Morning Consult Tech: Amazon Said to Close Kentucky Warehouse Indefinitely After 3 Workers Test Positive for Coronavirus


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  • Amazon.com Inc. closed its first warehouse indefinitely after three workers in Shepherdsville, Ky., tested positive for COVID-19, according to four employees who work at the impacted warehouse. The workers will continue to receive regularly scheduled pay during the closing, the employees said, and the warehouse is dedicated to apparel returns, not essential products. (Bloomberg)
  • As part the economic stimulus package that passed the Senate, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would receive at least $500 million for public health data surveillance and updating its analytics infrastructure, with the CDC required to report on the progress for a new “surveillance and data collection system” in the next 30 days. It’s unclear what the system would look like, but the funding follows earlier reports that the U.S. government is interested in working with tech companies to track Americans via their smartphone data. (Business Insider)
  • A group of state attorneys general from 14 states and the District of Columbia sent a letter to Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos urging him to expand paid sick leave policies to additional Amazon and Whole Foods workers during the coronavirus pandemic, saying that the current policies are “inadequate to protect the public health during the developing COVID-19 crisis.” Amazon is currently giving two weeks of paid leave to workers who have tested positive for the coronavirus. (The Hill)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

03/26/2020
Public Knowledge’s “How to Keep Americans Connected During the Crisis” webinar 11:00 am
ITIF’s “Reforming Antitrust Policy for an Era of Global Competitiveness” online event 11:30 am
Ballard Spahr webinar on antitrust 12:00 pm
Business Insider webinar with two startup leaders about how to lead from home 12:00 pm
Higher Ground Labs’ Political Tech Virtual Resume Workshop 12:00 pm
Dcode Virtual: Improving Cyber Posture When Teleworking 1:00 pm
USTelecom Webinar: Powering the Future of FTTP: Drivers and Benefits of 10G PON 2:00 pm
03/27/2020
FCC Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee meets via conference call 9:30 am
Tenable’s “Understand and Address the Cybersecurity Impacts of COVID-19” webinar 11:00 am
03/31/2020
FCC’s March Open Commission meeting 10:30 am
View full calendar

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General

Tim Cook Says Apple Has Sourced 10 Million Masks
Nathan Crooks, Bloomberg

Apple has sourced and procured 10 million masks and will donate them to the medical community in the U.S., Tim Cook said Wednesday in a video he posted on Twitter while working from home. “These people deserve our debt of gratitude for all of the work that they’re doing on the front lines,” the CEO said, also thanking people who are still going into work to stock shelves at grocery stores and pharmacies.

What’s in the coronavirus bill for Silicon Valley
Kia Kokalitcheva, Axios

There are a few provisions for Silicon Valley in the massive $2 trillion package to cushion the coronavirus’ economic impact that Congress is on the brink of passing. Why it matters: Some startups are facing layoffs and shutdowns, and millions of gig economy workers and Airbnb hosts are being strained by the sudden shift in consumer behavior.

Tech’s Next Disruption Target: The Coronavirus
Asa Fitch et al., The Wall Street Journal

Silicon Valley’s technology whizzes are mobilized to fight the coronavirus, trying to hack everything from disease modeling to elder care and medical-device manufacturing. Yet it isn’t clear how best to apply the industry’s talents for on-the-fly innovation to a fast-moving pandemic, or whether the U.S.’s wellspring of disruption can make major contributions to solving society’s biggest crisis in decades.

A.I. Versus the Coronavirus
William J. Broad, The New York Times

Advanced computers have defeated chess masters and learned how to pick through mountains of data to recognize faces and voices. Now, a billionaire developer of software and artificial intelligence is teaming up with top universities and companies to see if A.I. can help curb the current and future pandemics.

A Silicon Valley firm said it could give its own investors expedited coronavirus tests — but then said it was just “boasting”
Theodore Schleifer, Recode

Not all Americans have equal access to testing for the coronavirus. And not all Americans even have equal information about what existing testing might be available amid widespread testing delays and gaps across the country.

U.S. Will Approve Some Delays in Tariff Payments Amid Coronavirus Crisis
William Mauldin, The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. says it will allow some importers to delay tariff payments, reopening the debate over whether the Trump administration should reverse its trade policy and grant broader tariff relief during the global coronavirus pandemic.

IT remains high in Senate’s nearly $2 trillion rescue package, but less than House’s draft
Jackson Barnett, FedScoop

The coronavirus response package negotiated by Senate Democrats and the White House appears to propose less IT money for federal agencies than a bill drafted by the House, but still more than an original Office of Management and Budget letter outlining federal agencies’ needs.

Startup Funding Dwindles Due to Coronavirus Slowdown
Angus Loten, The Wall Street Journal

Early-stage funding for startups is drying up as the coronavirus outbreak puts investors on edge, spelling trouble for large corporations looking to snatch up innovative technology and talent. Capital from seed-stage funding, often the first significant source of cash for new ventures, has declined by about 22% globally since January, according to an analysis this week by CB Insights, a market-intelligence company.

U.S. Futures Slip With Stocks; Bonds Rally on ECB: Markets Wrap
Sam Potter, Bloomberg

U.S. equity futures declined with European stocks and most Asian shares on Thursday as investors started to look past stimulus packages to the mounting human impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Government bonds and the yen advanced.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

Coronavirus could delay tech antitrust action
Andrea Peterson, Protocol

Barely anything is business-as-usual at the moment — and that includes scrutiny of the world’s largest technology companies. The ongoing tech antitrust investigations of the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice are both set to be hit by workplace changes resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

White House Releases National Strategy for 5G Security
Brandi Vincent, Nextgov

The White House this week released its National Strategy to Secure 5G of the United States to formally frame how the nation will safeguard fifth-generation wireless infrastructure at home and abroad. The 7-page policy document sets forth the president’s “vision for America to lead the development, deployment, and management of secure and reliable 5G communications infrastructure worldwide, arm-in-arm with [its] closest partners and allies.”

