Executive Briefing March 23, 2018

TOP STORIES — CLOUD Act Included in Omnibus Legislation – Passes House and Senate

The omnibus bill to fund the U.S. government through September has passed both the House and Senate and was signed into law today with the inclusion of the CLOUD Act!

Thank you to everyone who supported this important legislation!  Here are a few articles, quotes and tweets about the CLOUD Act.


  • “The 21st-century never fails to bring us new challenges, and it’s the job of Congress — not the courts — to deliver balanced updates like the CLOUD Act to our statutes.”

– Rep. Doug Collins

  • “[The CLOUD Act would] create a clear, balanced framework for law enforcement to access data stored in other countries while at the same time encouraging our allies to strengthen their domestic privacy laws.”

– Sen. Orrin Hatch

  • “It also responds directly to the needs of foreign governments frustrated about their inability to investigate crimes in their own countries. The CLOUD Act addresses all of this, while ensuring appropriate protections for privacy and human rights. And it gives tech companies like Microsoft the ability to stand up for the privacy rights of our customers around the world. Once passed, the U.S. Government will need to move quickly to establish with other likeminded countries new international agreements, similar to what has already been negotiated between the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

– Brad Smith, president, Microsoft



POLITICO Zuckerberg says he’s ‘happy’ to testify before Congress

Facebook‘s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, said Wednesday he was willing to testify to Congress following revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that worked on President Donald Trump’s election campaign, improperly obtained information on some 50 million Facebook users via an academic researcher.


The Guardian The Facebook scandal isn’t just about privacy. Your economic future is on the line

What started as a row over how Cambridge Analytica harvested data of 50 million Facebook users, mainly in the US, has quickly expanded into a long-overdue public debate on how Facebook and other internet giants collect, handle and package our data to make their multibillion-dollar profits. As well as our privacy and the risk to our political processes, the issue of who has the rights to our data could decide our economic future.

The New Indian Express Techies tease out Internet from ‘White Space’

Explains the hurdles tech companies must overcome to use TVWS to bring connectivity to India. These include months-long wait times for license approvals, as well as differing opinions about how spectrum should be allocated. Microsoft is mentioned throughout the story for its TVWS feasibility study in Bengaluru, as well as its continued efforts to secure access to the spectrum.

EU Commission Press Release Commissioner Jourová visits the United States to discuss privacy and law enforcement issues

From Monday 19 March to Wednesday 21 March, Commissioner for Justice Vera Jourová, will visit Washington DC, United States. She will discuss with US Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, the progress made in the implementation of the Privacy Shield and lie the ground for the second annual review of the Shield due in autumn this year. The meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions will be dedicated to the EU-US cooperation on criminal matters, in particular to the upcoming legislation on access to electronic evidence in the EU and the Cloud Act in the US. On Wednesday, the Commissioner was to give a keynote speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the topic “Challenges to Democracy in the Digital Age” but is was cancelled.  She did a press briefing instead where she made comments about Facebook and GDPR.

WSJ Google Privacy Case Risks Disrupting a Key Source of Nonprofit Funding

In 2015, a court overseeing a privacy class-action settlement involving Google agreed to send $5.3 million to six organizations focused on internet-privacy issues instead of doling out 4-cent checks to 129 million plaintiffs. Now, some objectors are trying to blow up the deal and others like it.

WIRED Trump’s Latest China Tariffs Could Hurt Tech—And Even Social Media

Speaking at the White House, the president said that his administration will slap tariffs on “about $60 billion” worth of goods imported from China each year. He argued the levies are necessary to compensate for how China has slurped up the fruits of American invention by nefarious means. “We have a tremendous intellectual property theft situation going on,” Trump said.

