Skip to main content

Tech News Roundup - 01/24/2018

Tech News Roundup

Go Back

Key Issues


Senators Race to Protect Immigrants, and Restore Their Institution. The bipartisan group of senators who intervened to help end the government shutdown now faces an even more formidable task: freeing the Senate - and perhaps Washington - from its dysfunctional rut. (New York Times)

Why a DACA deal looks so hard to reach. A DACA solution along with a long-term budget by February 8 looks next to impossible, Senate aides on both side of the aisle as well as several industry sources closely involved tell Axios. (Axios)
White House Calls Senators' Immigration Proposal 'Totally Unacceptable' to Trump. Press secretary says plan doesn't meet benchmarks, 'should be declared dead on arrival'. (Wall Street Journal)
Schumer withdraws offer on Trump's wall. Republicans aligned with Trump are unlikely to go for any bill that does not offer a major boost in border wall funding. (Politico)
Immigration talks quickly hit a wall. Senators crashing on a two-week deadline to come up with an immigration plan are already sparring over funding for President Donald Trump's border wall, what qualifies as border security - even what the scope of the negotiations are. (Politico Pro)

Tech Politics

Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google spent nearly $50 million - a record - to influence the U.S. government in 2017. Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google cumulatively racked up a roughly $50 million tab fighting off President Donald Trump and an onslaught of new federal regulations last year - a reflection that the tech industry is increasingly under political siege in the nation's capital. (Recode)

Google for the first time outspent every other company to influence Washington in 2017. Google for the first time spent more than any other company in 2017 to influence Washington, highlighting both the sprawling reach of the country's thriving tech industry and the rising concern by regulators and lawmakers of its ascendance. (Washington Post)
Democrats are demanding to know if Russian trolls or bots have tried to 'manipulate public opinion' on Facebook and Twitter again. This time, the fear is that they're trying to discredit an investigation into Russia's potential election meddling. (Recode)
Russian tech investors set up shop in Silicon Valley. Masha Drokova, a 28-year-old Russian political activist turned venture capitalist, on Tuesday joined a small family of Russian nationals who have set up shop as Silicon Valley venture investors. (Reuters)
Global Trade

U.S. Tariffs, Aimed at China and South Korea, to Hit Targets Worldwide. When the Trump administration unveiled tariffs on imports of solar panels and washing machines - industries dominated by Chinese and South Korean businesses - they deliberately applied them to products from around the world. (New York Times)
Trump Tariffs Spark Criticism, Raise Tensions Over Trade. The emerging fault lines in the global trading system were laid bare Tuesday, as 11 Pacific Rim nations agreed to forge a new commercial bloc that excludes the U.S., while President Donald Trump signed orders to curb cheap Asian imports he said had unfairly harmed American manufacturers. (Wall Street Journal)

U.S. Allies Shift Trade Priorities as Trump Rolls Out 'America First'. Eleven Pacific Rim nations forge a new trade bloc without the U.S. and Europe moves to shore up other ties as Washington takes tougher approach. (Wall Street Journal)

Davos 2018: 'More to come' on US trade tariffs. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin - the first of the US delegation to arrive in Davos - said President Donald Trump was "determined to deal" with what he sees as unfair foreign competition. (BBC)
Trudeau: Good trade agreements put citizens first. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau forcefully defended international trade on Tuesday, asserting that progressive global agreements that put citizens' interests first can help combat the growing trend of anti-trade sentiment worldwide. (Politico Pro)

Trump says no trade war despite Asia outcry over tariffs. US President Donald Trump has brushed off concerns that new tariffs the US has imposed on imported washing machines and solar panels will lead to a trade war. (BBC)
Tim Scott looking at 'legislative options' to counter Section 201 restrictions. Sen. Tim Scott is evaluating "legislative options" in response to President Donald Trump's decision to slap new trade curbs on imports of washing machines and solar products, his office said Tuesday. (Politico Pro)
Study: NAFTA withdrawal would hit California, Texas, New York hardest. President Donald Trump would do both short- and long-term damage to the U.S. economy by withdrawing from NAFTA, with potential net job losses of 1.8 million to 3.6 million in the first year, according to a new study paid for by the Business Roundtable, which represents top U.S. companies. (Politico Pro)


U.S. business group lobbying surged as tax reform took shape. Lobbying by U.S. business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable surged in the last three months of 2017 as lawmakers negotiated and finalized legislation that deeply cut the taxes companies pay. (Reuters)

