Executive Briefing October 19, 2018


NBC News DHS finds increasing attempts to hack U.S. election systems ahead of midterms

The Department of Homeland Security says it’s working to identify an increasing number of attempted cyberattacks on U.S. election databases ahead of the midterms. “We are aware of a growing volume of cyber activity targeting election infrastructure in 2018,” the department’s Cyber Mission Center said in an intelligence assessment issued last week. “Numerous actors are regularly targeting election infrastructure, likely for different purposes, including to cause disruptive effects, steal sensitive data, and undermine confidence in the election.”

The Washington Post The Cybersecurity 202: The U.S. needs a law that requires companies to disclose data breaches quickly, cybersecurity experts say

A slight majority of digital security experts surveyed by The Cybersecurity 202 say the United States should follow in the European Union’s footsteps and pass a law that requires companies to disclose data breaches quickly. Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation requires companies with customers in the E.U. to notify regulators of a breach within 72 hours or face a severe penalty. Fifty-four percent of experts we surveyed supported a similar law in the U.S.

CNBC Supreme Court agrees to hear a case that could determine whether Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies can censor their users

The case, Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck, No. 17-702, centers on whether a private operator of a public access television network is considered a state actor, which can be sued for First Amendment violations. The case could have broader implications for social media and other media outlets. In particular, a broad ruling from the high court could open the country’s largest technology companies up to First Amendment lawsuits.


The Daily Evergreen Educators learn to teach computer science in K-12

Members of the WSU Tri-Cities education department are taking computer science courses in hopes of acquiring certification to teach students in kindergarten through 12th grade about topics like computational thinking and how algorithms work. The initiative is still in its beginning stages but they plan to collect data and evaluate if the courses are reliable to determine if it has a solid foundation to build other courses on.

WIRED Microsoft’s Nadella Says Ai Can Make The World More Inclusive

Talk of artificial intelligence often leads to speculation about how machines may displace workers. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella thinks we should talk more about how AI algorithms can expand the workforce now—by helping people with disabilities. “There are a billion people in the world who don’t fully participate in our economies or societies,” Nadella said, at the WIRED25 Summit in San Francisco. “Technology can allow them to fully participate.”

My Broadband The new mobile network for rural South Africa – How it works

The high price of mobile data means it is difficult for South Africans who live in poor or rural areas to enjoy the benefits of a broadband Internet connection. A South African startup named AfriCanopy plans to solve this problem by leveraging unused television white space (TVWS) spectrum to roll out high-speed, low-cost broadband to rural areas.

The Guardian Chinese search firm Baidu joins global AI ethics body

The AI ethics body formed by five US corporations has expanded to include its first Chinese member, the search firm Baidu. The Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society was formed in 2016 by Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft to act as an umbrella organization for the five companies to conduct research, recommend best practices and publish briefings on areas including ethics, privacy and trustworthiness of AI.

Bloomberg U.K. Cyber Security Center Says Most Attacks Are From Hostile States

The U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre blamed hostile foreign states for the majority of the 1,167 attacks it has handled in the two years it’s been running, equivalent to 10 assaults a week. In the organization’s second annual report, published Tuesday, Chief Executive Officer Ciaran Martin wrote he’s in “little doubt” the U.K. will be victim of a “Category One Attack” on critical national infrastructure in the future, highlighting Russia as one of the states most likely to launch an assault.

Microsoft on the Issues Tech Fraud without Borders: Protecting European Citizens from Cyber Scams

Hundreds of thousands of people have lost money to tech support scammers, paying for non-existent products to fix non-existent problems. Or, in more serious cases, lost large sums due to compromised bank details or payment to fix viruses which the scammers have planted on the computer via remote access. Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit fights this kind of cybercrime through a combination of technology, forensics, civil actions, criminal referrals, and public/private partnerships. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are deployed to sift through the tens of thousands of pop-ups appearing every day and to pull out those which relate to the scams.


Information Technology Industry Council

  • Blog on the future of tech: Right now, the tech sector employs more than 7 million Americans and contributes $1.6 trillion to the economy. Right now, tech has more than 625,000 jobs just waiting to be filled, with the number of tech jobs increasing by about 200,000 each year. Tech has and will continue to define the possibilities of tomorrow— for our workforce, our families, our communities and our lives — but we must work together to build it. (ITI TechWonk Blog – Building the Future Through Tech, Oct. 18, 2018)

New America

  • Blog on women of color in tech: The question that plagues me, and others: How are women of color affected by emerging technology and cybersecurity? Will this group continue to be left behind? My colleagues at Women of Color Advancing Peace & Security and I are launching a group to explore that very question. Our group will focus on the impacts of emerging technology and cybersecurity on communities of color with an emphasis on women of color. (Cybersecurity Initiative Blog – We Won’t Let Women of Color Get Left Behind in Tech, Oct. 17, 2018)


The Brookings Institute

  • Blog on AI and wearable technology: Though digital technology has transformed nearly every corner of the economy in recent years, the healthcare industry seems stubbornly immune to these trends. That may soon change if more wearable devices record medical information that physicians can use to diagnose and treat illnesses at earlier stages. (TechTank Blog – Wearable device data and AI can reduce health care costs and paperwork, Oct. 18, 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.