Tech Brief: Chinese Ride-Hailing Company Didi Chuxing Reportedly Plans to Expand to Mexico Next Year

Government Brief

  • Groups representing internet service providers tried to assuage fears about the Federal Communications Commission’s planned net neutrality rule rollback vote on Dec. 14 by highlighting the notion of “unfair discrimination” in a series of statements about how the current regulations are impacting broadband providers. The new push from telecommunications groups — including CTIA and the United States Telecom Association — came ahead of planned coordinated protests by net neutrality advocates in cities across the country. (Broadcasting and Cable)
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is currently working on development of another Mars rover, with a planned launch date in 2020, to continue collecting samples from the Martian surface. NASA’s Curiosity Rover landed on the planet’s surface in 2012, and the rover being developed will use some of that mission’s spare parts. (Nextgov)
  • A recently released audit from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General found the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ modernization attempts continue to be fraught with failure. The audit determined that efforts to automate the agency’s N-400 — the key application for naturalization form — “has not been successful.” (FedScoop)

Business Brief

  • Didi Chuxing, a Chinese ride-booking company, intends to expand its operations into Mexico next year as part of an intensifying rivalry with competitor Uber Technologies Inc., according to sources familiar with the company’s plans. Didi, the second most-valued venture-backed private firm in the world behind Uber, currently has no car operations outside of China but has previously spoken of its global ambitions. (Reuters)
  • Some of America’s top airlines are implementing rules that would limit the use of so-called “smart luggage,” or high-tech bags, over fears regarding potential battery combustion. American Airlines announced a policy change — set to begin Jan. 15 — that would require customers traveling with smart bags to remove the battery in case the bag must be checked, while other airlines like Delta and Alaska have already released similar policies set for the same time frame. (TechCrunch)
  • SoftBank Group Corp. is reportedly planning to invest around $300 million into DoorDash, a San Francisco-based food delivery startup. The deal, which would represent the latest big investment from SoftBank’s $98 billion Vision Fund, has not yet closed and could still fall apart. (Recode)

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Events Calendar (All Times Local)

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New airline rules are leaving smart luggage makers in a tough spot
Brian Heater, TechCrunch

America’s top airlines are taking a stand against smart luggage. In a rare bit of solidarity, a number of the country’s top carriers have announced rules that would limit the use of high-tech bags, over fear of potential battery combustion.

NASA’s Planning Its Next Mission to Mars
Caitlin Fairchild, Nextgov

NASA’s Curiosity Rover landed on the Martian surface in 2012. Now NASA is working on a follow-up.

USCIS continues to struggle with its Electronic Immigration System
Tajha Chappellet-Lanier, FedScoop

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ attempts to modernize continue to be fraught with failure. A recently-released audit from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General states categorically that the department’s attempt to automate the N-400 — the key application for naturalization form — “has not been successful.”

Dollar Gains Again as Stocks Rebound; Bonds Fall: Markets Wrap
Samuel Potter and Cormac Mullen, Bloomberg

The dollar’s solid week continued on Friday, with the greenback gaining as the U.S. government averted a shutdown and tax reform negotiations made progress before what’s expected to be a healthy jobs report. The upbeat mood also helped stocks after Asian data bolstered the global growth story, while the pound fluctuated on a Brexit breakthrough.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

Apple suppliers gain after Broadcom hint on iPhone
Munsif Vengattil, Reuters

Shares in Skyworks Solutions Inc, Cirrus Logic Inc, and Qorvo Inc traded higher on Thursday after fellow Apple supplier Broadcom Ltd hinted the late launch of iPhone X would help revenue rise. “As we look into the first quarter 2018, unlike the last 2 years, we expect wireless revenue to continue to grow sequentially as the ramp in demand from our North American customer this year was pushed out compared to prior years,” Broadcom CEO Hock Tan told a conference call on Wednesday.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

ISPs: ‘Net Doomsday Scenarios Are Off Base
John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

ISPs are trying to assuage fears about the FCC’s planned net neutrality rule rollback. Broadband for America (BFA) , whose members include NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, CTIA – The Wireless Association, and USTelecom Association, issued a statement Thursday billed as ahead of next week’s (Dec. 14) vote on the order.

Inside the Opposition to Net Neutrality
Cecilia Kang, The New York Times

Hundreds of protests were staged across the country on Thursday in the latest uproar over a repeal of rules ensuring an open internet. The drumbeat of action can in good part be traced back to a yellow Victorian house in this leafy New England city.

ISP disclosures about data caps and fees eliminated by net neutrality repeal
Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica

Hidden fees that show up on broadband bills after customers sign up for service have long been a source of frustration for Internet users. Because advertised prices often don’t reflect the full cost of service, the Federal Communications Commission in 2015 forced ISPs to be more transparent with customers about hidden fees and the consequences of exceeding data caps.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Uber’s Chinese rival Didi Chuxing to enter Mexico next year
Julia Love and Heather Somerville, Reuters

Didi Chuxing, China’s ride-hailing behemoth, plans to expand into Mexico next year, intensifying its global rivalry with Uber, according to two sources familiar with the plans. Didi has spoken before of global ambitions, but has not formally announced where or when it would expand.