Companies Explore Whether U.S. Can Replace 'Double Irish'. U.S. companies rich in intellectual property are looking at a new tax-friendly regime: the U.S. A provision in the newly revised U.S. tax code slashes the income tax companies pay on royalties from the overseas use of intellectual property or so-called intangible assets, such as licenses and patents. (Wall Street Journal)
Trump picks tax lawyer as next IRS commissioner, sources say. President Donald Trump will nominate tax lawyer Charles "Chuck" Rettig to head the IRS, multiple sources with knowledge of the White House selection process told POLITICO on Tuesday night. (Politico)

Where is Trump's infrastructure plan? Republicans grow tired of waiting. Republicans are getting tired of waiting for the White House to deliver its infrastructure proposal. (Politico Pro)

Artificial Intelligence

Facebook appoints a new AI research head. Facebook has a new executive coming on to unify its research efforts in the field of artificial intelligence. (TechCrunch)

Qualcomm Is Fined $1.2 Billion by E.U. Antitrust Officials. European antitrust officials issued a $1.2 billion fine on Wednesday against Qualcomm, the American giant whose technology underpins much of the world's mobile phone industry, in the latest move by regional regulators against a United States company. (New York Times)

Public Sector

Trump Year Two Starts with Major Tech and Cyber Vacancies. Roughly one-quarter of agency CIOs and one-third of CISOs are serving on an acting basis one year into the Trump administration. (Next Gov)

February budget clashes could complicate IT modernization, trade group says. As Congress was busy negotiating an end to the budget standoff to end an almost-three-day government shutdown Monday, a trade group of leading government contractors was preparing for a month of uncertainty that could harm their ability to support agencies' ongoing modernization efforts. (Fed Scoop)
Tech Is Central To Pentagon's Management Reform. The new chief management officer, and his purview over IT, are part of bigger reform efforts at the Defense Department, according to a former official. (Next Gov)
Ohio opens first connected and autonomous vehicles office. Gov. John Kasich says he wants to solidify his state's position as the "premier destination" for advanced automotive research. (State Scoop)
Chicago Police Cut Crime with Major Upgrades to Analytics and Field Technology. Since deploying six Strategic Decision Support Centers across the city, Chicago saw a 21 percent drop in shootings last year. (Gov Tech)
The New Way Your Computer Can Be Attacked. Unprecedented computer-chip vulnerabilities exposed this month paint a grim picture of the future of cybersecurity. (The Atlantic)
Meltdown and Spectre patching has been a total train wreck. The Meltodwn and Spectre vulnerabilities, first revealed at the beginning of the year, affect pretty much anything with a chip in it. That ubiquity has made the process of releasing patches understandably arduous. (Wired)
Cyber takes on new prominence in shutdown government. Congress has until Feb. 8 to strike a funding deal before the continuing resolution currently funding the government runs out. (Federal Computer Week)
Major cyber-attack on the UK is a matter of 'when, not if'. National Cyber Security Centre chief says an attack with the potential to hit infrastructure could come within the next two years. (CNET)
Facebook to hand privacy controls to users ahead of EU law. Facebook will make it easier for its more than 2 billion users to manage their own data in response to a tough new European Union law that comes into force in May, the social network's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said. (Reuters)

A stranger might now be watching me. "They Are Watching You - and Everything Else on the Planet Technology and our increasing demand for security have put us all under surveillance," by Robert Draper in National Geographic's February issue. (Axios)

A Flood of Net Neutrality Bills Have Been Launched in State Legislatures. More than a dozen states have started legislative responses to the FCC's ruling to roll back net neutrality, but the bills are likely to face legal challenges. (Gov Tech)
States and cities keep the battle for net neutrality alive. States are starting to make good on their promises to fight for net neutrality in the wake of the Federal Communications Commission's decision to jettison rules that banned broadband providers from blocking or discriminating against internet content. (Wired)

AT&T ad: Facebook, Google should have neutrality rules too. AT&T thinks it should play by the same neutrality rules as Google and Facebook - and it's telling readers of the New York Times, Washington Post and other national outlets this morning in an ad signed by CEO Randall Stephenson. (Axios)

