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Tech News Roundup - 11/02/2017

Tech News Roundup

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11/02/2017

Key Issues

Tech Politics

Anatomy of a Russian Facebook ad. On Wednesday, lawmakers released some of the 3,000 ads that Russian operatives bought during the 2016 presidential campaign and its aftermath. Facebook has said these ads were created by the Internet Research Agency, a troll farm in St. Petersburg, with the goal of influencing U.S. voters. (Washington Post)

Russian ads, now publicly released, show sophistication of influence campaign. Lawmakers on Wednesday released a trove of ads that Russian operatives bought on Facebook, providing the fullest picture yet of how foreign actors sought to promote Republican Donald Trump, denigrate Democrat Hillary Clinton and divide Americans over some of the nation's most sensitive social issues. (Washington Post)

Fiery exchanges on Capitol Hill as lawmakers scold Facebook, Google and Twitter. Senators from both parties took tech company officials to task in a hearing Wednesday for failing to better identify, defuse and investigate Russia's campaign to manipulate American voters over social media during the 2016 presidential campaign. (Washington Post)

Facebook, Twitter and Google berated by senators on Russia. Russian operatives, likely working from St Petersburg, provoked angry Americans to take to the streets, a US Senate committee heard on Wednesday. The May 2016 protest, arranged by a group named Heart of Texas, was one example of Kremlin-backed efforts to destabilise the American electoral process. (BBC)

Lawmakers are pushing Facebook to reach out to each U.S. user who saw Russian propaganda. U.S. lawmakers nudged Facebook on Wednesday to inform individual U.S. users - millions in total - that they saw Russian propaganda on the site during the 2016 presidential election. (Recode)

Russia-Financed Ad Linked Clinton and Satan. Lawmakers released scores of political ads on Wednesday purchased by Russian agents on Facebook and Twitter that showed the extent of the Kremlin's attempts to polarize the American voting public on issues like race, police abuse and religion. (New York Times)

Top intel Dem 'disappointed' with tech giants' Russia testimony. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, saidon Wednesday that he was not impressed with social media companies' testimony this week on Russia's alleged use of their platforms to influence the presidential election. (The Hill)

Former Yahoo CEO, Equifax CEO to testify at Senate hearing. Former Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer and the current and former CEOs of Equifax Inc (EFX.N) will testify before a U.S. Senate panel on Nov. 8 on two massive data breaches, the committee said Wednesday. (Reuters)
Senate panel to vote next week on online sex-trafficking bill. The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee will vote next week on a bipartisan proposal that would make it easier to penalize operators of websites that facilitate online sex trafficking, the panel said in a statement on Wednesday. (Reuters)

Americans 'evenly split' over need to regulate Facebook and other big tech. Voters in the US are evenly divided over whether to regulate technology companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook that enable the targeting of users based on their political interests, according to a survey that suggests many Americans remain undecided over whether Silicon Valley is a force for good. (The Guardian)

Utah Republican fuels speculation Hatch will retire. A Utah Republican added fuel to speculation that Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) will retire and former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney may run for the seat. (Politico)

What we learned from the big tech Russia hearings. Marathon congressional hearings on Russian election interference and social media left execs from Facebook, Google and Twitter badly bruised and with a new view of just how mad Washington is about their handling of content aiming to divide Americans. (Axios)

New Facebook Data Shows Russians Targeted Users by Race, Religion, Politics. Russian operatives targeted users on Facebook Inc. FB 1.44% by race, religion and interests such as gun ownership, the Confederate flag and Ivanka Trump's jewelry line, according to advertising data released by lawmakers Wednesday as part of congressional investigations into Russian manipulation on social media around the U.S. election. (Wall Street Journal)
Taxes

Apple CEO Tim Cook tells NBC News that the US should reform the tax code now. Tax reform is sorely needed and should have been done years ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook told NBC News' Lester Holt. (CNBC)

House GOP waffles on Trump's promised permanent cut in corporate tax rate. House Republican leaders are preparing to release their tax plan on Thursday after numerous delays, but in a late switch, they now say the initial version of their bill will not contain one of President Trump's major promises. (Washington Post)

