Executive Briefing November 8, 2019


The Hill Booker introduces bill banning facial recognition tech in public housing
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) on Friday introduced a bill banning the use of facial recognition technology in public housing, mirroring legislation proposed in the House in July. The No Biometric Barriers to Housing Act would block the tech from being installed in housing units that receive funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Broadcasting Cable Steyer Proposes $135 Billion for Rural Broadband
As part of his just-announced “Partnership with Rural Communities,” Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer has proposed a massive rural broadband connectivity program that includes $135 billion in investment and “protecting” municipal and co-op broadband networks. He would also have a net neutrality litmus test for FCC commissioner appointments.


Axios A $100 billion proposal to boost U.S. AI funding
A proposal for $100 billion in new funding for fundamental AI research is circulating Congress with bipartisan support, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday. Why it matters: Without a big increase in money for AI research, experts say, the U.S. is liable to fall behind fast-moving adversaries like China on critical emerging tech. The big picture: The White House has hammered the need to stay ahead of competitors. 

Reuters U.S. government sees no evidence of hacking in Tuesday’s elections
Voting in U.S. state and local elections on Tuesday showed no evidence of successful tampering by any foreign government, the Justice Department and six U.S. security agencies said. But Russia, China, Iran and other adversaries of the United States will seek to meddle in U.S. elections moving forward, including through social media manipulation and cyberattacks, the agencies said.

The Hill Senators introduce cybersecurity workforce expansion bill
Four members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee from both sides of the aisle introduced a bill Tuesday to expand America’s cybersecurity workforce. The Harvesting American Cybersecurity Knowledge through Education Act would enhance existing science education and cybersecurity programs in the National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Department of Transportation.

The Washington Post The Cybersecurity 202: Feds and police are war-gaming all the ways an election can be hacked
As voters head to the polls today in Virginia’s odd-year contest, federal officials and local police are war-gaming how adversaries could disrupt next year’s contest without hacking any election systems at all. Officials from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Secret Service are working with cops in Arlington to game out how to respond if hackers from Russia or elsewhere in 2020 disrupt electricity at polling places, shut down streetlights, or hijack radio and TV stations to suppress voter turnout and raise doubts about election results.

The Washington Post TikTok declines to testify to Congress about China, in move that threatens to stoke lawmakers’ ire
Executives from the Chinese-owned video app TikTok have declined to testify at a congressional hearing set for Tuesday that aims to explore the tech industry and its ties to China, a move that threatens to worsen the social-media company’s woes in Washington at a moment when it’s under investigation.

Politico Cruz urges Trump administration to drop online liability language from trade deals
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today urged the Trump administration to remove language enshrining tech’s sweeping liability protections in trade pacts with Canada and Mexico as well as Japan, according to a letter obtained by POLITICO. In a missive to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Cruz also warned against adopting such language, which mirrors Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — a U.S. law shielding websites from lawsuits over users’ posts — in future trade deals.

Wired: A Tech Group Suggests Limits for the Pentagon’s Use of AI
The Pentagon says artificial intelligence will help the US military become still more powerful. On Thursday, an advisory group including executives from Google, Microsoft, and Facebook proposed ethical guidelines to prevent military AI from going off the rails.


The Wall Street Journal Real-Estate Technology Startup Snapdocs Raises $25 Million to Develop AI Capabilities [Paywall]
Real-estate technology startup Snapdocs Inc. has raised $25 million to further improve artificial intelligence on its mortgage processing platform. The San Francisco-based startup provides software that enables the various parties involved in arranging a mortgage to interact, with the goal of simplifying the process. Some of the company’s offerings use AI technology to perform tasks such as scanning documents for errors.

Axios IBM calls for regulation to avoid facial recognition bans
IBM, one of several Big Tech companies selling facial recognition programs, is calling on Congress to regulate the technology — but not too much. Why it matters: China has built a repressive surveillance apparatus with facial recognition; now, some U.S. cities are rolling it out for law enforcement. But tech companies worry that opponents will react to these developments by kiboshing the technology completely. The big picture: IBM’s proposal joins calls for federal facial recognition regulations from Microsoft, Amazon and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Washington Post Facebook reveals new privacy mishap involving apps for groups
Facebook on Tuesday acknowledged another privacy mishap on its platform: This time, some app developers may have wrongly accessed names and profile photos of users in certain groups.The social-networking giant announced the incident in a blog post, estimating roughly 100 “partners” may have accessed this information — including 11 that had done so within the past 60 days. Otherwise, Facebook declined to offer specifics, including who exactly might have seen the data and how many users had been affected.