'She's Not Laughing': In Davos, Taking on Sexual Harassment. Looking back on nearly three decades in the tech sector, Peggy Johnson recalled how she and other women used to steer clear of leering colleagues by taking the long way to their desks, and how they felt pressured to laugh at inappropriate jokes in the office. (New York Times)

Uber hires chief diversity officer. Uber has hired Bo Young Lee as its first-ever chief diversity and inclusion officer, following a recommendation from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's report on addressing culture issues at the company, Recode reports. (Axios)
More women than men could lose their jobs to automation. A new report from the World Economic Forum says that could widen gender inequality, but job training could help solve the problem. (CNET)

Internet of Things

Who's driving? Autonomous cars may be entering the most dangerous phase. Autopilot controls are not yet fully capable of functioning without human intervention - but they're good enough to lull us into a false sense of security. (The Guardian)

Analysts predict oil demand will peak by 2030. A new research note from Bank of America (BofA) Merrill Lynch analysts predicts that global crude oil demand will peak by 2030 thanks to very fast electric vehicle adoption beginning in the early 2020s. They see EVs reaching 40% of new car sales by 2030 and 95% of new sales by mid-century. (Axios)


Trump's failing war on green power. President Donald Trump and Republicans have tried again and again during the past year to turn back the clock on energy - pushing policies that would help fossil fuels stave off advances by solar and wind.
But they have repeatedly come up short. (Politico Pro)
Trump's Solar Tariffs Are Clouding the Industry's Future. At a solar farm in North Carolina, workers are bracing for the effect of a new tariff on imported solar cells and modules. (New York Times)
Fighting Climate Change? We're Not Even Landing a Punch. In 1988, when world leaders convened their first global conference on climate change, in Toronto, the Earth's average temperature was a bit more than half a degree Celsius above the average of the last two decades of the 19th century, according to measurements by NASA. (New York Times)

Bigger, Faster Avalanches, Triggered by Climate Change. When 247 million cubic feet of snow and ice collapsed off a glacier in the dry, mountainous region of western Tibet in 2016, the roiling mass took with it nine human lives and hundreds of animals, spreading more than five miles in three minutes at speeds of up to 186 miles per hour. (New York Times)
How many electric cars can the grid take? Depends on your neighborhood. High concentration of EVs can lead to equipment trouble later. (Ars Technica)

Tech Business

Apple to Begin Selling Delayed HomePod Speaker. Delay cost the tech giant a potentially lucrative debut during of the holiday shopping season. (Wall Street Journal)
Google gets into audiobooks as rivalry with Amazon heats up. Alphabet Inc's Google introduced audiobooks to its online store on Tuesday, making its smart speakers and virtual assistant more competitive with Inc's Echo devices and Alexa voice assistant. (Reuters)

ITI Member News

Senior Twitter Executive to Run Troubled Finance Start-Up SoFi. The embattled online lender Social Finance has poached Twitter's chief operating officer, Anthony Noto, to be its new chief executive, dealing a blow to Twitter's turnaround campaign. (New York Times)
Facebook thought it was more powerful than a nation-state. Then that became a liability. Mark Zuckerberg's crusade to fix Facebook this year is beginning with a startling retreat. The social network, its chief executive said, would step back from its role in choosing the news that 2 billion users see on its site every month. (Washington Post)
Facebook bought a startup that specializes in verifying government IDs. Confirm is joining Facebook's office in Boston. (Recode)
Facebook's 2-question survey to determine media reliability. Facebook's new survey to determine a publication's trustworthiness is composed of two questions, per BuzzFeed: "Do you recognize the following website," and "How much do you trust each of these domains?" (Axios)
The Google Lunar X Prize's Race to the Moon Is Over. Nobody Won. The Google Lunar X Prize competition, which has spent the past decade dangling a $20 million prize for the first privately financed venture to make it to the moon, came to a quiet end on Tuesday. (New York Times)
Former Xbox exec Phil Harrison joins Google hardware unit. A veteran Sony and Microsoft video game executive has joined the hardware development unit at Alphabet Inc's Google, and analysts said he could help the company hone its efforts in mixed-reality technologies. (Reuters)
Facebook invents new unit of time called a flick. The flick has been designed to help developers keep video effects in sync, according to a description on the code-sharing site GitHub. (BBC)

Today on the Hill

The House is not in session.
The Senate will convene at 10:00 a.m. and proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the nomination of Alex Michael Azar to be Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Share this News Roundup on: