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Tech News Roundup - 01/03/2018

Tech News Roundup

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01/03/2018

Key Issues

Tech Politics

'Fake News': Wide Reach but Little Impact, Study Suggests. Fake news evolved from seedy internet sideshow to serious electoral threat so quickly that behavioral scientists had little time to answer basic questions about it, like who was reading what, how much real news they also consumed and whether targeted fact-checking efforts ever hit a target. (New York Times)

Microsoft execs: Big Tech and democracy need to work together. It's not often that Big Tech calls for more government action. But two top Microsoft executives - Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer, and Carol Ann Browne, director of executive communications - write in a tech trends forecast out today. (Axios)

Surveillance and sex-trafficking on Congress' to-do list. Lawmakers are coming back later this month. So are the big battles over tech policy. (Axios)

Conservatives' culture wars come to Silicon Valley. They say their disdain stems from suspicions that tech companies are biased against their views. (Politico)

Twitter blocks far-right leader as Germany tightens hate speech law. Germany's tough new social media law appears to be working: A far-right member of parliament had her Twitter account suspended shortly after posting an anti-Muslim message. (CNN)

Expect 2018 to Be More Sane? Sorry, It's Not Going to Happen. Happy new year to you and yours, of course, but I'm going to have to put a halt to the festivities and play Frowning Farhad for a minute: You're fooling yourself if you think 2018 is going to be any different, sanity- or anxiety-wise, from the roller coaster of the year just concluded. (New York Times)

Taxes
Tax Changes Could Hurt Affordability At High End Of The Housing Market. Kari Pinto and her husband recently retired, and now are hoping to trade Iowa - and its harsh winters - for a state with a milder climate. (NPR)

Tax-Law Spat Over a Kentucky College Prompts Charges of Favoritism. Republican lawmakers are looking for a way to exempt a small, tuition-free college in Kentucky from a provision in their new tax law that imposes a levy on university endowments, prompting charges of favoritism from Democrats. (Wall Street Journal)

Privacy
FTC approves settlement with Lenovo over privacy charges. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Tuesday approved a settlement with computer manufacturer Lenovo over charges that it had violated user privacy with software that came preloaded on its computers. (The Hill)

Global Trade
Trump's Done With TPP, but U.S. Companies Still Interested. The U.S. government might have pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but U.S. businesses did not. (BGov)

Making China Great Again. As Donald Trump surrenders America's global commitments, Xi Jinping is learning to pick up the pieces. (The New Yorker)

As Trump Weighs New Tariffs, Imports of Washers and Solar Panels Jump. Foreign makers of products including washing machines and solar panels are ramping up shipments to the U.S. ahead of government decisions on whether to erect new barriers, trade data show. (Wall Street Journal)

Artificial Intelligence

How an A.I. 'Cat-and-Mouse Game' Generates Believable Fake Photos. The woman in the photo seems familiar. (New York Times)

Beijing to build $2 billion AI research park: Xinhua. Beijing is planning to build a 13.8 billion yuan ($2.12 billion) artificial intelligence development park in the city's west, the official Xinhua news agency reported, as China pushes ahead to fulfill its ambition to become a world leader in AI by 2025. (Reuters)

Immigration
Homeland Security deployed 'crisis action team' to enforce first Trump travel ban. When protests and widespread confusion broke out at airports across the U.S. after President Donald Trump issued his first travel ban executive order last January, White House officials scoffed at the scenes of turmoil and insisted the president's plan was smoothly moving into place. (Politico)

Trump: 'Democrats are doing nothing for DACA'. Accusing Democrats of playing politics with undocumented immigrants who came into the country as children, President Donald Trump on Tuesday predicted that so-called Dreamers will fall "in love" with the GOP. (Politico)

Trump takes hard line on 'dreamers,' but remains interested in a deal. President Trump escalated tensions with Democratic leaders Tuesday over the fate of young undocumented immigrants known as "dreamers," claiming the lawmakers are "doing nothing" to protect them from deportation as a key deadline nears, even though last year he ended the Obama-era program that allowed those immigrants to stay in the country. (Washington Post)

Ex-Homeland Security Officials Urge Faster Action on DACA. Three former homeland security secretaries warned congressional leaders and officials of both parties on Wednesday that the window for legislative action to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children will close by the middle of January, months before a period outlined by the White House. (New York Times)

As Flow of Foreign Students Wanes, U.S. Universities Feel the Sting. At Wright State University in Ohio, the French horn and tuba professors are out. So is the accomplished swimming team. (New York Times)

Antitrust
EU Asks: Does Control of 'Big Data' Kill Competition?. European Union antitrust regulators are taking a hard look at an increasingly important corporate currency: data. (Wall Street Journal)

Broadband/Communications

Ajit Pai's FCC is still editing the net neutrality repeal order. The Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality rules on December 14, but the FCC is still making edits to the repeal order and hasn't released the final version. The final order should be similar to the draft released by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai three weeks before the vote, but some changes will be made. (ArsTechnica)

How states are crafting their own net neutrality rules. FastCompany's Sean Captain reported Tuesday on the ways that states are trying to establish their own net neutrality rules, after the FCC repealed rules at the federal level. (Axios)

Public Sector
Tech Enables Better On-Demand Services for Transit Agencies. Several transit agencies are experimenting with service ideas that will pick you up from home, much like a taxi or ride-share service. (Gov Tech)

Now It's Industry's Turn to Come Up with Botnet Fighting Ideas. A Commerce Department cybersecurity center wants to work with industry to combat botnets powered by internet-connected smart devices. (NextGov)

A Customs Computer Outage Strands Thousands in Airports, Again. Thousands of international travelers spent New Year's Day stranded in airports after a system outage shut down Customs and Border Protection stations across the country for two hours. (NextGov)