White House wants a tax bill by Friday. When House Speaker Paul Ryan warned President Donald Trump during a Tuesday Oval Office meeting that the rollout of the long-awaited tax reform bill might have to be postponed a day, the president said that was fine. (Politico)

It's go time for tax plan, top House tax writer says. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady said Republicans are on track to release tax legislation Thursday, after a day of intense wrangling over details including the fate of a state and local tax deduction. The bill will "definitely" be released, Brady (R-Texas) said Wednesday evening, one day after he aborted the rollout amid resistance from GOP lawmakers from Democratic states. (Politico)

GOP grapples with internal resistance to tax plan. House Republicans are scrambling to release their tax bill on Thursday after being forced to postpone the rollout because of resistance from GOP lawmakers from Democratic states. (Politico)

Tax overhaul may cross Trump's 'red line'. Two of President Donald Trump's "red line" goals in tax reform may ultimately prove to be out of reach: the 20 percent corporate income tax rate and 25 percent rate for all other businesses. (Politico)

Math Problem Bedevils Republican Tax Rewrite. There is a math problem at the heart of the Republican Party's protracted introduction of a sprawling tax bill, and it grows, in part, from President Trump's two nonnegotiable demands. (New York Times)

The biggest problem in the GOP tax plan. Republican House members tell me that the most politically explosive issue, by far, in the tax plan to be released tomorrow is the over-complicated treatment of "pass-through entities" (often small businesses that report business income on personal returns). (Axios)

Trump tries to tie Obamacare repeal to tax cuts. President Donald Trump urged Congress on Wednesday to immediately consider repealing Obamacare's individual mandate to free up funds for tax cuts. (Politico)

Colleges, charities, Uber drivers could pay more under Senate tax reform plan. Universities, charities, life insurance companies and others could all lose cherished tax breaks under a Senate plan to rewrite the tax code. (Politico)

Emmanuel Macron's Unwanted New Title: 'President of the Rich'. From the all-powerful president with the infallible touch, Emmanuel Macron has become the "president of the rich," an elitist dispensing fiscal goodies to the wealthy. (New York Times)

Privacy

App developer access to iPhone X face data spooks some privacy experts. Apple Inc won accolades from privacy experts in September for assuring that facial data used to unlock its new iPhone X would be securely stored on the phone itself. (Reuters)

Global Trade
How China Swallowed the WTO. Inside the cement compound housing the World Trade Organization lies a colorful Chinese garden of cultivated rocks, arches and calligraphy. The gift from the Chinese commerce ministry symbolizes "world prosperity through cross-cultural fertilization," according to a marble plaque. (Wall Street Journal)

Who Wants to Supply China's Surveillance State? The West. U.S. tech giants and Chinese state-backed companies showed off the future of policing in this southern technology hub as they vie for a slice of the world's biggest surveillance market. (WSJ)

Artificial Intelligence
The AI of science fiction just got one step closer. Major websites all over the world use a system called CAPTCHA to verify that someone is indeed a human and not a bot when entering data or signing into an account. CAPTCHA stands for the "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart." The squiggly letters and numbers, often posted against photographs or textured backgrounds, have been a good way to foil hackers. They are annoying but effective. (Washington Post)

Immigration

Tech companies back lawsuit against DACA repeal. More than 100 companies - including many of the tech industry's biggest players such as Google and IBM - are supporting a California lawsuit that seeks to block President Donald Trump's efforts to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. (Politico)

California, Other States Ask Judge to Keep DACA in Place. California's attorney general and those in three other states asked a federal judge on Wednesday to temporarily block the Trump administration's decision to rescind a program that protects undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as children. (Wall Street Journal)

Trump, Citing Attack in New York, Calls for End to Visa Program. President Trump touched off a sharply partisan debate over some of the most divisive issues in American life on Wednesday as he cited this week's terrorist attack in New York to advance his agenda on immigration and national security while assailing Democrats for endangering the country. (New York Times)

Antitrust
Google Limits Access To Airfare Data, Risking Antitrust Concerns. IN 2010, WHEN Google paid $700 million to acquire airline-data company ITA Software, the Department of Justice scrutinized the deal for antitrust issues. The deal was ultimately approved, but one condition of the approval required Google to allow others to access the data for five years. (Wired)

