Tech Brief: Cryptocurrency Market Tumbles as China Bans Initial Coin Offerings


Government Brief

  • The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, which is focused on the study of the government’s role in emerging technologies, remains empty as former President Barack Obama’s executive order that authorized the council is scheduled to expire at the end of September. (Recode)
  • As of Sunday, the total number of public comments received by the Federal Communications Commission on its net neutrality docket has exceeded 22 million, including comments posted since the Aug. 30 deadline. The FCC will continue to collect and post all of the comments that it has received, although only those received before the deadline will go into the commission’s official record. (Broadcasting and Cable)
  • The firing of a prominent critic of Google Inc. at a Washington think tank has drawn attention from congressional lawmakers, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.). The Open Markets team at the New America Foundation, which has received funds from Google, had advocated for regulators to crack down on Silicon Valley tech giants. (The Hill)

Business Brief

  • Digital currencies, including Bitcoin, have experienced double-digit losses over the past two days, with the entire cryptocurrency market down 20 percent to $142 billion. The crash follows China’s decision to outlaw initial coin offerings. (TechCrunch)
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles are playing a growing role in assessing the damage in Texas and Louisiana from Hurricane Harvey. The Federal Aviation Administration has already issued more than 100 separate authorizations for emergency drone activity about Houston and the surrounding areas by Sunday, including some flights prohibited under routine situations. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Europe’s top court, the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union, will rule on Wednesday whether U.S. chipmaker Intel Corp. offered illegal rebates to push out its rivals. (Reuters)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Tuesday
FCC WRC-19 regulatory issues meeting 1 p.m.
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

A key White House science council is still vacant — but the Trump administration doesn’t plan to kill it
Tony Romm, Recode

A White House council that’s supposed to study everything from nanotechnology to biological warfare has sat dormant for more than seven months under President Donald Trump — but the administration says it’ll staff up and resume its work soon. Chartered in its modern form in 2000, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology long has operated as the White House’s main interface with academics, industry experts and others who can help shape the government’s approach on a wide array of complex, cutting-edge issues.

Drones Play Increasing Role in Harvey Recovery Efforts
Andy Pasztor, The Wall Street Journal

For drone users, Hurricane Harvey is likely to be the event that propelled unmanned aircraft to become integral parts of government and corporate disaster-recovery efforts. In the first six days after the storm hit, the Federal Aviation Administration issued more than 40 separate authorizations for emergency drone activities above flood-ravaged Houston and surrounding areas.

Silicon Valley Courts Brand-Name Teachers, Raising Ethics Issues
Natasha Singer, The New York Times

One of the tech-savviest teachers in the United States teaches third grade here at Mapleton Elementary, a public school with about 100 students in the sparsely populated plains west of Fargo. Her name is Kayla Delzer.

CEO Tim Cook says he stands by Apple’s 250 DACA-status employees
Hamza Shaban, The Washington Post

Apple chief executive Tim Cook tweeted Sunday morning that he stands by the 250 Apple employees who have DACA status. This is the first time that Apple has publicly disclosed how many employees with DACA status work at the technology behemoth.

Scanning The Future, Radiologists See Their Jobs At Risk
Lauren Silverman, NPR

In health care, you could say radiologists have typically had a pretty sweet deal. They make, on average, around $400,000 a year — nearly double what a family doctor makes — and often have less grueling hours.

Stocks Bounce as Traders Refocus on Central Banks: Markets Wrap
Robert Brand, Bloomberg

European stocks bounced after Monday’s losses as traders shifted focus from North Korea to a week packed with central-bank decisions, Federal Reserve speakers and economic data that will help illuminate the path of the global economy. Most industry sectors in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index gained as data from China to the euro area pointed to a resurgent global economy.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

Landmark Intel judgment critical for other EU antitrust cases
Foo Yun Chee, Reuters

Europe’s top court will rule on Wednesday whether U.S. chipmaker Intel offered illegal rebates to squeeze out rivals in a judgment that could affect EU antitrust regulators’ cases against Qualcomm and Alphabet’s Google. The ruling by the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) could also provide more clarity on whether rebates are anti-competitive by nature or whether enforcers need to prove the anti-competitive effect.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

Net Neutrality Docket Pushes Past 22 million Comments
John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

The FCC had not finished posting all the comments to its network neutrality docket that were filed by the Aug. 30 deadline, according to an FCC source speaking on background late Friday. By late Sunday, the total comments, including those filed since the deadline, had pushed past 22 million to 22,146,888.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Google faces blowback after think tank fires critic
Ali Breland, The Hill

Google is facing blowback after one of its most prominent critics was fired from a think tank funded by the tech giant. The incident is raising new questions about Google’s influence over think tanks and academic research.

