Executive Briefing September 6, 2019


Engadget FCC offers another $950 million for broadband in Puerto Rico
The FCC isn’t done funding Puerto Rican broadband in the wakes of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Chairman Ajit Pai has circulated a draft order that would offer another $950 million to “storm-harden, improve and expand” broadband in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Not surprisingly, the FCC is pitching this using the prospect of next-gen internet access as a lure. This would help deploy 5G and gigabit fiber to the territories, the agency said, helping residents “fully participate” in the digital world.

Reuters Republican, Democratic U.S. lawmakers ask Google to expand copyright protections
A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday asked the chief executive of Alphabet’s Google to expand its use of technology that prevents copyright infringement to smaller creators who are “at a significant disadvantage.” Copyright holders with “smaller catalogs of works” are disadvantaged without Google’s “Content ID” technology, having to manually track down copyright infringements or allow their intellectual property to be used, the group of U.S. senators and representatives said in their letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

The Hill Lawmakers offer bill to shore up federal cybersecurity
The Advancing Cybersecurity Diagnostics and Mitigation Act would formally codify the Department of Homeland Security’s Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) program, which provides tools and services to federal agencies to increase cybersecurity. The bill would also require DHS to develop a strategy to ensure that the CDM program is able to adjust to evolving cyber threats and would require the DHS secretary to make the CDM program available for state, local and tribal governments.

The Hill Key Republican lawmaker introduces legislation to defend state, local governments against cyberattacks
Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) introduced legislation Friday designed to help state and local governments defend against cyberattacks on the heels of debilitating ransomware attacks across the country. The State and Local Government Cybersecurity Improvement Act would direct the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) cybersecurity agency to create a “resource guide” to assist state and local government officials in preparing for, defending against and recovering from a cyberattack. The legislation would also create grant programs to make funds available for officials to bolster cybersecurity of state and local government entities.


New York Times Big Tech Companies Meeting With U.S. Officials on 2020 Election Security
Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft met with government officials in Silicon Valley on Wednesday to discuss and coordinate on how best to help secure the 2020 American election, kicking off what is likely to be a marathon effort to prevent the kind of foreign interference that roiled the 2016 election. The daylong meeting, held at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., included security teams from the tech companies, as well as members of the F.B.I., the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security.

POLITICO Congress still has time to act on election security ahead of 2020
Some of the most sweeping election security legislation is all but dead. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has rejected two House-passed bills, H.R. 1 and H.R. 2722, that would authorize more than $1 billion in election security aid to state and local governments and encourage paper ballots and post-election audits. The sponsor of the latter bill, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), said that for any legislation to affect the 2020 elections, it needs to pass by fall, or election administrators would be “scrambling.” Narrower measures, though, have a chance of seeing the finish line in 2019.

The Hill Advocacy group launches campaign to pressure Senate Republicans to approve election security funding
A progressive advocacy group plans to spend over $100,000 on a nationwide campaign to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Senate Republicans to pass a funding bill that includes $600 million for increased election security. Stand Up America announced the campaign — which will involve buying digital ads, a billboard near McConnell’s Kentucky office and other organizing tools to urge Senate Republicans to approve election security funding — on Wednesday.


The Hill Opinion: The digital divide leaves rural students behind, innovation can change that
Dr. Allen Pratt, executive director of the National Rural Education Association, authored an opinion piece in support of the Connect Americans Now (CAN) coalition that includes mention of Microsoft’s work to advance TV white space technology.

The Guardian California advances bill that would ‘lead the world’ on gig worker rights
A bill that would fundamentally change the way tech giants – such as Lyft and Uber – engage with workers has passed a major hurdle in the California legislature. Assembly Bill 5 would change the way businesses classify employees and dramatically expand protections for gig workers. If it becomes law, it would represent a big win for labor advocates across the state.

New York Times Police Use of Facial Recognition Is Accepted by British Court
In one of the first lawsuits to address the use of live facial recognition technology by governments, a British court ruled on Wednesday that police use of the systems is acceptable and does not violate privacy and human rights. The case has been closely watched by law enforcement agencies, privacy groups and government officials because there is little legal precedent concerning the use of cameras in public spaces that scan people’s faces in real time and attempt to identify them from photo databases of criminal suspects. While the technology has advanced quickly, with many companies building systems that can be used by police departments, laws and regulations have been slower to develop.

Venture Beat Pew: U.S. adults trust police with facial recognition more than tech companies or advertisers
When it comes to facial recognition software, people trust tech companies and advertisers less than they do police, but attitudes vary based on age, race, gender, and political party, according to a Pew Research survey released today. The survey is the first from Pew Research to assess the attitudes of U.S. adults toward facial recognition software, Pew Research Data Labs director Aaron Smith told VentureBeat in a phone interview.

WIRED Facebook, Microsoft Back Contest to Better Detect Deepfakes
Facebook, Microsoft, the Partnership on AI coalition, and academics from seven universities launched a contest to encourage better ways of detecting deepfakes. Organizers of the Deepfake Detection Challenge did not specify prizes. The contest will run from late 2019 until spring of 2020.

CNET You shared Ring footage with police. They may share it, too
Internal documents from Ring reviewed by CNET show that police are allowed to pass Ring videos around to other law enforcement agencies and keep the clips for as long as they wish — two factors that privacy advocates fear could lead to a new type of database using footage from people’s doorsteps.

TechCrunch A huge database of Facebook users’ phone numbers found online
Hundreds of millions of phone numbers linked to Facebook accounts have been found online. The exposed server contained more than 419 million records over several databases on users across geographies, including 133 million records on U.S.-based Facebook users, 18 million records of users in the U.K., and another with more than 50 million records on users in Vietnam. But because the server wasn’t protected with a password, anyone could find and access the database.

AP News YouTube to pay $170M fine after violating kids’ privacy law
Google’s video site YouTube has been fined $170 million to settle allegations it collected children’s personal data without their parents’ consent. The Federal Trade Commission fined Google $136 million and the company will pay an additional $34 million to New York state to resolve similar allegations.


Microsoft on the Issues

  • Blog about the ways in which technology can influence water security: Water insecurity is a growing threat around the world, and it will get worse if we don’t arrive at some immediate innovative solutions. And while technological innovation shapes nearly every other aspect of our lives, we’ve been slow to apply tech solutions toward one of the greatest challenges of our time. (Microsoft on the Issues – A shift in perspective: Taking a new view on water security through technology, September 4, 2019)

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

  • Blog about the competition that comes with broadband policy: Competition is a crucial component of broadband policy in that it pressures providers to be efficient and innovative. Whether any given market has adequate competition is a key underpinning question for the regulatory structure of broadband networks. However, broadband competition is not always analyzed directly. How much competition is enough, and is more always better? (Information Technology & Innovation Foundation – A Policymaker’s Guide to Broadband Competition, September 3, 2019)

American Enterprise Institute

  • Blog about the rates and speeds of broadband in modern America: A look at a recent Wall Street Journal article on American broadband speeds, and how those speeds are used by consumers. (American Enterprise Institute Faster! No wait, slower! An update on broadband speeds, August 30, 2019)

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.