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Tech Brief: House Bill Requires Pentagon to Report Russian Hacking

Washington Brief

  • House lawmakers voted to advance an amendment to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act that would require the Pentagon to report attempts by Russian hackers to break into its network. The amendment was approved by the full House, and comes amid heightened concerns regarding Kremlin-backed cyberattacks and hacks that have targeted the United States and its allies across the world. (The Hill)
  • The Department of Homeland Security wants to expand a program that tracks nonimmigrant foreigners by requiring U.S. citizens who board international flights to submit to a face scan. DHS has required foreigners to undergo biometric identity scans since 2004, but the move to include all passengers in a face-scanning program has raised privacy concerns. (The Associated Press)
  • The Federal Communications Commission voted to pursue new rules that would create a reliable verification system to prevent consumers from being inundated with “robocalls,” spoofed numbers and scam calls. The FCC’s effort would set new standards to ensure phone calls come from legitimate telephone numbers, and would help prevent organizations and individuals from tricking consumers into disclosing sensitive personal and financial information. (The New York Times)

Business Brief

  • Global automakers and industry groups are urging China to delay and soften planned quotes for the sales of electric and hybrid cars under the country’s new energy vehicles policy. The policy includes the ambitious goal of making hybrid and electric cars at least a fifth of the country’s vehicle sales by 2025, a plan that industry groups said “is not possible to meet” in a letter that they sent to China’s minister of industry and information technology. (Reuters)
  • Roku Inc., a Los Gatos, Calif.-based streaming device and software company, is making an aggressive push toward an initial public offering that it expects to launch before the end of the year. The company is reportedly seeking a valuation of roughly $1 billion, although it’s unclear if Roku will be able to achieve that number due to the difficulties of other high-profile offerings so far this year. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Fantasy sports betting websites FanDuel and DraftKings are dropping their planned merger instead of fighting the Federal Trade Commission, which attempted to block the deal because of competition concerns. The FTC previously determined that the merger of the two companies would have given them a combined 90-percent share of the daily fantasy sports betting market. (Recode)

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Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Friday
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General

Foreign automakers call on China to soften electric car quotas
Jan Schwartz et al., Reuters

Global automakers have urged China to delay and soften planned quotas for sales of electric and hybrid cars, saying the current proposals are impossible to meet and would cause big disruption to their businesses, according to a letter seen by Reuters. The letter, dated June 18 and addressed to China’s Minister of Industry and Information Technology, Miao Wei, amounts to a protest against key elements of the country’s new energy vehicles (NEVs) policy.

Roku Expects to Launch IPO Before Year-End
Maureen Farrell, The Wall Street Journal

Roku Inc., which makes streaming-media devices and software, is preparing an initial public offering it expects to launch before year-end, according to people familiar with the company’s plans.The Los Gatos, Calif., company recently hired Morgan Stanley, Citigroup Inc. and Allen & Co. as underwriters on the IPO, these people said. The company could file confidentially in the next few weeks, one of the people said.

WeWork Plans ‘Aggressive’ Expansion in Latin America Push
Fabiola Moura, Bloomberg

WeWork Cos., the world’s largest co-working space startup, is embarking on an ambitious expansion in Latin America, setting its sights on the region after recent forays in China and India. A week after opening its first office space in Brazil, WeWork is planning to boost the number of people working in its facilities across the region 10-fold, to 20,000 by the beginning of 2018, said Miguel McKelvey, the company’s co-founder and chief creative officer.

Bonds Gain, Stocks Steady as CPI Tests Fed Resolve: Markets Wrap
Eddie Van Der Walt and Adam Haigh, Bloomberg

Bonds rebounded while U.S. stock futures were steady before U.S. inflation data and bank earnings that will serve as a test for the strength of the economy.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

FanDuel and DraftKings are dropping their merger
Tony Romm, Recode

FanDuel and DraftKings have decided to scrap their merger rather than fight the U.S. government, which had sought to block the combination of the country’s two top daily fantasy sports sites on grounds that it threatened competition and consumers. In a statement, FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles said the companies believed — even until the end — that the merger would have aided both companies’ growth.

