Tech Brief: House Votes to Expand 5G Development, Reauthorize the FCC

Top Stories

  • The House passed bipartisan legislation that reauthorizes the Federal Communications Commission and includes provisions that would boost the development of 5G networks. If the legislative package passes the Senate and is signed into law, it would be the first time in 28 years that Congress has approved a reauthorization of the FCC. (The Hill)
  • U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told a Senate panel there are ongoing conversations between President Donald Trump and U.S. agencies over ways to address the potential threat of Russian meddling in the 2018 midterm elections. Coats told lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee that the White House is engaged in ongoing discussions with appropriate federal agencies, adding that it is “highly likely” Russian actors will attempt to interfere in the upcoming midterms. (CNN)
  • Uber Technologies Inc. announced that a fleet of the company’s self-driving trucks have been carrying cargo on highways in Arizona for commercial freight customers for the past few months. Uber, one of the first companies to begin commercializing the use of self-driving trucks, said that the trucks operate with a licensed driver at the wheel who is ready to operate the vehicle in the event of an emergency. (The New York Times)
  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma announced a new government-wide initiative aimed at giving patients more power over their electronic health data. Verma, who made the remarks during a speech at the Health Information and Management Systems Society annual conference in Las Vegas, announced the implementation of a new tool — Medicare’s Blue Button 2.0 — that provides a secure way for Medicare beneficiaries to share information with new doctors. (Washington Examiner)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

RegTech Data Summit 8 a.m.
TRPI net vitality 2.0 study release event 9 a.m.
ITIF event on piracy and streaming media boxes 9 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on emerging tech’s impact on retail 10 a.m.
House Financial Services subcommittee hearing on legislative proposals to reform data security systems 2 p.m.
FCBA committee meeting on public safety communications systems 6 p.m.
US-China Economic and Security Review Commission hearing on next generation connectivity 9:30 a.m.
World Radiocommunication Conference Advisory Committee meeting 11 a.m.
Silicon Flatirons event on Section 512 Safe Harbor 1 p.m.
CICA event on EU general data protection regulation 12 p.m.

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Trump administration outlines new moves to boost access to electronic health records
Robert King, Washington Examiner

The Trump administration started a government-wide initiative aimed to give patients more power over electronic health data in a move to make it easier to share records with doctors. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma announced a new tool as part of the initiative, which is called MyHealthEData, during a speech at the Health Information and Management Systems Society annual conference in Las Vegas.

Most Americans See Artificial Intelligence as a Threat to Jobs (Just Not Theirs)
Niraj Chokshi, The New York Times

The vast majority of Americans expect artificial intelligence to lead to job losses in the coming decade, but few see it coming for their own position. And despite the expected decline in employment, the public widely embraces artificial intelligence in attitude and in practice.

Smith & Wesson Wary on ‘Smart Guns’
Doug Cameron and Aisha Al-Muslim, The Wall Street Journal

Smith & Wesson’s parent company said Tuesday that it was wary of adding “smart-gun” technology to its weapons, as investors push the industry to address safety issues in the wake of recent mass shootings. Asset manager BlackRock Inc. urged listed firearms makers last week to address their potential exposure to litigation from mass shootings such as the one at a school in Parkland, Fla., last month that left 17 people dead.

White House Wants Agents to Be Able to Down Civilian Drones
Alan Levin, Bloomberg

The White House is preparing to propose giving law enforcement and security agencies the authority to track and disable in flight civilian drones that present a threat. The administration of President Donald Trump is working on the measure as part of its effort to both speed the introduction of rapidly expanding drone technology and to address growing security concerns, Michael Kratsios, an assistant to the president who is deputy U.S. technology officer, said Tuesday.