The New Yorker Cambridge Analytica and Our Lives Inside the Surveillance Machine

Despite Facebook’s performance of victimization, it has endured a good deal of blowback and blame. Even before the story broke, Trump’s critics frequently railed at the company for contributing to his victory by failing to rein in fake news and Russian propaganda. To them, the Cambridge Analytica story was another example of Facebook’s inability, or unwillingness, to control its platform, which allowed bad actors to exploit people on behalf of authoritarian populism. Democrats have demanded that Mark Zuckerberg, the C.E.O. of Facebook, testify before Congress. Antonio Tajani, the President of the European Parliament, wants to talk to him, too. “Facebook needs to clarify before the representatives of five hundred million Europeans that personal data is not being used to manipulate democracy,” he said. Earlier this afternoon, after remaining conspicuously silent since Friday night, Zuckerberg pledged to restrict third-party access to Facebook data in an effort to win back user trust. “We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” he wrote on Facebook.

Financial Times The EU’s ‘digital tax’: how US tech groups would be hit

The European Commission on Wednesday unveiled its long-awaited plans for a “digital tax” on the revenues earned by internet giants. The levy will be set at 3 per cent and could raise up to €5bn a year for Europe’s coffers from the likes of Google, Facebook, and Apple.

Buzzfeed Lessons From Tech’s Last Political Crisis

Politics and tech have long occupied uneasy, parallel worlds. Politicians are painfully clueless about the basics of technology; technologists are, as we are seeing, painfully naive about politics. Companies born in the ’00s and that grew up in the ’10s were, until recently, often under the blissful impression that what happened in politics didn’t much matter as long as regulators stayed away. That’s changed.

ZDNet Anti-H-1B ads targeting foreign tech workers swamp San Francisco mass transit

A few days ago, a Washington DC-based group with the name “Progressives For Immigration Reform” which has been previously dubbed “anti immigrant” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, flooded San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) stations and trains with ads targeting foreign tech workers, specifically those with H-1Bs. “US tech workers! Your companies think you are expensive, undeserving, and expendable. Congress, fix H-1B laws so companies must seek and hire US workers!” says the ads.

Washington Post Self-driving Uber vehicle strikes and kills pedestrian

Uber abruptly halted testing of its autonomous vehicles across North America on Monday, after a 49-year old woman was struck and killed by one of its cars while crossing a Tempe, Ariz. street Sunday night. The moratorium on testing includes San Francisco, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Toronto. Sunday’s crash was believed to be the first fatality in any testing program involving autonomous vehicles.

WIRED Europe’s New Privacy Law Will Change the Web, and More

On May 25, however, the power balance will shift towards consumers, thanks to a European privacy law that restricts how personal data is collected and handled. The rule, called General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, focuses on ensuring that users know, understand, and consent to the data collected about them. Under GDPR, pages of fine print won’t suffice. Neither will forcing users to click yes in order to sign up.

Delta Business Journal Rural Broadband – C Spire and Entergy Join Forces to Bridge the Digital Divide in Rural America

C Spire and Entergy are planning an $11-million fiber infrastructure project that will cover 302 miles in 15 counties in Mississippi. In addition to this, efforts are underway to get regulatory approval to use TV white spaces to deliver broadband to rural areas. Connect Americans Now (CAN) recently held a roundtable to discuss the use of TVWS in the area. Microsoft is mentioned as a CAN partner and for being the sponsor of pilot programs to use white spaces to successfully connect libraries, farms, schools and students.


American Enterprise Institute (AEI)

  • Multiple op-eds on “big tech”:
    • In response to the recent Facebook privacy controversy, AEI DeWitt Wallace Fellow James Pethokoukis wrote in The Week: “Yet while the immediate controversy is about Facebook and privacy, it is happening amid a broader ‘techlash’ against the mega platforms: Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.” He added, “Even though these companies remain immensely popular among consumer and business users, activists on both the and right are seeking to rein them in through antitrust actions, regulation, or plain old demonization.” He cautioned against “rash actions where unintended consequences haven’t been carefully thought through.” (THE WEEK – The foolish demonization of big tech, By James Pethokoukis, March 22, 2018) [Microsoft mentioned]
    • Director Michael R. Strain argued in Bloomberg that “There is a conversation to be had about the influence that social media companies like Facebook have on the public debate and in our political system… But break up big tech? No. That would shatter some of the greatest achievements of the American economy.” (BLOOMBERG VIEW – Big tech may be monopolistic, but it’s good for consumers, By Michael R. Strain, March 20, 2018)

