May 15, 2020

COVID-19: Resources

Microsoft News The power of Microsoft Teams: our commitment to enable business, learning, and healthcare continuity
In the eighth week of the nationwide lockdown, we have started embracing new ways to survive and thrive. Every crisis has its learnings and the COVID-19 situation is no different. The lockdown and social distancing have made remote working and learning the new normal.

COVID-19: Industry News & Response

ZDNet Microsoft is dedicating significant tech resources to COVID-19 first responder organizations
Every enterprise is doing its part to help as many people as possible during the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, and Microsoft is throwing its hat into the ring in a big way. On top of hardware and software Microsoft provides to more than 180,000 organizations across the globe, the tech giant is dedicating another $35 million for providing technology resources to first responder groups that are on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Washington Post Thermal scanners are the latest technology being deployed to detect the coronavirus. But they don’t really work.
As they scrambled last month to find a way to pinpoint infections from the novel coronavirus, officials in Georgia’s Gwinnett County sought help from an unusual source: an Illinois-based seller of red-light traffic cameras.

TechCrunch FBI and DHS accuse Chinese hackers of targeting U.S. COVID-19 research
In a rare joint public statement, the FBI and Homeland Security’s cybersecurity advisory unit CISA have accused top Chinese hackers of trying to steal U.S. research related to the coronavirus strain, known as COVID-19.

NPR Apple and Google’s Contact Tracing Technology Raises Privacy Concerns
Apple and Google want to develop tech to track the spread of COVID-19 while protecting individuals’ privacy. But some states say the restrictive settings may make it harder to find virus hotspots.

MarketWatch Microsoft, Visa and others worth combined $11.5 trillion want Congress to include climate in COVID-19 recovery plan 
The businesses, in lobbying Congress Wednesday through an effort they call LEAD on Climate 2020, represent combined annual revenues of more than $1 trillion and a shared market valuation of nearly $11.5 trillion. They employee more than 3 million people. 

Politico Covid-19 steering NSTAC toward communications resiliency again
The Covid-19 crisis is prompting a high-level, federal cybersecurity-focused advisory committee to consider revisiting a nearly decade-old report on hardening communications networks’ capacity to withstand cyberattacks and other kinds of threats.

Business Insider Bill Gates is funding a new at-home COVID-19 testing program and it’s already testing 300 people a day [Paywall]
Microsoft billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates is funding a new “disease surveillance” programme that samples the Seattle population for COVID-19. In a blog post on Tuesday, Gates said it involves sending Seattle citizens self-swab tests they can use at home to collect and send nasal samples to a lab, even if they are not showing symptoms.


Roll Call Latest coronavirus relief bill looks to boost congressional tech capabilities
Perhaps the video conferencing glitches have taken a toll, because House Democrats want to bolster the technological capability of Congress in the next coronavirus relief package. The latest legislative iteration crafted to pull the country out of an economic crater caused by the coronavirus — clocking in at more than $3 trillion — proposes to inject the legislative branch with $5 million to support enhanced remote-working demands.

Washington Post Facebook is quietly helping to set up a new pro-tech advocacy group to battle Washington
Facebook is working behind the scenes to help launch a new political advocacy group that would combat U.S. lawmakers and regulators trying to rein in the tech industry, escalating Silicon Valley’s war with Washington at a moment when government officials are threatening to break up large companies.

Roll Call Democrats include $5 billion in broadband funding in virus relief package 
The legislation, on which the House is expected to vote Friday, includes $1.5 billion to close the so-called homework gap facing students who lack high-speed internet access at home even as schools across the country remain closed as a result of the virus and have moved to online learning.

Reuters U.S. FTC indicates it is looking at Zoom privacy woes
Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph Simons indicated on Monday that the agency was looking at privacy complaints regarding Zoom Video Communications Inc. In a teleconference with lawmakers, Simons made reference to concerns that Representative Jerry McNerney of California had about Zoom. McNerney and others had written a letter to Zoom expressing concerns about information collected about registered and non-registered users and recordings made by Zoom subscribers which may be stored in the cloud.

Fedscoop Navy launches more ‘Tech Bridges’ to increase collaboration on technology
The Navy is doubling the number of technology collaboration centers that it operates to improve collaboration with organizations that do not traditionally work with the military. The “Tech Bridges” are large collaboration spaces around the country where the Navy can work directly with academia and the private sector, beyond the confines of military bases, on challenges unique to the service.

Nextgov USPTO Adds Company to $50M Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Contract
The United States Patent and Trademark Office officially selected a new partner to support its increasing adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. General Dynamics Information Technology on Monday announced it was awarded a contract worth up to $50 million through its Intelligent Automation and Innovation Support Services blanket purchase agreement.

Cyberscoop FBI, DHS to go public with suspected North Korean hacking tools
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are preparing to jointly expose North Korean government-backed hacking this week, CyberScoop has learned. Threat data meant to help companies fend off hackers has already been shared with the private sector in an effort to boost cyber-defenses in critical infrastructure sectors.

The Hill House Republicans release agenda for emerging tech
Key Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce committee introduced a raft of legislation Tuesday on emerging technologies. Full committee ranking member Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and consumer protection subcommittee ranking member Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) unveiled a total of 15 bills, primarily focused on countering Chinese dominance in the tech sphere and boosting American companies.


