Executive Briefing November 22, 2019


Recode Facebook still isn’t clear about why it won’t take down false political ads
Facebook has come under heavy scrutiny in recent months over its political ads policy that allows politicians to lie in ads. On Monday, one of Facebook’s top marketers again defended the policy and said the company has no plans to change it, insisting that it’s up to voters to decide what messages resonate and are true, even if they’re false.

The New York Times Campaigns Say Google Ad Policy Sidesteps Problem of Disinformation
Campaigns and some digital experts say the restrictions limit a tactic — microtargeting of voters — that they heavily rely on, while not aggressively addressing misinformation. Google’s new restrictions on political advertising, following an outright ban on such ads by Twitter, amount to a one-two punch on 2020 campaigns: The online platforms are creating a big new headache for them, while failing to address a different problem they fear most.

Venture Beat Buttigieg and Yang say AI is essential to U.S. national security
Presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Andrew Yang called artificial intelligence essential to U.S. national security in the fifth Democratic debate on Wednesday.Buttigieg said the U.S. is spending a fraction of the attention and resources on AI research China is.


The Hill Senate Democrats unveil priorities for federal privacy bill
A group of top Democratic senators from four key committees on Monday unveiled their priorities for the nation’s first comprehensive privacy bill, reinvigorating a debate that had stalled for months on Capitol Hill. Legislation built on the Democrats’ stated priorities would limit how much sensitive information tech companies are allowed to collect on their millions of U.S. users.

The Verge The NSA has stopped collecting location data from US cellphones without a warrant
American intelligence agencies quietly stopped the warrantless collection of US phone location data last year, according to a letter from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released today. Last year, in a landmark decision, the Supreme Court ruled against authorities looking to search through electronic location data without a warrant.

CNBC Congressional Democrats demand details on Google’s use of patient data by Dec. 6
Four Democratic leaders on Monday wrote to Google and the hospital network Ascension Health asking for more information about how patient health data is being used and shared under a recent business arrangement. The letters, which were addressed to the chief executives of both companies, noted that there are still open questions about Google’s commitment to patient privacy.

Gizmodo Democrats Press for Major Election Security Boost as Budget Battle Wages On
Dozens of Senate Democrats on Monday signed a letter urging a significant increase in election security funding that’s necessary, they say, for election officials to combat potential meddling in the 2020 presidential election, among other security concerns.


NextGov What to Expect from Congress’ Cyber Strategy Brain Trust
Foreign adversaries are increasingly turning to cyberattacks to disrupt the U.S. economy, steal trade secrets and undermine the political process, and Congress is teaming with government and industry experts to fight back. Lawmakers in May stood up the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, a 16-person panel charged with reviewing U.S. cyber strategy and recommending policy changes to improve the country’s response to digital threats.

Business Insider Microsoft’s reputation is soaring as trust in the tech industry flounders, according to new research
The Reputation Institute, a 20-plus year old reputation-measurement firm, has released its annual report on the tech industry. The top 10 most reputable tech companies of 2019, in alphabetical order, are: Adobe, Dell Technologies Garmin, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Netflix, Samsung, and Texas Instruments.

USA Today Facial recognition: Do you really control how your face is being used?
The fight over the use of our faces is far from done. A raging battle over controversial facial recognition software used by law enforcement and the civil rights of Americans might be heading to a courtroom. The latest salvo includes the American Civil Liberties Union suing the FBI, the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Agency for those federal agencies’ records to see if there is any secret surveillance in use nationwide.

Bloomberg Louisiana Target of Attempted Ransomware Hack, Governor Says
Louisiana was targeted by an attempted ransomware attack that affected some of the state’s server computers, Governor John Bel Edwards said in a tweet.In response, the state initiated “security protocols” and took its servers down, the governor said. The moves affected many agencies’ email, websites and other online applications, he wrote Monday on Twitter.

The Wall Street Journal The People Left Behind in a Broadband World
Nick Tepe, director of Athens County Public Libraries in southeastern Ohio, often drives into the Nelsonville Library parking lot to see it dotted with cars occupied by passengers lit up by the light of their laptops and cellphones. Mr. Tepe keeps the library’s Wi-Fi on 24/7 so that local students and professionals can study, work or simply catch up on social media whenever they have the time to do so.