Surging Traffic Is Slowing Down Our Internet
Cecilia Kang et al., The New York Times

With people going online more in the pandemic, internet traffic has exploded. That’s taking a toll on our download speeds and video quality.

Huawei Workers Return After Coronavirus, But CEO Sees Financial Hit
Dan Strumpf, The Wall Street Journal

Most employees at Huawei Technologies Co. are back at work following the coronavirus outbreak, though the pandemic is likely to hit the Chinese telecom giant’s financial results this year, the company’s chief executive said. Ren Zhengfei, who is also Huawei’s founder, also told The Wall Street Journal in an interview Wednesday that the company plans to boost its research and development budget this year by $5.8 billion to more than $20 billion.

In the ‘Year of 5G,’ Many Americans Still Struggle to Get Online
Joshua Brustein, Bloomberg Businessweek

This spring the U.S. government was planning to focus on its strategy for rolling out fifth-generation wireless networks, bringing faster internet connections to power movie downloads, telemedicine, self-driving cars, and more. Officials want to see 5G, now available in only some cities, ramped up quickly and to keep Chinese companies such as Huawei Technologies Co. from dominating the critical networking technology.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Apple weighs delaying 5G iPhone launch by months, sources say
Yifan Yu et al., Nikkei Asian Review

Apple is preparing the ground to possibly delay the launch of its first 5G iPhones as the coronavirus pandemic threatens global demand and disrupts the company’s product development schedule, sources familiar with the matter have told the Nikkei Asian Review. The Cupertino, California-based tech giant has held internal discussions on the possibility of delaying the launch by months, three people familiar with the matter said, while supply chain sources say practical hurdles could push back the release, originally scheduled for September.

Twitter pulls The Federalist’s dangerous ‘pox’ coronavirus tweet
Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

A tweet by conservative online magazine The Federalist, which suggested people should deliberately infect themselves with the coronavirus strain COVID-19, has been pulled after it “violated” Twitter’s  rules. The infringing tweet, posted on Wednesday morning, said: “It is time to think outside the box and seriously consider a somewhat unconventional approach to COVID-19: controlled voluntary infection.”

Airbnb hosts are scrambling to find long-term renters and flocking to other platforms
Salvador Rodriguez, CNBC

Sean Ray normally rents out his 3-bedroom Dallas house for a few days at a time to travelers who find it listed on Airbnb. On Saturday, Ray spent the afternoon touring the property with a mother of two who showed up seeking a long-term rental and wearing an N-95 mask.

Facebook Removes Network of White Supremacist Accounts
Kurt Wagner, Bloomberg

Facebook Inc. has removed dozens of user accounts plus other Pages and Groups on its social network associated with the Northwest Front, a group pushing for a white nation-state in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. The company doesn’t allow groups that “proclaim hateful and violent missions,” according to a statement on Wednesday from Brian Fishman, Facebook’s policy director for counter-terrorism and dangerous organizations.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

In Europe, tech battle against coronavirus clashes with privacy culture
Anna Koper and Douglas Busvine, Reuters

Governments across Europe are turning to technology to track the spread of the coronavirus and monitor people under quarantine, an approach that seeks to learn from Asia but is also putting the region’s privacy rules to the test. From Helsinki to Madrid, applications are being developed for people to report their symptoms to doctors and researchers; to trace and model the spread of the flu-like virus; and ensure that those under quarantine stay at home.

U.S. cybersecurity experts see recent spike in Chinese digital espionage
Christopher Bing and Raphael Satter, Reuters

A U.S. cybersecurity firm said Wednesday it has detected a surge in new cyberspying by a suspected Chinese group dating back to late January, when coronavirus was starting to spread outside China. FireEye Inc. said in a report it had spotted a spike in activity from a hacking group it dubs “APT41” that began on Jan. 20 and targeted more than 75 of its customers, from manufacturers and media companies to healthcare organizations and nonprofits.

Coronavirus response includes $400 million in election assistance. Will it be enough?
Bridget Bowman, Roll Call

A sweeping federal spending package responding to the new coronavirus pandemic will include millions to help states administer elections, but some fear it will not be enough to prevent chaos in November. The enormous spending bill that Senate leaders of both parties said early Wednesday morning they had agreed on includes $400 million in election assistance, according to a summary and partial bill text released by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

This Ag Week Presents New Challenges for Rural America
Betsy Huber, Morning Consult

COVID-19 presents an array of new threats to cities as well as rural America. Mitigating against these risks calls for new practices and behaviors. Though unfamiliar, our course in the face of these threats often relies on familiar tools and technologies, like mobile devices.

Bored, Isolated Citizens Are a Win for Facebook
Alex Webb, Bloomberg

The tension between the media and technology industries has long been characterized as a fight for users’ attention. The more of it they have, the greater the opportunity to sell new products and services. The advertising technology giants Facebook Inc. and Google have turned that into a $200 billion-a-year business.

Our screen-time rules don’t work in this new world. And maybe that’s okay.
Amy Joyce, The Washington Post

“There go our screen rules,” a neighborhood dad said to me this week (from a distance). “They’re on screens for school, and then for their free time, they want to play on screens. It’s screens all the time now!”

Research Reports

Tech Giants Fail to Eradicate Face Mask Sales
Tech Transparency Project

Facebook and Google are allowing sellers and advertisers to hawk medical face masks on their platforms weeks after the tech giants promised to crack down on the practice, according to a review by the Tech Transparency Project (TTP). The findings cast doubt on the companies’ promises to combat exploitation of the widening coronavirus pandemic.

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