Executive Briefing October 12, 2018


The Verge White House calls on Google to abandon controversial Chinese search engine project

Google’s censored search engine and news app for China has seen a considerable amount of controversy since news of the project first broke, but it may have just gotten its biggest pushback yet in the form of direct opposition from the Trump administration. According to The Wall Street Journal, Vice President Mike Pence commented today in a speech that Google’s modified search engine would “strengthen Communist Party censorship and compromise the privacy of Chinese customers.”

WIRED Can The FCC Really Block California’s Net Neutrality Law?

Within hours of California governor Jerry Brown signing a sweeping net neutrality bill into law, the US Department of Justice sued the state, sparking the latest battle in the long legal war over the ground rules for the internet. Groups representing broadband providers followed suit on Wednesday, with their own lawsuit arguing that California’s law was illegal. The California law, set to take effect on January 1, will ban internet service providers from blocking or otherwise discriminating against lawful internet content. The rules are designed to replace similar regulations passed by the Obama-era Federal Communications Commission.


Innovation Enterprise Microsoft and Redline partner to reduce cost of TV white space services

As part of the partnership, Microsoft will leverage Redlines’ Virtual Fiber radio technology in the TV white space band to its Airband Initiative partners. Microsoft director of Affordable Initiatives Paul Garnett said: “Our work with Redline will increase the availability of competitively priced TV white space technology, enabling internet service providers (ISPs) to provide access to customers at an affordable price point.

The Seattle Times Q&A: Microsoft’s Brad Smith, on the hopes and challenges of connecting Seattle to B.C.

This week, political and business leaders gathered in Vancouver, B.C., to push forward an initiative to better connect British Columbia with the Puget Sound area — in terms of transportation, but also for technology development and educational research. Brad Smith, president of Microsoft and part of the steering group for the initiative, spoke in an interview with The Seattle Times about why he thinks it’s important to connect the regions, and the roadblocks that the initiative might face.

Gadget TV White Spaces on trial

The trial of AfriCanopy’s new telecoms technology, which is scheduled to last eight months, is expected to provide high-speed low-cost broadband coverage for up to 85,000 King Cetshwayo municipality residents, while providing free internet access to 50 rural schools across the region. AfriCanopy also promises the creation of 400 new jobs in the region as aspiring local entrepreneurs will be equipped with ‘Business-in-a-Box’ kits that include solar power supplies, Wi-Fi devices and television white space (TVWS) equipment.

Microsoft on the Issues Ensuring more Americans can benefit from the digital economy

Over the past year, Microsoft and LinkedIn partnered with the Markle Foundation to develop Skillful, a model involving key players across the labor market, so more Americans can benefit from the digital economy. The work has focused on ensuring people across all skill levels and geographies have greater access to opportunities and connections to employment as the economy evolves. In Colorado, the partnership has already helped more than 3,000 individuals onto a better career pathway.

The Verge Microsoft makes its 60,000 patents open source to help Linux

Microsoft announced today that it’s joining the Open Invention Network (OIN), an open-source patent group designed to help protect Linux from patent lawsuits. In essence, this makes the company’s library over 60,000 patents open source and available to OIN members. OIN provides a license platform for Linux for around 2,400 companies — from individual developers to huge companies like Google and IBM — and all members get access to both OIN-owned patents and cross-licenses between other OIN licensees, royalty-free.

Fast Company Uber and Girlboss want to help fund women-owned startups

Uber is teaming up with Girlboss, the media company started by Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso, to help put money toward women entrepreneurs. Uber will invest more than $200,000 in three founders as part of the initiative.

The Verge Instagram is using AI to detect bullying in photos and captions

Last year, Instagram introduced an enhanced comment filter that uses machine learning to spot offensive words and phrases in challenging contexts. Now, the company is expanding similar coverage to photos and captions. Today, it announced that it will use AI to “proactively detect bullying” before sending content to human moderators for review.

NBC News Undercover cops break Facebook rules to track protesters, ensnare criminals

Police officers around the country use undercover Facebook accounts to watch protesters, track gang members, lure child predators and snare thieves, according to court records. The tactic violates Facebook’s terms of use, and the company says it disables fake accounts whenever it discovers them. But that is about all it can do: Fake accounts are not against the law, and the information gleaned by the police can be used as evidence in criminal and civil cases.

NBC News Facebook’s new video chat device met with privacy concerns

Facebook, on Monday, launched two in-home video chat devices. But the launch of the devices, known as Facebook Portal and Portal+, also left people wondering how many consumers would want a Facebook camera in their homes, given the company’s struggles with user privacy. The devices are centered around video chat and feature a camera, speaker, screen and microphone. The company stressed user privacy in the announcement, touting a smart camera that does not work with Facebook’s services and promising that the company does not listen to, view or keep video calls.


American Enterprise Institute

  • Blog on AI race between US and China: If you believe Kai-Fu Lee — the Beijing-based AI scientist, venture capitalist, and former Googler (he ran Google China) — China has the edge in AI. Whether or not Lee is correct in evaluating how the two nations stand in relation to each other, it makes sense for US policymakers to assume more could be done to reduce barriers to AI advancement and encourage the technology’s development. (AEIdeas blog – Some things America should be doing if it takes seriously the AI race versus China, Oct. 9, 2018)


  • Podcast on the digital divide: Nicol Turner Lee, a fellow in Governance Studies and the Center for Technology Innovation, discusses America’s digital divide and challenges for people with lower incomes to access high-speed broadband and data networks. Turner Lee also describes the research she is conducting for an upcoming book and a photo story she published on the digital and economic divides in Staunton, Virginia. (Brookings Cafeteria Podcast – Who’s left out by America’s digital divide?, Oct. 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 endorse specific platforms or bills.