Tech Brief: French Media Outlets Targeted in Cyberattack

Washington Brief

  • Hackers executed another high-profile cyberattack in France, this time shutting down several news sites, including Le Monde and Le Figaro. (Bloomberg News)
  • The influx of comments on the Federal Communications Commission’s website may be the result of an anti-net neutrality bot. The FCC has yet to address the matter publicly. (Ars Technica)
  • Sprint Corp. and Windstream Services LLC are suing the FCC for its April decision deregulating business data services. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Business Brief

  • U.S. tech companies aren’t happy with the European Union, which is planning to crack down on what it considers unfair trading practices, particularly between web platforms and European companies like Spotify, before the end of the year. (Reuters)
  • Signs of recovery for Sprint mean SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son can turn his attention to managing $100 billion for technology investments. He also wants to pursue industry consolidation with T-Mobile US Inc. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • New York will open applications to test self-driving cars in the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced Wednesday. Uber Technologies Inc. is currently considering an application. (The Hill)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

USTelecom event on broadband in unserved areas of the country 1 p.m.
The R Street Institute and The Center for Democracy and Technology happy hour 5 p.m.
Duke Law School conference on the FCC’s process for spectrum auctioning 8:30 a.m.



The FCC has received 128,000 identical anti-net neutrality comments
Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica

The FCC this week has received hundreds of thousands of new comments on its proposal to dismantle net neutrality rules, and more than 128,000 of them are identical comments calling for the reversal of the Obama administration’s “power grab.” It seems likely that the influx of anti-net neutrality identical comments is coming from a bot, but the FCC hasn’t addressed the matter publicly yet.

Sprint sues FCC for ‘capricious’ deregulation of business data services
Elise Reuter, Kansas City Business Journal

Sprint Corp. and another wireless company filed a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission for the agency’s recent decision on business data services. Overland Park-based Sprint (NYSE: S) and Arkansas-based Windstream Services LLC filed the petition for review Monday, seeking relief “on the grounds that the Report and Order is arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion,” according to a filing in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

SoftBank Nears Closing on $100 Billion Tech Fund
Mayumi Negishi, The Wall Street Journal

SoftBank Group Corp. Chief Executive Masayoshi Son said Wednesday he is preparing to shift his focus from turning around U.S. wireless unit Sprint Corp. to running a $100 billion technology-investment fund. Cost cuts have helped reduce losses at Sprint, the No. 4 mobile carrier in the U.S.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

EU to tackle complaints over tech companies’ trading practices
Julia Fioretti, Reuters

The European Union’s executive is planning a possible law to deal with complaints about unfair trading practices by leading online players such as Apple and Google. The European Commission said on Wednesday in a mid-term review of its digital strategy that it would prepare an initiative by the end of the year to address unfair contractual clauses and trading practices in relations between platforms and businesses, prompting strong criticism from the tech industry.

Antitrust Nominee Eyes EU Efforts to Clamp Down on U.S. Tech Firms
Mariam Baksh, Morning Consult

Makan Delrahim, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the antitrust division of the Department of Justice, spoke Wednesday about the need to change how antitrust laws are enforced abroad. In an abbreviated confirmation hearing shared with two other Justice Department nominees, Delrahim pointed to his prior experience heading up international antitrust applications in the department during the George W. Bush administration.

Amazon invested millions in the startup Nucleus — then cloned its product for the new Echo
Jason Del Rey, Recode

When the investment arm of Amazon’s Alexa division led a $5.6 million investment in his startup, Nucleus founder and CEO Jonathan Frankel was ecstatic. Just a year later, he’s furious instead.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

Verizon Wins Bidding War for Straight Path Communications
Thomas Gryta and Drew FitzGerald, The Wall Street Journal

Verizon Communications Inc. will buy Straight Path Communications Inc. for more than $3 billion, after beating rival AT&T Inc. in an unusually intense bidding war for the wireless-spectrum holder, according to people familiar with the matter. Straight Path holds licenses to use high-frequency radio waves that some engineers think could form the backbone of next-generation networks.

