Executive Briefing April 5, 2019

Hello, Executive Briefing subscribers:

Below, please find our weekly roundup of technology policy news. The Executive Briefing is taking a brief hiatus next week – stay tuned for your next weekly update during the week of April 18.


New York Times A.I. and Privacy Concerns Get White House to Embrace Global Cooperation
Two hallmarks of American economic policy under President Trump are a reflexive aversion for regulation and go-it-alone nationalism. But in technology policy, that stance is changing. In September, the Trump administration abandoned its hands-off approach and began working closely with the 36-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to create international guidelines for the design and use of artificial intelligence.

Next Gov Without JEDI, Pentagon’s Artificial Intelligence Efforts May Be Hindered
The Defense Department needs enterprise cloud computing to make the most of its ambitious plans for artificial intelligence, according to Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, who leads the department’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. There’s just one problem: The Pentagon doesn’t have those cloud capabilities yet, and its plan to acquire them—through the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract—is tied up in court.

B+C Senate Commerce Looks Into Broadband Mapping Issues
The Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled a hearing next week on broadband mapping, an issue on the minds of legislators and regulators. Accurate data on where broadband is and isn’t is key to closing the digital divide and determining how much authority the FCC has to regulate in the absence of reasonable and timely broadband deployment.

KBJR6 Sen. Smith teams up with Republican colleagues to tackle rural broadband, healthcare
Democratic U.S. Senator Tina Smith is teaming up with Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman in the effort to expand rural broadband access. Smith says local electric co-ops are considered an excellent partner. However, lawmakers say an error in the massive 2017 federal tax reform puts them at risk of losing their tax-exempt status. According to Smith, the error makes it difficult for the co-ops to accept grants to expand broadband access. The error also makes it difficult for rural co-ops to accept FEMA emergency relief since they’d be counted against their member income limit. Smith’s bill aims to fix that issue.

The Hill FTC says it only has 40 employees overseeing privacy and data security
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Wednesday told Congress that it only has 40 full-time employees dedicated to overseeing internet privacy and data security and requested lawmakers give the agency more resources to adequately police tech companies. FTC Chairman Joseph Simons, a Republican appointed by President Trump, wrote in a letter to House leaders this week that the commission lags far behind other developed countries’ data watchdogs.

The Hill Bipartisan bill would create cyber advisory panel at DHS
A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation Thursday to create an advisory committee of cyber professionals to help the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) take on cyber issues. The bill, introduced by Reps. John Katko (R-N.Y.), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.), would create an advisory committee within DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to offer recommendations on new cybersecurity policies and programs.


The Wall Street Journal Will AI Destroy More Jobs Than It Creates Over the Next Decade?
AI will lead to more spending and investing – and jobs. Automation, whether from AI algorithms or computer-aided machine tools, hasn’t led to net job losses yet, and it never will. It always leads to higher productivity, which in turn lowers prices or raises wages, either of which leads to more spending and investment, which creates jobs. (Paywall)

The Observer Encouraging rural broadband investment is the key to bridging the digital divide
There still exists a digital divide between rural and urban areas, and in some rural areas of Oregon, up to 50 percent of homes are not connected to the internet. Encouraging rural broadband investment is the key to bridging this digital divide and improving rural connectivity, and while the debate over net neutrality has raged for years, a firm solution has yet to be reached.

Government Technology Are Governments Right to Ban Facial Recognition Technology?
Over the past year, a number of organizations have campaigned for policymakers to ban government use of facial recognition technology. However, these proposals are based on inaccurate or misguided concerns, and following through on them would weaken the effectiveness and efficiency of law enforcement, make schools less safe, and hold back technological progress at other government agencies. Much of the opposition to facial recognition is based on the false belief that the systems are not accurate. But many of the most high-profile critiques of facial recognition are based on shoddy research. Moreover, there is clear evidence that facial recognition technology is becoming increasingly accurate.

Wall Street Journal Tech, Health Firms Race to Help Consumers Manage Personal Data
Technology and health-care companies are competing to develop new ways for consumers to corral their digital health data, prompting questions about data privacy and control. Companies such as Apple Inc. and UnitedHealth Group Inc. are rolling out online tools that consumers can use to bring together health information now siloed in the systems of hospitals, doctors and insurers. These personal health records aim to consolidate information like diagnoses and lab results for consumers to access easily via their smartphones or computers.

Washington Post Mark Zuckerberg: The Internet needs new rules. Let’s start in these four areas.
Technology is a major part of our lives, and companies such as Facebook have immense responsibilities. Every day, we make decisions about what speech is harmful, what constitutes political advertising, and how to prevent sophisticated cyberattacks. These are important for keeping our community safe. But if we were starting from scratch, we wouldn’t ask companies to make these judgments alone.



  • Blog on artificial intelligence and data privacy: Policymakers need to craft new national privacy legislation that accounts for the numerous limitations that scholars such as Woody Hartzog have identified in the notice and consent model of privacy that has guided privacy thinking for decades. The exacerbation of privacy externalities created by machine learning techniques is just one more reason regarding the need for new privacy rules. (Techtank – How to address new privacy issues raised by artificial intelligence and machine learning, Apr. 1, 2019)

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

  • Blog on data privacy bill: In response to the introduction of privacy legislation from Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01), the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) released the following statement: “This legislation shows that it is possible to protect consumers without undermining innovation, and we encourage Congress to move forward quickly with this proposal to provide guidance and certainty to consumers and business alike.” (ITIF – DelBene Privacy Bill Would Protect Consumers Without Undermining Innovation, March 29, 2019)

New America

  • Blog on diversity in tech: Lili Gangas, a 2018 New America CA Fellow and Chief Technology Community Officer at the Kapor Center, sees potential in tech’s new interest in Oakland. Her team is experimenting with ways to build a regional ecosystem that supports inclusive companies that can build wealth for communities of color instead of displacing them. (Weekly Articles – How to Bake Diversity Into Tech Startups, Apr. 4, 2019)

Note: Voices for Innovation regularly shares a range of opinion articles and press releases from organizations in and publications covering tech policy. These pieces are meant to educate our audience, not to endorse specific platforms or bills.