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Tech Brief: Facebook’s Sandberg to Meet With Congressional Black Caucus Thursday


Government Brief

  • Facebook Inc. COO Sheryl Sandberg plans to go to Washington, D.C., ahead of November congressional hearings where the company is scheduled to testify in connection with some 3,000 Russia-linked divisive ads on the platform during the 2016 election cycle, including some regarding the Black Lives Matter movement. Sandberg is expected to meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus on the issue Thursday. (Recode)
  • Symantec Corp. CEO Greg Clark said he’s willing to give up business in certain countries instead of letting those governments examine the source code of the company’s cybersecurity software. Clark says the condition for doing business in those countries is not worth risks to U.S. national security. (Reuters)
  • Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), co-founders of the Internet of Things Caucus, requested a report from the Government Accountability Office assessing the wireless spectrum requirements to support a world where billions of devices are able to communicate with each other directly. (Nextgov)

Business Brief

  • To better compete with U.S. rivals Alphabet Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. plans to spend more than $15 billion over the next three years in research and development aimed at data analytics, quantum computing and machine learning. The effort will include a global research unit in partnership with academic institutions, including the University of California, Berkeley. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • With applications from new drugs to unhackable computers, quantum computing is a promising but elusive technology — and Intel Corp. is touting a new chip it’s developed as the next big step. The company noted that experience in manufacturing semiconductors is an important factor in progress in the field. (Bloomberg)
  • Bryan Fuller plans to produce a reboot of Steven Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories” series with Apple Inc. (Variety)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Wednesday
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.
The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology will mark up a bill to reauthorize the FCC 1 p.m.
Thursday
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.
Friday
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.

General

Five Ways Government can Grow the Internet of Things
Mohana Ravindranath, Nextgov

A Congressional effort to advance the internet of things is progressing as a government watchdog gathers information about the wireless spectrum required to support billions of connected devices. Reps. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., and Darrell Issa, R-Calif., cofounders of the Congressional Internet of Things caucus, requested a Government Accountability Office investigation into the spectrum and those results are coming in, DelBene said at a recent event in Washington.

Alibaba Sizes Up Facebook, Amazon With R&D Splurge
Liza Lin, The Wall Street Journal

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group HoldingLtd. says it will nearly triple spending on research and development, to more than $15 billion over the next three years, as it seeks to keep pace with Western rivals such as Alphabet Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. Alibaba started as an online marketplace but has since moved into cloud computing and artificial-intelligence initiatives.

Intel Says New Chip Shows Rapid Progress in Quantum Computing
Ian King, Bloomberg

Intel Corp., the world’s largest semiconductor maker, said it delivered a test chip to a research partner that demonstrates the rapid progress being made in the field of quantum computing, which in theory would be able to perform tasks on huge amounts of data and do it faster than regular computers. The Santa Clara, California-based company said it handed over a 17-qubit chip to QuTech, a Netherlands-based research firm.

U.S. Firms Cheer—and Fear—Trump’s China Trade Probe
Jacob M. Schlesinger and Eva Dou, The Wall Street Journal

U.S. business groups Tuesday praised the Trump administration’s investigation into China’s trade practices—but cautioned that a heavy-handed probe could backfire, harming American firms. The investigation into allegations that China improperly pressures U.S. high-tech firms to turn over intellectual property was launched in August under a little-used Section 301 of U.S. trade law, which gives the president broad discretion to penalize a country found to have employed “unfair” or “discriminatory” trade practices.

Commerzbank, other banks join UBS and IBM trade finance blockchain
Anna Irrera, Reuters

Commerzbank AG, Bank of Montreal, Erste Group Bank AG and CaixaBank SA have joined an initiative launched by UBS Group AG and IBM Corp. aimed at building blockchain-based technology to support trade finance transactions. The platform called Batavia would help banks and their clients automate the trade finance process, which remains highly manual and paper-based, the participating companies said on Wednesday.

