Executive Briefing December 6, 2019


Vox We asked 2020 Democratic candidates 7 key questions on technology
Tech has been given surprisingly little airtime during the 2020 Democratic primaries. It has rarely come up on the debate stage. While candidates such as Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang, and Amy Klobuchar have made tech-related issues part of their platforms, the matter is often eclipsed by other political hot topics, including health care and taxes.


Slate Congress Is Finally Tackling Privacy! Now Let’s Do Cybersecurity.
Cybercrime will carry a global price tag of $6 trillion by 2021, according to a Cybersecurity Ventures annual report. The National Security Agency warns that cybercriminals are “becoming more sophisticated and capable every day in their ability to use the Internet for nefarious purposes.” Yet many companies fail to take basic precautions, such as deleting expired accounts.

New York Post Smart TVs can allow hackers into your home, bedroom: FBI
A smart TV might not be the smartest buy this gift-giving season. In a pre-holiday advisory to consumers, the FBI warned that the high-tech, internet-connected devices — especially those with built-in cameras, facial recognition capabilities and microphones — make their unsuspecting owners an easy target for hackers and cyberspies.

NextGov Senators Renew Effort to Safeguard People’s Data Online
A bill introduced in the Senate Tuesday would add a new layer of accountability for companies that fail to secure users’ personal data online. The Data Care Act, introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, would establish new, explicit rules for how companies that collect user information online can secure, safeguard and responsibly share that information.

CPO Magazine Massive Personal Data Leak of 1.2 Billion Showcases New Privacy, Security Concerns
By now, everyone knows that databases of personal information are widely available for sale on the Dark Web. But now two security researchers – Bob Diachenko and Vinny Troia – have uncovered an incredibly massive database of more than 1.2 billion people exposed on the Dark Web.

Reuters U.S. Democratic panel flags misinformation concerns to Facebook
Facebook’s policy on paid political advertisements has flaws that allow the spread of false information, the U.S. Democratic National Committee has said in a letter to Sheryl Sandberg, a top official of the social media giant.

CNBC A federal privacy law is starting to crystallize, but Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on how to do it
After months of tinkering and negotiations, the outlines of a federal privacy law are finally starting to crystallize, but lawmakers continue to quibble over the details.Two primary proposals are now being discussed among the members of the Senate Commerce Committee, one led by Chairman Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and one by Ranking Member Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

Axios Pelosi’s push to remove Big Tech protections in USMCA
There is ongoing debate over exporting the all-important Section 230 provision of the 1996 Communications Decency Act — which protects Facebook, Google and other platforms from legal responsibility for harmful content that its users post — across North America in a trade agreement.


Engadget MIT creates an AI that understands the laws of physics intuitively
We often think of artificial intelligence as a tool for automating certain tasks. But it turns out that the technology could also help give us a better understanding of ourselves. At least that’s what a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) think they’ll be able to do with their new AI model.

The Washington Post DHS proposal to require U.S. citizens undergo airport facial scans draws fire
A plan by the Trump administration to require U.S. citizens to have their faces scanned when they enter or leave the United States is drawing criticism from privacy advocates and at least one lawmaker, who said he intends to introduce legislation to prohibit the practice.

Wall Street Journal Amazon Rolls Out Quantum-Computing Service
Amazon. com Inc.’s cloud-services division is offering select enterprise customers the ability to experiment with early-stage quantum-computing services over the cloud, following other companies racing to commercialize the emerging technology. Amazon Web Services Inc. said the new service, Amazon Braket, is “in preview” as of Monday. The platform lets enterprise customers explore how they could benefit from quantum computers by developing and testing quantum algorithms in simulations. Clients will also have access to different early-stage quantum-computing hardware from providers including D-Wave Systems Inc., IonQ Inc. and Rigetti Computing.

The Guardian Tech companies monitor schoolkids across America. These parents are making them delete the data
Parents at a public school district in Maryland have won a major victory for student privacy: tech companies that work with the school district now have to purge the data they have collected on students once a year. Experts say the district’s “Data Deletion Week” may be the first of its kind in the country.

Harvard Business Review Why Cybersecurity Isn’t Only a Tech Problem
Thomas Parenty and Jack Domet, cofounders of the cybersecurity firm Archefact Group, say that most organizations are approaching cybersecurity all wrong. Whether they’re running small companies or working in multinational corporations, leaders have to think beyond their IT department and technology systems to instead focus on protecting their businesses’ most important assets from attack.

Tech Crunch Tim Cook, Satya Nadella, Elon Musk, Sundar Pichai and more sign renewed commitment to Paris Agreement
The U.S. government may be in the process of formally withdrawing from the term of the Paris Agreement, an international accord on targets to fight climate change, but major U.S. employers say they’ll stay the course in a new statement jointly signed by a group of around 80 chief executives and U.S. labor organization leaders. The statement, posted at UnitedForTheParisAgreement.com, represents a group that either directly employs more than 2 million people in the U.S., or represents a larger group of 12.5 million through labor organizations.

Bloomberg World’s Most-Isolated City Lures NASA Talent in Hunt for Resources Tech
It was a video of a waving robot that attracted NASA to the world’s most isolated city. Engineers at Woodside Petroleum Ltd. in Perth, Australia, were just “messing around” teaching a toy robot to wave when they filmed it, Chief Technology Officer Shaun Gregory told a conference recently, but NASA liked what it saw.

