Tech Brief: Def Con Organizers to Release Report on Voting Machine Vulnerability

Government Brief

  • The Def Con hacker conference yielded a report on how voting machines can be compromised, with concerns about election hacking prompting the creation of a new coalition between the government, hackers and academics aimed at avoiding such attacks in the future. Both the report and the coalition are expected to be formally unveiled Tuesday. (Reuters)
  • Twitter Inc. took down a political ad from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) that takes credit for stopping the “sale of baby body parts.” The ad, which is part of her campaign to replace Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), is based on unverified videos alleging fetal tissue was being sold by Planned Parenthood. (The Hill)
  • The United States Postal Service plans to deploy semiautonomous vehicles across the country’s rural areas by 2025, with a prototype expected from University of Michigan researchers by December. USPS insists the effort will help cut costs without postal workers losing their jobs. (WIRED)

Business Brief

  • False reports following the shooting in Las Vegas point to failures in efforts by Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. to eliminate fake news. At play is the algorithmic prioritization of recency and popularity to engage users, over accuracy or relevance, and deliberate manipulation of the systems by pranksters like the members of the website 4chan. (The Associated Press)
  • Regulators in the United Kingdom are contemplating rules that would make it easier for consumers to exit contracts with internet service providers. Providers would have to list guaranteed minimum speeds, including for pay-TV and mobile services, and be given at most one month to improve if they fall below them or let the customer leave penalty-free. (Ars Technica)
  • Tesla Inc. disputes a Wall Street Journal report that suggested production delays in the company’s Model 3 cars were due to parts of them being produced by hand, rather than through automation. Tesla called the story “fundamentally wrong and misleading” but the Wall Street Journal defended its reporting. (CNBC)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Wireless ISP Association conference 8 a.m.
IEEE Broadcast Symposium 8 a.m.
Fifth annual Internet of Things Global Summit 8:15 a.m.
NRECA event on electric utility cybersecurity 8:30 a.m.
Wireless Infrastructure Association’s HetNet Expo 8:30 a.m.
Brown bag lunch on FCC incentive auction task force repacking update 12:15 p.m.
UC Berkeley Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity report and discussion on cybersecurity at the Olympic Games 4 p.m.
Wireless Infrastructure Association’s HetNet Expo 7:30 a.m.
IEEE Broadcast Symposium 8 a.m.
Event on 5G by Access Intelligence 8:15 a.m.
Wireless ISP Association conference 8:30 a.m.
Fifth annual Internet of Things Global Summit 8:30 a.m.
National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters annual fall conference 1 p.m.
Atlantic Council discussion on building a more defensible cyberspace 5 p.m.
Seminar on IoT cybersecurity challenges across sectors and in telehealth 6 p.m.
IEEE Broadcast Symposium 7:30 a.m.
National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters annual fall conference 8 a.m.
ForgeRock and Public Sector Media Group forum on strategies for securing digital government 8 a.m.
Wireless ISP Association conference 8:30 a.m.
Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on trade barriers and protecting cross border data flow policies 10:15 a.m.
Sixth annual Americas spectrum management conference 8:45 a.m.
ITIF lunch event on “opt-in” vs. “opt-out” privacy policies 12 p.m.
FCBA New England Chapter event including FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly 2 p.m.
Washington Center for Equitable Growth conversation with tech entrepreneur Tim O’Reilly on the future of work 5 p.m.
Wireless ISP Association conference 8:30 a.m.
Sixth annual Americas spectrum management conference 8:45 a.m.
Senate Commerce Committee field hearing on expanding New Hampshire’s broadband infrastructure 10 a.m.
FCBA Intellectual Property Committee brown bag lunch on music licensing 12:15 p.m.


Fake news is still here, despite efforts by Google, Facebook
Barbara Ortutay And Ryan Nakashima, The Associated Press

Nearly a year after Facebook and Google launched offensives against fake news, they’re still inadvertently promoting it — often at the worst possible times. Online services designed to engross users aren’t so easily retooled to promote greater accuracy, it turns out.

Russian central bank to ban websites offering crypto-currencies
Staff, Reuters

Russia will block access to websites of exchanges that offer crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin, Russian Central Bank First Deputy Governor Sergei Shvetsov said on Tuesday. He called them “dubious”.

SpaceX Has Successful Launch As It Ramps Up Operational Tempo
Andy Pasztor, The Wall Street Journal

Space Exploration Technologies Corp. blasted 10 commercial satellites into orbit Monday, completing the first of a pair of consecutive launches slated from opposite coasts in roughly two days.

Ikea to sell online on third-party sites
BBC News

Ikea will start experimenting with selling its famous flatpack furniture through online retailers as part of a wider push to become more accessible to shoppers. The Swedish chain – known for its vast edge-of-town outlets – is also testing a smaller city centre store format.

Fake News Isn’t Just for U.S. as China Gets Billions of Claims

It turns out the Chinese have a problem with fake news too. From Facebook’s Alex Stamos to Steve Ballmer, American tech executives have sought in recent days to dispel the notion there’s a swift solution to the proliferation of spurious or insidious information on the internet, a phenomenon critics say wields an outsized and unhealthy influence on public discourse and elections.

