Tech Brief: Federal Workers Can Now Expense Uber, Lyft

Today’s Washington Brief

  • U.S. intelligence officials say there’s little doubt that agents of the Russian government hacked the Democratic National Committee, but as of now there’s no evidence that Russia gave the emails to WikiLeaks (The Washington Post). Top Democrats on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees called on President Obama to declassify any reports pertaining to the hack of the Democratic National Committee, a request that came after Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said he hopes the Russian government can find deleted emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server from her time as secretary of state. (Morning Consult)
  • Previously undisclosed documents show that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court told the Federal Bureau of Investigation that using some data it collected while monitoring communications—most notably the numbers people dial after they’ve made a call—would require the court to give explicit authorization even if it’s an emergency. (The Intercept)
  • America’s most-educated voters favor Clinton over Trump — 51 percent to 34 percent among voters with post-graduate degrees. Clinton also has a 24-point lead over her GOP rival among 18- to 34-year-olds who have a college education. (Morning Consult)

Today’s Business Brief

  • The General Services Administration updated its guidance for agencies to clarify that federal employees should receive reimbursement for using ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft for official travel. The clarification comes the same month lawmakers introduced legislation calling for the GSA to draft regulations permitting such reimbursements. (FedScoop)
  • A Brazilian court froze $11.7 million of funds held in Facebook Inc.’s account for the company’s failure to comply with an order to provide data on WhatsApp users who are under criminal investigation. (Reuters)
  • China plans to formally approve the operation of ride-sharing services like Uber and Didi Chuxing, even though both companies have been operating in the country for years. (Bloomberg News)

Today’s Chart Review

Apple Earnings Fall on iPhone Slump
The Wall Street Journal

Mark Your Calendars (All Times Eastern)

Thursday
The Hill and Microsoft host event on STEM education 10 a.m.
FTC’s McSweeny, FCC’s Sallet speak at George Washington Competition Law Center event 12 p.m.
Friday
New America Foundation event on diversity in tech 10:30 a.m.

 

General

Poll: Most-Educated Voters Favor Clinton Over Trump
Eli Yokley, Morning Consult

Among America’s most-educated voters, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton holds a strong lead over her Republican rival, Donald Trump, a Morning Consult analysis has found. But among voters who did not ever attend college – working class Americans to whom the Democratic Party hopes to appeal during its convention here this week – the race is nearly tied.

Donald Trump addresses NASA and new media in his first Reddit AMA
Brian Heater, TechCrunch

As promised, Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump hit Reddit tonight for a spirited — though not on the official /IAmA subreddit — AMA. The session was light on policy specifics, but the candidate (also casually referred to as “God Emperor” by some participants), managed to answer 13 questions on topics ranging from NASA (pro) to media bias (against), three more than President Obama offered in his own AMA back in 2012.

Google tweaks system after Trump left off search results for ‘presidential candidates’
Russell Brandom, The Verge

If you made a Google search for “presidential candidates” this morning, you would have found an unusual result. As of this morning, the top bar of results displayed Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein — with Donald Trump and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson left off the top bar entirely.

Tech Groups Prioritizing STEM Efforts as Immigration Overhaul Stalls
Amir Nasr, Morning Consult

For many people in the U.S. tech community, efforts to help reshape education policy to eventually build a high-skilled workforce was once considered a long-term project. Changing the nation’s immigration policies to allow more high-skilled foreign workers into the country, on the other hand, was seen as a bridge to tomorrow’s workforce that could yield almost immediate results.

Dollar Declines on Fed Outlook as S&P 500 Futures, Facebook Gain
Emma O’Brien and Stephen Kirkland, Bloomberg News

Futures on the S&P 500 Index — which closed down 0.1 percent on Wednesday — added 0.2 percent, while those on the Nasdaq 100 Index climbed 0.1 percent. Facebook jumped 4.8 percent in early New York trading. The social-network provider reported second-quarter revenue and user growth that exceeded analysts estimates after markets in the U.S. closed.

Intellectual Property

Unified Patents files legal challenges against top three patent trolls of 2016
Joe Mullin, Ars Technica

The three biggest patent trolls of this year will all soon face new legal challenges to their most valuable “inventions.” Unified Patents, a company that focuses on invalidating patents through the use of the inter partes review (IPR) process, has filed challenges against patents belonging to the three most litigious “non-practicing entities” of 2016.

Telecommunications, Broadcast & Cable

Internet providers won’t rest until the government’s net-neutrality rules are dead
Brian Fung, The Washington Post

Internet providers who oppose the government’s net-neutrality rules will once again take the issue to court this week as they ask more than a dozen federal judges to throw out the regulations. A Washington trade group representing cellular carriers, CTIA, will be requesting a rehearing of the case by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Verizon talking to cities about fiber expansion after years of stagnation
Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica

As Verizon plans a fiber expansion in Boston, CEO Lowell McAdam yesterday said the company is talking to other cities about potentially building fiber networks. Verizon stopped expanding its FiOS fiber-to-the-home Internet, TV, and phone service several years ago, making it a surprise when in April the telco announced plans to replace its copper network in Boston with fiber.

