Tech Brief: Administration to Unveil Self-Driving Car Guidelines Next Week


Government Brief

  • Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is reportedly expected to unveil revised guidelines next week that respond to automakers’ calls to eliminate legal barriers blocking the rollout of autonomous vehicles. The news comes as the House of Representatives plans to vote on legislation that would speed up deployment of autonomous vehicles and bar states from blocking self-driving cars. (Reuters)
  • The General Services Administration is working on the creation of a modernized, central portal to handle Freedom of Information Act requests. The agency’s 18F digital services team, which was hired by the Department of Justice to develop a platform that allows the public to submit FOIA requests to any federal agency through a single website, started holding user interviews to develop recommendations for DOJ that will help build a viable portal to handle requests. (FedScoop)
  • The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the nonprofit corporation that distributes government funding to noncommercial TV and radio broadcasting stations, announced that it will provide $500,000 in emergency funds to stations across Texas and Louisiana that were impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The grants will help stations offset increased costs due to “extraordinary storm damage.” (Broadcasting and Cable)

Business Brief

  • U.S. chip maker Intel Corp.’s eight-year fight with the European Commission over an estimated $1.26 billion antitrust fine received a boost when the European Union’s top court ruled that the company’s appeal needed to be reexamined by a lower court. The ruling could have ramifications for other EU antitrust cases against tech companies. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Facebook Inc. is negotiating with major record labels and music producers for music rights so that users of the social media platform can legally include music in videos they upload. The move comes as Facebook tries to address concerns from copyright holders over the unlicensed use of music. (Bloomberg)
  • An investigation conducted by Major League Baseball found that the Boston Red Sox used an Apple Watch to steal hand signals from opposing catchers during a three-game series against the New York Yankees. The Red Sox admitted to having a system in place to relay messages to players about the types of pitches that opposing pitchers would be throwing to gain an advantage during games. (The New York Times)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Wednesday
Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the Lifeline program 10 a.m.
FCC WRC-19 space services meeting 1 p.m.
Thursday
ITIF event on global digital technology 10 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce hearing on spectrum repacking 10 a.m
Event on open internet with FCC Chairman Pai 12 p.m.
Next Century Cities hosts Tech-Powered Civic Engagement 3 p.m.
Friday
No events scheduled
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General

18F begins work on centralized FOIA website
Billy Mitchell, FedScoop

The General Services Administration’s 18F digital services team has begun work to build a modern, centralized “portal” for Freedom of Information Act requests. The FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 directs the Department of Justice to create a “consolidated online request portal that allows a member of the public to submit a request for records under subsection (a) to any agency from a single website.”

Boston Red Sox Used Electronic Devices to Steal Signs Against Yankees
Michael S. Schmidt, The New York Times

For decades, spying on another team has been as much a part of the gamesmanship of baseball as brushback pitches and hard slides. The Red Sox have apparently added a modern — and illicit — twist: They used an Apple Watch to gain an advantage against the Yankees and other teams. Investigators for Major League Baseball have determined that the Boston Red Sox, who are in first place in the American League East and likely headed to the playoffs, executed a scheme to illicitly steal hand signals from opponents’ catchers in games against the second-place Yankees and other teams, according to several people briefed on the matter.

Silicon Valley’s Politics Revealed: Mostly Far Left (With a Twist)
Farhad Manjoo, The New York Times

Silicon Valley has long preferred to remain aloof from national politics, but the Trump era has altered that stance. In recent months, tech luminaries have repeatedly clashed with the president, criticizing his executive order on Muslim immigration, his ban on transgender troops, his “many sides” equivocation on white supremacists and his Tuesday announcement that he was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which lets young undocumented immigrants remain in the country.

Tech association taps new VP amid push to hire more vets
Ali Breland, The Hill

A large tech group is setting unemployment among veterans in its crosshairs. The technology trade association, the Consumer Technology Association, which represents the largest collection of tech firms in Washington, D.C., announced a new hire and a new initiative on Tuesday.

Stocks Slide as Headwinds Build; Treasuries Steady: Markets Wrap
Samuel Potter, Bloomberg

There was little optimism on display in Wednesday trading, with North Korean tensions simmering, another hurricane bearing down on the U.S. and the American debt ceiling looming. European stocks followed Asian peers lower and most industrial metals dropped.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

EU Court Backs Intel’s Appeal of 2009 Fine, in Blow to Regulator
Natalia Drozdiak, The Wall Street Journal

The European Union’s highest court on Wednesday backed Intel Corp.’s appeal of a €1.06 billion ($1.26 billion) EU antitrust fine in 2009, referring the case back to a lower court and dealing a blow to an antitrust regulator that has taken a hard line on U.S. tech giants. The decision could embolden companies challenging the European Commission, the bloc’s antitrust authority, in court over competition decisions.