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR)

  • Letter to Congress on trade: ATR “released a letter last week in support of H.R. 5281, the ‘Global Trade Accountability Act.’ This legislation, sponsored by Congressman Warren Davidson (Ohio-08), reasserts Congressional oversight and accountability over trade-related decisions made by the Executive Branch.” The letter stated, “While this is the right goal, imposing tariffs is the wrong solution. Tariffs are taxes, and increasing them will, on net, hurt American manufacturing, its workers and their families.” (ATR LETTER – ATR Supports H.R.5281, the “Global Trade Accountability Act,” March 19, 2018)

The Brookings Institution

  • Paper on cross-border data flows: Senior fellow Joshua P. Meltzer and director Peter Lovelock wrote, “Cross-border data access, usage, and exchange are essential to economic growth in the digital age.” They argued, “At its core, the digitization of economies and international trade should improve efficiency and increase productivity. By increasing access to information, the internet increases productivity and enables markets to function more efficiently.” (BROOKINGS BLOG – Regulating for a digital economy: Understanding the importance of cross-border data flows in Asia, By Joshua P. Meltzer and Peter Lovelock, March 20, 2018)

BSA | The Software Alliance

  • Statement on the CLOUD Act: BSA commended “Congressional leaders for addressing concerns regarding Congress’s ability to review international agreements negotiated pursuant to the CLOUD Act, and for including additional measures to protect the privacy and rights of Internet users around the world.” The group wrote that it is pleased “the revisions include a strong statement about the importance of preventing governments from using this process to mandate US companies create backdoors around encryption.” (BSA STATEMENT – BSA Applauds Addition of CLOUD Act to the Omnibus, March 21, 2018)

Information Technology Industry Council (ITI)

  • Letter to Congress on the CLOUD Act: ITI “announced its support for the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act as included in the Consolidated Appropriation Act of 2018. In a letter to members of Congress, ITI announced that it will consider key voting the legislation, emphasizing that it marks an important first step to modernize outdated laws regarding law enforcement access to data, and to reform our legal framework for the realities of the digital age.” (ITI LETTER – Tech Industry Considers CLOUD Act a Key Vote, March 22, 2018)
  • Multiple materials on trade:
    • Statement: “We appreciate that the Trump Administration has listened to industry’s requests for a comment period. While we look forward to providing our feedback on the options the administration has outlined, we remain concerned with the administration’s focus on tariffs,” stated Dean Garfield, president and CEO. “As the administration considers how it will address these serious issues, we encourage it to act consistent with international obligations and in close collaboration with other countries.” (ITI STATEMENT – Tech Industry: Tariffs Wrong Solution to Real Problems, March 22, 2018)
    • Letter to President Trump: ITI “joined 44 other associations representing a broad cross-section of the business community [in sending a letter to President Donald Trump] opposing tariffs as a remedy to the United States 301 investigation on China’s unfair trade practices.” Further, “While the associations appreciate the Administration’s efforts to address this long-standing problem, tariffs would punish U.S. consumers and businesses for China’s actions.” (ITI LETTER – Business Community Opposes Potential Tariffs, March 18, 2018)
    • Statement on EU digital tax: Garfield urged “the European Union Commission to reconsider its proposal for digital taxes.” He stated that although ITI does “agree with the fundamental thesis of the European Commission: today’s tax systems do not reflect that today’s economy is digital…the EU’s proposal would exacerbate rather than solve this problem.” (ITI STATEMENT – EU Digital Tax Proposal Misses the Mark, March 21, 2018)
    • Blog on H-4 visa rule: Garfield also argued that the H-4 visa program, which allows spouses to legally work in the United States, “helps turbocharge innovation and create jobs.” However, he added that “Changing course on these important programs would negatively impact the business community, our economy and American workers.” Additionally, he suggested that “Even if the Administration plans to follow through on its threat to end this vital program later this year, Congress should work quickly to cement this policy into law by passing Senator Orrin Hatch’s Immigration Innovation Act.” (ITI BLOG – Why we need to save the H-4 visa rule, By Dean Garfield, March 17, 2018)

