Morning Consult Tech: Several School Districts Ban Zoom for Online Learning After FBI Warning

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  • Some school districts, including the New York City Department of Education, have banned the use of Zoom Video Communications Inc. after the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a warning about bad actors hijacking video calls, although Zoom says it has updated the default settings for education users to “enable waiting rooms and ensure teachers are the only ones who can share content.” Clark County Public Schools in Nevada and some elementary-school teachers in Los Angeles have also stopped using the technology, while the Alpine School District in Utah and the Edmonds School District in Washington state are either reassessing the platform or beefing up security. (The Washington Post)
  • Facebook Inc.’s automated content moderation systems, which have been designed to prevent the sale of medical masks on the platform due to a supply shortage for health workers, “inadvertently” threatened to ban organizers of hand-sewn mask donation campaigns from the site and to delete their volunteer groups. The company said it is “working to update our systems to avoid mistakes like this going forward.” (The New York Times)
  • The Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission told three gateway providers — SIPJoin, Connexum and VoIP Terminator/BLMarketing — to stop facilitating scam overseas robocalls about COVID-19 or the agencies will allow other telecommunications companies to block all calls from the gateway providers. The FCC and FTC worked with the Department of Justice to take the action, and the FCC said it has written to trade group USTelecom to ask its members to begin blocking the calls if action isn’t taken. (CNET)

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Events Calendar (All Times Local)

New America’s online event “Easing the Home Connectivity Crunch” feat. FCC Chair Ajit Pai 1:00 pm
Silicon Flatiron’s virtual conference on the 21st Century Cures Act 2:00 pm
The Voice of the Car virtual summit
The Voice of the Car virtual summit
Fiber Broadband Association’s webinar: “2020 COVID-19 Pandemic Response: Will We Break the Internet?” 10:00 am
Brookings Institution’s webinar on “What’s being done to address the growing US digital divide” feat. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel 2:00 pm
Senate Commerce Committee’s paper hearing on “Enlisting Big Data in the Fight Against Coronavirus” feat. IAB and CDT 10:00 am
Dcode Virtual: Going Government to Build Recession Resilience 1:00 pm
Public Knowledge webinar: How Congress Can Protect Privacy During a Pandemic 1:00 pm
View full calendar

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Zoom CEO: ‘I Really Messed Up’ on Security as Coronavirus Drove Video Tool’s Appeal
Aaron Tilley and Robert McMillan, The Wall Street Journal

For many business leaders, the coronavirus pandemic has been a struggle to survive. For Eric Yuan, chief executive of Zoom Video Communications Inc., the challenge has been how to manage breakneck growth. And lately, it hasn’t been going well.

New guidance on SBA loans means most startups are still excluded from $349 billion stimulus
Jonathan Shieber, TechCrunch

Under new guidance issued by the Small Business Administration it seems non-profits and faith-based groups can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program loans designed to keep small business afloat during the COVID-19 epidemic, but most venture-backed companies are still not covered.

Apple designs and produces face shields for coronavirus medical workers
Steven Musil, CNET

Apple announced Sunday it’s launched a companywide effort to design, produce and ship face shields to medical workers battling the coronavirus outbreak. The first shipment was delivered this week to a Kaiser facility in the Santa Clara Valley, Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a video posted to Twitter.

Amazon white-collar employees are fuming over management targeting a fired warehouse worker
Jason Del Rey and Shirin Ghaffary, Recode

Some Amazon corporate employees are angry and disgusted over how their company is handling escalating labor disputes at its warehouses, where facility workers say the company is not doing enough to protect them from exposure to the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Gaps in Amazon’s Response as Virus Spreads to More Than 50 Warehouses
Karen Weise and Kate Conger, The New York Times

Shifting sick-leave policy and communication issues are causing employees to assert themselves after they stayed on the job.

Biden Suggests DNC Consider Virtual 2020 Nominating Convention
Steve Geimann, Bloomberg

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said the party should consider a virtual nominating convention this summer because the coronavirus has led to limits on public gatherings. “We’re going to have to do a convention, we may have to do a virtual convention,” Biden said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Tech supply chains are still a complete mess
Russell Brandom, The Verge

Last week, we made the case that tech manufacturing was uniquely vulnerable to pandemic problems, from a combination of just-in-time manufacturing practices and a far-flung network of suppliers. But just a week later, the news is even worse.

‘Scared to Death’ by Arbitration: Companies Drowning in Their Own System
Michael Corkery and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, The New York Times

Teel Lidow couldn’t quite believe the numbers. Over the past few years, the nation’s largest telecom companies, like Comcast and AT&T, have had a combined 330 million customers. Yet annually an average of just 30 people took the companies to arbitration, the forum where millions of Americans are forced to hash out legal disputes with corporations.

U.S. Futures Jump With Stocks on Easing Virus Toll: Markets Wrap
Sam Potter, Bloomberg

U.S. equity futures jumped alongside stocks in Europe and Asia after the reported death tolls in some of the world’s coronavirus hot spots showed signs of easing over the weekend. The dollar was steady and Treasuries fell.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

EU focuses antitrust probe on Facebook’s online classifieds service
Javier Espinoza, Financial Times

Rivals complain tech group uses dominant position to push Marketplace to its 2bn users. 

Telecom, Wireless and TV

How Enforcers Curtailed a Coronavirus Robocall Scam
Ryan Tracy, The Wall Street Journal

In the war against illegal robocalls, enforcers claim something unusual: a few wins. Scam phone calls pitching bogus coronavirus tests, phony remedies and nonexistent economic aid have proliferated in recent weeks, telecom tracking companies said, adding to other long-running cons aimed at draining bank accounts or obtaining credit-card information.