Verizon’s Yahoo Buy May Spark FCC Privacy Scrutiny
Tim McElgunn, Bloomberg BNA

Regulatory hurdles to the Verizon Communications Inc. acquisition of Yahoo! Inc. won’t be tall, but once the deal is completed, Verizon might face tougher regulatory scrutiny, particularly from the Federal Communications Commission. Verizon’s rationale for the deal revolves around leveraging advanced advertising technology from AOL and Yahoo with the vast amount of user data generated by all three entities.

Mobile & Social

Feds using Uber get clarification on ride reimbursement policy
Billy Mitchell, FedScoop

Agencies can reimburse workers who use ridesharing apps for official travel, GSA said. The clarification comes after lawmakers introduced a bill urging the agency to spell out its policies.

Uber, Didi Get Green Light to Rev Up Car-Sharing Wars in China
Bloomberg News

After pouring billions into the battle for ride-hailing supremacy in China, Uber Technologies Inc. and Didi Chuxing finally have a legal green-light in the world’s biggest market. China plans to formally allow the services from November — even though both companies have operated in the country for years.

Facebook Fails to Show Up for Seventh Tax Summons From IRS
Aoife White, Bloomberg News

Facebook Inc. officials failed to show up after getting seven summonses from the Internal Revenue Service demanding internal corporate records on one of its offshore tax strategies, according to an IRS court filing. U.S. authorities are examining Facebook’s federal income tax liability for the period ending Dec. 31, 2010 and are looking at whether the company understated the value of global rights for many of its intangible assets outside the U.S. and Canada that it transferred to a subsidiary in low-tax Ireland.

Facebook Is So Afraid of Controversy, It May Take the News Out of Its Trending News Section
Will Oremus, Slate

Facebook may have found a solution to the controversy over its “trending” news section. Not a satisfying solution, mind you—in fact, it’s an ugly, compromised, cowardly solution—but one that would at least deflect attention from the feature and head off future charges of editorial bias.

Airbnb’s data shows that Airbnb helps the middle class. But does it?
Sam Levin, The Guardian

Airbnb and Uber pitched the “sharing economy” as a key antidote to wage stagnation and inequality at the Democratic national convention with a campaign that critics say reflects the technology corporations’ pattern of deploying questionable data in its political battles.

Data & Privacy

In Secret Battle, Surveillance Court Reined in FBI Use of Information Obtained From Phone Calls
Jenna McLaughlin, The Intercept

Beginning over a decade ago, the country’s surveillance court intervened to limit the FBI’s ability to act on some sensitive information that it collected while monitoring phone calls. The wrangling between the FBI and the secret court is contained in previously undisclosed documents obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC.

Brazil prosecutor freezes $11.7 million of Facebook funds due to WhatsApp case
Aluisio Alves, Reuters

The public federal prosecutor in the Brazilian state of Amazonas said on Wednesday the court there froze 38 million reais ($11.7 million) of funds held in Facebook Inc’s account for failing to comply with a court order to supply data on users of the company’s WhatsApp messaging service who are under criminal investigation. The prosecutor’s office said the funds frozen correspond to the fines for failing to comply with court order to turn over data.

Comey: Conversations About Encryption Issue Still Needed
Bree Fowler, The Associated Press

FBI Director James Comey said government and the tech industry need to sort out their differences over encryption before “something terrible happens” that would make productive conversations impossible. Acknowledging that talks will probably have to wait until after a new president takes office next year, Comey said that it’s up to the American people – not the FBI or the tech companies – to decide how to resolve the issue.

Police Use Fingertip Replicas To Unlock A Murder Victim’s Phone
Riley Beggin, NPR News

Dead men tell no tales, but their phones might. Early last month, two detectives walked into the lab of Anil Jain, a professor of computer science and engineering at Michigan State University. They had heard of Jain’s cutting-edge work in fingerprint recognition and wanted his help in a murder investigation.

Tor Project Confirms Sexual Misconduct Claims Against Employee
Nicole Perlroth, The New York Times

The Tor Project, a nonprofit digital privacy group, announced on Wednesday that an internal investigation had confirmed allegations of sexual misconduct against a former employee who was the public face of the organization. The group, which has risen to prominence at a time of controversy over government surveillance, had been grappling for months with allegations against Jacob Appelbaum, a top figure in the internet privacy debate.