GlobeNewswire Philips and Paige team up to bring Artificial Intelligence (AI) to clinical pathology diagnostics
Royal Philips, a global leader in health technology, and Paige, a leader in computational pathology, announced today a strategic collaboration to deliver clinical-grade AI applications to pathology laboratories. These AI technologies, starting with Paige Prostate, aim to help pathologists identify, quantify and characterize cancer in tissue samples and make precise diagnoses more efficiently.

TechCrunch Most of the largest US voting districts are vulnerable to email spoofing
Only 5% of the largest voting counties in the U.S. are protected against email impersonation and phishing attacks, seen as a key attack method by hackers who officials say want to disrupt the upcoming presidential election. The findings come less than a year before millions of Americans are set to go to the polls to vote for the next U.S. commander-in-chief, amid fears that Russia is preparing to disrupt the upcoming presidential election with tactics to manipulate voters as the U.S. intelligence community found in 2016.

USA Today Portland, the largest city in Oregon, plans to propose first facial recognition ban affecting private companies
The city of Portland, Oregon, is considering a unique ban on facial recognition software that could limit how private companies use it. Current bans on facial recognition technology, such as ones in San Francisco and Oakland, California, only affect city agencies such as police departments. If the Portland City Council passes the pending legislation next year, officials may copy those efforts and add private retailers and airlines to the ban.

Newsweek Do You Trust Jeff Bezos With Your Life? Tech Giants Like Amazon Are Getting into the Health Care Business
Do you trust Amazon with your life? You might have to, because the big tech companies of Silicon Valley are looking to do for medicine what they’ve already done for retail, publishing, finance and other sectors of modern life: they want to bring on another digital revolution. What could go wrong?

Investopedia The New Tech Bubble Born out of the Bull Run
The large cap S&P 500 Index has enjoyed a meteoric 24% rise so far in 2019, but its advance has been fueled largely by a relative handful of mega cap tech stocks. This raises renewed concerns among prominent investment professionals and market watchers that a new tech bubble similar to that in 2000 is about to pop, according to a recent story in Business Insider.

CNET Ring let police view map of video doorbell installations for over a year
For more than a year, police departments partnered with Amazon’s Ring unit had access to a map showing where its video doorbells were installed, down to the street, public documents revealed. So while Ring said it didn’t provide police with addresses for the devices, a feature in the map tool let them get extremely close. The feature was removed in July.

Fast Company Apple’s flagship iPhone is collecting location data despite users telling it not to
Respected security researcher Brian Krebs has discovered that the iPhone 11 Pro (and potentially other iPhone models) is still collecting location data even when users tell it not to. Specifically, Krebs found that even when all location service switches were set to “off” in iOS’s system settings, the iPhone 11 Pro was still indicating that it was accessing the phone’s location.

Verizon Virtual reality changes your brain
If you envision yourself as a genius, will that make you “smarter”? That seemingly inane idea was the basis of a study at the University of Barcelona. Researchers asked the subjects to slide a virtual reality (VR) headset over their eyes, wear a tracking suit, and take virtual control of Albert Einstein’s body, replacing their own identity with a genius’ for the duration of the experiment.

ZDNet AR and VR are about to change the way you work, so get ready
There is more to augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) than the hype: according to recent research by PwC, wider adoption of the technologies is going to add £1.5 trillion to the world economy by 2030. We’ve been promised that AR and VR are going to finally become mainstream technologies for at least a decade and probably more.

Health Data Management USDA sets $116.7M in grants for rural broadband, telehealth
The Department of Agriculture is investing $116.7 million in grants and loans to provide a high-speed broadband infrastructure for rural communities in 14 states and territories. The Broadband ReConnect program offers grants, loans and combinations thereof to improve rural e-connectivity. Service areas in the first wave of funding include a total of 21,803 households, according to USDA.

WDTV 5 Broadband towers bring coverage to the most rural communities
The $3-million Community Connect Grant is entering into its final construction. The focus of the grant is bringing internet connectivity to the rural communities of West Virginia. Microwave towers are what provide the service. So far, there have been three built in Randolph County and more are expected to come

Broadcasting & Cable Ad Group Offers Up Version of Privacy Bill
Privacy for America has offered up a new framework for national privacy legislation that includes new protections for “tweens” (13-16), an eraser button for deleting information from the Web, and new rulemaking authority for the Federal Trade Commission. The group’s members comprise the major advertising associations that want to protect both privacy and the ad-supported online content business model.


The Brookings Institution

Blog on Privacy
During a recent panel, I was called “ridiculously optimistic” for saying I could see a path to passage of comprehensive privacy legislation in the current Congress. But with bills emerging from both the chairman and the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee and a December 4 full committee hearing to discuss legislation, the scenario I could see developing is not so farfetched. Although separate Republican and Democratic bills are not the joint bipartisan proposal widely anticipated for several months, the bills and the hearing this week kick off the concrete discussion about privacy legislation that stakeholders have been waiting to join. (TechTank – Game on: What to make of Senate privacy bills and hearing, December 3, 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.