Tech Brief: House Passes Modernizing Government Technology Act

Washington Brief

  • Less than a month after it was introduced, the House passed the Modernizing Government Technology Act, which would update 40-year-old critical systems, in a bipartisan floor vote. A Senate version of the bill is awaiting a vote in the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. (Nextgov)
  • The Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to vote on a notice of proposed rulemaking today to undo rules put in place by the Obama administration that seek to ensure net neutrality. The move is supported by internet service providers and opposed by consumer and free speech advocates and tech companies. (The Washington Post)
  • House Democrats introduced an infrastructure bill that includes $40 billion for broadband. Some $10 billion of that is expected to go toward deploying broadband and smart technology in underserved areas. (Multichannel)

Business Brief

  • AT&T Inc. is the subject of a scathing CBS News report, which details more than 4,000 complaints of the cable giant breaking promotional promises and overcharging for bundled DirecTV packages. The company subsidizes an arbitration process which their contracts require customers use to settle disputes. (Fierce Cable)
  • Robinhood Financial LLC, which created an app that allows users to make investments in the stock market for free, is now exploring revenue streams. The app, popular among young people, has more than 2 million users. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Twitter Inc. is revamping the way it manages data, aiming to tailor the user experience and to give users more control. The platform’s data, collected when users visit third-party sites, will now be stored for 30 days instead of 10, with an option to opt out. (Recode)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

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.



House Passes IT Modernization Bill
Frank Konkel, Nextgov

Next stop for Rep. Will Hurd’s Modernizing Government Technology Act: the Senate. The bill passed the House in a floor vote Wednesday, highlighting the bipartisan concern lawmakers share regarding the nation’s aging federal technology, which includes at least 10 critical systems more than four decades old.

The Republican push to repeal net neutrality will get underway this week
Brian Fung, The Washington Post

Federal regulators will move to roll back one of the Obama administration’s signature Internet policies this week, launching a process to repeal the government’s net neutrality rules that currently regulate how Internet providers may treat websites and their own customers. The vote on Thursday, led by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, will kick off consideration of a proposal to relax regulations on companies such as Comcast and AT&T.

House Dems Propose $40B Broadband Investment
John Eggerton, Multichannel

House Energy & Commerce Committee Democrats have introduced a wide-ranging infrastructure bill that includes a $40 billion broadband component, $10 billion of which could trickle down to subsidizing deployment in underserved areas. The LIFT America Act’s investment in secure and resilient broadband is almost as much as the combined investments in drinking water ($22.56 billion), energy ($17 billion), healthcare ($3 billion) and “brownfields” ($2.7 billion) investments combined.

Can Free Stock Trades Sell? Robinhood App Tests New Brokerage Model
Eliot Brown, The Wall Street Journal

Four years ago, two 20-something Stanford math graduates set out to make stock-trading free with a sleekly designed app that would let anyone invest without paying fees. The Robinhood app has soared in popularity among millennials, amassing more than two million users despite virtually no marketing.

Trump to nominate new top telecom policy adviser
Ali Breland, The Hill

The White House announced Tuesday that President Trump will nominate David Redl to be the next administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The NTIA, an agency within the Department of Commerce, serves as the White House’s primary source of advice on telecom policy in areas like broadband access and spectrum.

Google to Offer New AI ‘Supercomputer’ Chip Via Cloud
Mark Bergen, Bloomberg News

At the I/O developer conference last year, Google debuted its first chip. The company kept the component mostly for internal artificial intelligence needs. Today, version two arrived — and Google is selling this one.

Global Stocks Fall After U.S. Rout as Bonds Gain: Markets Wrap
Samuel Potter and Robert Brand, Bloomberg News

European and Asian equity markets slumped in the wake of the worst day in eight months for U.S. stocks as investors rushed to the safety of bonds. Shares across Europe extended declines after the S&P 500 Index plummeted by the most since September, following reports that U.S. President Donald Trump asked FBI director James Comey in February to halt an investigation and the justice department appointed a special counsel to probe Russia’s role in the 2016 election.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

Qualcomm Sues iPhone Manufacturers Over Royalties
Ted Greenwald, The Wall Street Journal

