Executive Briefing March 8, 2019


The Hill State rules complicate push for federal data privacy law
Lawmakers are running into their first major challenge as they finally begin work on a data privacy bill, with Republicans and Democrats sharply divided over whether to block states from enforcing their own rules. Both parties are optimistic about the prospect of a bipartisan agreement on the nation’s first comprehensive data privacy law, but how that law will deal with tough new rules put in place by states like California is proving to be an early sticking point.

New York Times Disputed N.S.A. Phone Program Is Shut Down, Aide Says
The National Security Agency has quietly shut down a system that analyzes logs of Americans’ domestic calls and texts, according to a senior Republican congressional aide, halting a program that has touched off disputes about privacy and the rule of law since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Politico Trump campaign pushes government intervention on 5G
President Donald Trump’s reelection team is backing a controversial plan to give the government a role in managing America’s next-generation 5G wireless networks — bucking the free market consensus view of his own administration and sparking wireless industry fears of nationalization. The plan — embraced by Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale and adviser Newt Gingrich — would involve the government taking 5G airwaves and designing a system to allow for sharing them on a wholesale basis with wireless providers.

Buzzfeed Democrats Hope Their “Save The Internet” Bill Will Restore Net Neutrality Laws, But It Faces An Uphill Battle
House and Senate Democrats revealed legislation on Wednesday to restore Obama-era net neutrality rules, which have been undone during the Trump administration. Called the “Save the Internet Act,” the bill represents the latest attempt by Democrats to restore protections that prohibit internet service providers from slowing websites or charging premiums for “fast lanes” for specific services or higher-quality streaming.

B+C Ex-Edge Exec: Consumer Tech Reflects Lack Staff of Diversity
The House Consumer Protection Subcommittee waded into the issue of the lack of diversity in the tech sector and its impact not only on staffing but the tech those engineers produce. Committee chair Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) emphasized the potential for a workforce lacking in diversity to translate into bias or blind spots in the algorithms that lead to discriminatory results in determining who gets jobs, who gets sold what at what price, who is targeted with advertising, or excluded, and much more.


AP News Data privacy, right-to-delete rules pass Washington Senate
The Washington Senate has passed a broad package of data privacy protections, including rules that would give consumers the right to delete data about them held by private companies. The measure would require businesses or other entities that control or process the identifiable data of more than 100,000 people to allow consumers to find out what data is stored about them, correct errors or request deletion. The measure would also set rules for facial recognition technology for both state and private users.

Seattle Times Washington Senate approves consumer-privacy bill to place restrictions on facial recognition
In a broad bipartisan vote, Washington state senators have approved a bill to create a European-style consumer-data privacy law and restrict some uses of facial recognition. Lawmakers on Wednesday voted 46 to 1 to pass Senate Bill 5376. Sponsored by Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, it would allow citizens to know what information data companies are gathering on them.

CNET Facebook’s two-factor authentication puts security and privacy at odds
On Facebook, two-factor authentication with phone numbers has a two-factored problem. First: The phone number you give to Facebook to help keep your account safe from potential hackers isn’t just being used for security. People can find your profile from that same phone number, and you can’t opt out of that setting. Second: Using your phone number for two-factor authentication, or 2FA, is susceptible to hacks.

Clarion Ledger How TV could be used to provide affordable broadband internet to rural Mississippi
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), more than half of rural Mississippians lack access to broadband-quality internet — making Mississippi one of the least connected states in the country. This rural broadband gap impacts nearly every aspect of Mississippi’s economy. Thankfully, Mississippi is taking strides to eliminate the rural broadband gap. Leaders from across the state, such as U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, have made a concerted effort to connect our rural residents to broadband — a crucial effort for our economic future.

Tech Accord Cybersecurity Tech Accord returns to RSA amid rapid global expansion; reaches 90 signatories
The Cybersecurity Tech Accord recently welcomed 11 new companies for a total of 90 signatories now committed to improving the security of cyberspace. Nearly one year ago, the Cybersecurity Tech Accord was launched at the RSA Conference with 34 technology and security companies as signatories, publicly pledging to defend customers everywhere from malicious attacks by cybercriminal enterprises and nation states. Today, the group returns to RSA as the largest, and most international industry-led cybersecurity effort of its kind.

CBS Girls In Tech: Confronting The “Middle School Cliff”
Two successful women in technology say getting more women into their field requires focusing on girls’ education all the way back in elementary school. Bonnie Ross, a Microsoft corporate vice president who runs her company’s videogame studio, told 60 Minutes correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi the key to preventing girls from dropping out of tech fields is to make them more comfortable with computer science when they’re younger. To do that, Ross thinks elementary and middle schools should make computer science classes mandatory.


American Enterprise Institute

  • Blog on data privacy and healthcare: Most of our attention in the digital privacy debate has been focused on web advertising, social media, and mobile devices. Which is appropriate — but this actually undersells the scope of both the challenge and the opportunity. So far, the internet has revolutionized media, search, social, finance, entertainment, and e-commerce. Information technology, however, is now poised to revolutionize many sectors of the economy that have not yet fully exploited the internet and other digital tools. As data collection, creation, and analysis become a more important part of other industries — such as health care and transportation — privacy questions and policy challenges will only multiply. (AEIdeas – Digital privacy and the massive health care opportunity, Mar. 1, 2019)


  • Blog on AI, state leaders, and the workforce: Governors and other state leaders who are working to help the residents of their states cope with rapid economic change recently got a better look at the challenges they face. New research by our Brookings colleagues Mark Muro, Rob Maxim, and Jacob Whiton suggested that while artificial intelligence isn’t likely to eliminate millions of jobs overnight, as many as 25 percent of American workers (36 million people) face “high” exposure to task disruption in the coming decades. That exposure is more concentrated in certain states, especially in the Heartland. (The Avenue – A governor’s policy playbook to address disruptions from automation and artificial intelligence, Mar. 1, 2019)
  • Testimony on diversity in tech: On March 6, 2019, Brookings Fellow Nicol Turner Lee testified before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Consumer Protection & Commerce. Turner Lee argued that the absence of diversity among the decisionmakers around products and services for the tech sector will grossly harm a growing segment of the American population. Drawing from research from Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program and a Pew study, Turner Lee made the following recommendations. (Testimony – Inclusion in tech: How diversity benefits all Americans, Mar. 6, 2019)

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

  • Blog on net neutrality: The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the world’s leading science and tech policy think tank, expressed disappointment with the “Save the Internet” Act, stating: “The Save the Internet Act at least aims in the right direction in that it would end the back and forth on broadband regulation through legislation. This legislation unfortunately contains a fatal flaw: returning to the problematic 2015 rules and the overly broad authority of Title II. No bill that classifies broadband as a common carrier under Title II of the Communications Act will gain widespread support.  (ITIF – “Save the Internet” Act is Non-Starter With Title II, Says Leading Tech Policy Think Tank, Mar. 6, 2019)

Note: Voices for Innovation regularly shares a range of opinion articles and press releases from organizations in and publications covering tech policy. These pieces are meant to educate our audience, not to endorse specific platforms or bills.