SoftBank is negotiating an investment in DoorDash that could reach $300 million
Jason Del Rey and Theodore Schleifer, Recode

The Japanese giant SoftBank is preparing to invest around $300 million into the food delivery startup DoorDash, according to sources familiar with the deal. The investment would be the latest big bet from SoftBank’s Vision Fund, a $98 billion pool of cash that is striking massive deals in some of Silicon Valley’s flashiest companies.

YouTube to Launch New Music Subscription Service in March
Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg

YouTube plans to introduce a paid music service in March, according to people familiar with the matter, a third attempt by parent company Alphabet Inc. to catch up with rivals Spotify and Apple Inc. The new service could help appease record-industry executives who have pushed for more revenue from YouTube.

Uber Loses Its Operating License in Another City in the U.K.
Nate Lanxon, Bloomberg

Uber Technologies Inc. has had its operating license suspended in Sheffield, the fourth-largest city in England. The local council said the suspension followed a failure by the ride-hailing company to respond to requests about the firm’s management, and that it can’t provide services in the city after Dec. 18.

Uber lands investment from Singapore’s largest taxi operator in blow to rival Grab
Jon Russell, TechCrunch

Uber has struck a major deal in Southeast Asia after ComfortDelGro, Singapore’s largest taxi operator, announced it has agreed to buy a majority share of the ride-hailing giant’s Singapore-based car rental business. The deal will see a joint venture valued at SG$642 million (US$474 million) established to run Uber’s Lion City Rentals subsidiary in Singapore.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

This country’s hacking efforts have become too big to ignore
Chris Bing, CyberScoop

While hackers linked to China, North Korea and Russia have dominated headlines over the past year, similar groups in Iran have caused significant damage while drawing far less attention. Multiple cyber-espionage groups attributed to Iran became increasingly active over the last 12 months, as at least four entities with ties to the regime have broken into a wide array of organizations, according to private sector cybersecurity experts and three former U.S. intelligence officials with knowledge of regional activity.

Feds look to get creative about cyber hiring
Derek B. Johnson, FCW

It’s no secret that the federal government is desperate to add more cybersecurity talent to its workforce. The difficulty is in figuring out how.

Jailed for a Text: China’s Censors Are Spying on Mobile Chat Groups
Eva Dou, The Wall Street Journal

One night this September, construction supervisor Chen Shouli fired off a joke in a chat group. “Haha,” he typed on his black iPhone 7, followed by an off-color wisecrack about a rumored love triangle involving a celebrity and one of China’s most senior government officials.

LA Cyber Center Hopes to be a Model for Cities Nationwide
Joseph Marks, Nextgov

Four years ago, cybersecurity operations for the city of Los Angeles were divided between four centers that didn’t regularly share information with each other. When they did communicate, it was a managed through phone calls and emailed spreadsheets.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

FCC’s Vision for the Internet of Tomorrow Could Boost U.S. Economy
Faith Bautista, Morning Consult

In Washington and across the country, from Wall Street to Silicon Valley, the mere utterance of the words “net neutrality” often sparks heated debates, even among long-time advocates of greater connectivity and inclusion. Millions of people all across the country, from all walks of life, are paying attention to the issue.

Quantum Computing is the Next Big Security Risk
Rep. Will Hurd, WIRED

The 20th century gave birth to the Nuclear Age as the power of the atom was harnessed and unleashed. Today, we are on the cusp of an equally momentous and irrevocable breakthrough: the advent of computers that draw their computational capability from quantum mechanics.

Facebook can do more to protect us from ‘revenge porn’
Zouhair Belkoura, Recode

Facebook recently announced a pilot program that it’s trying with Australian users. It’s a test for addressing revenge porn that has raised more than a few eyebrows.

Amazon wants a key to your house. I did it. I regretted it.
Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Washington Post

I gave a key to go into my house and drop off packages when I’m not around. After two weeks, it turns out letting strangers in has been the least-troubling part of the experience.

Research Reports

USCIS Has Been Unsuccessful in Automating Naturalization Benefits Delivery
Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General

As with prior ELIS efforts, USCIS automation of the N-400 Application for Naturalization has not been successful. USCIS deployed this capability in April 2016 to improve processing of approximately 84,000 naturalization applications received each month.

2017 AI Index Report
Artificial Intelligence Index, Stanford University

Artificial Intelligence has leapt to the forefront of global discourse, garnering increased attention from practitioners, industry leaders, policymakers, and the general public. The diversity of opinions and debates gathered from news articles this year illustrates just how broadly AI is being investigated, studied, and applied.

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