June 12, 2020

COVID-19: Industry News & Response

Wired Schools Turn to Surveillance Tech to Prevent Covid-19 Spread
When students return to school in New Albany, Ohio, in August, they’ll be carefully watched as they wander through red-brick buildings and across well-kept lawns—and not only by teachers.

Tech Crunch Apple adds anonymous symptom and health info sharing to its COVID-19 app and website
Apple has updated its own COVID-19 iOS app and website with new features to allow users to anonymously share info, including their age, number of existing health conditions, symptoms, potential exposure risks and the state in which they’re located.


The Hill Georgia officials launch investigation into election day chaos amid voter suppression concerns
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) vowed to launch an investigation into the chaos during Tuesday’s primary elections that saw long lines and confusion in parts of the state. “The voting situation today in certain precincts in Fulton and Dekalb counties is unacceptable,” Raffensperger said in a statement.

Politico Some states have embraced online voting. It’s a huge risk.
Some West Virginians voting in Tuesday’s primary will be allowed to tap on their phones or laptops instead of heading to the polls. Some in Delaware will get to do the same next month. And the trend may spread into November, as the coronavirus pandemic inspires a search for voting methods that don’t expose people to the deadly disease.

Washington Post The Cybersecurity 202: Attempted hacks of Trump and Biden campaigns reveal a race to disrupt the 2020 general election
It’s official: The race to hack the 2020 general election is in full swing. Iran tried to hack into Gmail accounts used by President Trump’s reelection campaign staff, the leader of Google’s threat-hunting team revealed in a tweet.


Multichannel News House Republicans Call for Digital Divide Hearing
Looking to get in front of an issue with bipartisan support, the ranking Republicans on the House Energy & Commerce Committee have called on the Democratic chairs of the Energy & Commerce Committee and Communications Subcommittee to hold a hearing on closing the digital divide.

Protocol How the Democrats’ police reform bill would regulate facial recognition
Responding to the frustration and fury unleashed by a Minneapolis police officer’s killing of George Floyd, congressional Democrats on Monday released an ambitious law enforcement reform bill that would, among other major changes, impose restrictions on the use of facial recognition technology by police officers.

Reuters FCC proposes record $225 million fine for massive robocall campaign
The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday voted unanimously to propose a record-setting $225 million fine against Texas-based health insurance telemarketers for allegedly making approximately 1 billion illegal robocalls.

Multichannel News FCC Telehealth Approvals Top $100 Million
With another batch of 67 approvals, the FCC has now given out over half the $200 million in telehealth broadband funding allocated in the CARES Act COVID-19 aid bill.The additional $20.18 million for the 67 projects brings the total to $104.98 million for 305 health care providers in 42 states and Washington, D.C. That includes over 100 mental and behavioral health care providers. The money is going to laptop computers, smart phones, videoconferencing equipment, broadband service, software and more.

Bloomberg Law Supreme Court Affirms Bad Patents Exist, Saves Review Process
The U.S. Supreme Court recently reaffirmed the process that the Patent and Trademark Office uses to take another look and eliminate bad patents. Beau Phillips, executive director of US*Made, says Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s decision delivered an important message during a time when some on Capitol Hill deny there are bad patents and want to reform the review system. In April, the U.S. Supreme Court made a strong statement against “bad patents” (patents granted despite failing the tests of patentability) and in support of the integrity of America’s patent system.


Politico Microsoft won’t sell facial recognition to U.S. police until federal standards exist
Microsoft President Brad Smith said Thursday that the company will not sell facial recognition software to law enforcement agencies in the U.S. until Congress sets national standards for its deployment — becoming the latest tech giant to set limits on its sales of the technology amid scrutiny over government surveillance at protests against the killing of George Floyd.

Business Insider ‘We would walk out with you — if Facebook would allow it’: Content moderators join Facebook employees in revolt over how the company handles Trump posts
A group of former and current content moderators for Facebook are joining employees in speaking out against the company’s refusal to act on a controversial post by President Donald Trump about police brutality protesters.

GreenBiz Funding climate tech and entrepreneurs of color should go hand in hand
Not-so-news flash: The venture capital community has an abysmal track record when it comes to funding entrepreneurs of color. Here’s the backstory in numbers. According to the nonprofit investor network BLCK VC, just 1 percent of venture-funded startup founders are black (that data comes from the Harvard Business School).

CNET Police body cameras at protests raise privacy concerns
Skeptics of police-worn body cameras aren’t convinced that the technology will hold police at protests responsible, and they raise concerns that body cameras at protests could actually serve as a surveillance tool against people exercising their rights to free speech.

Bloomberg U.S., EU Part Ways in Regulating User Content on Social Media
U.S. President Donald Trump’s attack on Twitter Inc. has highlighted how the European Union and the U.S. are taking radically different approaches to overhaul how social media platforms should treat user content.

Multichannel News OTI Won’t Take Facebook Funding
Digital tech policy group the Open Technology Institute (OTI), whose funders include some major computer companies and edge players, among many others, has broken with Facebook, or at least its funding, over the issue of content moderation. According to OTI director Sarah Morris, OTI will decline further funding starting Tuesday, June 9.


World Economic Forum

  • Blog on artificial intelligence and the coronavirus.
    In the summer of 2015, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Over the course of my treatment, I read dozens of research papers to assess my options. I am a specialist in Artificial Intelligence (AI), and was able to use my training in concepts like statistical significance to understand this medical research. As I worked my way through the papers, I realised what a difference AI technologies from my field could make to doctors, scientists and patients, for example in the form of sophisticated tools to search a global cancer database. AI has the power to transform medical research, and not just cancer research. Right now, it can help us address a different and extremely urgent medical challenge: fighting COVID-19. (Agenda – How cutting-edge AI is helping scientists tackle COVID-19, June 8, 2020)

American Enterprise Institute

  • Blog on American privacy legislation and the USA Freedom Act.
    Let’s jump right to the conclusion of this post: The amendment from Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to the pending Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) reform legislation now before Congress is a reasonable compromise between security and the privacy rights of US citizens. Here is a brief summary of the current legislative and policy muddle surrounding the attempt by the Trump administration and Congress to reauthorize sections of the USA Freedom Act — in particular, policies and mandates related to the proceedings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. (Blog – The government surveillance reform muddle — and a path forward, June 11, 2020)

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.