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Tech Brief: DOJ Antitrust Nominee Delrahim’s Confirmation Hearing Today

Washington Brief

  • Makan Delrahim, President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Justice Department’s antitrust division, is scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee today for his confirmation hearing. His tenure could impact large mergers, including the AT&T-Time Warner deal. (Bloomberg BNA)
  • The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will review its decision defining the Federal Trade Commission’s regulatory exemption regarding common carriers and edge providers, which resulted in confusion over the FTC’s authority over edge-provider privacy. (Broadcasting and Cable)
  • French prosecutors and cybersecurity experts are set to investigate the hacking of Emmanuel Macron’s presidential campaign. The hacked emails, campaign financing and other documents were dumped online two days before the election. (Reuters)

Business Brief

  • As Chinese and American mobile payment companies seek to expand their markets, the Chinese are gaining ground in the United States through deals with data storage companies. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • CBS made a deal with its affiliate board that will make the network available to subscribers of streaming platforms like Hulu and YouTube TV. (Broadcasting and Cable)
  • Interest in crypto-assets led Bitcoin stock to surge to a record high and sparked comment from a Federal Reserve Bank president on block chain technology. (Reuters)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Wednesday
Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on cyber threats 10 a.m.
Senate Judiciary Committee holds nomination hearing for Delrahim to be head of DOJ antitrust division 10 a.m.
Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on data stored abroad 2:30 p.m.
Voices for Internet Freedom forum with FCC’s Clyburn 7 p.m.
Thursday
USTelecom holds event on broadband in unserved areas of the country 1 p.m.
R Street Institute, Center for Democracy and Technology bipartisan tech policy happy hour 5 p.m.
Friday
Duke Law School hosts a conference assessing the FCC’s process for auctioning spectrum 8:30 a.m.

 

General

 

Bitcoin surges to all-time high above $1,700
Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss, Reuters

Digital currency bitcoin hit a record high on Tuesday as demand for crypto-assets soared with the creation of new tokens to raise funding for start-ups using blockchain technology. Blockchain, the underlying technology behind bitcoin, is a financial ledger maintained by a network of computers that can track the movement of any asset wthout the need for a central regulator.

Dems want details on FCC cyberattack after John Oliver critique
Harper Neidig, The Hill

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) are asking the Federal Communications Commission for information about the agency’s claim that it had been the target of cyberattacks after being criticized by late night comedian John Oliver on Sunday. The two Democrats sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai with a list of questions about the FCC’s claim on Monday that its comment filing system had been hit with a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.

Meet the Whistleblower Behind a Silicon Valley Meltdown
Adam Satariano and Aki Ito, Bloomberg News

When Francisco Riordan suspected his company of breaking the law last year, he secretly reached out to government regulators. His actions help set in motion events that left Rothenberg Ventures the object of a government investigation and multiple lawsuits — and, according to Riordan, cost him his own job.

Who’s banking whom in Cryptoland
Izabella Kaminska, Financial Times

On Monday, we brought you the story of TokenCard, the Ethereum-based venture set to revolutionise the world of payments by bringing crypto folk the, errr, power of the Visa network. Yes, you’re wondering, what’s so special about that?

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

Six Agenda Items for Potential Antitrust Head
Liz Crampton, Bloomberg BNA

Makan Delrahim, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Justice Department’s antitrust division, has a lengthy to-do list to tackle once he receives Senate approval and is sworn in. If confirmed, his decisions about how to handle pending mega-mergers or next steps on litigation could signal how aggressive this administration will be on monitoring and enforcing competition.

 

Telecom, Wireless and TV

CBS Forms New Streaming Deal With Affiliate Stations
Jon Lafeyette, Broadcasting and Cable

CBS said it reached a new agreement with the CBS Affiliate Board that will help put live streams of affiliate signals on emerging digital streaming platforms. The agreement continues affiliate participation in CBS’ steaming service, CBS All Access, and it creates a template that allows CBS and its affiliates to be available to subscribers of new virtual MVPDs (multichannel video programming distributors) such as Hulu, YouTube TV and other future entrants into the market.

America’s two biggest cable companies just struck a deal. Here’s how it will affect you.
Brian Fung, The Washington Post

Maybe you’ve heard: Charter Communications is teaming up with Comcast. The two cable companies are working together to protect their nascent cellphone businesses from huge, national providers — such as Verizon and AT&T — by largely refraining from going after each other.

