Tech Brief: Another Democratic Group Hacked

Today’s Washington Brief

  • Unidentified hackers breached the computer networks of the Latino Victory Project, a political advocacy group that works closely with the presidential campaign of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, making the group the latest Democratic organization to fall victim to a cyber intrusion this election cycle. The hackers obtained at least one of the group’s email address lists, sending out infected emails that urged recipients to open “Very Important Documents.” (Politico)
  • A federal judge found “several large loopholes” in new rules governing how long the FBI can impose a gag order on companies ordered to provide data pursuant to a national security investigation. Those loopholes could make it impossible for a firm subpoenaed through a “national security letter” to ever discuss the experience, something the judge said was “inconsistent with the intent of the law.” (The Washington Post)
  • The Federal Trade Commission is planning a crackdown on companies that pay celebrities to post endorsements of their products on social media without disclosing the financial arrangement. (Bloomberg News)

Today’s Business Brief

  • Apple Inc. purchased Seattle-based artificial intelligence startup Turi Inc. for about $200 million, part of a larger competition between Apple and other tech giants, including Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., to gain an advantage in merging AI with consumer products. (Bloomberg News)
  • Customers on the crypto-currency exchange Bitfinex lost more than 36 percent of their assets held on the platform after a cyberattack cost the exchange $72 million in bitcoins. The “generalized” haircut affected all users — even those not targeted in the hack — with the Hong Kong-based exchange explaining customers will instead receive tokens that can be traded for Bitfinex stock or redeemed for bitcoins by the exchange at a later date. (Reuters)
  • Amazon’s Tokyo office was raided by officers from Japan’s Fair Trade Commission on suspicion that the company was pressuring its retailers to sell its products at lower prices than on rival e-commerce sites. Amazon is already being investigated for similar alleged antitrust violations in Europe. (Reuters)

Today’s Chart Review

How Fast Is 85 Seconds?
The Wall Street Journal

 

Mark Your Calendars (All Times Eastern)

Monday
No events scheduled
Tuesday
InsideSources policy discussion of free data 12 p.m.
CompTIA education committee conference call 1 p.m.
CompTIA state government affairs mid-year meeting and legislative reception 3:30 p.m.
Wednesday
Wireless Connect conference 8:30 a.m.
FCC regional planning committee meetings 10 a.m.
CompTIA tax committee conference call 12 p.m.
Thursday
Wireless Connect conference 8:30 a.m.
National Telecommunication and Information Administration webinar on community connectivity 2 p.m.
Bloomberg Government webinar on top 20 federal contracts 3 p.m.
Friday
CompTIA state environment committee conference call 2 p.m.

 

General

Apple Said to Buy AI Startup Turi for About $200 Million
Mark Gurman and Sarah McBride, Bloomberg News

Apple Inc. acquired artificial intelligence startup Turi Inc. for about $200 million, according to people familiar with the situation, in the latest deal by the iPhone maker to accumulate advanced computing capabilities for its products and services. Turi helps developers create and manage software and services that use a form of AI called machine learning.

Amazon Japan raided on suspicion of antitrust practices: Nikkei
Thomas Wilson, Reuters

Japan’s Fair Trade Commission has raided the offices of Amazon.com Inc’s local unit on suspicion of pressuring retailers to offer products at lower prices than on rival sites, the Nikkei business daily said on Monday. The paper, which cited unidentified sources with knowledge of the case, did not say when the raid took place.

Clinton Consolidates Lead Over Trump After Rough Week for Republicans
Fawn Johnson, Morning Consult

Hillary Clinton posted her highest poll numbers in months last week, clutching a 9-point lead over rival Donald Trump, according to Morning Consult’s latest poll. Almost half (46 percent) of registered voters surveyed Aug. 4-5 (46 percent) said they would choose Clinton, the Democratic nominee, if the presidential election were to be held now.

Google gives $60K to Obama foundation
Megan R. Wilson, The Hill

Google has contributed more than $60,000 to the Barack Obama Foundation, a nonprofit handling Obama’s presidential center in Chicago, according to new disclosure reports. It is unclear whether the donation, totaling $60,350.48, constitutes a cash or an in-kind donation — or some combination of the two — but the tech giant is the first corporate donor to the foundation, a review of semi-annual records shows.

Researchers or Corporate Allies? Think Tanks Blur the Line
Eric Lipton and Brooke Williams, The New York Times

Think tanks, which position themselves as “universities without students,” have power in government policy debates because they are seen as researchers independent of moneyed interests. But in the chase for funds, think tanks are pushing agendas important to corporate donors, at times blurring the line between researchers and lobbyists.