Politics in Focus as Spanish Stocks, Dollar Drop: Markets Wrap
Cormac Mullen, Bloomberg

Politics remained the dominant theme in the markets on Tuesday as Spanish stocks declined and the euro rose before a pivotal meeting of Catalan’s regional parliament. The dollar weakened on concerns over U.S. tax reform and sterling rose as U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May won support for her Brexit stance.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

GM buys Calif. tech-sensor company to help in self-driving car race with Alphabet, Tesla
Anita Balakrishnan, CNBC

General Motors is teaming up with a California tech company in the race to dominate the self-driving car market. GM announced an agreement on Monday to acquire Strobe, and will acqui-hire the start-up’s engineering team to work for Cruise Automation.

Venture capitalists are spending more money on fewer deals
Theodore Schleifer and Rani Molla, Recode

Venture capital spending in 2017 is on track to be the highest in the last decade, while the number of transactions has shrunk to the lowest total in five years. That means deals between venture capitalists and companies are simultaneously getting both huge and hard to land, according to new data from PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor.

New bill would end Native American “sovereign immunity” for patents
Joe Mullin, Ars Technica

Allergan’s move to stop its patents from being reviewed by handing them off to a Native American tribe is winning support from few people outside the drug company. Now one lawmaker is seeking to ban it.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

Advertised broadband speeds should actually be realistic, UK tells ISPs
Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica

The United Kingdom’s telecom regulator, Ofcom, wants to strengthen an industry code that lets Internet customers exit contracts without penalty when broadband providers fall short of their advertised speeds. Ofcom’s proposed changes would also improve the accuracy of speed information provided to customers before they sign up for broadband.

Japan’s New Satellite to Help Keep Self-Driving Cars—and North Korea—In Line
Alastair Gale and Chieko Tsuneoka, The Wall Street Journal

With its latest satellite launch, Japan is taking a leap in technology to keep its self-driving cars in their highway lanes, land delivery drones on matchbox-sized targets in the country, and potentially help destroy North Korean missile sites.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Twitter takes down GOP lawmaker’s campaign ad
Harper Neidig and Jessie Hellmann, The Hill

Twitter took down a campaign ad from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) that referenced “baby body parts,” the congresswoman’s campaign said on Monday. The video, which can still be seen in Blackburn’s Twitter feed, was part of her recently-launched bid to succeed Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who announced last month that he would not be seeking reelection.

The Us Postal Service Is Building A Self-Driving Mail Truck
Aarian Marshall, WIRED

Neither Snow now rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds—and if the United States Postal Service has its way, the robots won’t stop them, either. Yes, the agency you know best for bringing you junk mail addressed to whomever lived in your apartment before you has caught robofever.

Tesla says report it builds Model 3 by hand is ‘fundamentally wrong’ as shares drop
Tae Kim, CNBC

Tesla shares are falling on a report the company is having problems automating its production line for its new Model 3 vehicles. But the company says the report is “fundamentally wrong and misleading.”

How Russia Harvested American Rage to Reshape U.S. Politics
Nicholas Confessore And Daisuke Wakabayashi, The New York Times

YouTube videos of police beatings on American streets. A widely circulated internet hoax about Muslim men in Michigan collecting welfare for multiple wives.

Older iPhone slowing down? Tests show it’s all in your mind
Dan Ackerman, CNET

It always feels the same. Just when Apple releases a new version of iOS and preps new iPhone models for sale, your older iPhone starts to slow down.

Alphabet Launches U.S. Ad Campaign to Promote Driverless Car Safety
David Shepardson, Reuters

Alphabet Inc’s self-driving car unit Waymo and several groups are launching a campaign aimed at convincing skeptical Americans of what they say is the value and safety of driverless cars, as Congress considers how it will regulate the technology. The company said on Monday that it was teaming up with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the National Safety Council, and the Federation for Blind Children in a campaign called “Let’s Talk Self-Driving.”

Cybersecurity and Privacy

U.S. governors, hackers, academics team up to secure elections
Jim Finkle, Reuters

Hackers are joining forces with U.S. governors and academics in a new group aimed at preventing the manipulation of voter machines and computer systems to sway the outcome of future U.S. elections, a source familiar with the project said on Monday. The anti-hacking coalition’s members include organizers of last summer’s Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas, the National Governors Association and the Center for Internet Security, said the source, who asked not to be identified ahead of a formal announcement due to be made on Tuesday.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

The evidence is mounting: There are now at least a dozen studies that illustrate the failure of the Durbin amendment. In fact, a recent paper from Federal Reserve economists provides empirical evidence of harm to the consumer. Get the facts from the Electronic Payments Coalition.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

To Fill Tech Jobs, It’s Not Only About Skills, But Confidence
Nancy Hammervik, Morning Consult

America is at risk of falling behind as a global innovation leader. Too many Americans think a tech career is out of reach, and if we do not address this issue, we will miss out on leading the next wave of game-changing technologies, such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

In a recent paper, Federal Reserve economists confirm what many industry experts have said before: The Durbin amendment harms consumers. There are now at least a dozen studies that illustrate why this failed policy must be repealed. Learn the truth from EPC.

Research Reports

Is It True That Iphones Get Slower Over Time?

Last week, a story went viral that claimed Apple was intentionally slowing down older iPhones to push people to buy its latest models. The claim was based on data which shows Google searches for “iPhone slow” spiking dramatically with the release of each new model.