A key Senate panel advanced a bill on Tuesday that aims to boost U.S. cyber diplomacy by creating a high-level position within the State Department to oversee cyber policy abroad. By a unanimous voice vote, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed “The Cyber Diplomacy Act,” which would establish the Office of Cyberspace and the Digital Economy at State. The bill aims to boost engagement with other foreign nations on common cyber threats as well spread U.S. cyberspace interests abroad.
The Senate passed legislation Monday evening that would require the Pentagon to notify Congress of cell phone spying activity near U.S. military facilities. The provision comes amid fresh concerns over surveillance activity in the nation’s capital after the U.S. government detected evidence of International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) catchers — sophisticated cellphone spying technology often referred to as “Stingrays” — in the Washington, D.C., region.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced legislation June 25 to limit the online reach of social media bots during elections. The Bot Disclosure and Accountability Act would compel social media companies to institute policies that require users on their platform who operate automated software programs designed to mimic or impersonate human beings to disclose this fact on their account profiles.
Jefferson Public Radio Oregon Lawmakers Push For TV White Spaces in Broadband Expansion
The internet has been around for several decades now, but there are still large, rural areas that don’t have sufficient coverage. Christopher Tamarin is a broadband specialist with the Oregon Business Development Department, which has been working to expand broadband in Oregon. He says about 15 percent of Oregonians lack a high-speed connection. “The digital divide continues to exist and I think it’s one of the most important public policy challenges facing Oregon and the nation,” Tamarin told JPR’s Jefferson Exchange.
Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee stressed the importance of internet access in today’s education system during an interview Friday with a local radio station. Inslee highlighted the issue known as the homework gap — where students whose schools deliver instruction through internet-connected devices are not able to do their assignments after school hours because their homes lack internet access. “If they go home and they don’t have broadband access, then they’re shut out,” he said. “It’s the equivalent of saying that only some of our students get a textbook now.”
The FCC estimates 5.74 percent of Michigan’s population – 573,426 people – have no broadband providers in their area, and only 62.32 percent have more than one option for high-speed internet. The disparity of internet access is perhaps most pronounced in the Upper Peninsula. Iron Mountain-based company Packerland recently announced it was partnering with Microsoft to use TV white spaces, wi-fi hardware and other technologies to expand broadband internet access to about 33,750 additional people in northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula by the end of 2019.
The US Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld President Donald Trump’s ban on travel from predominantly Muslim countries — a policy that stirred the emotions of the tech industry. In what would be one of the first of Trump’s many controversial moves, the president, shortly after taking office, signed an executive order that temporarily halted immigration and limited travel from seven nations. The move quickly elicited a reaction from tech companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft, which derided it as “un-American.” More than 100 companies opposed the original ban.
New York Times House Rejects Immigration Overhaul Despite Trump’s Late Plea
The House resoundingly rejected a far-reaching immigration overhaul on Wednesday, despite a last-minute plea from President Trump, as internal divisions in the Republican ranks continued to hobble legislative efforts to protect the young unauthorized immigrants known as Dreamers. The 121-to-301 vote was an embarrassment both to Mr. Trump and to House Republican leaders, who had spent weeks trying to bring together conservatives and Republicans with moderate views on immigration — and ended up with little to show for the effort.
Wall Street Journal Judge Orders Migrant Families Separated at Border to Be Reunited Within 30 Days (paywall)
A federal judge ordered the Trump administration to stop separating migrant families and reunite all children with their parents within 30 days, ruling that the “situation has reached a crisis level.” The nationwide preliminary injunction by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego late Tuesday comes in a class action brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of parents who had been separated from children after crossing the border and detained in immigration custody.
In a major statement on privacy in the digital age, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the government generally needs a warrant to collect troves of location data about the customers of cellphone companies. “We decline to grant the state unrestricted access to a wireless carrier’s database of physical location information,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority.
Hackers are no match for human error. Employee negligence is the main cause of data breaches, according to a state of the industry report by Shred-it, an information security company. The report found that 47 percent of business leaders said human error such as accidental loss of a device or document by an employee had caused a data breach at their organization.