Qualcomm Inc. sued the manufacturers that make iPhones for Apple Inc. for failing to pay royalties on the chip maker’s technology, widening its legal battle with the world’s most valuable company. Qualcomm’s lawsuit, filed Wednesday in a federal district court in San Diego, accuses Compal Electronics Inc., Foxconn Technology Group, Pegatron Corp. and Wistron Corp. of breaching longstanding patent-licensing agreements with Qualcomm by halting royalty payments on Qualcomm technology used in iPhones and iPads.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

DirecTV reportedly faces 4,000 complaints linked to overcharges, broken promo promises
Daniel Frankel, Fierce Cable

CBS News said it has uncovered more than 4,000 consumer complaints against AT&T and its DirecTV satellite unit related to overcharging and broken promotional promises over the past two years. The damning report includes interviews with two AT&T customers, who said they are being charged roughly twice as much as their promotional offer promised on bundled services.

AT&T’s Stephens: Data will be key to digital media revenues
Colin Gibbs, Fierce Wireless

Like its rival Verizon, AT&T continues to build out its digital media business as growth in the overall U.S. wireless market stalls. And data will play a huge role in that effort, CFO John Stephens said this morning.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Twitter has a list of things it thinks you’re interested in — here’s how to see it
Kurt Wagner, Recode

You may have noticed a massive, full-screen Twitter pop-up Wednesday alerting users that the company has updated its privacy policy. That update involves a couple of things, including a tweak to how the company uses data from your browsing history outside of Twitter.

Facebook faces EU fine over misleading WhatsApp data: source
Foo Yun Chee, Reuters

U.S. social network Facebook is set to be penalized by EU antitrust regulators for allegedly providing misleading data related to its WhatsApp acquisition three years ago, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. The move by the European Commission will come after a six-month investigation and is expected to be a stiff warning to other companies facing similar issues.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

NSA officials worried about the day its potent hacking tool would get loose. Then it did.
Ellen Nakashima and Craig Timberg, The Washington Post

When the National Security Agency began using a new hacking tool called EternalBlue, those entrusted with deploying it marveled at both its uncommon power and the widespread havoc it could wreak if it ever got loose. Some officials even discussed whether the flaw was so dangerous they should reveal it to Microsoft, the company whose software the government was exploiting, according to former NSA employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the issue.

New Threats Fuel Fears of Another Global Cyberattack
Robert McMillan, The Wall Street Journal

A new fast-spreading computer attack and a hacking group’s threat to release a fresh trove of stolen cyberweapons are fueling fears among businesses and security experts of another global technology assault. The new attack, called Adylkuzz, follows last week’s WannaCry outbreak, which crippled computers in more than 100 countries over the weekend.

BlackBerry working with automakers on anti-hack tool: analyst
Alastair Sharp, Reuters  

BlackBerry Ltd is working with at least two automakers to develop a security service that would remotely scan vehicles for computer viruses and tell drivers to pull over if they were in critical danger, according to a financial analyst. The service, which would also be able to install security patches to an idle car, is being tested by luxury automakers Aston Martin and Range Rover, Macquarie analyst Gus Papageorgiou said in a note to clients sent late on Monday.

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

Employment Up, Barriers Down
Gary Jabara, Morning Consult

In these hyper-partisan times, all can agree that investment in infrastructure benefits all Americans, creates jobs and strengthens the U.S. economy. All can also agree that policymakers should strive to create an investment-friendly regulatory environment that leads to more infrastructure deployment, not less.

Google, Not the Government, Is Building the Future
Farhad Manjoo, The New York Times

One persistent criticism of Silicon Valley is that it no longer works on big, world-changing ideas. Every few months, a dumb start-up will make the news — most recently the one selling a $700 juicer — and folks outside the tech industry will begin singing I-told-you-sos. But don’t be fooled by expensive juice. The idea that Silicon Valley no longer funds big things isn’t just wrong, but also obtuse and fairly dangerous.

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

Tech Adoption Climbs Among Older Adults
Monica Anderson and Andrew Perrin, Pew Research Center

A record 46 million seniors live in the United States today, and older Americans – those age 65 and older – now account for 15% of the overall U.S. population. By 2050, 22% of Americans will be 65 and older, according to U.S. Census Bureau projections. At the same time America is graying, recent Pew Research Center surveys find that seniors are also moving towards more digitally connected lives.