Executive Briefing February 8, 2019


The Washington Post The Cybersecurity 202: What Trump didn’t say about the state of the union’s cybersecurity
President Trump largely skipped over cybersecurity threats facing the nation in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, focusing instead on threats posed by illegal immigration, the Islamic State and what he called “ridiculous partisan investigations.” The omission was glaring given that Trump’s own Homeland Security chief has warned that digital attacks pose a greater threat to U.S. security than terrorism. And experts say it was a missed opportunity to catalyze the nation to do something about it.

Politico Trump Talks ‘Industries Of The Future’
The president on Tuesday night issued a call for infrastructure legislation that includes “investments in the cutting edge industries of the future” during his State of the Union address. “This is not an option. This is a necessity,” he said. Trump didn’t elaborate on what that means. But Michael Kratsios, White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer, said those words reflect “Trump’s commitment to American leadership in artificial intelligence, 5G wireless, quantum science, and advanced manufacturing.”

The Hill House Democrats demand FCC documents
House Democrats are asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for documentation about its operations as they prepare to challenge the agency with their newfound oversight powers. Frustrated by House Republicans’ unwillingness to challenge the FCC over the past two years, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) have vowed to hold the agency accountable and confront its leadership over issues like its repeal of the popular 2015 net neutrality rules. “Under your leadership, the FCC has failed repeatedly to act in the public interest and placed the interest of corporations over consumers,” the two Democrats wrote in their letter to Pai.

Reuters House Democrats want Apple to answer questions on FaceTime flaw
Two key U.S. House of Representatives Democrats on Tuesday asked Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook to answer questions about a privacy flaw in Apple’s group video chat software after a teenager and his mother tried for days to warn the iPhone maker of the bug. Apple said on Friday it had fixed the issue with FaceTime and said it planned to improve how it handles reports of software bugs.

Politico Federal Privacy Forecast
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), one of several Senate Commerce members negotiating a federal privacy bill, said Tuesday he doesn’t foresee a consensus measure coming out of the panel this month. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), though, offered a more optimistic take, saying he’s “very hopeful” the group will release a bill in the next month. Schatz did say he expects to reintroduce his Data Care Act in February. The measure would require internet platforms to “reasonably secure” personal data, “promptly” inform users of breaches, and provide the FTC with new rulemaking authority and enhanced ability to fine offenders.


The New York Times We Need a National Rural Broadband Plan
In 2017, a full 30 percent of rural Americans (or 19 million people) and 21 percent of farms lacked broadband access. What we need today to solve this digital divide is a renewed federal commitment to rural communications. We need a national rural broadband policy, demonstrating that the United States is serious about becoming a fully connected nation.

Fortune The Next Era of Innovation Will Emphasize Privacy and Individualization, Report Says
Over the next three years, companies will give consumers more control over their data, privacy, and how they interact with products and services, according to a new report. The insight comes from Accenture’s Technology Vision 2019 report released on Thursday. Successful brands will have to build trusted relationships with consumers, the report says, and that includes providing transparency and giving consumers control of their data. If consumers trust a brand, they’re more likely to offer up even more data in exchange for a better experience—thus continuing the cycle of improving the product or service and growing the business.

Financial Times Cisco calls for data law as tech split over privacy deepens (Paywall)
Cisco has joined Apple in calling for a US version of the European General Data Protection regulation, underlining the divisions among big technology companies over how to tackle privacy concerns. The technology hardware group told the Financial Times it wanted US politicians to enact a version of the European legislation in the coming months, despite others in the industry criticizing it as overly broad and punitive.

The Guardian EU recalls children’s smartwatch over data fears
The European commission said the Enox Safe-Kid-One, which comes fitted with a global positioning system (GPS), a microphone and speaker, posed a serious risk to children. The device is designed to allow parents to track the location of the wearer and contact them through an accompanying app. But the commission warned in its rapid alert system that the app could be easily hacked, allowing strangers to track children or conceal the wearer’s true location from their parents.

The Atlantic Apple’s Empty Grandstanding About Privacy
Last week, TechCrunch reported that Facebook had been paying people, including teens 13 to 17 years old, to install a “research” app that extracted huge volumes of personal data from their iPhones—direct messages, photos, emails, and more. After the story broke, Apple canceled Facebook’s ability to distribute custom iPhone apps for internal use by Facebook employees. That might look like a severe punishment that will send a strong message to Facebook, and to other companies. But it’s mostly a slap on the wrist. If Apple really cared about personal data, the company could take any number of actions to keep privacy violators off its platforms and away from its customers.

CNBC Cybersecurity firms warn high-tech upgrades, self-driving tech make new cars easy targets for hackers
As auto makers roll out ever more sophisticated features to make your daily commute easier, the upgrades are also making your new car more vulnerable to cyberattacks, according to a new report. “As more connected vehicles hit the roads, software vulnerabilities are becoming accessible to malicious hackers using cellular networks, Wi-Fi, and physical connections to exploit them,” data protection research group the Ponemon Institute said in a report released Wednesday.


The App Association

  • Blog on healthcare and AI: The App Association’s The Connected Health Initiative (CHI) convened a multistakeholder dialogue on AI in Healthcare in Washington, DC. The purpose of this dialogue was to address the role of machine learning and artificial intelligence/augmented intelligence (AI) in improving healthcare, preventing hospitalizations, reducing complications, and improving patient engagement. (App Association blog – Why Does Healthcare Need AI? Connected Health Initiative Aims to Answer Why, Feb. 6, 2019)

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

  • Blog on AI and the precautionary principle: The world is dividing into two camps regarding AI: those who support the technology and those who oppose it. Unfortunately, the latter camp is increasingly dominating AI discussions, not just in the United States, but in many nations around the world. There should be no doubt that nations that tilt toward fear rather than optimism are more likely to put in place policies and practices that limit AI development and adoption, which will hurt their economic growth, social progress, and global competitiveness. (ITIF Publications – Ten Ways the Precautionary Principle Undermines Progress in Artificial Intelligence, Feb. 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.