Online Trade in Illicit Drugs Is Growing, Study Finds
Valentina Pop, The Wall Street Journal

Online trade in illicit drugs via the hidden marketplaces known as cryptomarkets is growing, with revenue having doubled and transactions having tripled since 2013, according to a study published Friday. The study was carried out by RAND Europe, a policy research institute, and commissioned by the Dutch government.

Latest to Quit Google’s Self-Driving Car Unit: Top Roboticist
John Markoff, The New York Times

A roboticist and crucial member of the team that created Google’s self-driving car is leaving the company, the latest in a string of departures by important technologists working on the autonomous car project. Chris Urmson, a Carnegie Mellon University research scientist, joined Google in 2009 to help create the then-secret effort.

Stocks Gain With Commodities on Growth Optimism as Pound Falls
James Regan and Stephen Kirkland, Bloomberg News

S&P 500 futures added 0.3 percent after the U.S. gauge hit an all-time high. Nasdaq 100 contracts also rose 0.3 percent.

Intellectual Property

Where big tech clients go, patent lawyers follow
Claire Bushey, Crain’s New York

Leydig Voit & Mayer was founded in 1893 in Rockford to be near manufacturers for farm equipment, nails, screws and bolts, back in the days when “the patent lawyer used to be right next to the factory,” says H. Michael Hartmann, the firm’s immediate past president. As America’s tech capitals have been remapped, intellectual property lawyers have tried to stick close to their clients.

Telecommunications, Broadcast & Cable

How to Give Rural America Broadband? Look to the Early 1900s
Cecilia Kang, The New York Times

From the sofa in his living room, Clinton Creason can see the electric pole outside that his father staked 70 years ago to bring power to this remote area of hilly cattle pastures. Electricity came late here but transformed life on the farm.

Representatives Tell FCC Not to Delay BDS Remake
John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable

A quartet of House Democrats are calling on the FCC not to delay action on its business data services (BDS) reforms and are asking their congressional colleagues to add their voices to that call. Some ISPs have argued that the FCC needs to take a fresh look at the marketplace in light of some new data, or actually old data not submitted by major cable operators until recently, before acting on the proposal.

Mobile & Social

FTC to Crack Down on Paid Celebrity Posts That Aren’t Clear Ads
Sarah Frier and Matthew Townsend, Bloomberg News

Snapchat star DJ Khaled raves about Ciroc vodka. Fashion lifestyle blogger Cara Loren Van Brocklin posts a selfie with PCA Skin sunscreen.

Why Uber Might Stalk an IPO Sooner Rather Than Later
Christopher Mims, The Wall Street Journal

Uber Technologies Inc.’s recent sale of its China business for $1 billion while acquiring about 20% of rival Didi Chuxing Technology Co. has been widely hailed as a potential step toward an initial public offering. That is true.

Data & Privacy

Judge criticizes secrecy rules surrounding FBI requests for companies’ data
Ellen Nakashima, The Washington Post

A federal judge in a recent ruling criticized new rules regarding how long the government can demand secrecy from companies when it requests data on national security cases. These demands, called national security letters (NSLs), are administrative subpoenas issued by FBI officials without having to seek judicial approval.

Fight breaks out over ‘pay for privacy’ internet plans
David McCabe, The Hill

A fight is brewing over the future of internet plans that require customers to pay more to protect their privacy. Consumer advocates say the so-called pay-for-privacy plans disproportionately harm low-income people and are urging regulators to crack down.

Jill Stein: ‘No question’ Julian Assange is a hero
Eli Watkins, CNN

Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein hailed Julian Assange as a hero Saturday, saying the WikiLeaks founder’s disclosure of Democratic National Committee emails exposed the American electorate to important information. Stein’s comments to CNN were made shortly before she was named the progressive party’s official 2016 presidential nominee, with human rights activist Ajamu Baraka tapped as her running mate.

Trading Tech Accelerates Toward Speed of Light
Vera Sprothen, The Wall Street Journal

A handful of financial-technology startups are arming many of the world’s most powerful trading firms and exchanges with devices that promise to handle stock-market transactions at rates rivaling the speed of light, as the race for speed in financial markets remains alive. Engineers at Sydney-based Metamako LP and Exablaze Pty. Ltd., and Chicago-based xCelor LLC are rolling out switches that take around four nanoseconds—four billionths of a second—for messages to transit from one side to the other, sending data from exchanges to electronic traders.