Masayoshi Son’s Grand Plan for SoftBank’s $100 Billion Vision Fund
Katie Benner, The New York Times

When Eric Gundersen, the chief executive of a mapping start-up called Mapbox, met Masayoshi Son, the head of the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, in late July, he expected to have to sell Mr. Son on what made Mapbox important. But Mr. Son, 60, did not need to be convinced that Mapbox’s technology — which powers Lyft drivers and companies like Snap and Mastercard — had value.

Medium now lets anyone publish behind its paywall
Anthony Ha, TechCrunch

Medium is expanding its subscription efforts today by allowing any author or publisher to join its partner program. That’s the program where readers can pay a monthly fee (currently $5) to access content behind a metered paywall (plus, they get early access to new features).

Stocks Gain, With Japan at Decade High; Euro Rise: Markets Wrap
Robert Brand, Bloomberg

The euro held onto gains spurred by Catalonia’s pullback from an immediate declaration of independence from Spain, while the dollar drifted as investors awaited minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting. Oil rose above $51 a barrel as OPEC predicted robust demand next year.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

New patent-holder grabs Nokia patents, sues Apple iPhone
Joe Mullin, Ars Technica

A patent-holding company that stands to win 12.5 cents for every iPhone sold has filed a new lawsuit (PDF) against Apple. Ironworks Patents LLC is a patent-enforcement company formed earlier this year, with no apparent business other than filing lawsuits over patents.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

Apple to Reboot ‘Amazing Stories’ With Steven Spielberg, Bryan Fuller
Joe Otterson, Variety

Apple is set to reboot the cult classic sci-fi series “Amazing Stories” from Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television, Variety has confirmed. A reboot of the anthology series was originally planned at NBC.

Disney and Fox Join Forces With Other Studios for New Download Service
Anousha Sakoui and Christopher Palmeri, Bloomberg

Several major Hollywood movie studios have signed up to a new digital film service led by Walt Disney Co. that lets consumers buy movies and store them in a digital locker to access on their devices, people familiar with the matter said. Disney has been courting studios to join its Movies Anywhere service since last year, Bloomberg News reported at the time.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Sheryl Sandberg is headed to D.C. to do damage control on Facebook’s Russian ad problem
Tony Romm, Recode

Facebook is dispatching Sheryl Sandberg, its powerful chief operating officer, to Washington, D.C., this week, as the company attempts to contain the political fallout from revelations that Russian agents spread disinformation on the social network. The house call to the nation’s capital — confirmed to Recode on Tuesday by multiple source — comes as Facebook prepares to join its tech peers and testify at two public congressional hearings in November that are focused on the Kremlin’s suspected meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Snapchat will now show you more info about the cool places your friends are visiting
Kurt Wagner, Recode

Lots of people share their location with Snapchat when they take pictures or videos. Now Snapchat wants to share more info about that location — like how far away it is, or what kind of food served there — with other users on the app.

Driverless Cars Are Giving Engineers a Fuel Economy Headache
Gabrielle Coppola and Esha Dey, Bloomberg

Judging from General Motors Co.’s test cars and Elon Musk’s predictions, the world is headed toward a future that’s both driverless and all-electric. In reality, autonomy and battery power could end up being at odds.

Twitter blocked a congresswoman’s antiabortion ad over ‘baby body parts.’ But it allowed an identical tweet.
Hayley Tsukayama, The Washington Post

Rep. Marsha Blackburn launched her Senate election bid — as so many people do — with a video explaining what she believes in. But she can’t use it as a campaign ad on Twitter.

Looking for an Uber? Book it through Snapchat’s ‘context cards’
Staff, Reuters

Snap Inc’s Snapchat on Tuesday introduced “context cards”, a new feature that will allow users to book an Uber ride or reserve a seat at a restaurant without leaving the messaging app. The new feature is aimed at increasing the time a user spends on the app by providing contextual location-based search, potentially helping the company to get more advertising dollars.