Gizmodo What Are the Biggest Challenges Technology Must Overcome in the Next 10 Years?
Technology’s fine—I definitely like texting, and some of the shows on Netflix are tolerable—but the field’s got some serious kinks to work out. Some of these are hardware-related: when, for instance, will quantum computing become practical? Others are of more immediate concern. Is there some way to stop latently homicidal weirdos from getting radicalized online?

The Sacramento Bee California DMV ‘inappropriately’ shared customers’ Social Security information with feds
California’s Department of Motor Vehicles on Tuesday acknowledged that it inappropriately shared personal information regarding 3,200 customers with seven outside law enforcement, immigration, and administrative agencies over the past four years. The district attorney offices for Santa Clara and San Diego counties inappropriately accessed personal identifying information related to the 3,000 DMV customers, the state said.

The Washington Post ACLU sues FBI, DOJ over facial-recognition technology, criticizing ‘unprecedented’ surveillance and secrecy
The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday sued the Justice Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI for records detailing their use of facial-recognition software, arguing that the agencies have secretly implemented a nationwide surveillance technology that threatens Americans’ privacy and civil rights. ACLU attorneys asked a federal court in Massachusetts to order the agencies to release documents about how the government uses and audits the software, how officials have communicated with companies that provide the software, and what internal guidelines and safeguards regulate its use.

Buzzfeed News Amazon-Owned Ring Shared Data About Tracking Kids On Halloween
Ring, the home surveillance company owned by Amazon, reminded people on Tuesday of the breadth of its surveillance powers when it published a series of Instagram stories announcing its users had recorded millions of trick-or-treaters this past Halloween. In a company blog and series of Instagram stories, posted Monday and Tuesday, the company showed that it collects, stores, and analyzes sensitive data about how, when, and where people use its doorbell cameras.

Fox 24 WGXA ‘So far behind’: Monroe County officials work towards fixing its rural broadband problem
The Georgia rural broadband situation is worse than the FCC maps once showed. Residents in Monroe County say they’re tired of the slow connections — but a solution may be in the works. “I know that in Monroe County, we’re struggling to fill in gaps in the rural coverage,” resident Denis Smith says. “We are so far behind in so many ways of the general population,” resident Tyler Garland says. “Children can’t do homework, they can’t do assignments. They need to access the internet.”

Public Opinion Rural broadband is key to 21st century success
When was the last time you unfolded a map for directions or required a postage stamp to send a photo to a friend? More likely, you have turned to a phone, tablet or other device to complete these tasks. In the 21st century, the internet has become an integral part of Americans’ lives. Unfortunately, too many communities lack access to this critical resource – including in the Congressional districts that we represent in Pennsylvania and Iowa.

Recode The internet is getting less free
Free speech and privacy on the internet declined globally for the ninth consecutive year according to the Freedom on the Net 2019 report by bipartisan watchdog and think tank Freedom House. The report’s authors cite two main reasons for the decline: increased online election interference — by government and civilian actors alike — and increased government surveillance, both of which are spreading on social media platforms. Click here to view global map showing election interference.

WNCT 9 USDA invests $23.7 million in rural broadband for NC families
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy announced USDA has invested $23.7 million in high-speed broadband infrastructure that will create or improve rural e-Connectivity for nearly 8,750 rural households in North Carolina. It is one of many funding announcements in the first round of USDA’s ReConnect Pilot Program investments.

KGOU Oklahoma Invests In Quantum Technology Research
The University of Oklahoma is researching a bewildering area of quantum physics that could generate billions of dollars worth of technology over the next decade. Journal Record editor Russell Ray and OU physics professor Alberto Marino discuss how “atomic entanglement” helps technology  — and how other state entities are supporting OU’s efforts. 

Forbes How Governments Use AI To Create Better Experiences For Citizens
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is opening up a new frontier by combining human creativity with technology to drive progress in our society and bring governments closer to their constituents. According to the 2018 United Nations (UN) e-Government Survey all 193 Member States have e-government systems in place, at different maturity levels, to deliver digital services and experiences to citizens.

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.