Dear Executive Briefing Subscribers—
We hope you’re enjoying your last weeks of summer. Shortly after Labor Day, Congress returns to work—and we expect lawmakers will consider several tech issues during the fall, including AI. We’ll keep you informed as discussions progress.
The Executive Briefing will be taking next week off in advance of the holiday weekend. We will return on September 8. Below you’ll find our tech policy news roundup, including another update on Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision, as well as a featured podcast. Thank you.
This Week in Washington
- Forbes: A draft agreement between the Biden administration and TikTok showcases just how much control U.S. government agencies would have over the app to address the national security concerns raised by the platform. According to the agreement, U.S. agencies would be able to examine TikTok’s U.S. facilities, records, equipment, and servers with minimal or no notice; and block changes to the app’s U.S. terms of service, among other things.
- The Hill: The Biden administration announced additional funding for rural broadband infrastructure under the ReConnect program as part of its plans to help close the digital divide.
- StateScoop: The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NIST) released a draft of new rules outlining which purchased materials must be U.S.-made for broadband networks built with Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) funding. This requirement is a part of the Build America, Buy America Act that is meant to spur the development of U.S. manufacturing and create new domestic jobs.
- CyberScoop: Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) wrote a letter calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to open an investigation into YouTube and its parent company, Google, citing a violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Act. These violations were reported by Adalytics who found that YouTube’s ad-targeting system had served ads for adults on content labeled “made for kids.”
- Axios: U.S. officials are increasingly turning their attention to the country’s space system and how to best protect it from spies, especially as the private industry grows. Now, intelligence officials are warning that foreign spies could be targeting commercial space firms.
- NBC: The Biden administration hopes to secure a short-term extension to a landmark science and technology agreement with China, but some U.S. lawmakers think Beijing will use the pact to gain a military advantage.
- Microsoft: Microsoft announced that they submitted a new proposal to the UK’s CMA for the acquisition of Activision Blizzard. In the restructured proposal, the company addresses concerns raised under UK law, which includes transferring the cloud streaming rights of Activision’s PC and console games to Ubisoft.
- Fast Company: A profile of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, focused on this year’s AI race and his role as driving force bringing the company to the forefront of AI innovation. The profile dives deep into the history of Microsoft Research and Nadella’s vision for how humans and computers interface with each other, through the company’s partnership with Open AI. Microsoft vice chair and president Brad Smith is also quoted. Elsewhere, Fast Company also published a view on future AI regulation, including potential state and federal action in 2024, by the chief technology officer and co-founder of Appian, a cloud computing and enterprise software company.
- Axios: The California Legislature has passed a resolution that will commit the state to the principles outlined in President Biden’s AI Bill of Rights, a move to place the state at the forefront of responsible AI.
- Reuters: Montana’s first-of-its-kind statewide ban of TikTok, which is set to go into effect January 1, 2024, is facing a challenge from the platform, which is citing free speech violations. To combat this, Attorney General Austin Knudsen is calling on a U.S. judge to uphold the ban.
- POLITICO: Big tech companies will begin complying with new content rules to adhere to the EU Digital Services Act, all of which aim to hold the tech giants accountable for content on their platforms and will address issues related to disinformation and harmful content on their platforms.
- New York Times: This week, a self-driving car company, Waymo, hit the streets of San Francisco to drive paying customers around the city, despite objections from public officials. Three New York Times reporters visited San Francisco to test the self-operating taxi service.
- Geopolitics Decanted
In this joint Geopolitics Decanted and Risky Business feature interview, Dmitri Alperovitch and Patrick Gray talk to Illia Vitiuk, the Head of the Department of Cyber and Information Security of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) about the cyber dimension to Russia’s invasion. From turning off Ukraine’s power grid with a cyber attack in 2015, to the Viasat satellite communications hack in 2022, Russia’s intelligence services are world renowned for executing creative destructive cyber campaigns. Despite this, after a year and a half of Russia waging war on Ukraine its power grid is up, its telcos are functioning and its banks are still processing transactions. How has Ukraine been able to withstand Russia’s onslaught in the cyber domain? Illia Vitiuk joins us to reveal insights into how Russian intelligence services are operating in Ukraine, and how the SBU is countering them. (How Russian Intelligence operatives have attacked Ukraine in cyberspace: Interview with Ukrainian Security Service – August 24, 2023)