THINK TANK/TECH TRADE ASSOCIATION HIGHLIGHTS
American Enterprise Institute (AEI)
- Blog post addressing California privacy regulation: Visiting scholar Roslyn Layton wrote, “The European experience offers a cautionary tale for those wishing to copy its approach, such as proponents of the California Consumer Privacy Act.” She added, “As a ballot initiative, the California measure is a more democratic means to include users than the EU approach, but it lacks any incentive for providers to invest in privacy enhancing technologies, effectively cementing today’s status quo, rewarding the largest players which can afford to comply with costly rules, and punishing those firms which cannot.”(AEI BLOG – Privacy regulation insanity: Making the same rules and expecting a different outcome, By Roslyn Layton, June 21, 2018)
- Survey on automation: “Fifty-two percent of adult internet users believe within 30 years, robots will have advanced to the point where they can perform most of the activities currently done by humans,” a survey undertaken by researchers at the Brookings Institution found. (BROOKINGS INSTITUTION BLOG – Brookings survey finds 52 percent believe robots will perform most human activities in 30 years, By Darrell M. West, June 21, 2018)
Center for American Progress (CAP)
- Statement on immigration: “Family incarceration is not the answer to ending family separation, and moving children from one cage to another is an outrage. Instead of ending his ‘zero tolerance’ policy of prosecuting even those exercising their legal right to apply for asylum, President Trump is using this executive order to double down on his lie that Congress or the courts are ‘forcing’ his administration to separate families,” stated president and CEO Neera Tanden. (CAP STATEMENT – STATEMENT: Trump’s EO on Family Separation is Not the Answer, Says Neera Tanden, June 20, 2018)
Information Technology Industry Council (ITI)
- Multiple statements on immigration:
- President and CEO Dean Garfield commented, “We have long called on Congress to work towards a solution for DACA that gives certainty and stability to lives of people who are American in every way but on paper. Passage of this bill will bring us one step closer to a solution that addresses DACA and gives DREAMERs peace of mind for their future.” He added, “The administration also needed to act to stop separating families at the border, and families need to be treated in a way that is consistent with our ideals.” (ITI STATEMENT – Tech Industry: Immigration Reform Long Overdue, June 21, 2018)
- Garfield also statedthat ITI is “encouraged that Congress will soon consider a permanent legislative solution for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.” He emphasized that doing so “will ensure that millions of young men and women can continue to contribute to the United States and our economy.” Additionally, the group strongly believes “that separating children from their parents runs contrary to the ideals our country holds most dear,” and urged the administration “to end the forcible separation of families at the border.” (ITI STATEMENT – Tech Industry: Values Matter, Stop Family Separations, June 19, 2018)
- Statement on trade: “Tariffs are the wrong answer to China’s ongoing discriminatory and damaging trade practices. By imposing tariffs on consumer goods and key components of such goods, the president would needlessly take money out of Americans’ pockets – harming the very people he hopes to help, not punishing China,” stated Garfield. “We urge President Trump to reassess the approach, engage in real negotiations with China, and work with allies to change Chinese policies. Tariffs on components and finished products would have the greatest impact on consumers, including tariffs on LED screens, printer and scanner components, and sensors.”(ITI STATEMENT – ITI: Tariffs Wrong Answer to Right Question, June 15, 2018)
- Trade statement: Trade policy director Jordan Haas wrote, “The internet industry appreciates the administration is looking to address the uneven playing field for American companies looking to do business in China. Lack of respect for intellectual property rights, forced technology transfer policies, and state interventions represent significant trade barriers that harm the U.S. internet sector. Tariffs on Chinese made technology products will hurt U.S. companies and only make it more expensive and difficult for American businesses flourish.” (INTERNET ASSOCIATION STATEMENT – Statement On New Tariffs On Chinese Technology Imports, June 15, 2018)
- Statement on immigration: President and CEO Linda Moore stated, “America’s immigration policies and practices are a mess right now — complicated, outdated, anti-competitive, and divisive.” She added that TechNet urges the President “to immediately cease the child separation policy and work in good faith with Congress to advance legislation that provides a long-awaited and deserved solution for Dreamers.” (TECHNET STATEMENT – TechNet Statement on Immigration, June 20, 2018)
- Trade statement: Moore also commented on the Trump Administration’s announcement of tariffs on Chinese goods, calling them “a mistake.” She argued that the U.S. and China “are now firmly on a path to a trade war, one that will ultimately hurt U.S. consumers, workers, and businesses of all sizes.” She noted “countless examples throughout history that prove tariffs do not work, and one recent study shows that tariffs now will slow U.S. economic output by $322 billion over the next decade.” (TECHNET STATEMENT – TechNet Statement on China Tariffs Announcement, June 15, 2018)