Court battle over one driver’s pay could have big impact on “gig economy”
Joe Mullin, Ars Technica

The first big trial over worker rights in the “gig economy” begins today, and it could answer fundamental questions about how workers in the digital age should be treated, as well as what kinds of benefits, breaks, and pay they’re entitled to. The case that’s beginning right now doesn’t have a big name, deep-pocketed defendant like Uber.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

CPB Directs Emergency Funds to Harvey-Affected Noncoms
John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which disburses government funding to noncommercial TV and radio, is providing $500,000 in emergency funds to stations in Texas and Louisiana affected by Hurricane Harvey. The grants are to help stations with the increased costs due to “extraordinary storm damage.”

Senate Democrats fight FCC plan to lower America’s broadband standards
Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica

Senate Democrats are fighting a Federal Communications Commission proposal that could lower America’s broadband standards by redefining what counts as broadband Internet access. Under standards imposed during the Obama administration, the FCC says that all Americans should have access to home Internet service offering speeds of at least 25Mbps downstream and 3Mbps upstream, as well as access to mobile Internet.

Verizon sees refarming as ‘a capacity solution where the company lacks AWS-3 spectrum’: Jefferies
Colin Gibbs, FierceWireless

Verizon executives are confident the carrier can refarm its spectrum to meet increased demand in the era of unlimited data, according to Jefferies Equity Research Americas. The nation’s largest mobile network operator generated headlines last month when it made some major changes to the $80-a-month unlimited plan it introduced just six months ago, dividing it into three tiers and capping video transmission speeds to lighten the network load.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

U.S. to unveil revised self-driving car guidelines: sources
David Shepardson, Reuters

President Donald Trump’s administration is set to unveil revised self-driving vehicle guidelines next week in Michigan, responding to automakers’ calls for elimination of legal barriers to putting autonomous vehicles on the road, sources briefed on the matter said on Tuesday. U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao was expected to unveil the revised guidelines next Tuesday at a self-driving vehicle testing facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan, four people briefed on the matter said.

Facebook Offers Hundreds of Millions of Dollars for Music Rights
Lucas Shaw and Sarah Frier, Bloomberg

Facebook Inc. is offering major record labels and music publishers hundreds of millions of dollars so the users of its social network can legally include songs in videos they upload, according to people familiar with the matter. The posting and viewing of video on Facebook has exploded in recent years, and many of the videos feature music to which Facebook doesn’t have the rights.

Facebook digital ads figures differ from census data: analyst
David Ingram and Rama Venkat Raman, Reuters

Figures Facebook Inc gives advertisers about its potential reach differ from U.S. census data, an investment analyst said on Tuesday, renewing questions about how tech companies verify the value of their digital marketing space. Facebook, Alphabet Inc’s Google and other internet companies have faced persistent scrutiny from advertisers about how many people watch ads online and how to measure their views.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

Hackers gain entry into U.S., European energy sector, Symantec warns
Dustin Volz, Reuters

Advanced hackers have targeted United States and European energy companies in a cyber espionage campaign that has in some cases successfully broken into the core systems that control the companies’ operations, according to researchers at the security firm Symantec. Malicious email campaigns have been used to gain entry into organizations in the United States, Turkey and Switzerland, and likely other countries well, Symantec said in a report published on Wednesday.

Data Breach Hits Former TWC Customers
Michael Farrell, Broadcasting and Cable

Charter Communications acknowledged a data breach where about 4 million records containing personal information on former Time Warner Cable customers were left unsecured on a cloud server last month. And though the parent company said there is no evidence that the data has been used against former TWC customers, it urged subscribers with the MyTWC app to change their user names and passwords to minimize any risk.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

The Anti-Monopoly Case Against Google
Russell Brandom, The Verge

Since 2001, writer and researcher Barry Lynn has warned of the dangers of corporate influence of monopoly power at the New America think tank — most recently as part of the Open Markets program. Initially focusing on conventional conglomerates like Walmart and Newscorp, Lynn’s more recent work has focused on tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, which he sees as a new breed of internet-fueled monopoly.

We need to stop pretending that the autonomous car is imminent
Bob O’Donnell, Recode

It’s time to face some challenging realities when it comes to autonomous cars. While consensus seems to imply that the future of driving is nearly upon us, even a relatively cursory check of some of the necessary enablers for truly autonomous automobiles would suggest otherwise.

How Technology Can Help Mitigate Hurricane Harvey-like Disasters
John Breeden II, Nextgov

Unfortunately, we don’t yet have technology that can prevent a storm of the magnitude of Hurricane Harvey from devastating our cities and towns. But it can help in the response, and even provide valuable information for citizens trying to survive a catastrophic event.

Research Reports

Report to the President on Federal IT Modernization
American Technology Council

The United States is unparalleled in its commitment to protecting Americans’ liberties and freedoms and is unmatched in its national security infrastructure. Hardworking Americans have built the world’s largest economy and solved some of the world’s greatest challenges through innovations in science and technology.