Tech Brief: Facebook Plans to Require Manual Review of Some Targeted Ads

Government Brief

  • Project Loon, a balloon-based communications system run by Alphabet Inc., gained permission from the Federal Communications Commission to provide emergency cell service in Puerto Rico — but the effort will require the cooperation of a telecom provider. (USA Today)
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) led seven of her Democratic colleagues in a letter to the Department of Justice asking for an investigation into the possible merger between T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. Though the deal is not officially on the books, the senators say reviewing it now could allow a thorough but quick investigation if the deal is formally announced. (The Hill)
  • Reacting to the Internal Revenue Service’s defense of its renewal of a contract with Equifax Inc. following the company’s exposure of personal data for 145 million Americans, the Government Accountability Office said the IRS could have cited “urgent and compelling circumstances that significantly affect interests of the U.S.” in going with another company. (Nextgov)

Business Brief

  • Facebook Inc. reportedly emailed advertisers warning that campaigns may be delayed as the company plans to manually review any ads targeted to people based on “politics, religion, ethnicity or social issues.” Lawmakers are working on legislation that would bring digital platforms in line with traditional media, which must adhere to public disclosure laws for political ads. (Axios)
  • U.S.-based Qualcomm Inc. is looking to acquire Dutch company NXP Semiconductors N.V. for $38 billion. Qualcomm faces concerns from the European Commission that such a merger would raise prices and stifle competition. (Reuters)
  • Reports of the battery in some of Apple Inc.’s iPhone 8 Plus phones swelling to a point where it renders the phone inoperable have now surfaced in six different countries. The company says it’s “looking into” the issue. (BBC News)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Wireless ISP Association conference 9 a.m.
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.


New Robot Analyst Slaps Sell Rating on Facebook and Google
Julie Verhage, Bloomberg

While human analysts are still overwhelmingly bullish on Alphabet Inc. and Facebook Inc., a new robot analyst at Wells Fargo says it’s time to sell. Late last month, Wells Fargo analyst Ken Sena introduced AIERA, short for artificially intelligent equity research analyst, a bot that does massive automated grunt work to support human analysts as they track stocks and make trade recommendations.

Switch Shares Climb in First Day of Trading
Maureen Farrell, The Wall Street Journal

Shares of Switch Inc.–the data-center company that powers operations of Inc., eBay Inc. and other technology firms–climbed in their trading debut, the latest tech IPO to notch a successful first day as the market heats up. The stock closed at $20.84 on Friday, 23% above its $17 initial public offering price.

Ericsson picks former Atlas Copco CEO as new chairman
Staff, Reuters

Ericsson has picked Ronnie Leten, the former boss of mining gear maker Atlas Copco, as its new chairman, as the mobile equipment company battles to revive its fortunes. Leten will, pending shareholder approval, take over from Leif Johansson, who said in July he would step down.

Trump nominates new Army secretary for technology and logistics
Carten Cordell, FedScoop

President Trump selected Bruce D. Jette to serve as assistant secretary of the Army’s acquisition and technology procurement operations. Jette most recently served as president and CEO of Burke, Va.-based Synovision Solutions, a strategic technology development provider, but prior to that he established the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force to deliver technology through quick acquisition models.

European Stocks Rise Led by Spain; Sterling Gains: Markets Wrap
Cormac Mullen, Bloomberg

European stocks edged higher, led by equities in Spain after a weekend of mass demonstrations in Catalonia in favor of Spanish unity. Sterling gained as Prime Minister Theresa May looked poised to reassert her leadership, while Turkey’s lira tumbled amid tensions with the U.S.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

Senate Dems ask regulators to investigate potential Sprint-T-Mobile merger
Harper Neidig, The Hill

A group of Senate Democrats is asking regulators to investigate the potential effects of a merger between T-Mobile and Sprint, a deal that is reportedly in the works. In letters to the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission on Friday, the eight senators, led by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), said they are concerned that the potential deal could hurt consumers.

Qualcomm offers EU concessions over $38 billion NXP takeover bid
Staff, Reuters

U.S. smartphone chipmaker Qualcomm has offered concessions in an attempt to allay EU antitrust concerns over its $38-billion bid for NXP Semiconductors, the largest ever in the semiconductor industry. Qualcomm, which supplies chips to Android smartphone makers and Apple, submitted its proposal on Oct. 5, a filing on the European Commission site showed on Monday, without providing details.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

Alphabet’s Project Loon gets OK to use balloons to revive Puerto Rico cell service
Mike Snider, USA Today

The Federal Communications Commission has given Alphabet’s Moonshot Factory approval to deploy its Project Loon balloon-based communications system to provide cellular connectivity in hurricane-damaged Puerto Rico. An experimental product from the laboratory formerly known as Google X, run by parent company Alphabet, Project Loon got an experimental license to help provide emergency cell service in the U.S. territory, FCC chairman Ajit Pai said Saturday.