Global Stocks Drop on Trade Gloom; Bonds Advance: Markets Wrap
Todd White, Bloomberg

The prospect of escalating protectionism depressed European and Asian stock markets on Wednesday as President Donald Trump’s plans to punish foreign imports appeared to gather force. U.S. equity futures slumped, while most government bonds climbed.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

Qualcomm, Huawei in Talks to Settle Patent-Royalty Dispute
Ted Greenwald and Dana Cimilluca, The Wall Street Journal

Qualcomm Inc. is in talks to settle a dispute with Huawei Technologies Co., which has been withholding a hefty stream of royalty payments from the chip maker, according to people familiar with the matter. The negotiations between Qualcomm and Huawei are well along and could result in a settlement in the coming weeks, the people said.

Why Washington Is So Obsessed With China’s Huawei
Stu Woo, The Wall Street Journal

In intervening this week in the Broadcom-Qualcomm takeover battle, the U.S. government also had its eye on another company: China’s Huawei Technologies Co. The world’s top cellular-equipment maker and a leading smartphone brand, Huawei in the past three months has been the subject of a series of interventions, or attempted interventions, by the Trump administration and Congress across the telecommunications industry.

Broadcom’s deal for Qualcomm is in serious jeopardy, and it might have to abandon its bid and come back later
Alex Sherman, CNBC

Broadcom’s attempt to buy Qualcomm is in jeopardy after the U.S. Treasury’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States outlined concerns it had about the transaction in a March 5 letter addressed to two of Broadcom’s lawyers. CFIUS listed several issues, including Broadcom’s reputation for cutting research spending, a concern Microsoft and Google shared, and potential national security risks that could arise from exploiting or compromising Qualcomm’s assets through arrangements with “third party foreign entities,” according to the letter.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

House votes to reauthorize FCC
Harper Neidig, The Hill

The House on Tuesday voted to reauthorize the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), passing bipartisan legislation that includes provisions aimed at boosting the development of 5G networks and new funds for the agency’s spectrum incentive auction. If the bill passes, it will be the first time Congress has approved a reauthorization for the FCC in 28 years.

Washington state’s net neutrality law is the beginning of a big headache for Internet providers
Brian Fung, The Washington Post

Washington has become the first state in the nation to enact its own net neutrality rules that impose strict requirements on Internet providers, making it illegal for broadband companies to block or slow down websites. Signed Monday by Gov. Jay Inslee (D), the new law reflects a growing effort by states to counteract the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to repeal the federal government’s net neutrality rules.

$20 porn-unblocking fee could hit Internet users if state bill becomes law
Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica

State legislation pending in Rhode Island would force Internet service providers to block “sexual content” by default and charge a one-time fee of $20 to any Internet user who wants to view porn or other “offensive material” online. ISPs would have to hand the money they collect over to the state so it can “help fund the operations of the council on human trafficking.”

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Uber’s Self-Driving Trucks Hit the Highway, but Not Local Roads
Daisuke Wakabayashi, The New York Times

More than a year after Uber’s self-driving trucks made their first commercial delivery — 2,000 cases of Budweiser beer on a 120-mile hop in Colorado — the company says it has taken its robot big rigs to the highways of Arizona. Uber said on Tuesday that its self-driving trucks had been carrying cargo on highways in Arizona for commercial freight customers over the past few months.

Facebook’s Political Nightmare Is About To Get Worse
Alex Kantrowitz, BuzzFeed News

If the 2016 election was proof-of-concept for platform-enabled election meddling, the 2018 midterms, just months away, are shaping up to be more of a large-scale clinical trial — and an absolute nightmare for Facebook. For Facebook, which is still reeling from manipulation of its platform by fake news purveyors and Kremlin-linked trolls seeking to disrupt US politics, November’s midterms are a chance to show ornery regulators and an increasingly distrustful public that it can effectively shut down malicious activity within its own platform.

Russian Influence Campaign Extracted Americans’ Personal Data
Shelby Holliday and Rob Barry, The Wall Street Journal

All the Facebook account Black4Black asked for was some personal information about Ajah Hales and other Cleveland-area small-business owners. In exchange, she was told her cosmetics company, and her fellow African-American entrepreneurs, would receive free promotion on social media and in a new and influential directory of black-owned businesses.