Axios Biden camp’s bridges to tech
Biden is drawing support from the technocratic circles that made for an amicable relationship between the Obama White House and Silicon Valley, including some people who once worked for Obama or Biden and now hold powerful positions at major tech firms.

Bloomberg DNC Panel Votes to Allow Remote Voting for Presidential Nominee
A key panel of the Democratic National Committee voted Tuesday to allow delegates to cast their votes remotely for the party’s presidential nominee, taking a first step toward making the party’s quadrennial convention at least partially a virtual event in response to the coronavirus pandemic.


Yahoo News Microsoft to invest $1 billion in Polish cloud project
Microsoft will invest $1 billion in Poland as part of a plan that will involve opening a data centre in the country to provide cloud services to businesses and government institutions, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

CNET Huawei ban timeline: Trump extends executive order targeting Chinese company
President Trump extended the May 2019 executive order that stopped US companies from dealing with foreign telecoms considered to be a national security risk. CNET breaks down a timeline from January 2018 through today.

The Verge Clearview AI to stop selling controversial facial recognition app to private companies
Controversial facial recognition provider Clearview AI says it will no longer sell its app to private companies and non-law enforcement entities, according to a legal filing first reported on Thursday by BuzzFeed News. It will also be terminating all contracts, regardless of whether the contracts are for law enforcement purposes or not, in the state of Illinois.

Independent Uber to require drivers to wear face masks – and use facial recognition technology to check that they comply
Uber will require its drivers to wear face masks as journeys start out of coronavirus lockdowns – and will use new technology to confirm that they are complying. “Our new technology will verify if the driver is wearing a mask by asking them to take a selfie. After we verify the driver is covering their face, we’ll let the rider know via an in-app message” the company said in a blog post.

Law360 Now May Be A Good Time To Rethink Biometric Regulation
As COVID-19 continues to shutter business across industries, both the public and private sectors are grappling with safe ways to reactivate workers and reengage consumers. Facial recognition and other biometric technologies (for instance, fingerprinting, voiceprinting, and retina, facial, hand or eye imaging) offer possible solutions.

CNBC Amazon and Microsoft trade barbs over JEDI contract appeal
Amazon on Friday defended its decision to challenge the Pentagon’s multibillion-dollar JEDI cloud computing award after Microsoft said the company was trying to “force a do-over to rescue its failed bid.” The JEDI, or Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, deal is worth up to $10 billion and has become one of the most tangled contracts for the Department of Defense.

The Verge Facebook will pay $52 million in settlement with moderators who developed PTSD on the job
Each moderator will receive a minimum of $1,000 and will be eligible for additional compensation if they are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or related conditions. The settlement covers 11,250 moderators, and lawyers in the case believe that as many as half of them may be eligible for extra pay related to mental health issues associated with their time working for Facebook, including depression and addiction.

Harvard Business School Immigration Policies Threaten American Competitiveness
It is no secret that immigration has reshaped American innovation. Immigrants are the backbone of America’s most innovative industries, provide a quarter of our patent applications, and are numerous among our science and engineering superstars.

Forbes Can Rice University’s Hydrogen ‘Leaf’ Technology Be A Game Changer?
With oil markets in turmoil amidst the global economic shutdown, competing green fuel sources are getting extra attention. One such promising alternative energy is hydrogen (H2) power. Hydrogen fuel cells – the growing commercial application of hydrogen energy – are a battery-like technology that use H2 as an input to create electricity, leaving heat and water as the only waste.


American Enterprise Institute

  • Blog on 5G
    The economic benefits of 5G wireless and its ability to power a new generation of technologies have received much fanfare. But for the planned 5G buildout in the US to reach its potential, open radio access networks (O-RAN), the creation of virtualized networks using software-defined networking, and cloud computing will be key. A promising solution to the problem of limited vendor choice in 5G equipment may have emerged recently in the recently announced O-RAN Alliance, an industry coalition that aims to be an open source software platform for mobile Radio Access Networks (RAN). RAN equipment connects phones and other devices to telecommunications networks. (AEIdeas – Virtualized networks and O-RAN will be key for American 5G success, May 14, 2020)

The Brookings Institution

  • Blog on Future AI Disruption in the Workforce
    Amid proclamations that greater adoption of artificial intelligence is going to cause a “robot apocalypse” in the workforce, is it possible to cut through the noise and figure out exactly which workers and industries are most exposed to AI disruption? In a recent report on artificial intelligence’s impact on the future of work, we tried to do exactly that. Using a novel technique developed by Stanford University Ph.D. candidate Michael Webb that uses AI-related patents to determine what types of jobs and tasks AI could affect, we analyzed the overlap between AI patents and Labor Department job descriptions to generate “exposure scores” for jobs in 22 major occupational groups. (TechStream – Interactive: What jobs is AI likely to disrupt?, May 13, 2020)

The Heritage Foundation

  • Announcement on new Center for Technology Policy
    The Heritage Foundation announced today the creation of its new Center for Technology Policy, a public policy research center within Heritage’s highly esteemed Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy. Leading this new center will be Klon Kitchen, who has served as senior research fellow for technology at Heritage since 2018. The center’s mission will be simple: to provide the best insight and advice to policymakers and the American public on the most important technology policy issues of our day. The Center for Technology Policy will formulate and promote conservative public policies on technology issues related to global technological competition and developments, national and homeland security, and impacts on domestic social, legal, and economic issues. As always, these policies will be based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. (Heritage Foundation Launches Center for Technology Policy, May 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.