Internet Association

  • Multiple statements and news releases addressing issues including:
    • CLOUD Act: Senior vice president Melika Carroll stated, “The internet industry applauds Congress for including the CLOUD Act in the omnibus spending bill. It’s critical that we modernize U.S. privacy laws to reflect current realities of how data is stored around the world. Passing the CLOUD Act will enable law enforcement to gather data stored abroad for the purposes of investigating serious crimes, while still protecting individual privacy rights.” (INTERNET ASSOCIATION STATEMENT – Statement On The Cloud Act In The Omnibus Spending Bill, March 22, 2018)
    • Trade: “The internet industry has serious concerns with the impact of these tariffs – and potential retaliatory actions – on American jobs, consumers, and the digital economy,” said Carroll. “There’s no doubt the U.S. government can and should address China’s trade practices, but consumers and American job creators should not be caught in the crossfire.” (INTERNET ASSOCIATION STATEMENT – Internet Association Statement on Administration’s China Trade Actions, March 22, 2018)
    • Online privacy: Additionally, Beckerman stated that the Internet Association “stand[s] by Facebook as they take tangible steps to improve the platform.” He added, “Maintaining the privacy and security of users has always been and remains a top priority of the internet industry. It is the responsibility of platforms to clearly explain how people’s information is used and protect their data.” (INTERNET ASSOCIATION STATEMENT – Statement On The Importance Of Protecting User Data Online, March 21, 2018)

National Taxpayers Union (NTU)

  • Statement on 5G implementation: Executive vice president Brandon Arnold said, “Reforming the process for 5G deployment will lead to a more connected and competitive America.” He added, “Faster deployment of the next wave of wireless technology will create jobs, reduce government waste, save taxpayer money, and help American businesses stay ahead of the technological curve.” (NTU STATEMENT – NTU Applauds FCC 5G Implementation Proposal, By Kevin Glass, March 22, 2018)
  • Statement on EU digital tax: “Despite the EU plan’s troubling implications for the rule of law and citizens’ well-being everywhere, it is especially punitive toward U.S.-based innovators in digital advertising, data, and other services,” said president Pete Sepp. “[C]onscientious public officials and citizen groups in other nations – regardless of their ideology or aims – must stand up for the rights of taxpayers as well. The EU’s proposal must not become a precedent.” (NTU STATEMENT – NTU Criticizes EU Digital Tax Scheme as “Ungrounded, Complex, and Discriminatory,” By Kevin Glass, March 21, 2018)

New America

  • Multiple materials on the CLOUD Act
    • Statement: Director of surveillance and cybersecurity policy Sharon Bradford Franklin stated, “The House voted to enact a bill that would pose new threats to privacy and human rights for Americans and anyone who uses the services of U.S. tech companies. While this version of the CLOUD Act includes some new safeguards, it is still woefully inadequate to protect individual rights.” She added, “Despite overwhelming opposition from privacy and human rights groups, Congress never held a hearing on the CLOUD Act, and entirely preempted any meaningful debate on the legislation by attaching it to the must-pass omnibus spending bill.” (NEW AMERICA STATEMENT – Congress Passed the CLOUD Act, Ignoring Most Privacy and Human Rights Concerns, March 22, 2018)
    • Blog post: “New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI) opposes the CLOUD Act because even with changes to the bill as attached to the omnibus, it fails to ensure that privacy and human rights will be adequately protected. Thus, Members should oppose the omnibus unless the CLOUD Act is removed,” wrote policy counsel and government affairs lead Robyn Greene. “The CLOUD Act represents a sea change in privacy law that protects the data U.S. companies hold on Americans and people abroad.”(NEW AMERICA BLOG – OTI To Congress: Vote No on Omnibus Bill H.R. 1625 Unless CLOUD Act is Removed, By Robyn Greene, March 22, 2018)


