Tech Brief: Hackers Behind Ransomware Attack Threaten to Divulge Data on Nuclear Programs

Washington Brief

  • A group identifying itself as “the shadow brokers” claimed responsibility for the recent global ransomware attack, and it threatened to divulge nuclear secrets and other intelligence. (The Washington Post)
  • A group of House Democrats called for a congressional hearing to discuss the pending deal between Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media Co. Reps. Anna Eshoo (Calif.), Mike Doyle (Pa.) and Doris Matsui (Calif.) said the deal should be scrutinized. (The Hill)
  • After almost two years of investigating Facebook Inc., French regulators fined the company for storage and usage of users’ data in violation of European Union law. (Financial Times)

Business Brief

  • Juno, a ride-hailing app that billed itself as an alternative to Uber, is now the subject of a Federal Trade Commission complaint for canceling a stock-sharing promise made to prospective employees. The complaint was filed by an independent drivers guild. (Axios)
  • With the launch of face filters on Instagram, the Facebook-owned application is again venturing into Snapchat’s territory. After going public with high hopes, Snap Inc.’s performance has been considered underwhelming. (Recode)
  • Nasdaq traders will now be able to use machine intelligence to enhance their investment decisions. Working with startup Lucena Research, they will continually add new data sets to introduce new insights. (Reuters)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

NIST holds cybersecurity framework workshop 8 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on emergency alert systems 10 a.m.
ITIF event on federal radio systems and freeing up spectrum 10 a.m.
Phoenix Center event to discuss legal, economic and policy issues of FCC actions 11 a.m.
NTIA holds monthly webinar on accelerating broadband access 2 p.m.
FCC holds open meeting 10:30 a.m.
R Street Institute and Center for Democracy & Technology host tech policy happy hour 5 p.m.
Federal Communications Bar Association event on Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network 6 p.m.
The U.S. Chamber holds an event with Rep. Marsha Blackburn on broadband infrastructure 8:30 a.m.
Senate Broadband Caucus event on telehealth 10:30 a.m.
FCC’s Consumer Advisory Committee meeting on robocalls 11 a.m.



Nasdaq launches machine intelligence-enhanced data service
John McCrank, Reuters

Nasdaq Inc on Tuesday launched a service to help fund managers and quantitative traders better use data from social media, central bank announcements, retail sentiment and other sources to improve trading profits. The Nasdaq Analytics Hub will use machine intelligence, a subset of artificial intelligence, to derive signals from end-of-day data that market participants can use to enhance investing strategies, the exchange operator said.

Insurance: Robots learn the business of covering risk
Oliver Ralph, Financial Times

One of the most complex professions in the world is at risk of being replaced. By a selfie. Selling life insurance has traditionally involved an in-depth assessment of the customer by a qualified underwriter using a well-worn set of actuarial models. Not any longer.

Google’s AI subsidiary was given ‘legally inappropriate’ access to UK medical data
James Vincent, The Verge

Google’s AI subsidiary DeepMind has come under fire again for its partnership with the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). According to a leaked letter from the government’s top data advisor, the company’s deal to train a new medical app using health data from 1.6 million NHS patients was conducted on an “inappropriate legal basis.”

Caution Reigns as U.S. Politics Takes Center Stage: Markets Wrap
Robert Brand and Adam Haigh, Bloomberg News

Growing concerns over the turmoil engulfing President Donald Trump’s administration weighed on risk appetite, boosting the yen and gold and sending stocks lower. S&P 500 Index futures declined with European and Asian equities on reports that Trump asked FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

House Dems call for hearing on Sinclair-Tribune deal
Harper Neidig, The Hill

A group of House Democrats are calling for a hearing on the proposed merger between Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media Company. Minority members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee — Reps. Anna Eshoo (Calif.), Mike Doyle (Pa.) and Doris Matsui (Calif.) — called for the acquisition to be scrutinized by the panel, especially in the wake of a recent Federal Communications Commission vote.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

AT&T outlines business, residential tests of 5G for 2017, including fixed and mobile versions
Mike Dano, Fierce Wireless

AT&T is planning to conduct a range of 5G network tests this year, including tests involving enterprises, residential users, and fixed and mobile iterations of 5G technology. AT&T’s Brian Daly outlined the operator’s plans here during a presentation at the 5G North America trade show.