Cybersecurity

Bitfinex exchange customers to get 36 percent haircut, debt token
Clare Baldwin, Reuters

Crypto-currency exchange Bitfinex, which lost $72 million to hackers last week, told customers on Sunday they would lose just over 36 percent of the assets they had on the platform but would be compensated for these losses with tokens of credit. The Hong Kong-based exchange said losses from the theft would be shared, or “generalized”, across all the company’s clients and assets, widening the group of those affected announced last week.

Hackers breach Latino advocacy group with Clinton campaign ties 
Eric Geller, Politico

Hackers have compromised the email accounts of a Latino political advocacy group with ties to the Clinton campaign. In an email obtained by POLITICO, a staffer for the Latino Victory Project warned people not to open any other emails sent this morning by Latino Victory employees.

Hackers Say It Would Be “Too Easy” To Hack The U.S. Elections
Sheera Frenkel, BuzzFeed News

Before the hacker touched a single key on the electronic voting booth, he already had three or four ideas in mind for how he could manipulate the results. “Just based on the fact that many of these voting machines have been around for years, just based on that I could tell you old vulnerabilities that exist in the system,” Tim Monroe told BuzzFeed News.

Hackers grapple with a once-unthinkable idea: Political action
Sara Sorcher, The Christian Science Monitor

Throngs of hackers have been flocking to Sin City to celebrate their craft every summer since Jeff Moss founded the Black Hat and DEF CON conferences in the 1990s. Yet in a community of technologists who earn a living pushing boundaries and breaking things, Mr. Moss’s riskiest move this year was not providing a forum to demonstrate how to crack ATMs or hack cars – it was daring to headline a Hillary Clinton fundraiser.

Password Hacking Forces Big Tech Companies to Act
Robert McMillan, The Wall Street Journal

In the past few months, hackers have taken over the social-media accounts of Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter Inc.’s CEO, Jack Dorsey. Behind the scenes, security teams at every major technology company—and many smaller firms, too—are scrambling to protect others from the same fate.

A Message from Invest in Broadband for America:

The FCC is considering new business broadband regulations that would wrench hundreds of millions of dollars out of the marketplace.
Those are funds that could otherwise be plowed into investment in fiber networks that will help grow the economy and jobs… set rural communities on a path to more broadband connectivity… give small businesses more opportunity to compete on the global stage.

Join with us. Tell the FCC not to stifle investment in broadband. www.investinbroadband.org

Opinions, Editorials & Perspectives

Cybersecurity, Elections, and Critical Infrastructure at Home and Abroad
Kristen Eichensehr, Just Security

In the last few days, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco have both suggested that in the wake of the DNC hack, the United States is considering designating its election system as critical infrastructure. That’s a good idea.

When Every Company Is a Tech Company, Does the Label Matter?
Jeff Sommer, The New York Times

Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon have created something of a watershed moment in the stock market. They became the four most valuable companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index at the close of trading on Aug. 1, according to S.&P.’s official tally.

Are performance-monitoring wearables an affront to workers’ rights?
Karen Turner, The Washington Post

At U.K. supermarket chain Tesco, workers wear sensor-bearing armbands to track inventory while unloading goods. “Pickers” that put together orders at Amazon.com warehouses wear GPS tags designed to guide them on the most efficient warehouse route.

Why Uber Couldn’t Crack China
Robert Salomon, Fortune

Back in March, I suggested that Uber was poorly positioned to capitalize on China’s ride-hailing market. Uber was losing $1 billion a year in China and battling a profitable and well-connected local competitor in Didi Chuxing (formerly Didi Kuaidi) for market share.

A Message from Invest in Broadband for America:

The FCC is considering new business broadband regulations that would wrench hundreds of millions of dollars out of the marketplace.
Those are funds that could otherwise be plowed into investment in fiber networks that will help grow the economy and jobs… set rural communities on a path to more broadband connectivity… give small businesses more opportunity to compete on the global stage.

Join with us. Tell the FCC not to stifle investment in broadband. www.investinbroadband.org

Research Reports, Issue Briefs & Case Studies

America’s Advanced Industries: New trends
Mark Muro et al., The Brookings Institution

Leaders in cities, metropolitan areas, and states across the country continue to seek ways to reenergize the American economy in a way that works better for more people. To support those efforts, this report provides an update on the changing momentum and geography of America’s advanced industries sector—a group of 50 R&D- and STEM (science-technology-engineering-mathematics)-worker intensive industries the vitality of which will be essential for supporting any broadly shared prosperity in U.S. regions.

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