NSA's top talent is leaving because of low pay, slumping morale and unpopular reorganization. The National Security Agency is losing its top talent at a worrisome rate as highly skilled personnel, some disillusioned with the spy service's leadership and an unpopular reorganization, take higher-paying, more flexible jobs in the private sector. (Washington Post)

All in for FirstNet. Although 53 states and U.S. territories have officially opted into the FirstNet wireless communications network, some are cautious about vendor AT&T and the 25-year deployment plan. (Federal Computer Week)

Censorship

State Department calls on Iran to stop blocking social media. The State Department on Tuesday urged the Iranian government to end its blocking of social media platforms amid continued protests against the country's clerical rulers. (The Hill)

U.S. officials urge Iran to stop blocking social-media sites as death toll rises in nationwide protests. The Trump administration accused the Iranian government Tuesday of blocking or suppressing communications used by anti-government protesters and began laying groundwork for new international sanctions targeting alleged human rights abuses. (Washington Post)

Toutiao, a High-Flying Chinese App, Delivers News to Millions. China's Censors Have Noticed. One of the world's most valuable start-ups got that way by using artificial intelligence to satisfy Chinese internet users' voracious appetite for news and entertainment. (New York Times)

Internet of Things

Alexa in your ceiling? GE teases voice-friendly smart lights for CES. Coming later this year, new Wi-Fi-connected ceiling lights from GE will include built-in microphones that let you talk to Alexa or Google Assistant -- no smart speakers needed. (CNET)

Smart Elevators, Self-Driving Cars Require More Computing Power at Network's Edge. Millions of machines and objects are connecting to the internet for the first time, challenging an architecture that was designed during the last few decades with people in mind. As a result, companies are putting more computing resources at the edge of the network, in vehicles, elevators, factory machines and the like. (Wall Street Journal)

Cybersecurity
Computer security world buzzing about a big Intel bug. The IT industry is bracing for the disclosure of a major bug in Intel chips that could affect processors going back a decade and require significant updates to Windows, Linux and cloud operating systems. (Axios)

Workforce/Diversity

New book explores Silicon Valley's sex party scene. Bloomberg veteran Emily Chang's book on Silicon Valley and gender could hardly hit at a more important time. (Axios)

Energy
Oil hits highest since mid-2015, then dips. Oil prices eased on Tuesday after hitting mid-2015 highs in early trading, as major pipelines in Libya and the UK restarted and U.S production soared to the highest in more than four decades. (Reuters)

Environment/Sustainability

How Scott Pruitt turned the EPA into one of Trump's most powerful tools. Since 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency has been embroiled in an enforcement battle with a Michigan-based company accused of modifying the state's largest coal-fired power plant without getting federal permits for a projected rise in pollution. (Washington Post)

China, Moving to Cut Emissions, Halts Production of 500 Car Models. China is suspending the production of more than 500 car models that do not meet its fuel economy standards, several automakers confirmed Tuesday, the latest move by Beijing to reduce emissions in the world's largest auto market and take the lead in battling climate change. (New York Times)

Tech Business
Nasdaq Crests 7000 as Tech Giants Roar Into 2018. Tech-focused index jumped 28% in 2017, beating the Dow Jones Industrial Average's 25% gain and S&P 500's 19% rise. (Wall Street Journal)

Amazon says over 5 billion items shipped in 2017 via Prime. Online retailer Amazon.com Inc said on Tuesday it shipped over 5 billion items worldwide via its subscription based Prime service in 2017 while adding more new members than ever before. (Reuters)

Facebook, YouTube double down on music rights. Facebook and Universal Music struck a multi-year licensing deal just before the holiday to let users across all Facebook media properties use recorded music and publishing catalogs for video across Facebook. (Axios)

Apple buys Canadian startup to help developers build iPhone apps. Apple has acquired BuddyBuild a small Canadian company that helps developers build and test mobile apps. (Axios)

Amazon has big plans for Alexa ads in 2018; it's discussing options with P&G, Clorox and others. Amazon is turning to Alexa and asking it to build a big digital advertising business. (CNBC)

Tenor taps media companies to build a business out of GIFs. Four-year-old startup Tenor is trying to capitalize on the rise of GIFs - short looping videos - by letting media companies sell sponsorships of its GIFs to their own advertisers. Tenor tells Axios that its 300 million users now perform 10 billion monthly searches and share "billions" of GIFs every day. (Axios)

ITI Member News

Samsung to introduce smart glasses, lung recovery device at CES. The projects are out of C-Lab, the tech giant's in-house incubator program. (CNET)
Apple will replace your iPhone battery even if it passes a test. The company's pulling out all the stops to make customers happy. (CNET)
Amazon, Salesforce Shifting Business Away From Oracle: Report. Amazon.com Inc. and Salesforce.com Inc., two of Oracle Corp.'s biggest customers, are actively working to replace Oracle software running on crucial business systems with lower cost open-source database software, the Information reported, citing people familiar with the discussions. (Bloomberg)
With a new acquisition, Apple looks to improve workflow for developers. Apple has acquired Buddybuild, a startup that offers services to aid app developers with user testing and iteration. (Ars Technica)
Twitter face backlash over Trump nuclear button tweet. Twitter faced renewed criticism Tuesday after President Trump took to the service to taunt North Korea's Kim Jong-un over the size of his, um, nuclear button. (Axios)
Facebook's Uneven Enforcement of Hate Speech Rules Allows Vile Posts to Stay Up. We asked Facebook about its handling of 49 posts that might be deemed offensive. The company acknowledged that its content reviewers had made the wrong call on 22 of them. (Pro Publica)

Today on the Hill

The House will convene at 12:00 p.m. for a quorum call.

The Senate will convene at 12:00 p.m. and begin a period of morning business.
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