Executive Briefing January 4, 2019


Tech Crunch FCC will suspend most operations on Thursday if the shutdown continues
The Federal Communications Commission said on Monday that it will need to suspend most of its operations by the middle of Thursday if the partial government shutdown continues. The FCC will continue “work required for the protection of life and property,” as well as work related to spectrum auctions, since those are funded by the money raised by auctioning off spectrum licenses. The Office of the Inspector General, responsible for conducting internal reviews, audits, and investigations of FCC programs and operations, will also remain open until further notice.

POLITICO On Democrats’ wish list: Tech help for a clueless Congress
Lawmakers’ cluelessness at regulating the powerful yet controversy-plagued technology industry is fueling a new push by Democrats to bring back the squad of congressional tech advisers that Newt Gingrich abolished in the 1990s. Advocates say reviving the Office of Technology Assessment would be one way to help Congress get a grip on the complex topics it is trying to tackle, ranging from digital privacy, encryption and quantum computing to online election interference and allegations of social media political bias.

POLITICO Privacy Politics
Shutdown aside, the new Congress is showing signs it wants to actually move on federal privacy legislation. That’s thanks to bipartisan buy-in on a number of basic principles, a sense of urgency driven by numerous data security scandals and new laws out of Europe and California. But first, lawmakers must navigate some thorny policy issues.

Tech Crunch Senate confirms new FCC Commissioners Carr and Starks
Brendan Carr and Geoffrey Starks have been officially confirmed by the Senate for their five-year terms. This completes the five-seat commission, which is required to be balanced between the two parties — the new additions bring it to three Republicans and two Democrats.


The News-Gazette UI program aims to combat lack of computer-science teachers
An initiative started by the University of Illinois offers a glimpse into the burgeoning field of computer-science instruction in Illinois. Because Chicago Public Schools now requires all high-schoolers to take at least one computer-science class in order to graduate, the UI is launching the Illinois Secondary Teacher Education and Computer Science initiative, which aims to establish an undergraduate program to certify future high school computer-science teachers.

KSL.com Here’s how $3.9M in the governor’s budget could change your child’s future
Seventy-one percent of new STEM jobs are in computing, but only eight percent of STEM graduates earned degrees in computer science, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Center for Education. Experts believe the only way to close that gap is to get at the root of the problem: Early education. Yet, while 65 percent of Utah schools offer students one or more computer science courses (eight percent higher than the national average), most of those courses are simply introductory.

Door County Daily News How former analog TV frequencies are improving rural broadband internet
Rural areas like Door and Kewaunee counties could get consistent access to broadband internet via the frequencies that local television stations gave up after converting to digital broadcasts in 2009.  The process is called TV White Space delivery. Cory Heigl, Vice-President of Packerland Broadband in Iron Mountain, Michigan, says the process allows wireless broadband signals to be received clearly in hilly or wooded terrains.

Harvard Business Review Privacy and Cybersecurity Are Converging. Here’s Why That Matters for People and for Companies
2018 was the year of privacy. News of Facebook’s exposure of tens of millions of user accounts to data firm Cambridge Analytica broke in March — a scandal that was only compounded by recent news that the tech giant shared even more private data through hidden agreements with other companies. Then in May, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, the world’s most stringent privacy law, came into effect. By the end of the year, even Apple’s and Microsoft’s CEOs were calling for new national privacy standards in the United States.

Bloomberg Artificial Intelligence Vs. the Hackers
Last year, Microsoft Corp.’s Azure security team detected suspicious activity in the cloud computing usage of a large retailer: A hacker had broken in. Microsoft quickly alerted its customer, and the attack was foiled before the intruder got too far. Chalk one up to a new generation of artificially intelligent software that adapts to hackers’ constantly evolving tactics. Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and various startups are moving away from solely using older “rules-based” technology designed to respond to specific kinds of intrusion and deploying machine-learning algorithms that crunch massive amounts of data on logins, behavior and previous attacks to ferret out and stop hackers.

Bloomberg Google Wins Dismissal of Suit Over Facial Recognition Software
A lawsuit filed against Google by users who said the world’s largest search engine violated their privacy by using facial recognition technology was dismissed by a judge on Saturday. U.S. District Judge Edmond E. Chang in Chicago cited a lack of “concrete injuries” to the plaintiffs. The suit, initially filed in March 2016, alleged Alphabet Inc.’s Google collected and stored biometric data from photographs using facial recognition software, running afoul of a unique Illinois law against using a person’s image without permission.

The New York Times Facebook Data Scandals Stoke Criticism That a Privacy Watchdog Too Rarely Bites
Last spring, soon after Facebook acknowledged that the data of tens of millions of its users had improperly been obtained by the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, a top enforcement official at the Federal Trade Commission drafted a memo about the prospect of disciplining the social network. Lawmakers, consumer advocates and even former commission officials were clamoring for tough action against Facebook, arguing that it had violated an earlier F.T.C. consent decree barring it from misleading users about how their information was shared.


Information Technology and Innovation Foundation


  • Blog on facial recognition and racial discrimination: Stores are experimenting with using facial recognition and other biometrics to make their stores cashierless. In an op-ed for InsideSources, Daniel Castro and Michael McLaughlin explain how the rise of cashierless stores, enabled by facial recognition technology, may help reduce racial discrimination while shopping. (ITIF Blog, Facial Recognition Technology Can Minimize Racial Discrimination Against Shoppers, Dec. 28, 2018)


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