Tech Brief: EU Warns Facebook, Google, Twitter Over Fraudulent Posts

By Amir Nasr

Washington Brief

  • Police in a suburb of Minneapolis secured a court order requiring Google Inc. to determine who used its search engine to look up the name of a local financial fraud victim, marking one of the most expansive search warrants unconnected to national security. (Ars Technica)
  • A Secret Service laptop with sensitive information on President Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton has been stolen. The Secret Service said all agency-issued laptops include several layers of security and full disk encryption. (CBS News)
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested a man for allegedly sending an electronic file to journalist Kurt Eichenwald that was designed to induce a seizure. The FBI charged the man with criminal cyberstalking with the intent to kill or cause bodily harm. (The New York Times)

Business Brief

  • The European Commission warned Facebook Inc., Google and Twitter that they risk enforcement actions and fines if they do not crack down on fraudulent posts or align their terms of service with European Union law. (Financial Times)
  • Uber Technologies Inc. President Jeff Jones is stepping down after less than a year, saying the leadership’s belief and approach at the company was inconsistent with those that have guided his career. (Recode)
  • The personal information of tens of thousands of customers of Saks Fifth Avenue — email addresses, phone numbers and IP addresses — were exposed on unencrypted, plain text web pages accessible to anyone with a web browser. (BuzzFeed News)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

FBI’s Comey, NSA’s Rogers testify at House Intelligence Committee hearing 10 a.m.
Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Judge Gorsuch 11 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on legislation for broadband infrastructure 10 a.m.
FCC’s Clyburn discusses Lifeline program at Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council event 12 p.m.
FTC’s Ohlhausen, McSweeny testify at Senate Commerce Committee hearing 2:30 p.m.
House Oversight Committee hearing on law enforcement use of facial recognition technology 9 a.m.
Senate Commerce Committee hearing on emerging technologies and cybersecurity 10 a.m.
Open Technology Institute event on ranking digital rights 9:30 a.m.
FCC monthly meeting 10:30 a.m.
No events scheduled



At Peter Thiel’s Palantir, Allegations of Theft and Deception
Lizette Chapman, Bloomberg News

Marc Abramowitz thought he’d found kindred spirits in the founders of Palantir Technologies Inc. Like Chief Executive Officer Alex Karp and billionaire Chairman Peter Thiel, Abramowitz was a Stanford University alumnus looking to build a business empire. In 2006, Abramowitz made an investment in their then unknown startup and became a regular around the office.

IBM, Salesforce CEOs attend Trump roundtable with German Chancellor Merkel
Ali Breland, The Hill

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff joined President Trump’s roundtable discussion with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday. In the meeting, Rometty intended to focus on discussing closing the “skills gap” and offering solutions to help citizens gain the technical aptitude necessary for some skilled jobs, IBM told The Hill.

Apple CEO Tim Cook Defends Globalization in China Speech
Eva Dou, The Wall Street Journal

Apple Inc.’s Chief Executive Tim Cook defended globalization in a rare public speech in China, as his company faces political pressure in the U.S. to bring back factories. Mr. Cook also said data privacy was one of the company’s values, although he stopped short Saturday of criticizing decryption demands from governments as Apple has previously in the U.S.

Federal court rules against vendor in FirstNet protest, RFP to move forward
Colin Wood, FedScoop

The U.S. Federal Court of Claims ruled against Rivada Mercury Friday, removing the vendor from consideration in FirstNet’s contracting process. The ruling puts the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) one step closer toward awarding a contract to build a $6.5 billion nationwide public safety communications network.

White House installs political aides at Cabinet agencies to be Trump’s eyes and ears
Lisa Rein and Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post

Most members of President Trump’s Cabinet do not yet have leadership teams in place or even nominees for top deputies. But they do have an influential coterie of senior aides installed by the White House who are charged — above all — with monitoring the secretaries’ loyalty, according to eight officials in and outside the administration.

SpaceX is pushing hard to bring the internet to space
Russell Brandom, The Verge

For months, SpaceX has been quietly meeting with the FCC to advocate for one of its least-known projects. According to recent disclosures, the company met with FCC officials twice in recent weeks: first with a wireless advisor on February 28th and again on March 10th with Chairman Pai himself.