Cryptocurrencies have crashed 20% in two days
Fitz Tepper, TechCrunch

The cryptocurrency correction may have started. After months of unprecedented appreciation, almost every digital currency is seeing double digit losses over the last 48 hours.

Electric cars and renewables not enough to meet Paris climate goal: consultant
Karolin Schaps, Reuters

The cost of electric vehicles (EVs) will fall to match those running on combustion engines by 2022, a key trigger that will mean by 2035 half of all passenger vehicles sold globally will be electric, according to the head of a top energy consultancy. But this expected exponential rise in cleaner vehicles, coupled with booming renewable energy production, will not be enough to meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting climate warming, Ditlev Engel, chief executive of DNV GL’s energy consulting business, told Reuters in an interview.

San Francisco Official Pushes Robot Tax to Battle Automation
Janie Har, The Associated Press

Security guard Eric Leon watches the Knightscope K5 security robot as it glides through the mall, charming shoppers with its blinking blue and white lights. The brawny automaton records video and sounds alerts.

Google Builds China Workforce to Develop Artificial Intelligence
Alyssa Abkowitz and Liza Lin, The Wall Street Journal

Alphabet Inc.’s Google is ramping up its presence in China, hiring engineers to specialize in one of technology’s hottest corners: artificial intelligence. The Silicon Valley behemoth has recently posted at least four AI-related jobs on its career site in Beijing, including a technical lead to develop a team to work on natural language processing, data compression and other machine learning technologies.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

Hillary Clinton endorsed a startup — and then it fell victim to a cyber attack
Tony Romm, Recode

Hillary Clinton is allegedly at the center of another cyber attack — except this time it involves a startup that’s trying to become something of a social network for her political supporters. The saga began Sunday night when Clinton — to the apparent surprise of her followers — took to Twitter to offer her personal endorsement of a new, relatively unknown website called Verrit.

European court rules companies must tell employees of email checks
Alastair Macdonald and Julia Fioretti, Reuters

Companies must tell employees in advance if their work email accounts are being monitored, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday in a landmark privacy case.In a judgment in the case of a man fired 10 years ago for using a work messaging account to communicate with his family, the judges found that Romanian courts had failed to protect Bogdan Barbulescu’s private correspondence because his employer had not given him prior notice it was monitoring his communications.

Google promised not to scan Gmail for targeted ads—but for how long?
David Kravets, Ars Technica

On July 23, Google promised with great fanfare that it would stop scanning consumers’ Gmail messages to serve targeted, contextually aware ads. The announcement—which put Gmail in line with competing services and Google’s paid e-mail for government, business, and education sectors—was published widely, from tech blogs to the mainstream media.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Sinclair-Tribune’s Race to Consolidation: Harmful Impacts
Daphna Ziman, Morning Consult

The quickest way to stifle creativity in the media industry is a method that seems to be running rampant lately, and one I like to call the “race to consolidation.” Viewers’ choices are dissipating on broadcast television, in particular as mega media mergers come to fruition left and right.

Google-New America shows why nonprofits should reject corporate funding
Tom Tancredo, The Hill

The center-left think tank New America has reportedly dropped its entire Open Markets program, which had advocated tough antitrust laws, in what some view as an attempt to please its corporate benefactors. Part of the issue is that Google chairman Eric Schmidt is also the chairman of New America’s board, and its conference room is called the “Eric Schmidt Ideas Lab.”

The Global Antitrust Attack On Intellectual Property Rights And What The U.S. Should Do About It
Koren Wong-Ervin, Forbes

There is a disturbing trend among international antitrust authorities: using antitrust laws to devalue intellectual property rights, to intervene in favor of one side or another in licensing disputes, and to impose unwarranted extra-jurisdictional remedies on patent licensing (i.e., foreign governments telling U.S. companies how to price U.S. and other foreign patents). This trend is a serious problem for innovation, economic growth, and consumers.

NIAC’s timely warning on infrastructure attacks
Kris Lovejoy, FCW

On Aug. 22 President Donald Trump’s National Infrastructure Advisory Committee released a draft report on the threat of cyberattacks on the nation’s critical infrastructure. I can only applaud the committee’s findings and offer my strongest support for their recommendations to harness, organize and focus the “tremendous” but fragmented resources with public and private sectors.

Research Reports

Measuring Internet Censorship in Cuba’s ParkNets
Maria Xynou et al., Open Observatory of Network Interference

OONI network measurement data, collected from eight vantage points across three Cuban cities between 29th May 2017 to 10th June 2017, confirms the blocking of 41 websites. Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology, which we suspect to be located in Havana, was used to reset connections to those sites and serve (blank) block pages.