Broadcasting Cable Senate Commerce Approves Rural Broadband Comparability Act
The Senate Commerce Committee has favorably reported S. 2418, the Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Access Act of 2018 to the full Senate for a vote. The bipartisan bill would attempt to close the rural/urban digital divide by requiring the FCC to create regulations that establish whether broadband internet access services available in rural areas are reasonably comparable to those services provided in urban areas.
House lawmakers are raising concerns that a powerful facial recognition tool Amazon is marketing to local law enforcement agencies could be used to inappropriately surveil innocent Americans and reinforce racial profiling of black communities. In a pair of separate letters to Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos late last week, two House Democrats and the Congressional Black Caucus are seeking answers about Rekognition, the service the company is selling for an extremely low price to law enforcement agencies in Oregon and Orlando that allows police to scan footage of crowds for possible suspects in real time.
President Trump said Tuesday that he would proceed with tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports and introduce new limits on Chinese investment in U.S. high-tech industries as part of a broad campaign to crack down on Chinese acquisition of U.S. technology. The sudden shifts are amplifying an air of unpredictability that the president has said gives him an edge at the bargaining table, even as U.S. trading partners complain that it erodes American credibility.
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, said on Tuesday that he fears a “tough summer” is ahead, with respect to immigration issues like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Trump Administration has sought to end DACA, an Obama-era policy that provides legal protection for young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Microsoft has advocated the protection of DACA and has more broadly supported immigration as a way to make sure U.S. companies are hiring talented people.
Brad Smith, president of Microsoft and a 25-year veteran of the company, spoke at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California this week. His talk contained insights into a wide range of issues facing tech, including immigration reform, diversity, and lessons for Facebook regarding regulation.
On Friday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai attended a forum in Dahlonega, GA, speaking with telecommunications industry leaders and local and state elected officials about efforts to bring internet access to rural Georgians and rural residents nationwide. Of all the issues facing the FCC, Pai said access to the internet on the part of the 34 million Americans who don’t have adequate access is the most important.
The Virginian-Pilot Rob Wittman: Many rural areas need access to high-speed internet
US Rep. Rob Wittman of Virginia’s 1st Congressional District believes that expanding broadband access can “move Americans in rural areas off the sidelines into the digital world.” While a lot of progress has been made in terms of availability of federal funding, more needs to be done to eliminate regulations for permits, and there’s also a need to strengthen public-private partnerships.
As Europe’s sweeping new privacy law went into effect on Friday, California voters may get to decide on strict privacy laws for their state. An initiative likely headed for November’s ballot in California would be one of the broadest online privacy regulations in the U.S. and could impact standards throughout the country.
In the last decade, there has been a change in the quantity and type of cyberattacks that we face as a society, especially with regard to zero-day attacks. Zero-day attacks affect anyone indiscriminately, but most of the damage is suffered by freelancers and small businesses that are not prepared to face such a cyberthreat.
The Business Times France, Germany call for EU funding for tech start-ups
France and Germany are pushing for an EU-wide initiative to fund innovation and research in tech start-up projects across the bloc so that Europe can compete more effectively against the likes of China and the United States. Europe has long been seen as a laggard in developing new technologies compared with the United States, which has a strong venture capital industry funding Silicon Valley start-ups.
THINK TANK/TECH TRADE ASSOCIATION HIGHLIGHTS
American Enterprise Institute (AEI)
- Blog post on smartphone encryption: “Once manufacturers grant any form of request for an encryption backdoor, we are all more vulnerable, not just to government surveillance but also to scammers, phishing, cyber criminals, and clever individuals who know how to manipulate the backdoor to compromise security,” visiting fellow Shane Tews wrote. “The right to privacy is accompanied by the ability to encrypt information for the individual user. These don’t have to be conflicting goals in our legal system.” (AEI BLOG – The FBI overstated the ‘going dark’ problem, and the facts on encryption remain the same, By Shane Tews, May 24, 2018)
- Blog post addressing GDPR: Visiting fellow Tom Wheeler argued that “while the American government prevaricated with suggestions from the FTC and revocation of FCC regulations, the European Union moved forward to get in front of the tsunami of data collection that is on the horizon.” He added, “Personal privacy is rapidly becoming a civil rights issue for the digital age. The Europeans identified the issues and suggested solutions. It is time for the American government to step up and stand up for their citizens’ privacy.”(BROOKINGS BLOG – The General Data Protection Regulation sets privacy by default, By Tom Wheeler, May 24, 2018)
- Blog post on artificial intelligence and the workforce: In a new book, director Darrell West “recommends various governance solutions to the workforce disruption created by emerging AI, robotics, and automation trends.” Additionally, “As new technology allows our society to be more productive with less people working, West suggests that we redefine the concept of work to include volunteering, parenting, and mentoring and that we expand leisure time.” (BROOKINGS BLOG – Artificial intelligence will disrupt the future of work. Are we ready?, By Brennan Hoban, May 23, 2018)
Information Technology Industry Council (ITI)
- NAFTA blog post: “NAFTA modernization is an opportunity to build on our strengths, enabling U.S. firms to export more, driving employment and economic growth at home,” senior director Ashley Friedman and senior manager Cody Ankeny argued. “The original NAFTA agreement put into place a framework that allowed for innovation, trade, and economic growth to flourish – that same opportunity exists today, and the renegotiated NAFTA can set a new standard for digital trade that will usher in even further growth and opportunity.” (ITI BLOG – Let’s Bring NAFTA Into the Digital Age, By Ashley Friedman and Cody Ankeny, May 23, 2018)
- NAFTA statement: “The internet industry looks forward to continuing our work with USTR to promote U.S. law and the goals outlined in TPA to support all American industries in NAFTA,” director of trade policy Jordan Haas commented. “Modernizing NAFTA remains as important as ever for the internet economy and America’s $160 billion digital trade surplus. It is encouraging to see Ambassador Lighthizer remains focused on areas critical to the digital economy, including an innovative IP framework and customs facilitation.” (INTERNET ASSOCIATION STATEMENT – Statement on Continued NAFTA Negotiations, May 21, 2018)
- Statement addressing smartphone encryption: “For years, the FBI has been pushing for backdoors into encrypted mobile devices based on broad claims that law enforcement is ‘going dark’, even as practically every expert outside of law enforcement has made clear that doing so would seriously undermine our cybersecurity, our digital privacy, and our tech economy,” commented Bankston. “We call on the Justice Department’s Inspector General to open a new investigation to find the answer to that question, and on the FBI to finally drop its misguided crusade to undermine encryption.” (NEW AMERICA STATEMENT – Breaking: FBI Admits its Claims of “Going Dark” Were Overblown, Based on Bad Math, May 22, 2018)