ESPN getting boost from DirecTV Now, YouTube TV, other vMVPDs, Disney’s Iger said
Daniel Frankel, Fierce Cable

While he attributes most of ESPN’s 12 million lost subscribers over the last six years to the cord-cutting movement, Disney chief executive Bob Iger said the attrition would be worse if not for the emergence of virtual MVPD services. “The strength of the brand and consumer demand makes ESPN extremely attractive to new platforms and services entering the market, which has led to ESPN content being featured on a growing array of over-the-top services, including Sling TV, Hulu, PlayStation Vue, DirecTV Now and YouTube TV,” Iger told media investment analysts during Disney’s fiscal second-quarter earnings call Tuesday.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

New York to allow self-driving car testing
Ali Breland, The Hill

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced on Wednesday that the state would open applications for companies looking to test autonomous vehicles. “New York has emerged as one of the nation’s leading hubs for innovation, and as we invite companies and entrepreneurs to reimagine transportation technology, we will encourage the development of new, safe travel options for New Yorkers,” Cuomo said.

Facebook says it’s cracking down on links that send users to sketchy, ad-filled websites
Kurt Wagner, Recode

Facebook’s News Feed algorithm has a new target: Links that send people to crummy websites full of ads. Facebook regularly tweaks its News Feed algorithm, the software that determines what things you see in your feed, and said in a blog post Wednesday that its latest update will crack down on lousy links.

Nvidia says Toyota will use its AI technology for self-driving cars
Alexandria Sage, Reuters

Nvidia Corp announced a partnership with Toyota Motor Corp on Wednesday, saying the Japanese car maker would use Nvidia’s artificial intelligence technology to develop self-driving vehicle systems planned for the next few years. Toyota will use Nvidia’s Drive PX artificial intelligence platform for its autonomous vehicles planned for market introduction, Nvidia Chief Executive Jensen Huang said in his opening keynote at the company’s GPU Technology Conference in San Jose.

Snapchat is losing twice as much money as it did last year
Ben Popper, The Verge

Snap reported its earnings for the first time since becoming a public company in March of this year. Its daily active user count clicked up to 166 million, a 5 percent increase over last quarter, up 36 percent from this time a year ago.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

French Websites Knocked Offline in Cyber-Attack on Cedexis
Carol Matlack, Bloomberg News

The websites of several major French media outlets were knocked offline Wednesday during a cyber-attack against Cedexis, a Paris-based provider of network and cloud technology to corporate customers. The newspapers Le Monde and Le Figaro were among those that reported their sites were briefly shut down by the attack, which occurred during the afternoon in Paris.

120,000 IoT cameras vulnerable to new Persirai botnet say researchers
Danny Palmer, ZDNet

A new Internet of Things (IoT) botnet is targeted over 1,000 different models vulnerable of IP cameras and using the hijacked devices to carry out DDoS attacks. Over 122,000 cameras from a variety of manufacturers are vulnerable to becoming part of the Persirai botnet – and the vast majority of owners don’t even know their devices are exposed on the internet and thus easily targeted by malware.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

AT&T could be punished for unlimited data throttling after all
Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica

AT&T has been dealt a blow in its attempt to avoid all regulatory oversight from the Federal Trade Commission, and the court decision could also play an important role in the debates over net neutrality and broadband privacy rules. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai yesterday welcomed the court decision and said it strengthens his argument that net neutrality rules should be overturned.

Are we there yet? How close is the U.S. to a modern, interoperable public safety network?
Billy Mitchell, FedScoop

The nation is on the brink of launching an interoperable and modern national public safety network, a group of private and public tech thought leaders said Tuesday — but there’s still work to be done. With the award of the First Responder Network Authority contract to AT&T earlier this spring, the framework to build a 21st century digital communications network for police, fire departments and other agencies is in place, panelists said Tuesday at AFCEA Bethesda’s Law Enforcement IT Day 2017.

Why automation in the age of AI will change the way we think of work
Hope Reese, Tech Republic

Since the Industrial Age, automation has shifted the kind of work that humans must do. And with the current AI boom, anxiety over employment is at an all-time high.

Cheap Robots Are Helping Small Businesses Survive
Thomas Black, Bloomberg News

Robots are everywhere. They’re stocking shelves, pruning trees, making cocktails, delivering room service.

What’s holding back self-driving cars? Human drivers
Tom Krishner, The Associated Press

In just a few years, well-mannered self-driving robotaxis will share the roads with reckless, law-breaking human drivers. The prospect is causing migraines for the people developing the robotaxis.

Research Reports

Small Business Research Programs
U.S. Government Accountability Office

The Small Business Administration (SBA), which oversees the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, and agencies participating in the programs have implemented about one-third of GAO’s 20 prior recommendations regarding the programs. From September 2013 through April 2017, GAO made 17 recommendations to SBA and 3 to participating agencies to improve the oversight and implementation of spending requirements; reporting requirements; the administrative pilot program; and fraud, waste, and abuse prevention requirements.