5 colleges launch H1-B effort to keep entrepreneurs in Chicago
John Pletz, Crain’s Chicago Business

Amid the uncertainty surrounding immigration laws, five of the city’s colleges are teaming up in an effort to help foreign student entrepreneurs stay in Chicago to build their startups. Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to announce this afternoon that Columbia College Chicago, DePaul University, the Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University Chicago and Northwestern University each will adopt global entrepreneur-in-residence programs.

Oil Weighs on Europe Stocks as Dollar Pares Drop: Markets Wrap
Adam Haigh and Eddie Van Der Walt, Bloomberg News

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 0.2 percent with oil and gas companies down 1.2 percent. Futures on the S&P 500 Index were down 0.2 percent. The underlying gauge rose 0.2 percent last week.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

Judges Probe FilmOn, Networks on Copyright Issue
John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

To be or not to be defined as an MVPD, that is the question. A federal appeals court Friday heard argument in the long-running court battle between TV station content providers and FilmOn, and, according to an attorney at the lively and lengthy oral argument, both sides had their adherents.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

Netflix CEO says he isn’t worried that Trump administration will gut net neutrality
Lauren Goode, The Verge

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says he’s “not too worried” about what will happen if new FCC chairman Ajit Pai eliminates the Title II regulations that have guaranteed a neutral internet experience for US consumers in recent years. Speaking to a group of journalists at Netflix’s headquarters in Los Gatos, California, earlier today, Hastings said he believes “the culture around net neutrality is very strong.

Ex-FCC Boss: Gut Net Neutrality and You Gut Internet Freedom
Klint Finley, Wired

In 2015, former Federal Communications Commission chair Tom Wheeler helped pass the Open Internet Order, a sweeping set of rules designed to protect net neutrality. The order effectively bans internet service providers from blocking or slowing down any legal content you might want to access online.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

EU warns Facebook, Google and Twitter over scam posts
Paul McClean and Madhumita Murgia, Financial Times

Facebook, Google and Twitter have been warned they risk enforcement action and fines if they fail to crack down on fraudulent posts or bring their terms of service into line with EU law. The European Commission said it had received a growing number of complaints from consumers targeted by scams on social media sites, as well from those subject to “terms and conditions that do not respect EU consumer law”.

Uber president Jeff Jones is quitting, citing differences over ‘beliefs and approach to leadership’
Kara Swisher and Johana Bhuiyan, Recode 

Jeff Jones, the president of Uber, is quitting the car-hailing company after less than a year. The move by the No. 2 exec, said sources, is directly related to the multiple controversies there, including explosive charges of sexism and sexual harassment.

Uber’s autonomous cars drove 20,354 miles and had to be taken over at every mile, according to documents
Johana Bhuiyan, Recode

Some of Uber’s self-driving cars aren’t driving as smoothly as the company hoped they would. Documents circulated throughout the company’s self-driving group, which Recode obtained, gives us a first look at the progress of the ride-hail company’s robot cars in Pennsylvania, Arizona and California.

A Tweet to Kurt Eichenwald, a Strobe and a Seizure. Now, an Arrest.
Cecilia Kang, The New York Times

When the journalist Kurt Eichenwald opened an animated image sent to him on Twitter in December, the message “You deserve a seizure for your posts” appeared in capital letters along with a blinding strobe light. Mr. Eichenwald, who has epilepsy, immediately suffered a seizure.

YouTube apologizes for hiding LGBTQ users’ videos in its Restricted Mode
Rich McCormick, The Verge

YouTube has released a statement in response to accusations that it is discriminating against its LGBTQ users by hiding certain videos in its Restricted Mode. The company issued the statement on Sunday night, after after several popular LGBTQ vloggers and video creators, discovered that videos on topics such as dating, attraction, and inspiration had been hidden by default in the mode.

Google braces for questions as more big-name firms pull adverts
Rob Davies, The Guardian

Google executives are bracing for a two-pronged inquisition from the advertising industry and the government over the company’s plans to stop ads being placed next to extremist material. A slew of big-name companies, advertising firms and government departments have either pulled their adverts from Google and its YouTube video site or are considering whether to do so, with media giant Sky, telecoms group Vodafone and a trio of banks adding their names to a growing list over the weekend.

