Executive Briefing January 25, 2019


The Hill Top Judiciary Republican sees potential for bipartisan agreement on cyber issues
The top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday laid out a series of cyber issues where he hopes to work with Democrats this Congress. Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), who recently became the ranking member of the panel, named a series of cyber areas — like data privacy, the Cloud Act, and encryption — that can be addressed in a bipartisan manner. In the case of data privacy, Collins remarked to reporters how cellphone carriers, particularly those using Android products, could trace reporters to the Capitol Hill meeting room where the sit-down talk was taking place.

Next Gov How the Shutdown Could Hurt Government’s IT Recruitment
The current shutdown is expected to exacerbate the brain drain facing the government as the IT workforce grows older and agencies struggle to bring on the next generation of tech talent, according to federal tech experts. Agencies are shuttered right in the middle of recruitment season for the next batch of computer science and engineering graduates, which means they can’t attend job fairs and campus events to scoop up the best and brightest. And as demand for private sector techies grows and a sizable chunk of the government’s tech workforce nears retirement, the shutdown could also push many current feds to seek greener pastures.


Bloomberg Microsoft Seeks to Restrict Abuse of its Facial Recognition AI
Microsoft Corp. is planning to implement self-designed ethical principles for its facial recognition technology by the end of March, as it urges governments to push ahead with matching regulation in the field. The company in December called for new legislation to govern artificial intelligence software for recognizing faces, advocating for human review and oversight of the technology in some critical cases, as a way to mitigate the risks of biased outcomes, intrusions into privacy and democratic freedoms.

GeekWire Washington state considers new privacy law to regulate data collection and facial recognition tech
Lawmakers in Washington state are pushing for a new privacy law that would attempt to give consumers more control over the information that big tech companies and data brokers collect about them. The bill, proposed by state Sen. Reuven Carlyle, would give consumers the right to see what data is collected about them and find out whether that information is being sold to a third party. It would require companies to allow consumers to correct inaccurate information, delete their personal data, and object to their personal data being used in direct marketing.

PC Magazine Amazon’s Facial Recognition Tech Collides With Shareholder Protest
Should Amazon be able to sell the company’s facial recognition technology to police and government agencies? The question may come down to a shareholders’ vote later this spring. On Thursday, a group of Amazon investors said it filed a resolution to put the matter up for vote at the company’s annual shareholders meeting. Their goal: To prevent the company’s facial recognition system from ever being exploited for mass surveillance. The resolution calls on Amazon’s board of directors to halt all facial recognition system sales to government agencies until it can conclude the technology poses no threat to civil and human rights.

FedScoop ACLU sues for records on facial recognition use by the Department of Justice
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of Justice demanding any records on the agency’s use of facial recognition technology. The request seeks records from the DOJ as a whole, as well as component agencies the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration. The request is extensive. The organization is asking for 20 distinct sets of records ranging from any policy direction on the use facial recognition to “records relating to inquiries to companies, solicitations from companies, or meetings with companies about the purchase, piloting, or testing of face recognition, gait recognition, or voice recognition technology” and beyond.

BBC Facial recognition tool tackles illegal chimp trade
Wildlife criminals had better watch out! The same software that recognizes you in a friend’s social media post is being adapted to tackle the illegal trade in chimpanzees. The algorithm will search through photo posts on social media looking for the faces of rescued apes. If the technology recognizes a trafficked animal, the owners of the accounts featuring the chimp can then be targeted by the authorities.

The Conversation Data privacy rules in the EU may leave the US behind
The Google fine case demonstrates the increasingly prominent role that the EU intends to play in policing the use of personal information by major companies and organizations online. The  U.S. lags behind Europe on this front. The U.S. may have ceded regulatory powers to the EU – despite being the headquarters for most major internet service providers.

The Information A Surge of States Take on Data Privacy as Congress Stalls
Last June, the technology industry cringed as California’s legislature passed a new data privacy law that will give residents more control over how their personal data is used by Facebook, Google, and other big companies. Now it is bracing for a wave of action by other states, at least eight of which are considering similar data privacy measures.

USA Today Is 2019 the year we stand up for protecting our privacy? Apple CEO Tim Cook says it’s time
Apple CEO Tim Cook, who has long been outspoken on the subject of privacy, published an essay in “Time Magazine,” calling for a landmark package of reforms that protect and empower the consumer. Separately, more than a dozen consumer and privacy advocacy groups Thursday collectively came up with a framework to overhaul U.S. privacy laws. The emphasis is on protecting our civil rights, punishing violators and limiting government access to our data. The groups want robust federal baseline regulation that does not preempt strong U.S. state digital privacy laws, and that is similar to the stringent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) privacy regulations that the Europe Union enacted in May.

The Wall Street Journal Privacy Problems Mount for Tech Giants
Big tech companies have taken a public lashing in the past year over their handling of users’ personal information. But many of their biggest privacy battles have yet to be fought—and the results will help determine the fate of some of the world’s largest businesses. So far, tech giants like Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google have proved relatively resilient against a growing backlash over possible abuse of their users’ personal privacy.

Financial Times South Africa trials white space to fill rural internet black spots
White space technology, which relies on underutilised spectrum within television broadcast bands, is seen as critical to closing the digital divide between rural and urban areas in countries such as South Africa, where millions of people live outside the planned coverage of companies such as MTN and Vodacom.

Independent Record Daines fights for rural broadband
More than 40 percent of rural Montanans lack access to broadband internet. This phenomenon, known as the digital divide, holds rural America back by not allowing millions of people to take advantage of the basic online opportunities that exist in other communities. Senator Daines is fighting to bring broadband internet to rural Montana. Instead of sitting idly by, he recently sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asking for the regulatory barriers holding TV white spaces back to be removed.



  • Blog on automation and AI: At first, technologists issued dystopian alarms about the power of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) to destroy jobs. Then came a correction, with a wave of reassurances. Now, the discourse appears to be arriving at a more complicated understanding, suggesting that automation will bring neither apocalypse nor utopia, but instead both benefits and stress alike. Such is the ambiguous and sometimes disembodied nature of the “future of work” discussion. (Brookings Reports – Automation and Artificial Intelligence: How machines are affecting people and places, Jan. 24, 2019)

Information Technology Industry Council

  • Statement on Privacy Shield Ombudsperson nomination: ITI, the global voice of the tech sector, commended the Trump administration’s nomination of Keith Krach to be Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment. Among other responsibilities, the person in this role serves as Ombudsperson in relation to the U.S.-EU Privacy Shield framework. (ITI Statements – ITI Commends Administration on Nomination of Privacy Shield Ombudsperson, Jan. 22, 2019)

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