severity of the storms was often attributed to climate change. (Wired)

Tech Business

Apple touches record as brokerages bullish on iPhone X demand. Several analysts downplayed concerns about Apple Inc's iPhone X production issues and were bullish on demand and sales, pushing the company's shares to a record on Monday. (Reuters)

iPhone 8 may be Apple's least popular model in China. Ahead of iPhone X's launch, Chinese e-commerce sites are slashing prices on the iPhone 8 to encourage sales. (CNET)

YouTube tweaks advertising algorithm. YouTube is tweaking the way it chooses which videos will have adverts shown with them. (BBC)

Amazon has slashed seller fees to try to improve its grocery selection online. The economics of selling low-priced packaged goods online are tough. (Recode)

ITI Member News

'Amazon Stadium' is the latest bait being dangled in front of Jeff Bezos. A Chicago developer is promising a sports complex if the company decides to put its HQ2 in the Windy City. (Recode)

Alexa, Are You Safe For My Kids?. Earlier this month, the toy-giant Mattel announced it had pulled the plug on plans to sell an interactive gadget for children. (NPR)

Youtube's quest to make TV work everywhere. Neil Cormican has pent his career trying to fix the interface on your TV. Before he was the head of design at YouTube TV, Cormican worked on program guides, interactive systems, and web-based TV. (Wired)

Amazon, Intel and Uber join brief against LGBT discrimination. A number of tech companies have joined Apple, PayPal, Lyft and Yelp in a corporate brief urging the Supreme Court to reject the notion that businesses can choose to discriminate against LGBT customers. (Axios)

How to Fix Facebook? We Asked 9 Experts. Colin Stretch, the general counsel of Facebook, will appear on Tuesday before senators who are investigating how Russia spread misinformation online during the 2016 presidential campaign. Along with Google and Twitter, Facebook has been blamed for helping Russian agents influence the outcome of the election. (New York Times)

Apple could drop Qualcomm components in next year's iPhones, iPads: sources. Apple Inc has designed iPhones and iPads that would drop chips supplied by Qualcomm Inc, according to two people familiar with the matter. (Reuters)

The college kids doing what Twitter won't. Two days before real-life troll Milo Yiannopoulos would descend on UC Berkeley's campus in September, Ash Bhat and Rohan Phadte were sizing up a railing partisan on Twitter from their college apartment. (Wired)

Today on the Hill

The House will meet at 12:00 p.m. for morning hour and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m.
The Senate will convene at 10:00 a.m. and proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to be United States Circuit Judge for the Seventh Circuit.
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