Two judges smack down notorious patent holder “Shipping and Transit” in one week
Joe Mullin, Ars Technica

Shipping and Transit LLC, a company that claims to have patented both the tracking of vehicles and the packages they deliver, has been hit with an order (PDF) to pay $36,317.50 in attorney’s fees. US Magistrate Judge Dave Lee Brannon, who published the order yesterday, is the second federal judge to hit Shipping and Transit with fees in less than a week.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

$50B telecom award due in late July
Mark Rockwell, FCW

The General Services Administration is only days away from awarding its 15-year, $50 billion contract for 21st-century telecommunications, one of the agency’s top acquisition managers said. “We’re very, very close to award,” said Bill Zielinski, deputy assistant commissioner for category management in the GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service  in a presentation at a July 13 FedInsider conference on modernizing federal IT.

FCC Votes to Expand Crackdown on ‘Robocalls’
David Shepardson, Reuters

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to pursue new rules to help consumers who are being inundated with “robocalls” and to set new standards to ensure phone calls come from legitimate numbers. The FCC wants a reliable verification system that would prevent scam artists from spoofing the number of a bank, debt collector, government tax agency or other organizations to trick consumers into disclosing confidential financial or account information.

FCC approves new spectrum for vehicle radar systems
David Shepardson, Reuters

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Thursday approved allocating a larger consolidated block of spectrum for use by motor vehicle and aircraft radar systems to help avoid crashes. The FCC first approved 1 GHz of spectrum in 1995 for motor vehicles to use radar that allowed for the introduction of collision avoidance and adaptive cruise control systems that are credited with preventing tens of thousands of crashes annually.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Uber Offers a Thankless Job, and the Applications Flood In
Mike Isaac, The New York Times

Wanted: a seasoned executive to take the top position at a troubled technology start-up. Must be willing to fix a broken culture, deal with an aggressive predecessor, battle a risky lawsuit and prepare the company for an initial public offering.

High-speed Hyperloop project ready for key test in Nevada
Alex Dobuzinskis, Reuters

Engineers will soon conduct a crucial test of a futuristic technology championed by entrepreneur Elon Musk that seeks to revolutionize transportation by sending passengers and cargo packed into pods through an intercity system of vacuum tubes. Hyperloop One, the Los-Angeles-based company developing the technology, is gearing up to send a 28-foot-long (8.5 meter-long) pod hurtling down a set of tracks in a test run in Nevada in the next few weeks, spokeswoman Marcy Simon said.

Uber’s New Tool Lets Its Staff Know Less About You
Andy Greenberg, Wired

Every Silicon Valley company wants more data. But today, tech firms are increasingly taking a paradoxical approach to filling that endless appetite.

Facebook Plans to Unveil a $200 Wireless Oculus VR Headset for 2018
Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Facebook Inc. is taking another stab at turning its Oculus Rift virtual reality headset into a mass-market phenomenon. Later this year, the company plans to unveil a cheaper, wireless device that the company is betting will popularize VR the way Apple did the smartphone.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

House votes to require Pentagon to report Russian cyberattacks
Morgan Chalfant, The Hill

House lawmakers late Wednesday advanced a provision that would require the Pentagon to report attempts by Russian actors to hack its systems. The amendment was introduced by Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) to annual defense policy legislation and approved by the full House Wednesday night.

Face Scans for US Citizens Flying Abroad Stir Privacy Issues
Frank Bajak and David Koenig, The Associated Press

If the Trump administration gets its way, U.S. citizens boarding international flights will have to submit to a face scan, a plan privacy advocates call a step toward a surveillance state. The Department of Homeland Security says it’s the only way to successfully expand a program that tracks nonimmigrant foreigners.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Radio Should Pay – or (Maybe) Receive – Market-Based Royalties
Thomas M. Lenard and Lawrence J. White, Morning Consult

Music distribution models continue to be in flux, with new streaming services struggling to turn a profit. Recent media stories have reported: SiriusXM’s investment in Pandora and the exit of many in its upper management; Spotify’s growing losses; and, most recently, Apple’s proposal for a reduction in the royalties that it pays to the labels.

Trump and cybersecurity: The fox in the henhouse
Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), The Hill

Early Sunday morning, President Trump took to twitter to announce: “Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things will be guarded.” I immediately had the same reaction as many Americans: shock and disgust.

Research Reports

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Needs to Strengthen Its Strategic Planning and Oversight to Modernize Legacy Systems
Carol C. Harris et al., U.S. Government Accountability Office

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiated a modernization effort in 2011 and developed an information technology (IT) strategic plan that describes the technical strategy, vision, mission, direction, and goals and objectives to support the agency’s mission; however, the plan lacks timelines to guide FMCSA’s goals and strategies. In addition, the agency has not completed a modernization plan for its existing IT systems that includes scope, an implementation strategy, schedule, results-oriented goals, and measures, although it has recently awarded a contract to develop such a plan.