Airbnb has hired a former head of Amazon Prime to run its core business
Theodore Schleifer and Jason Del Rey, Recode

Airbnb’s core Homes business has essentially been run by Brian Chesky, the company’s CEO. Now he has some help.

Ireland chooses BNY Mellon to manage Apple escrow fund
Padraic Halpin, Reuters

Ireland has chosen Bank of New York Mellon to administer an escrow fund of up to 15 billion euros ($18.6 billion) in disputed taxes that the European Commission ordered the government to collect from Apple. The European Commission ruled in August 2016 that Apple had received unfair tax incentives from Ireland and last October said it was taking Dublin to the European Court of Justice over delays in recovering the money.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

Intel chief grilled over Trump’s response to Russian election attacks
Zachary Cohen, CNN

US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said on Tuesday that there are ongoing conversations taking place between President Donald Trump and appropriate US agencies about how to counter the threat of Russian attacks on the 2018 midterm elections. “It is a whole of government approach, I have discussed it personally with the President of the United States and he has said I assume you are doing your jobs … all of you that head up these agencies relative to cyber but if you need for me to say, direct you to do it — do it,” Coats told lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Wyden presses leading US voting machine manufacturer on potential hacking vulnerabilities
Olivia Beavers, The Hill

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on Tuesday questioned a leading voting machine manufacturer on whether it sells products with remote-access software, raising concerns about the machines’ potential vulnerability to hacking. Wyden, in a letter to Election Systems & Software (ES&S), cautioned that malicious hackers could seek to exploit such software if it is built into the machines or other election-management products.

The New ID Theft: Millions of Credit Applicants Who Don’t Exist
Peter Rudegeair and AnnaMaria Andriotis, The Wall Street Journal

From a townhouse near a megachurch in Atlanta, Kelvin Lyles recruited about 300 accomplices to embark on a crime spree. His group scammed ATMs, internet retailers and credit-card companies, grabbing around $350,000, until late 2015, when federal agents closed in.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Closing the School Broadband Gap
Evan Marwell, Morning Consult

Two-hundred forty-five days. School districts are waiting this long for the Federal Communications Commission to make decisions on the fate of funding to bring fiber connectivity to their classrooms.

Resist Russian manipulation and stay united
Reps. Michael McCaul and Mark Meadows, Washington Examiner

The Russians are employing a Soviet-derived disinformation strategy against us. Their latest target? The tragic Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Setting the record straight on Ligado and GPS
Former Sen. John E. Sununu, The Hill

With 5G wireless technology set to dramatically revamp the American economy, it’s easy to be excited about the future. But last week’s op-ed in The Hill with claims of “a grave threat to GPS” was, sadly, stuck in the past.

Your Data Is Crucial to a Robotic Age. Shouldn’t You Be Paid for It?
Eduardo Porter, The New York Times

Should Facebook pay us for our puppy pictures? Of course, the idea sounds crazy.

Putin’s Video Superweapons Are Just His Virtual Reality
James Stavridis, Bloomberg

I always admired the way Steve Jobs could enrapture the world about a new product. His briefings of Apple breakthroughs over the years were legendary, and featured huge visuals behind him as he paced the stage.

Uber’s Self-driving Truck Scheme Hinges on Logistics, Not Tech
Alex Davies, WIRED

The most impressive thing about the Uber trip from the Midwest to Southern California wasn’t that the truck drove itself the 344 miles across Arizona. It was what happened when two men named Larry and Mark met at the western edge of the Copper State.

Research Reports

2018 Sonicwall Cyber Threat Report
Sonicwall Inc.

The modern cyberwar — against governments, businesses and individuals alike — is comprised of a series of attacks, counterattacks and respective defensive countermeasures. Many are simple and effective.