CenturyLink CTO bemoans network complexity, trumpets ‘minimum viable product’
Mike Dano, Fierce Telecom

CenturyLink’s Aamir Hussain said that there is too much complexity in the telecom industry. And he said his company’s work on introducing software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) into its network is a major step toward simplifying its operations. “We need to take all the complexity out of the business,” Hussain, CenturyLink’s CTO, said here during the Big Communications Event.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Drivers’ guild files FTC complaint against ride-hailing startup Juno
Kia Kokalitcheva, Axios

Juno’s post-acquisition saga continues: A guild representing drivers has filed a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission accusing the ride-hailing startup of misleading drivers when it promised to give them company stock. Last month, when Juno sold to another ride-hailing company, Gett, it canceled its stock program for drivers, and instead paid them cash bonuses.

Facebook fined by French regulator over data protection rules
Duncan Robinson, Financial Times

The French regulator has fined Facebook €150,000 as authorities across Europe demand that the social network overhaul the way it tracks users, in the latest spat between the Silicon Valley group and EU authorities over privacy. Data protection authorities in France, Belgium and the Netherlands criticised Facebook for breaking EU rules following a near two-year investigation into the service.

Sorry, Snapchat, Instagram now has fun face filters, too
Kurt Wagner, Recode

It was only a matter of time. Instagram, Facebook’s most powerful weapon in its battle to destroy Snapchat, is rolling out another popular Snapchat-like feature on Tuesday: Face filters, the augmented-reality camera features that let users turn themselves into dogs or zombies or tacos when taking a selfie.

Waymo Tests Hardware to Ease Passenger Fears of Driverless Cars
Mark Bergen and Alistair Barr, Bloomberg News

For years the Google coders and roboticists working on driverless cars have focused on making sure their creations could drive safely around California roads. Now, comes the next big test: getting regular civilians comfortable passing the wheel to a machine.

Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone Returns to the Coop
Georgia Wells, The Wall Street Journal

Twitter Inc. co-founder Biz Stone is rejoining the micro-messaging company to focus on its culture, in an attempt to revive morale amid many employee departures and slumping growth. In his new role, Mr. Stone will also aim to convey elements of Twitter’s culture externally, he said in a blog post Tuesday.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

The hacking group that leaked NSA secrets claims it has data on foreign nuclear programs
Brian Fung, The Washington Post

The hacking group that leaked the bugs that enabled last week’s global ransomware attack is threatening to make public even more computer vulnerabilities in the coming weeks — potentially including “compromised network data” pertaining to the nuclear or missile programs of China, Iran, North Korea and Russia, as well as vulnerabilities affecting Windows 10, which is run by millions of computers worldwide.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

Debit and credit cards make it far more convenient to buy the things you need and love, yet the Durbin amendment has put red tape on these purchases. Check out EPC’s new video to find out how this impacts you.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

‘I Love It When a Plan Comes Together’
Lawrence R. Krevor, Morning Consult

Some of us are old enough to remember the actual origins of that phrase, now an ever-popular internet meme. In one of the most famous lines from the mid-1980s television show “The A-Team,” starring “Dancing with the Stars” icon “Mr. T,” A-Team leader Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith (George Peppard) declares, “I love it when a plan comes together” — kind of like what the folks at AT&T Wireless are probably thinking these days.

Cable Industry’s Own Survey Shows Majority Support Net Neutrality Rules
Karl Bode, Techdirt

The broadband industry is continuing its brave campaign to convince the public that gutting all oversight of growing monopolies like Comcast somehow ends well for the American consumer and smaller Comcast competitors. Last week this involved the cable industry’s top lobbying organization (the NCTA) working with the Daily Caller on a poll the industry clearly hoped would show that the public really hates net neutrality protections.

Does the FCC Actually Care About Net Neutrality?
Rob Marvin, PC

Does the FCC care about net neutrality? Outgoing Commissioner Mignon Clyburn sure as hell does. The Obama appointee was sworn in as an FCC commissioner in 2009, and helped craft and pass the 2015 Open Internet Order establishing net neutrality.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

Do you know how the Durbin amendment affects you? Customers haven’t seen lower prices as promised by big box retailers-but that’s not all. The Electronic Payments Coalition has a new video to explain this failed policy. Watch it now.

Research Reports

e-commerce: The Commission’s Final Report
European Union

On 10 May 2017, the European Commission released the final report on its two-year inquiry into the e-commerce sector. This Report presents the Commission’s definitive findings, taking account of comments received on its preliminary report of September 2016 and its initial findings on geo-blocking.

10 Steps Congress Can Take to Accelerate Data Innovation
Daniel Castro et al., Center for Data Innovation

Data is vital to both growing the economy and addressing important social problems, and Congress has many opportunities to pave the way for more use of data in the public and private sectors. This report lays out 10 concrete steps Congress can take in 2017 to accelerate how data is collected, shared, and used in the United States.