Disney’s Big Bet on Streaming Relies on Little-Known Tech Company
Brooks Barnes and John Koblin, The New York Times

For two days in late June, Disney’s board of directors gathered at Walt Disney World in Florida to wrestle with one topic: how technology was disrupting the company’s traditional movie, television and theme park businesses, and what to do about it? The most startling presentation came from Disney’s biggest division — a $24 billion television operation anchored by ESPN and Disney Channel. Cord cutting was accelerating much faster than expected.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Facebook tells advertisers more scrutiny is coming
Sara Fischer, David McCabe, Axios

Facebook is going to require ads that are targeted to people based on “politics, religion, ethnicity or social issues” to be manually reviewed before they go live, according to an email sent to advertisers and obtained by Axios. That’s a higher standard than that required of most Facebook ads, which are bought and uploaded to the site through an automated system.

Apple investigating swollen batteries in iPhone 8 Plus handsets
BBC News

Over the last week, six reports have come to light which show the phones splitting apart soon after they start to be used. In all cases the battery inside the phone has swollen rendering the phone unusable.

Facebook security chief responds to news algorithm critics
Steven Musil, CNET

Facebook’s security chief is warning critics that the fake news problem is more complicated than many are aware. Alex Stamos, who’s spearheading the company’s probe into Russian-linked ads placed on its service during the 2016 election campaign, on Saturday defended the company’s use of algorithms, which determine what users see in their news feeds, parsing out hate speech and threats of violence.

Democrat senator pushes for transparency on social media political ads
Mallory Shelbourne, The Hill

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said Sunday that she is working on legislation that would mandate online political advertisements be subject to the same rules as broadcast ads. “And the rules that apply for ads when they’re put on TV or radio, where you have to register them and say how much you paid, that doesn’t apply to these online ads. And so our laws need to catch up with what’s going on with our campaigns,” Klobuchar told CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”

Behind Tesla’s Production Delays: Parts of Model 3 Were Being Made by Hand
Tim Higgins, The Wall Street Journal

Tesla Inc. blamed “production bottlenecks” for having made only a fraction of the promised 1,500 Model 3s, the $35,000 sedan designed to propel the luxury electric-car maker into the mainstream. Unknown to analysts, investors and the hundreds of thousands of customers who signed up to buy it, as recently as early September major portions of the Model 3 were still being banged out by hand, away from the automated production line, according to people familiar with the matter.

California won’t require Uber, Lyft drivers to be fingerprinted
David Kravets, Ars Technica

California regulators won’t require ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft to get fingerprinted as part of their background checks to operate in the Golden State. Taxi drivers, however, must be fingerprinted in California.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

GAO to IRS: Actually, You Didn’t Have to Give Equifax a Contract
Frank Konkel, Nextgov

The IRS did not have to award Equifax a $7 million sole-source contract in late September, weeks after the credit monitoring company revealed a massive data breach that exposed the records of 145 million Americans, according to the Government Accountability Office. In a statement to Nextgov, GAO spokesman Chuck Young rebuked the explanation given before a House Ways and Means subcommittee Tuesday by Jeffrey Tribiano, the IRS’ deputy commissioner for operations support.

Equifax rival TransUnion has hired cybersecurity lobbyists in Washington, D.C.
Tony Romm, Recode

Credit-reporting agency TransUnion quietly hired a full slate of new cybersecurity-focused lobbyists in the nation’s capital roughly a month after one of its rivals, Equifax, reported a major data breach affecting 145 million Americans. In its filing, TransUnion revealed little about its political agenda.

Is Cybersecurity Encryption Ready to Break?
Larry Karisny, Government Technology

From mismanaged encryptions keys and system errors to eventual crypto cracking, Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) encryption has increasingly become more difficult to maintain as the needs for these encryption services exponentially increase. Security adviser Roger A. Grimes has been installing PKIs for private and public companies for more than two decades.

Russians in Silicon Valley Can’t Shake Hacking’s Shadow
Nellie Bowles, The New York Times

Pavel Cherkashin, a Russian investor based in this city, thought he had the perfect name for a Catholic church that he is spending $11.5 million converting into a tech palace. It would be called Hack Temple.

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

Digital Platforms and Moral Blind Spots
Tom Galvin, Morning Consult

As someone who has lived and worked in Silicon Valley, I have long believed that the secret sauce of the tech industry is curiosity. This drive to explore the limits of the achievable has led to countless breakthroughs and has helped us find solutions to some of society’s biggest problems.

No, That Robot Will Not Steal Your Job
Ruchir Sharma, The New York Times

The recovery from the crisis of 2008 has been one of the weakest on record, but never in postwar history has so little growth created so many jobs. The unemployment rate in the developed world is down to 5.5 percent and approaching a 40-year low.

Maybe it’s Time to Cede US Freeways to Driverless Cars
Jack Stewart, WIRED

By now, you’ve seen the renderings and heard the promises. Someday, robocars will dominate American roadways, each racing along just inches from its neighbors, safely under the control of a computer that never makes mistakes.

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

National IOT Strategy Dialogue
Intel, Samsung, Information Technology Industry Council, Semiconductor Industry Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Technology Engagement Center

This report makes strategic recommendations for Congress and the Trump Administration to establish America as the leader in the Internet of Things (IoT).