  • Statement on the CLOUD Act: “This is a golden opportunity for Congress to finally modernize our online privacy laws to better account for the important innovations that have been developed over the past three decades, particularly in cloud computing,” said TechNet President and CEO Linda Moore. “Passing the CLOUD Act would safeguard our citizens’ privacy rights, ensure law enforcement has the tools they need to protect us, enhance cooperation between governments, and give Congress significant oversight power to make sure the law is properly enforced.” (TECHNET STATEMENT – TechNet Hails Inclusion Of CLOUD Act In Omnibus, March 22, 2018)
  • Statement on federal IT modernization: Moore also stated, “Funding the Modernizing Government Technology Act is a critical step in protecting our nation’s IT systems from cyberattacks and ensuring the government is using state-of-the-art technologies to better serve our people.” She added, “Instead of wasting 80 percent of its annual budget on maintaining older and less secure IT systems, the U.S. should be investing in IT systems that provide stronger cybersecurity defenses and better services to our nation’s citizens.” (TECHNET STATEMENT – TechNet Welcomes Omnibus Funding To Modernize Federal Government IT Systems, March 22, 2018)

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

  • Blog post addressing trade: Senior vice president John G. Murphy argued, “While modernizing NAFTA makes a lot of sense, the administration’s approach to the negotiations has caused concern among U.S. businesses and other North American stakeholders.” For example, he noted that the “USTR is proposing to cut back dramatically the reach of the government procurement rules in NAFTA, a proposal that promises no benefit, considerable harm, and has no identifiable U.S. beneficiaries.” (U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BLOG – Question Time on Trade, By John G. Murphy, March 21, 2018)


  • “The use of encrypted messaging apps by terrorists and criminals is potentially the most significant degradation of intelligence capability in modern times.”

– Australia Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton

  • “Washington has never really been able to keep up with the pace of change in Silicon Valley, which has amassed immense power over the few decades in part because few legislators actually understand how technology works. Perhaps the passage of the CLOUD Act could offer forward-thinking regulators an opportunity: if we’re going to remove one set of government review of cases involving the transfer of sensitive personal data from massive tech companies to foreign governments, perhaps it is time to regulate those massive tech companies with a stronger hand.”

– Tom Krazit, reporter, GeekWire

  • “According to a Raleigh Police Department spokesperson, the requested account data was not limited to devices running Google’s Android operating system but rather all devices running any kind of location-enabled Google app. The department began using the tactic after learning about a similar search warrant in California’s Orange County, said this spokesperson. Meanwhile, a Wake County district attorney tells WRAL that the data investigators have sought from Google contain only anonymized account numbers without any content included, though it sounds from her comments as though Google has been complicit in supplying further information when forced to do so.”

– Connie Loizos, reporter, TechCrunch

  • “We’re really spectacularly committed to being cooperative with law enforcement. The key thing is that there is a mutual understanding of the limits of how we can help. We get requests, we process them. We have no access to the actual messaging, so we are not technically capable of going beyond a certain boundary… We do what we can, and we do that with speed. I think speed is the key thing.”

– Joel Wallenstrom, CEO, Wickr

  • “What police want – and I understand why they want it – does not even minimally comply with the Constitution… When you give this up, you give up a lot more information. I am holding up my iPhone, you give up a lot more information than what a surveillance camera would see. This is a gateway to almost anything they want to know about you, medical, legal, financial.”

– Judge Andrew Napolitano

  • “Once you share information with someone, you lose control over how that information is protected and used. You cannot assert your privacy rights when your friend’s phone is searched and the police see the messages that you sent to your friend. Same goes for sharing information with the deceased – after you released information to the deceased, you have lost control of privacy.”

– Marina Medvin, owner, Medvin Law PLC