Executive Briefing November 9, 2018

Hour of Code 2018 is just a month away—running from December 3-9. We strongly encourage VFI members to volunteer to host an Hour of Code session in their community—at a school, a community center, or even a Microsoft Store. Every year, Voices for Innovation members have stepped up to lead or support Hour of Code sessions. To learn more, check out the VFI blog on the event.

Hour of Code provides tutorials designed for all ages. Please sign up, share this event with your networks, and let us know if you’re participating by emailing us at outreach@voicesforinnovation.org.

This week, the US midterm elections saw Democrats take the majority in the House of Representatives, while Republicans increased their Senate majority. We’re still taking stock of how these elections will impact technology policy when Congress returns in 2019. Look to VFI, including on our Twitter and Facebook pages, for more news and analysis in the coming weeks.


The Wall Street Journal No Significant Foreign Interference Seen on Midterm Vote

U.S. security officials and social media firms said Tuesday they spotted a limited amount of deliberate disinformation targeting the midterm election, but that they hadn’t observed any significant efforts to directly breach election infrastructure with cyberattacks. Concerns about a potentially calamitous attack from Russia or elsewhere began to subside even as government agencies, including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, remained on alert.

CNBC Trump says administration is looking into antitrust violations by Amazon, other tech giants

President Donald Trump said his administration is looking into antitrust violations by Amazon, Facebook and Google parent, Alphabet. In a video interview with Axios’ Jonathan Swan and Jim VandeHei that aired on Sunday, Trump said he’s “not looking to hurt” the U.S. tech giants but is considering action. “We are looking at [antitrust] very seriously,” Trump said.

Reuters U.S. Supreme Court divided over Google privacy settlement

U.S. Supreme Court justices, in an internet privacy case involving Google, disagreed on Wednesday over whether to rein in a form of settlement in class action lawsuits that awards money to charities and other third parties instead of to people affected by the alleged wrongdoing. The $8.5 million Google settlement was challenged by an official at a Washington-based conservative think tank, and some of the court’s conservative justices during an hour of arguments in the case shared his concerns about potential abuses in these awards, including excessive fees going to plaintiffs’ lawyers.


mHealth Intelligence FCC Faces New Pressure to Expand Broadband for Rural Telehealth

Rural broadband advocates are looking to put pressure on the Federal Communications Commission to expand broadband services through TV white space technology, which could be used to expand telehealth and telemedicine services to remote parts of the country. In a letter to the FCC, a group of 44 communications companies and organizations urged Commissioner Ajit Pai and his committee to explore ways to support the technology.

Broadcasting Cable Groups Seek More White Spaces Power, Tower Height

Some manufacturing and ISP members of the Connect Americans Now coalition are pushing the FCC to leverage white spaces to close the rural digital divide, backing the push by Microsoft to open up more of TV band for broadband, including rural connectivity. The groups, which also include manufacturers and other white spaces and rural broadband advocates, asked the FCC in a letter Monday to issue a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to boost broadband deployment in underserved areas using the white spaces.

Reuters China’s Xi calls for global cooperation to create ‘fairer’ internet

China’s President Xi Jinping called on Wednesday for greater global cooperation in developing the internet and make it more “fair and equitable”, as Beijing seeks to bolster its global role in shaping the web. “There is an urgent need for us to speed up the internet economy and work for governance that is more fair and equitable,” Xi said.

The Washington Post West Virginians abroad in 29 countries have voted by mobile device, in the biggest blockchain-based voting test ever

Nearly 140 West Virginians living abroad in 29 countries have cast their election ballots in an unprecedented pilot project that involves voting remotely by mobile device, according to state officials. The statewide pilot, which covers 24 of West Virginia’s 55 counties, uses a mixture of smartphones, facial recognition and the same technology that underpins bitcoin – the blockchain – in an effort to create a large-scale and secure way for service members, Peace Corps volunteers or other Americans living overseas to participate in the midterm elections.

Engadget Google will now take you through your privacy settings step-by-step

Google has introduced a handful of new security measures as part of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, starting with a risk assessment feature that requires JavaScript to run. In case you’ve disabled JavaScript on your browser in the past, Google wouldn’t be able to sign you in — you’ll be required to turn it on if you want to access your account. The big G has also leveled up its Security Checkup feature, so that once you’ve signed in, it will ask you to delete any apps it thinks is harmful and to cut off any devices you don’t use anymore.



  • Blog on AI and national security: One key challenge stands out: What influence will A.I. have on security dilemmas between great powers? With the two leading producers of A.I., the United States and China, already eyeing each other warily, the question is far from an idle one. If we are to maintain a stable international order, we need to better understand how artificial intelligence may exacerbate the security dilemma—and what to do about it. (Order from Chaos blog, Artificial intelligence and the security dilemma, Nov. 6, 2018)

The App Association

  • Blog on diversity in the tech industry: Working as a content developer at E-Line Media, Elaine Gomez is a dynamic talent in the gaming community. As a woman and member of the Latinx community, Elaine is all too familiar with the gap in representation within the video game industry and is actively working to fill it. After hearing some of Elaine’s story on a workforce development during Apple’s panel during the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Leadership Institute, we sat down with her to learn more about her efforts and what we could do to elevate her story and amplify her voice. (ACT blog, Amplify: Elaine Gomez, Oct. 31, 2018)

New America

  • Blog on AI Politburo study session: More than a year after the Chinese government released the New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan (AIDP), General Secretary Xi Jinping led a Politburo study session that emphasized the continued importance of artificial intelligence (AI) in official Chinese development and governance goals. (Cybersecurity Initiative blog, Xi Jinping Calls for ‘Healthy Development’ of AI (Translation), Nov. 5, 2018)


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.