The Washington Post The Cybersecurity 202: Hackers are offering cash to expose scandal-ridden companies. Ethical hackers are concerned.
A controversial activist is rallying other hackers to crack into scandal-ridden companies and spill their secrets — and offering cash rewards for the biggest leaks. Phineas Fisher is offering up to $100,000 for damaging information about targets including U.S. oil company Halliburton and NSO Group, an Israeli firm that sells software to governments and that critics say helps authoritarian regimes stifle dissent.

Inc. Small-Town Entrepreneurs Need Big City Broadband
Way back in the mid-1990s, I had a crush on a pretty girl in my grandmother’s rural Idaho hometown. Unlike the young women in my own, more sophisticated high school, my friend in Idaho liked me back, and we would have spent more time talking–but her landline was clogged up with the early internet, and all I ever got was a busy signal.

Growing Produce Report: Rural Broadband Investment Could Add $65 Billion to U.S. Economy
According to recent reporting from BroadbandNow, over half of U.S. farms are in a declining revenue situation year-over-year, yet an initial investment of around $35 billion to $40 billion could net the U.S. economy at-large an additional $65 billion on an annual basis.

TechRepublic Many rural Americans still lacking broadband access
The digital divide is closing, however, with the number of Americans lacking access to a fixed broadband connection dropping to 21.3 million Americans at the end of 2017, from 26.1 million at the end of 2016, according to the Federal Communications Commission’s 2019 Broadband Deployment Report. Of that figure, approximately 4.3 million Americans are in rural America.

Telecompetitor Missouri, Iowa Rural Broadband Expansion on Tap From $41.6M in USDA ReConnect Funding
Grand River Mutual Telephone Corporation has won $41.6 million in rural broadband funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect program. The money will go toward broadband deployments to serve rural households and farms in Missouri and southern Iowa.

Business Insider Facial-recognition protesters put smartphones on their heads to scan the faces of 13,000 Washington, DC, inhabitants
Activists from Fight for the Future mounted the protest in Washington, DC, on Thursday. Three protesters wearing white jumpsuits bearing signs saying “Facial Recognition in Progress” scanned the faces of passersby using smartphones mounted on their heads. They used Amazon’s commercially available facial-recognition software, called Rekognition.

The Wall Street Journal TikTok Looking at Ways to Shake Off Its Ties to China [Paywall] TikTok this year made history as China’s first social-media company to make it big in the U.S. Now, TikTok wants to shed its label as a Chinese brand. As TikTok faces mounting scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers and regulators, some employees and advisers in recent weeks have approached senior executives to suggest ways the company could rebrand, according to people familiar with the discussions.


The Brookings Institution

Blog on Tech and Education

From within formal classrooms to educational games after school, technology is widely used in teaching and learning around the world. When used appropriately, technology has the power to support teachers and engage students, providing tools to create and evaluate activities previously considered out of reach. At the Center for Universal Education (CUE) at the Brookings Institution, we are studying innovations that can rapidly improve education progress, including innovations that use education technology. If the education sector stays on its current trajectory, by 2030 half of all children and young people around the world will lack basic secondary-level skills needed to thrive. (Research – How ed-tech can help leapfrog progress in education, November 20, 2019)

Blog on AI and Jobs

Artificial intelligence (AI) has generated increasing interest in “future of work” discussions in recent years as the technology has achieved superhuman performance in a range of valuable tasks, ranging from manufacturing to radiology to legal contracts. With that said, though, it has been difficult to get a specific read on AI’s implications on the labor market. In part because the technologies have not yet been widely adopted, previous analyses have had to rely either on case studies or subjective assessments by experts to determine which occupations might be susceptible to a takeover by AI algorithms. (Research – What jobs are affected by AI? Better-paid, better-educated workers face the most exposure, November 20, 2019)

The American Enterprise Institute

Blog on American Innovation

Sometimes I refer to America’s capacity for entrepreneurial innovation as its “secret sauce” or “deep magic.” But there’s really no mystery here, supernatural or otherwise. America has a relatively low-tax, light-regulation economy and a culture that admires business success while also treating failure as a potential comeback story. In addition, America remains a premier destination for immigrants who want to do great things for themselves and dream big dreams for their kids. (AEIdeas Blog – Washington can’t let concerns about China distract it from America’s need for a pro-innovation agenda, November 20, 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.