FAA Panel Splits on Drone Tracking Requirements
Andy Pasztor, The Wall Street Journal

In a potentially serious setback for expanded commercial-drone operations, a federal advisory panel has failed to agree on proposals to identify and track unmanned aircraft nationwide. The committee, which presented its recommendations to aviation regulators earlier this month, couldn’t reach consensus on basic questions regarding categories of drones that should require such remote monitoring, according to these officials.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

Exclusive: Symantec CEO says source code reviews pose unacceptable risk
Dustin Volz and Joel Schectman, Reuters

U.S.-based cyber firm Symantec is no longer allowing governments to review the source code of its software because of fears the agreements would compromise the security of its products, Symantec Chief Executive Greg Clark said in an interview with Reuters. Tech companies have been under increasing pressure to allow the Russian government to examine source code, the closely guarded inner workings of software, in exchange for approvals to sell products in Russia.

Exclusive: Despite sanctions, Russian organizations acquire Microsoft software
Gleb Stolyarov et al., Reuters

Software produced by Microsoft Corp has been acquired by state organizations and firms in Russia and Crimea despite sanctions barring U.S-based companies from doing business with them, official documents show. The acquisitions, registered on the Russian state procurement database, show the limitations in the way foreign governments and firms enforce the U.S. sanctions, imposed on Russia over its annexation of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.

North Korean Hack of U.S. War Plans Shows Off Cyber Skills
Kanga Kong et al., Bloomberg

The techno soldiers of Kim Jong Un are growing more aggressive in defending North Korea’s supreme leader against threats from Donald Trump and South Korea. The country’s hackers stole military plans developed by the U.S. and South Korea last year that included a highly classified “decapitation strike” against the North Korean leader, according to a South Korean lawmaker.

DOJ grows frustrated with tech firms over encryption
David Shortell, CNN

A top Justice Department official on Tuesday criticized technology companies that “enable criminals and terrorists” with encryption software and foreshadowed a new government approach to the issue that has increasingly frustrated law enforcement. “When investigations of violent criminal organizations come to a halt because we cannot access a phone, lives may be lost,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a speech at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Deloitte hack hit server containing emails from across US government
Nick Hopkins, The Guardian

The hack into the accountancy giant Deloitte compromised a server that contained the emails of an estimated 350 clients, including four US government departments, the United Nations and some of the world’s biggest multinationals, the Guardian has been told. Sources with knowledge of the hack say the incident was potentially more widespread than Deloitte has been prepared to acknowledge and that the company cannot be 100% sure what was taken.

Money pit to money maker: Making privacy and security a competitive advantage
Mark Samuels, ZD Net

Businesses that do not prioritize data security are set for a rude awakening. A prefect storm of ever-increasing cybersecurity risks, heightened customer expectations and fresh regulatory requirements mean executives must invest in digital defenses.

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

From Russia With Poison
Thomas L Friedman, The New York Times

There is an abiding dream in the tech world that when all the planet’s people and data are connected it will be a better place. That may prove true.

How Israel Caught Russian Hackers Scouring the World for U.S. Secrets
Nicole Perlroth And Scott Shane, The New York Times

It was a case of spies watching spies watching spies: Israeli intelligence officers looked on in real time as Russian government hackers searched computers around the world for the code names of American intelligence programs. What gave the Russian hacking, detected more than two years ago, such global reach was its improvised search tool — antivirus software made by a Russian company, Kaspersky Lab, that is used by 400 million people worldwide, including by officials at some two dozen American government agencies.

Virtual Zuck fails to connect
Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC News

It must have seemed like a good idea. As a taster for a big announcement about Oculus VR on Wednesday, send Mark Zuckerberg on a little virtual reality trip, including a stop in Puerto Rico. But the reviews are in – and they are not good.

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

Most Americans would favor policies to limit job and wage losses caused by automation
John Gramlich, Pew Research Center

Americans are apprehensive about a future in which machines take on more of the work now done by humans, and most are supportive of policies aimed at cushioning the economic impact of widespread automation, according to a new Pew Research Center survey