UK cell towers torched amid bogus conspiracy theories that link 5G with coronavirus
Ryan Browne, CNBC

Several cell towers in the U.K. have been set on fire and engineers harassed amid the spread of online conspiracy theories that link 5G technology with the coronavirus pandemic. Four of Vodafone’s mobile phone masts were attacked in the last 24 hours, a spokesperson for the British carrier told CNBC Sunday. It’s unclear whether the sites affected were used for 5G.

Tennessee announces $20M in broadband grants
The Associated Press

Top Tennessee officials say nearly $20 million in broadband accessibility grants have been awarded to help support nearly 31,000 underserved residents. Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe announced the grants to 17 recipients on Friday.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Twitter lifts coronavirus ad ban
Sara Fischer, Axios

Twitter will now allow advertising containing references to the coronavirus under certain use cases, according to a note from Twitter sent to clients on Friday that was obtained and confirmed by Axios. Why it matters: The news comes one day after Google lifted its advertising ban on coronavirus-related terms.

How a fake Google blog post managed to even trick Google
Hayden Field, Protocol

April Fools’ Day was supposed to be canceled. So when a web page in Google’s graphics, fonts and voice appeared on April 1, announcing a significant change in company policy, many people fell for it, including some of Google’s own employees.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

‘Zoombombing’ Becomes a Dangerous Organized Effort
Taylor Lorenz and Davey Alba, The New York Times

In recent weeks, as schools, businesses, support groups and millions of individuals have adopted Zoom as a meeting platform in an increasingly remote world, reports of “Zoombombing” or “Zoom raiding” by uninvited participants have become frequent. While those incidents may have initially been regarded as pranks or trolling, they have since risen to the level of hate speech and harassment, and even commanded the attention of the F.B.I.

Small business owners applying for COVID-19 relief may have had PII exposed, agency says
Sean Lyngaas, CyberScoop

As the federal agency overseeing relief to small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic was preparing to ramp up its lending, some of the Small Business Administration’s loan applicants may have had their personally identifiable information exposed to others, an agency spokeswoman tells CyberScoop.

Privacy agenda threatened in West’s virus fight
Cristiano Lima, Politico

Government bodies in the U.S. and Europe have spent years debating or advancing tighter safeguards on the handling of people’s personal data, driven by revelations of abuses by intelligence agencies and big tech companies. But now privacy concerns on both sides of the Atlantic are at risk amid the urgent fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus Surveillance Helps, But the Programs Are Hard to Stop
Sheridan Prasso, Bloomberg Businessweek

An Israeli tech company that specializes in counterterrorism spyware is working with a dozen countries to slow the spread of an invisible enemy known as Covid-19. In China, authorities have deployed facial-recognition software and location tracking in their fight against the coronavirus. 

Can you use apps to track coronavirus and protect privacy? Europe’s going to try
Hadas Gold, CNN

Countries across Europe are looking to launch tracking apps to fight the spread of the coronavirus, without raising the kinds of privacy concerns that surround similar technology used elsewhere. While the apps will be optional, developers and policymakers hope the region’s strict data laws will encourage widespread adoption by members of the public and help prevent a new wave of cases once lockdowns are lifted.

A Microsoft Employee Literally Wrote Washington’s Facial Recognition Law
Dave Gershgorn, OneZero

Tuesday should have been a win for privacy advocates. Washington state signed SB 6280 into law, making it the first state in the country to pass a facial recognition bill, which outlines how the government can and cannot use the technology.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Privacy Does Not Pause in Pandemics
Sunny Seon Kang, Morning Consult

When crisis strikes, privacy is too often brushed aside as a competing interest that detracts focus from the greater problems ahead. But conceding privacy as the first sacrificial right in an emergency means we excuse policymakers from engaging in a careful assessment of the necessity, proportionality and invasiveness of measures that carry long-term consequences.

Privacy amid a pandemic may look a little different
Editorial Board, The Washington Post

The very idea of the government amassing location data about millions of citizens is anathema to America’s strong sensibility for civil liberties — except, perhaps, if America is in the throes of an epidemic and the data is being amassed to help stop the disease’s spread.

US society needs a broadband big dig to get out of its hole
Rana Foroohar, Financial Times

Overhauling the internet’s infrastructure would create jobs and reduce poverty. 

Don’t Freak Out About Quarantine Screen Time
Andrew Przybylski and Pete Etchells, The New York Times

Staying home is the best thing we can all do to stem the spread of Covid-19. That means our families’ screen time is about to go through the roof — even when the kids aren’t attending classes on Zoom or Google Hangouts — and that’s fine.

Why telehealth can’t significantly flatten the coronavirus curve — yet
Eli Cahan, TechCrunch

The COVID-19 pandemic rages on. As cases in the United States skyrocket, one of the most foreboding possibilities of COVID-19’s rapid growth is the potential to overwhelm hospital capacity.

Research Reports

Coronavirus Conspiracy Claims: What’s Behind a Chinese Diplomat’s COVID-19 Misdirection
Vanessa Molter and Graham Webster, Stanford Cyber Policy Center

As scientists continue to study how the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in Wuhan, China, and around the world, the infection’s early pathways have proven fertile ground for speculation and conspiracy theories. Although COVID-19’s earliest origins may remain uncertain, the story of one volley in the ongoing U.S.-China blame game shows that misinformation about the disease can be traced to specific speculations, distortions, and amplifications.

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