Discovery CEO: Many TV channel packages are ‘overstuffed turkeys’
Ben Munson, FierceCable

As AMC, Discovery and Viacom reportedly work with operators on a skinny nonsports bundle, Discovery CEO David Zaslav said there needs to be a response to the “overstuffed turkeys” currently available. The fowl reference came in response to a question during today’s earnings call about live sports rights pushing up the cost of traditional MVPD packages and emerging virtual MVPDs, many of which are starting around the $35-$40 range.

Tubi TV Raises $20 Million for Ad-Supported Streaming Service
Anne Steele, The Wall Street Journal

Tubi TV has more than doubled its total funding with a fresh round of capital as investors bet more viewers will sit through commercials in exchange for access to a vast library of free, premium movies and TV shows. The advertiser-supported streaming service, which launched in 2014, has raised $20 million in new funding from four venture-capital firms, led by Jump Capital.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Alipay and WeChat Pay Make Push Into North America
Alyssa Abkowitz, The Wall Street Journal

China’s mobile payment leaders are ramping up efforts in the land of Apple PayAlipay and WeChat Pay, which allow Chinese consumers to pay for train tickets, groceries, movies and more with their smartphones, are expanding into North America—seeing a big market in the waves of Chinese traveling abroad.

Facebook says it found faster way to translate through AI
The Associated Press

Facebook says its researchers have found a new way to use artificial intelligence to translate material on its social network faster and more accurately. This could mean Facebook users eventually seeing everything translated immediately into their preferred language, not just post but videos too.

Slack Doesn’t Want People Using It for Romance
Julie Beck, The Atlantic

It was always a long shot. As I wrote last week, the dating app Feeld recently released a bot for the work-chat platform Slack, which alerts users who mutually expressed romantic interest that they liked each other.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

Ninth Circuit To Review FTC v. AT&T Mobility
John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has agreed to review a three-judge panel decision that left the Federal Trade Commission’s authority to oversee edge-provider privacy in some circumstances very much in doubt, according to a copy of the court’s announcement of the new hearing. The court also said that in the interim that panel decision is not to be cited as precedent of the Ninth circuit.

French prosecutors investigate hacking of Macron campaign
Emmanuel Jarry and Adrian Croft, Reuters

French prosecutors have opened an investigation into the leak of large quantities of hacked data from Emmanuel Macron’s campaign two days before Sunday’s presidential election, which the centrist won, a judicial source said on Tuesday. Macron’s team said a “massive” hack had dumped emails, documents and campaign financing information online just before campaigning ended on Friday and France entered a quiet period which forbade politicians from commenting on the leak.

U.S. watched Russia hack French systems during election
Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press

The United States watched Russians hack France’s computer networks during the election and tipped off French officials before it became public, a U.S. cyber official told the Senate on Tuesday. France’s election campaign commission said Saturday that “a significant amount of data” – and some information that was likely fake – was leaked on social networks following a hacking attack on centrist Emmanuel Macron’s successful presidential campaign.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Could Anybody Be Worse Than James Comey On Encryption? We’re About to Find Out
Jason Koebler, Vice News

President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday evening. While Comey’s full legacy remains to be seen, we know one thing for sure: He was the most outspoken enemy of public access to strong encryption in the United States intelligence community.

The FBI Relied on a Private Firm’s Investigation of the DNC Hack—Which Makes the Agency Harder to Trust
Josephine Wolff, Slate 

“When will the Fake Media ask about the Dems dealings with Russia & why the DNC wouldn’t allow the FBI to check their server or investigate?” President Trump tweeted on Sunday at 4:15 a.m. How invigorating to discover that, like me, the president also lies awake at night wondering about the mechanics of major data-breach investigations!

Yep, Platform Monopolies Are a Thing
Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo

Let me return for a moment to the monopoly beat. This time it’s a book recommendation and some brief ruminations on the topic of tech monopolies.

Research Reports

A survey of secure middleware for the Internet of Things
University of Portsmouth

The rapid growth of small Internet connected devices, known as the Internet of Things (IoT), is creating a new set of challenges to create secure, private infrastructures. This paper reviews the current literature on the challenges and approaches to security and privacy in the Internet of Things, with a strong focus on how these aspects are handled in IoT middleware.