Executive Briefing September 1, 2017


USA TODAY Congress faces decision on whether to rein in controversial spying program 

USA TODAY reported that the House Judiciary Committee is working on a bipartisan reform bill for Section 702 that would authorize legitimate surveillance of foreigners overseas to continue while better protecting Americans’ civil liberties. The Independent Journal Review interviewed Sen. Rand Paul about the debate over Section 702 reauthorization, with Paul noting that he expects to team with Sen. Ron Wyden and others to push for changes to the surveillance programs. He also raised the possibility of filibustering any attempt to approve a clean reauthorization of Section 702.

POLITICO Trump nominates leader of civil liberties board

POLITICO reported that President Trump has nominated Adam Klein, a senior fellow at the Center for New American Security, to lead the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. The article notes that in June, Klein testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and argued that Congress should not require intelligence agencies to obtain a court order to search data obtained under Section 702 surveillance programs.


Fierce Wireless NAB, Tech Industry Throw Down Over TV White Spaces

As the FCC nears a vote on the issue, support from the tech industry in recent days has poured in: “We urge the FCC to address the outstanding issues as soon as possible and ask that you take the final regulatory steps that are needed to provide regulatory certainty and allow operators to fulfill that potential of TV white spaces technology,” said Linda Moore, president and CEO of TechNet, a bipartisan network of technology CEOs and senior executives, in a letter to the FCC. And Voices for Innovation, a community of more than 90,000 technology professionals and consumers, also wrote (PDF) to the FCC to “strongly urge the [commission] to preserve three TV white spaces channels in every market in the nation that can be used to carry innovative broadband technology.”

Law360 Tech Groups Back Microsoft’s ‘White Spaces’ Broadband Plan

A trade group representing prominent tech companies including Apple, Google and Amazon has urged the Federal Communications Commission to approve a plan advanced by Microsoft to allocate TV-band spectrum for expanding rural broadband service. TechNet, whose members also include Microsoft, Facebook, Craigslist and Airbnb, encouraged the agency to set aside spectrum for the plan, saying in an Aug. 21 filing that doing so would further the public interest.

RedState Finally – A Bipartisan Internet Privacy Bill That Can Pass Congress

RedState published an op-ed by Dean Chambers, political commentator and former national pollster, urging Congress to pass ICPA. Chambers explores the current complications under current, outdated electronic privacy law through the lens of Microsoft’s warrant case. He highlights that “most importantly, ICPA will reform the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) to provide greater accessibility, transparency, and accountability” and finds that the legislation ensures the correct balance between privacy rights and law enforcement’s need to protect from terrorism.

Reuters China Vows to Step Up Protection of Intellectual Property

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s cabinet vowed to step up protection of intellectual property, state radio reported on Wednesday. China will also speed up reviews of patent applications, the State Council said after a meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.

The Hill Intellectual Property Education Crucial to America’s Future

Intellectual property (IP) industries today generate 38.2 percent of total U.S. GDP, or an astonishing $6.6 trillion in annual output. IP is also responsible, directly and indirectly, for 30 percent of total U.S. employment and more than 80 percent of the market value of publicly-traded companies. And yet despite IP’s undisputed economic importance, not a single American college or university offers any undergraduate courses on the basic workings of patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets in U.S. social and economic life.

CNN Trump’s DACA Decision Could Cost Thousands of Jobs, Study Says

Thousands of people are likely to lose their jobs if President Trump phases out an Obama-era policy that protects undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from being deported. That’s according to a new study released Tuesday by the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank; and FWD.us, an immigration reform group started by Facebook (FB, Tech30) CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other tech leaders.

The Washington Times  Legislation to limit smartphone encryption ‘may be necessary,’ deputy AG Rosenstein says

The Washington Times reported on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s comments that legislation might be needed to ensure that law enforcement has access to data stored in encrypted electronic devices.   Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein spoke at the 10th Annual Utah National Security and Anti-Terrorism Conference that the Trump administration is considering urging Congress to require tech companies to decrypt data for law enforcement. Rosenstein noted the growing challenge presented by terrorists’ use of encrypted communications, and remarked that legislation might be needed to ensure that law enforcement has lawful access to data stored in electronic devices.