Broadband/Communications
Goodlatte Says Antitrust Law Change Could Settle Net Neutrality Fight. A leading House Republican on Wednesday said he's willing to overhaul the nation's antitrust laws to resolve the long-running net neutrality debate, after the Federal Communications Commission earlier this year proposed overturning the Obama-era internet regulations. (Morning Consult)

Public Sector

Dave Mader: MGT Act poised to become law via NDAA. The Modernizing Government Technology Act, by most reckoning, will become law by way of the National Defense Authorization Act. The MGT will give federal chief information officers something they've long wanted -a central fund of $3 billion from which they can draw to update obsolete IT systems. (Federal News Radio)

PSC forecast: IT advancements are coming in 2018, but leadership uncertainty remains. The federal government's ongoing efforts to modernize its IT are starting to bear fruit, according to a new contracting forecast for 2018. But several questions remain about how far those efforts will go. (FedScoop)

HHS continuing to push for health care cyberthreat sharing. Sharing cyberthreat information between public and private sector partners has long been the Department of Homeland Security's strategy for strong cybersecurity. (FedScoop)

Florida Names First Chief Data Officer. The state of Florida has hired its first-ever chief data officer, one of two related positions it will fill by year's end. Nancy Sampson, the former Information Technology Services director for the state Department of Financial Services (DFS), Division of Rehabilitation and Liquidation, took over her new position on Friday, Oct. 27, a state official said. She'll be responsible for defining a vision and strategy for state data management and governance. (GovTech)

Will AI Chatbots Replace the Government Mobile App? Despite some existential dread about artificial intelligence (AI), Serge Leontiev thinks the technology is pretty safe for the time being. In fact, the public sector innovation lead at Oracle thinks humanity is at the monkey-smashing-things-with-a-stick stage of AI. (GovTech)

Evidence-Based Policy Bill Would Require Chief Data Officers For All Agencies. A bipartisan effort to back federal policy with facts and figures is underway. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., introduced the Evidence-Based Policymaking Act Tuesday, which would direct federal agencies to use data to evaluate the effectiveness of its programs. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., introduced a companion bill to the Senate. (NextGov)

Federal IT Reforms Are Freeing Up Funds In An Otherwise Flat Budget Forecast. Obama-era technology modernization programs and legislation are beginning to have a substantial effect freeing up IT budget money, but there's a long way left to go, industry executives said during a Professional Services Council market forecast Wednesday. (NextGov)

GAO Says Cybersecurity Is Top Concern For 2020 Census. As the government continues to chip away at a backlog of postponed preparations for the 2020 Census, the head of a top federal watchdog group said Tuesday that cybersecurity remains his biggest concern in the upcoming count of U.S. residents. (NextGov)

DHS Wants Tech To Scan Your Face As You Drive To Mexico. The Homeland Security Department wants technology that can passively scan the faces of foreign nationals crossing the U.S. border by car, ensuring that the individuals who enter the country are the same ones who leave it. (NextGov)

Whitehouse renews call for cyber IG. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) is looking to establish a cybersecurity inspector general with the authority to probe federal networks for weaknesses. A cyber IG, Whitehouse argues, would be a way to recruit cybersecurity experts who would prefer to focus on penetration testing and other white hat activities, rather than toil in one of the more than 70 IG offices around government. (Federal Computer Week)
Workforce/Diversity

Awaiting Trump's coal comeback, miners reject retraining. When Mike Sylvester entered a career training center earlier this year in southwestern Pennsylvania, he found more than one hundred federally funded courses covering everything from computer programming to nursing. (Reuters)

Where the STEM Jobs Are (and Where They Aren't). The national priority in education can be summed up in a four-letter acronym: STEM. And that's understandable. A country's proficiency in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is vital in generating economic growth, advancing scientific innovation and creating good jobs. (New York Times)

Silicon Valley Tried to Reinvent Schools. Now It's Rebooting. Max Ventilla sold investors on a promise to build modern, technology-infused schools that would revolutionize education. (Bloomberg)

Internet of Things
Gov't won't pursue talking car mandate. The Trump administration has quietly set aside plans to require new cars to be able to wirelessly talk to each other, auto industry officials said, jeopardizing one of the most promising technologies for preventing traffic deaths. (AP)
Energy
Is this a game changer for the oil and gas industry? "Looking back over the past three years, I'm struck by just how far we've come with the OGCI, and how quickly we've come," Bob Dudley, BP chief executive and current chair of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, told a room full of investors, fossil fuel industry executives, green NGOs and journalists late last week. (GreenBiz)

Environment/Sustainability

EPA bans research grant recipients from advising agency on science. US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt took another step to reshape the independent boards that advise the agency on science Tuesday. The newly announced directive bars scientists who receive EPA research grants from serving as science advisers to the agency. The move follows previous decisions to dismiss a number of academic researchers in favor of greater representation from industry representatives. (Ars Technica)

For Scientists Predicting Sea Level Rise, Wind Is The Biggest Unknown. From the air, the largest glacier on the biggest ice sheet in the world looks the same as it has for centuries; massive, stable, blindingly white. But beneath the surface it's a totally different story. East Antarctica's Totten Glacier is melting, fast, from below. Thanks to warm ocean upwellings flowing into the glacier-in some places at the rate of 220,000 cubic meters per second-it's losing between 63 and 80 billion tons of previously frozen fresh water every year. (Wired)

An Alaska Senator Wants to Fight Climate Change and Drill for Oil, Too. Senator Lisa Murkowski was unequivocal when asked recently about rising global temperatures: "Climate change is real," the Alaska Republican told an audience in Anchorage. (New York Times)

Australia Has a Climate Change Lesson for the World. No issue has been such a political graveyard in Australia as climate change. At least three prime ministers from the last decade have had their tenure buried there: John Howard, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard all lost their jobs, at least in part, for trying and failing to deliver polices to combat climate change. (New York Times)

Tech Business
Facebook and Google's enormous profits may buoy Wall Street. But it's a different story in Washington. Hours after Facebook appeared before a Senate panel Wednesday to account for the company's role in the spread of Russian misinformation on its platform, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg got on a conference call with investors to celebrate a milestone: For the first time in its history, Facebook had earned more than $10 billion in quarterly revenue. (Washington Post)

Facebook Profit Jumps 79%, Revenue Up. Facebook Inc. extended its dominance in online advertising in the third quarter but said it would sacrifice some future growth to invest more heavily in its safety and security operations to address the growing scrutiny of its power and influence. (Wall Street Journal)

What Russia probe? Tech companies hit record earnings. Google, Facebook and Twitter announced record third quarter earnings over the past two weeks, despite facing one of the toughest PR crisis in years, with two days of televised congressional probes into the ways Russians used their platforms to meddle in the 2016 elections. (Axios)

The Upside of Being Ruled by the Five Tech Giants. The tech giants are too big. But what if that's not so bad? (New York Times)

ITI Member News

Zuckerberg: Security investments will affect profits. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg opened a quarterly earnings call today by telling investors that the company's efforts to combat election interference and other nefarious acts will have a "significant impact" on the social network's bottom line. (Politico)
Apple CEO Tim Cook says social media is being used to manipulate and divide us. Apple CEO Tim Cook doesn't have a high opinion of platform-owning social media and advertising companies, most of which are now embroiled in an ongoing controversy about Russian interference in the 2016 US election. Cook, in an interview with Lester Holt on NBC Nightly News this evening, said the big issue isn't the advertisements targeting groups and individuals, but the overall nature of social media as a tool for misinformation and manipulation. (The Verge)
Intuit names its first chief product and design officer. Intuit on Wednesdayannounced that it's bringing on Diego Rodriguez, previously a partner and global managing director at IDEO, to serve as executive vice president and chief product and design officer. (ZDNet)

Today on the Hill

The House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business. First votes expected: 2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Last votes expected: 4:45 p.m. - 5:45 p.m.
The Senate will convene at 9:30 a.m. and proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the nomination of Allison H. Eid to be United States Circuit Judge for the Tenth Circuit.
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