Executive Briefing August 3, 2018


Vox We have the first documented case of Russian hacking in the 2018 election

Russia is already trying to hack the 2018 midterm elections, going after Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats up for reelection this year. Reporters Andrew Desiderio and Kevin Poulsen used a combination of court records and internet sleuthing to identify that malicious emails to a McCaskill aide were sent from a server that likely belongs to Fancy Bear, the same Russian intelligence group that did the 2016 hacks. Read more on how state governments can enhance cybersecurity from Microsoft on the Issues.

FedScoop Trump White House releases new R&D priorities list for 2020

The White House released its annual research and development priorities memo Tuesday, indicating to agencies the kind of budgeting it would like to see in fiscal 2020. The memo highlights eight central R&D areas: security of the American people; leadership in artificial intelligence, quantum information sciences, and strategic computing; connectivity and autonomy; manufacturing; space exploration and commercialization; energy dominance; medical innovation; and agriculture.

Engadget Senator suggests ways to combat misinformation and boost data privacy

Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) has put together a policy paper that both highlights some of the bigger problems facing online platforms today and includes potential ways in which to address them. The 23-page paper focuses on three main issues – misinformation, data privacy and competition.

Bloomberg Law Trump Privacy Pitch May Get Public Scrutiny on Road to Congress

The Trump administration likely will seek public comment on a new online privacy proposal it is hammering out with tech companies before sending it to Congress, administration officials told Bloomberg Law. The White House is working with technology giants on a legislative proposal through the National Economic Council and the Commerce Department. There is fresh private sector interest in helping to write a new federal privacy law in the wake of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, and California’s recently enacted state statute. Recent privacy missteps involving Facebook and other social media companies that have sparked lawmaker concern could be spurring the private sector to negotiate with the administration.


Microsoft on the Issues Microsoft’s Airband Grant Fund invests in 8 start-ups delivering internet-connected solutions to rural communities around the globe

This week, Microsoft announced eight early-stage companies selected for the third annual Airband Grant Fund. These start-ups are overcoming barriers to provide affordable internet access to unconnected and underserved communities in the U.S., Africa and Asia using TV white spaces (TVWS) and other promising last-mile access technologies.

mHealth Intelligence Microsoft Grant Targets Rural Telehealth Projects in 3 States

A Colorado startup is receiving grant funding from Microsoft to expand its school-based telehealth platform to bring connected health services to underserved communities in California, Texas and Maine. Numbers4Health provides software tools for use at the point-of-care, anywhere. These tools are a perfect for use where Internet connectivity can be challenging, where specific medical expertise is only available via telemedicine, and everywhere that point-of-care data is necessary for health management and medical intervention.

Maine Wire Microsoft’s ‘Airband Initiative’ serves rural Maine without government’s clumsy hand

The Maine Heritage Policy Center’s publication writes about Microsoft’s latest Rural Airband Initiative partnership with RTO Wireless to provide broadband internet access to 290,000 people in rural areas of Western Maine and New York State.

NBC News Facial recognition gives police a powerful new tracking tool. It’s also raising alarms.

Despite “real-time” facial recognition’s dazzling potential for crime-prevention, it is also raising alarms of the risks of mistakes and abuse. Those concerns are not only coming from privacy and civil rights advocates, but increasingly from tech firms themselves. With few scientific standards or government regulations, there is little preventing police departments from using facial recognition to target immigrants or identify participants in a political protest, critics say.

Recode Facebook and Instagram are making it easier to spend less time on Facebook and Instagram. But why?

Facebook and Instagram recently joined the growing list of tech giants rolling out features to cut back on your screen time. The two apps are rolling out new “time well spent” features meant to help people fight smartphone addiction. Now you’ll be able to see how much time you spend within each app, snooze notifications for up to eight hours, and even set a timer that will alert you after you’ve spent a certain amount of time using the app on a given day.

The Verge A shadowy influence campaign on Facebook is targeting liberal activists

We are months away from the midterm elections, there’s an active campaign to undermine our democracy on Facebook, and no one can say for certain who’s behind it. The New York Times broke the news that the company had detected an “ongoing political influence campaign” that led it to remove 32 pages and fake accounts from the service. On one hand, the number of fake accounts caught by Facebook here is relatively small. On the other, they were followed by 290,000 people.

The Verge Facebook shuts off access to user data for hundreds of thousands of apps

Facebook announced that it’s shutting off access to its application programming interface, the developer platform that lets app makers access user data, for hundreds of thousands of inactive apps. The goal is to ensure third-party software on Facebook was in line with the company’s data privacy rules and new restrictions put in place in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which a third-party developer siphoned user data and sold it to another firm in violation of Facebook’s terms of service.

Bloomberg Tech Giants Face Terror Law in EU Crackdown on Internet Hate

Google, Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc. have taken significant steps to expunge Islamic State propaganda and other terrorist content from their platforms. But taking no chances, the European Union is set to propose a tough new law anyway – threatening internet platforms, big and small, with fines if they fail to take down terrorist material, according to people familiar with the proposals that could be unveiled as soon as September.

Washington Post Ancestry, 23andMe and others say they will follow these rules when giving DNA data to businesses or police

Ancestry, 23andMe and other popular companies that offer genetic testing pledged to be upfront when they share users’ DNA data with researchers, hand it over to police or transfer it to other companies, a move aimed at addressing consumers’ mounting privacy concerns. Under the new guidelines, the companies said they would obtain consumers’ “separate express consent” before turning over their individual genetic information to businesses and other third parties, including insurers. They also said they would disclose the number of law-enforcement requests they receive each year.


American Enterprise Institute

  • Blog on Cybersecurity: Billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices will soon be connected to the internet and government networks. Visiting AEI fellow Shane Tews argues that to help create a more secure internet environment, the US government could use the power of the purse — the procurement process — to guide the IoT market toward more secure devices. (AEI BLOG — Can Internet of Things security be improved by the government procurement process?, August 2, 2018).

Information Technology Industry Council (ITI)

  • Statement on Workforce Legislation: ITI President and CEO Dean Garfield released the following statement applauding President Trump for signing the Strengthening Career and Technical Education For The 21st Century Act: “The Trump Administration has rightly identified workforce development as a national priority. By signing the Strengthening Career and Technical Education For The 21st Century Act, President Trump is taking a tangible step to equip the U.S. workforce with the skills it needs to fill the over 3 million open STEM jobs. (ITI STATEMENT — Tech Industry Applauds Trump on Signing Workforce Legislation, August 1, 2018).

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 endorse specific platforms or bills.