Cybersecurity

Is there a Russian master plan to install Trump in the White House? Some intelligence officials are skeptical.
Ellen Nakashima, The Washington Post

The possibility that Russia is behind an information warfare operation to interfere in the U.S. election has sparked concern among administration officials, but it also generated skepticism that there is a Kremlin master plan to install Donald Trump in the White House, as some political operatives are now alleging. Intelligence officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an issue under investigation, said there is little doubt that agents of the Russian government hacked the Democratic National Committee, and the White House was informed months ago of Moscow’s culpability.

Donald Trump Calls on Russia to Find Hillary Clinton’s Missing Emails
Ashley Parker, The New York Times

Donald J. Trump said Wednesday that he hoped Russia had hacked Hillary Clinton’s email, essentially encouraging an adversarial foreign power to cyberspy on a secretary of state’s correspondence. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump said, staring directly into the cameras during a news conference.

Top Intelligence Committee Democrats Call for Release of Classified Reports on DNC Hack
Amir Nasr, Morning Consult

The top Democrats on the Senate and House Intelligence Committees want the federal government to release any reports it’s compiled on the hack of the Democratic National Committee that resulted in nearly 20,000 emails to and from top DNC officials being posted on WikiLeaks. “In its timing, content, and manner of release, the email dissemination was clearly intended to undermine the Democratic Party and the presidential campaign of Secretary Hillary Clinton, and disrupt the Democratic Party’s convention in Philadelphia,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) and Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.) wrote of the WikiLeaks dump in a Wednesday letter to President Obama.

WikiLeaks releases hacked DNC voicemails
Harper Neidig, The Hill

WikiLeaks on Wednesday released a number of voicemail message recordings that were purportedly stolen from the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The voicemails were included in the trove of DNC emails that WikiLeaks released last week, which many believe were stolen by Russian hackers.

Dozens of Lawyers Across the US Fight the FBI’s Mass Hacking Campaign
Joseph Cox, Vice News

The US Department of Justice has a battle on its hands, as dozens of lawyers question evidence the FBI obtained using hacking techniques across a string of ongoing cases. In 2015, the FBI used a piece of malware to identify suspected visitors of a dark web child pornography site.

Experts: Obama’s color-coded rankings oversimplify cybersecurity threats
Sara Sorcher, The Christian Science Monitor

With the Democratic National Committee still reeling from massive data breach, President Obama released a policy directive Tuesday outlining how the government plans to tackle major cyberattacks. Senior administration officials hailed Obama’s Presidential Policy Directive as a way to provide much-needed clarity about federal agencies’ roles and responsibilities for responding to significant hacks.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

Hitting the pool this summer? Make sure to buy your sunscreen and pool toys from a Main Street business instead of the big-box retailers that pushed for the Durbin Amendment. Learn how small businesses, credit unions and community banks have been harmed.

Opinions, Editorials & Perspectives

How the Justice Department data-sharing plan defends privacy
Melanie Teplinsky and Jennifer Daskal, The Christian Science Monitor

Earlier this month, the Justice Department unveiled a legislative proposal to facilitate cross-border data sharing for law enforcement purposes. While critics called it a “threat to privacy,” that characterization reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the plan. To the contrary, it’s an approach that would promote privacy, security, and innovation. It should be applauded, not decried.

The Trumpian Dreams of Silicon Valley
Noam Cohen, The New York Times

There were more than a few dropped jaws when the Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel agreed to a prime-time speaking slot on the final night of the Republican National Convention, barely an hour before the acceptance speech of Donald J. Trump. Mr. Trump wants to emboss a big fat T on government, promising huge infrastructure projects, starting with a wall between the United States and Mexico.

WikiLeaks Has Officially Lost the Moral High Ground
Emma Grey Ellis, Wired

In the last two weeks, the font of digital secrets has doxed millions of Turkish women, leaked Democratic National Committee emails that made Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign look bad but also suggested the site was colluding with the Russian government, and fired off some seriously anti-Semitic tweets. It’s…weird.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

Members of the Electronic Payments Coalition (EPC) support reversing the damaging impact of the Durbin Amendment on customers, small businesses, and financial institutions of all sizes. Read their letter now to learn more.

Research Reports, Issue Briefs & Case Studies

The Dirty Dozen: Examining the Failure of America’s Biggest and Most Infamous Taxpayer-Funded Broadband Networks
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Government-owned internet networks have become a popular trend among state and local policymakers across the United States. More than 450 communities are estimated to have some form of taxpayer-funded, government-owned internet service, including more than 80 cities with large-scale public fiber to-the-home broadband networks.

Hacking the Skills Shortage
Intel Security and the Center for Strategic and International Studies

Every day we read of another company being hacked. Attacks outpace defense, and one reason for this is the lack of an adequate cybersecurity workforce.