TechCrunch Tech Leaders Will Show How They’re Solving Societal Problems at Disrupt SF

The tech industry can’t seem to keep its hands off of politics, diversity and social initiatives. And that’s a good thing. Since the election of President Donald Trump, the tech industry’s focus on social and political issues has skyrocketed. In January, for example, many executives in the tech industry came out strongly against Trump’s immigration ban. Then, just last month, tech leaders spoke out against his ban of transgender people serving in the military. At Disrupt San Francisco 2017, some of these tech leaders will speak not only about their tech, but also about how they’re tackling some of the biggest problems we face as a society.

The Verge Members of Trump’s Cybersecurity Council Resign in Protest

Several members of a White House cybersecurity council resigned last week in protest over President Donald Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville and the decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, among other issues. In a resignation letter obtained by NextGov, eight members of the 28-person National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) said that the president’s “actions have threatened the security of the homeland I took an oath to protect.” The letter states that the Trump administration is not “adequately attentive to the pressing national security matters within the NIAC’s purview,” and that Trump has paid “insufficient attention” to the growing threats that the US faces to its cybersecurity.

Recode These Four Key Areas of Trump’s Tech Policy Are Top of Mind for Silicon Valley CEOs

Today’s patent policy favors the patent trolls and disfavors scientific progress, often in a way that gives large companies with resources — and also bad actors — a huge advantage over the startups doing much of the innovation. Today’s patent system is a far cry from its constitutional purpose of “promoting the progress of the sciences and useful arts.” In many cases, it has arbitrarily sanctioned legal monopolies on things that are merely common sense (i.e., Apple’s patent on rounded rectangles, or a vague patent on Wi-Fi inside of coffee shops). Additionally, the tech industry is pushing for fixing the DMCA, revising statutory damages and fair-use laws, and shortening copyright terms overall, among other options for reforming the patent and copyright system.


  • To understand just how complicated current electronic privacy law is, look no further than the Microsoft v. United States case. The United States government cited the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) as precedent to access Microsoft customers’ emails and other electronic communications because under that legislation, law enforcement can access any data older than 180 days. That law was passed in 1986, long before the cloud was even invented. Microsoft, which has a moral and legal obligation to respect all countries’ laws, took dispute with their interpretation of ECPA.”
  • Dean Chambers, political commentator and former national pollster
  • “The “third-party doctrine” likewise offers little reassurance. According to this doctrine, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy in information you voluntarily surrender to third parties, such as Internet providers and banks… In an era of Big Data and ubiquitous electronic communication, the implications of the third-party doctrine are significant… Thanks to the third-party doctrine, there is no clear Fourth Amendment remedy to this invasion of privacy.”
  • Matthew Feeney, reporter, The Weekly Standard 
  • “This law is supposed to be a tool to fight terrorist threats overseas; instead it’s being used as an end-run around the Constitution.”
  • Sen. Ron Wyden
  • “I hope that technology companies will work with us to stop criminals from defeating law enforcement. Otherwise, legislation may be necessary… Unfortunately, some companies are unwilling to help enforce court orders to obtain evidence of criminal activity stored in electronic devices… We need to preserve cybersecurity, without depriving law enforcement of the ability to lawfully access data when lives are at stake and our Constitution and laws allow it.”
  • Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein
  • “Companies engaged in this type of communications service are some of the largest and wealthiest companies in the history of the world… The regulatory burden from lawful requests has not kept them from record-setting growth and profits, often increasing year-over year. It should be expected that, as more people worldwide use their services, driving ad and subscription revenue, the law enforcement need for data from them would also increase.”
  • Unnamed official, U.S. Department of Justice
  • “DreamHost is still weighing an appeal. For now, it can take heart in the fact that it was right to fight this overly broad request, and the Justice Department was wrong to make it.”
  • San Francisco Chronicle editorial board
  • “It’s what we’ve been fearing: that the government would be expanding its efforts to vacuum up data in order to monitor and find and deport undocumented immigrants.”
  • Adam Schwartz, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation