Tech Brief: Bipartisan Skepticism of AT&T’s Plan to Buy Time Warner

Today’s Washington Brief

  • The U.S. charged a Russian man in connection with the 2012 cyberattacks on LinkedIn, Dropbox and Formspring. The alleged hacker will remain in the Czech Republic, where he was arrested, until a court decides whether to extradite him to the U.S. (Financial Times)
  • Facebook Inc. employees have said that some of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s posts about banning Muslims from entering the U.S. should be removed from the social media’s website, saying they violate the company’s rules on hate speech. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg made the final decision to allow Trump’s posts to remain so as not to censor the candidate. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Individuals in wide swaths of the U.S. were unable to access websites such as Twitter Inc., Netflix Inc. and the New York Times after a company that manages vital parts of the internet’s infrastructure was hit by a cyberattack. The Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation are looking into the incident to determine whether it was connected to criminal activity or a state-sponsored attack. (The New York Times)

Today’s Business Brief

  • Republicans and Democrats expressed skepticism over AT&T Inc.’s proposed $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc., making it likely regulators will closely scrutinize the deal to create a new telecom and media giant. The Senate subcommittee on antitrust said it will hold a hearing on the acquisition next month. (Reuters)
  • Uber Technologies Inc. spent almost $1 million lobbying Congress, traffic safety regulators and other federal agencies in the first three quarters of 2016. That amount marks the most the ride-hailing company has ever spent in Washington. (BuzzFeed News)
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that will impose fines between $1,000 and $7,500 for people who advertise renting out multiple dwelling units for less than 30 days on Airbnb and similar services. Airbnb sued the state’s attorney general and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, arguing the law violates freedom of speech. (PBS Newshour)

Today’s Chart Review

Mark Your Calendars (All Times Eastern)

Monday
TechFreedom event on FCC’s internet service provider privacy rules 12 p.m.
Tuesday
U.S. CTO Smith speaks at Center for Strategic and International Studies event 9:30 a.m.
New America Foundation event on terrorism in the digital age 3 p.m.
Wednesday
FCC meeting of robocall task force 1 p.m.
FTC forum on financial technology 1 p.m.
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation event on foreign commercial espionage 3:30 p.m.
Thursday
FCC monthly meeting 10:30 a.m.
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation event on smart cities 12 p.m.
Friday
New America Foundation cybersecurity event 10 a.m.

 

General

Uber Has Spent Almost $1 Million On Lobbying This Year
Hamza Shaban, BuzzFeed News

In the first three quarters of 2016, Uber spent nearly $1 million lobbying Congress, traffic safety regulators, and other federal agencies, the most the company has ever spent, according to lobbying disclosures filed Thursday and throughout this year. That’s more than double what the company spent in 2015, which totaled $470,000.

With a green light from the Feds, states race to regulate driverless cars
Eric Tanenblatt, TechCrunch

California lawmakers and regulators just conditionally approved the road-testing of high autonomy cars that require no driver or even human controls, becoming the first state in the nation to flesh out an innovation-nurturing framework after federal regulators last month gave the green light to driverless technology.

Facebook co-founder drops unprecedented cash to stop Trump
Gabriel Debenedetti, Politico

If the first $20 million yielded cheers, the second $15 million generated stunned silence. Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz vaulted suddenly and without any advance warning to the top rung of Democratic party mega donors with two unheralded tears through his checkbook in the last six weeks.

Liberals wary as Facebook’s Sandberg eyed for Treasury
Zachary Warmbrodt et al., Politico

Sheryl Sandberg, the billionaire Facebook executive whose book “Lean In” has made her an icon to women in the workplace, is getting lots of attention as a potential Treasury secretary under Hillary Clinton. But she’s also drawing red flags from progressives, who are suspicious about her ties to former Clinton administration Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, unhappy with Facebook’s international tax practices and wary about seeing the next Democratic White House stack its Cabinet with allies of big business.

As Artificial Intelligence Evolves, So Does Its Criminal Potential
John Markoff, The New York Times

Imagine receiving a phone call from your aging mother seeking your help because she has forgotten her banking password. Except it’s not your mother. The voice on the other end of the phone call just sounds deceptively like her.

Stocks Rise With Bonds as Europe Lifts Market With Triple Boost
James Regan and Eddie Van Der Walt, Bloomberg News

S&P 500 Index futures rallied 0.5 percent before American companies including Visa Inc. and T-Mobile US Inc. announce quarterly earnings on Monday. About 80 percent of the 118 members of the S&P 500 that have reported so far beat estimates, though analysts still forecast a contraction in profits.

Intellectual Property

Newly formed patent troll makes vast claim to Web video, sues 14 big media companies
Joe Mullin, Ars Technica

These days, it seems like software patents are falling down right and left. Hundreds of them have been invalidated by US federal judges since the Supreme Court’s 2014 Alice Corp v. CLS Bank. decision, and more patent-holders are getting sanctioned for their behavior in court.

Telecom, Wireless & TV

AT&T-Time Warner deal sparks calls for scrutiny in Washington
Julia Edwards and Diane Bartz, Reuters

AT&T Inc’s proposed $85 billion takeover of Time Warner Inc. generated skepticism among both Democrats and Republicans on Sunday, making it more likely that regulators will closely scrutinize the effort to create a new telecommunications and media giant. The biggest deal of the year, announced just over two weeks before the Nov. 8 U.S. election, is a gamble on a victory for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and a continuation of the status quo on anti-trust and regulatory enforcement.

Microsoft Has Issues With FCC Set-Top Proposal
John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

xecutives from Microsoft met with FCC officials last week—including a top advisor to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler—armed with some issues related to Wheeler’s set-top box proposal, currently circulated to the commissioners for a vote, including that the company does not want the FCC to apply overbroad privacy certifications to navigation device makers or expand the definition of personally identifiable information (PII).

YouTube is breaking into pay TV, starting with Dish
Joan E. Solsman, CNET

Dish debuted the YouTube app on its Hopper 3 DVR late Thursday, becoming the first pay-TV company to enable videos from the massive site to play through its set-top box alongside traditional TV. Practically speaking, this means Dish customers can search, browse and play YouTube videos without switching inputs and devices.

Mobile Technology & Social Media

Facebook Employees Pushed to Remove Trump’s Posts as Hate Speech
Deepa Seetharaman, The Wall Street Journal

Some of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s posts on Facebook have set off an intense debate inside the social media company over the past year, with some employees arguing certain posts about banning Muslims from entering the U.S. should be removed for violating the site’s rules on hate speech, according to people familiar with the matter.

‘Massive rise’ in hate speech on Twitter during presidential election
Jessica Guynn, USA Today

On Sunday night, Hadas Gold, a Politico media writer, began receiving threats on Twitter. One image superimposed a yellow star of David on her shirt and a bloody bullet hole in her forehead.

Airbnb sues New York for imposing fines on illegal renters
Kamala Kelkar, PBS Newshour

After New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation on Friday imposing costly fines onto people who advertise illegal rentals online, the housing site Airbnb sued, contending that the law violates freedom of speech and is unconstitutional. Airbnb has been fighting rental regulations in San Francisco, Santa Monica and all over the world since the website’s founding in 2008.

Cybersecurity & Privacy

Russian charged by US in connection with cyber attacks
Kara Scannell, Financial Times

An alleged Russian hacker arrested on Wednesday in Prague has been charged by US authorities in connection with the 2012 cyber attacks on LinkedIn, Dropbox and Formspring. Yevgeniy Aleksandrovich Nikulin, 29, was arrested by police at the request of the Federal Bureau of Investigation at a hotel in the Czech city.

Hackers Used New Weapons to Disrupt Major Websites Across U.S.
Nicole Perlroth, The New York Times

Major websites were inaccessible to people across wide swaths of the United States on Friday after a company that manages crucial parts of the internet’s infrastructure said it was under attack. Users reported sporadic problems reaching several websites, including Twitter, Netflix, Spotify, Airbnb, Reddit, Etsy, SoundCloud and The New York Times.