Pakistan asks Facebook to help fight blasphemy
BBC News

Pakistan says it has asked Facebook to help investigate “blasphemous content” posted on the social network by Pakistanis. Facebook has agreed to send a team to Pakistan to address reservations about content on the social media site, according to the interior ministry.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

Judge OKs warrant to reveal who searched a crime victim’s name on Google
David Kravets, Ars Technica

Police in a small suburban town of 50,000 people just outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, have won a court order requiring Google to determine who has used its search engine to look up the name of a local financial fraud victim. The court order demanding such a massive search is perhaps the most expansive one we’ve seen unconnected to the US national security apparatus and, if carried out, could set an Orwellian precedent in a bid by the Edina Police Department to solve a wire-fraud crime worth less than $30,000.

Laptop with Trump, Clinton information stolen from Secret Service
CBS News

A Secret Service laptop with information on President Trump and Hillary Clinton has been stolen, CBS News homeland security correspondent Jeff Pegues reports. According to law enforcement sources, detectives with the New York Police Department are searching for the stolen laptop, which contains contains pages of important and sensitive information.

Saks Fifth Avenue Exposed Personal Info On Tens Of Thousands Of Customers
Leticia Miranda, BuzzFeed News

The personal information of tens of thousands of customers of Saks Fifth Avenue has been publicly available in plain text online, BuzzFeed News has learned. The online shopping site for the brand is maintained by the digital division of its owner, the Canada-based Hudson’s Bay Company.

Judge Rejects Google Deal Over Email Scanning
Jeff John Roberts, Fortune

A federal judge in San Francisco on Wednesday slammed a legal settlement that proposed to pay $2.2 million to lawyers, but nothing to consumers who had the contents of their email scanned by Google without their knowledge or permission. In a 6-page order, Judge Lucy Koh told Google and class action attorneys the proposed settlement was insufficient, in part because it failed to clearly tell consumers what the search giant had done.

Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer Gets Reprieve From Hacking Criticism
Deepa Seetharaman, The Wall Street Journal

Federal officials this week heaped praise on Yahoo Inc. Chief Executive Marissa Mayer for the company’s cooperation in an investigation of the hacking of hundreds of millions of the site’s accounts. It was rare recognition for Ms. Mayer, who came under increasing pressure with each additional disclosure about the 2014 security breach since she made it public last September.

Report: Alleged Yahoo Hacker Worked At Prokhorov Bank
The Associated Press

A Russian news report says an intelligence agent charged by the United States in the hacking of half a billion Yahoo user accounts worked at an investment bank owned by billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who also owns the Brooklyn Nets basketball team. The report Saturday in the respected business newspaper Kommersant cited a source as saying Igor Sushchin worked for Renaissance Capital as a security director.

Bipartisan bill looks to aid state and local governments with cyber response
Mark Rockwell, FCW

A group of senators and representatives from Texas have offered bills in Congress that would help state and local governments more effectively plan how to respond to cyber attacks. In the House, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) on March 10 introduced legislation that would give state and local governments a hand from the Department of Homeland Security, universities and non-profit groups with their cybersecurity plans.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Russia’s Yahoo Hack Shows Risk of Spies Run Amok
Holman W. Jenkins, The Wall Street Journal

To save Rachel Maddow embarrassment, it should be noted that Donald Trump was not president when the Russia-sponsored hack of Yahoo occurred in 2014. He was president this week when the Justice Department indicted two Russian officials and two Russia-backed freelance hackers for these cybercrimes.

Why America needs more Teslas and fewer Ubers
Timothy B. Lee, Vox

Tesla has a seemingly bottomless appetite for capital. The company raised $2 billion from bond investors in 2014, sold $738 million in stock in 2015, and sold $1.46 billion in stock in 2016. Now it’s planning to raise another $1.15 billion in the coming months.

Research Reports

Election 2016: The Rise Of The Sharing Economy
Hamilton Place Strategies

It will come as a shock to no one that 2016 was a year of disruptive political campaigns. That disruption was on continual display for all to see, but what many didn’t witness was the transformation taking place behind the scenes as campaigns around the country began to adopt peer-to-peer services from car rides to lodging.

China outpaces India in internet access, smartphone ownership
Jacob Poushter, The Pew Research Center

India and China, the world’s two most populous countries, have long had a competitive relationship and have emerged as major economic powers. But in the digital space, China has a clear advantage.