How Much Will Today’s Internet Outage Cost?
Adrienne LaFrance, The Atlantic

Internet outages continued into Friday afternoon, with major websites seeming to flicker an and off for internet users across the United States. The cause was a major, ongoing distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack—when hackers flood a website with traffic so it can’t handle visits from ordinary web users—on critical web infrastructure.

Inside the Cyberattack That Shocked the U.S. Government
Brendan I. Koerner, Wired

The US Office of Personnel Management doesn’t radiate much glamour. As the human resources department for the federal government, the agency oversees the legal minutiae of how federal employees are hired and promoted and manages benefits and pensions for millions of current and retired civil servants.

What we’ve learned about arrested NSA contractor Harold Martin
Chris Bing, CyberScoop

The man arrested by the FBI in connection with elite hacking tools being publicly leaked was found with a massive library of government data, had multiple unregistered firearms in his possession and was found to be communicating online with various individuals in Russian.

The letter to Obama British MPs hope will save hacker Lauri Love from U.S. extradition
David Gilmour, The Daily Dot

On Friday, a group of British MPs will ask President Barack Obama to drop the extradition request against Lauri Love, a 31-year-old computer scientist who faces life in prison if convicted of hacking charges. Love faces charges related to the hacking of NASA, the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Army and the Missile Defense Agency in late January 2013.

Opinions, Editorials & Perspectives

The Unrealized Threat of Weaponized Drones
Kevin Finisterre and Robi Sen, Morning Consult

The drone threat is expanding. Warnings from industry and the intelligence community regarding the adoption of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) or do-it-yourself (DIY) drones have gone unheeded and it is not for a lack of information. Numerous public reports have revealed the use of drones by narco-terrorists to target border agents, drones used to sneak weapons into prisons and drones being used for artillery spotting by ISIS militants.

AT&T’s Wireless Leap Over Obama
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

The Federal Communications Commission’s 2015 power grab over the internet is premised on the need for government to allocate broadband scarcity. So much for that. AT&T’s $85.4 billion weekend bid to buy Time Warner is the latest bet, and a very big one, that technology is making wireless broadband ubiquitous despite regulatory obstacles.

How Your Internet Provider Restricts Your Rights
Sen. Al Franken and Mignon Clyburn, Time

When you are wronged in America, you are supposed to be able to find justice in our legal system. It doesn’t matter who you are—and, importantly, it doesn’t matter who wronged you. No entity is supposed to be too big or too powerful to hold accountable in a court of law.

The ghost of AOL will haunt the Time Warner-AT&T deal
Kara Swisher, Recode

In the end, I guess you could finally say Steve Case was right. Case led AOL to great power in the 1990s, and he then presided over what has become known as one of the worst mergers of all time, when he combined his high-flying internet giant with Time Warner, back at the turn of the century.

New York Tries to Kill Airbnb
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

Uber and other companies in the sharing economy have had to spend millions fighting city and state regulators that try to stifle innovative services. Now New York has moved to crush the home-sharing service Airbnb in the city’s five boroughs.

Should Silicon Valley Tolerate Peter Thiel?
Will Oremus, Slate

In Silicon Valley, as the most divisive election of our time draws near, the burning question this week is not who to support for president. For most of the tech-industry hotbed, even its business elite, that was a foregone conclusion.

Why Today’s Attacks on the Internet Are Just the Start
Kevin Beaumont, The Daily Beast

Back in September Bruce Schneier, an internationally renowned security technologist, wrote about hackers probing the internet for points of weakness in an attempt to have the ability to take the entire net offline. A lot of people blew that article off at the time as unrealistic.

Research Reports, Issue Briefs & Case Studies

Hacking Elections Is Easy! Part One: Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures
Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology

True democracy relies on the reliability of the democratic process. The “Help America Vote Act”, passed in 2002, ushered in an era of uncertainty by proliferating the use of electronic voting systems vulnerable to cyber, technical and physical attack.

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