Tech Brief: Internet Association Asks FCC to Keep Net Neutrality

Government Brief

  • The Internet Association, a group that represents major tech companies including Alphabet Inc. and Facebook Inc., is officially calling on the Federal Communications Commission to keep net neutrality rules in place. In comments filed with the agency, the Internet Association noted that a net neutrality repeal could cause damage to the markets and limit innovation. (Reuters)
  • U.S. Cyber Command will reportedly split from the National Security Agency to operate independently. The move, which is expected to be announced by officials in the next few weeks, will give Cyber Command more autonomy in fighting groups like the Islamic State and put it in the same realm as other independent military commands. (The Associated Press)
  • Google Inc. does not have to turn over extensive data on 21,000 of its employees to the Labor Department, an administrative law judge ruled provisionally. The information was requested to investigate “systemic” gaps in pay between men and women, a charge the company has denied. (The Washington Post)

Business Brief

  • Sprint Corp. could be on its way to a cash infusion of up to $10 billion from Warren Buffett. Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son was reportedly in talks with Buffett as well as Liberty Broadband Corp. Chair John Malone at a meeting of tech CEOs in Sun Valley, Idaho. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • The planned AT&T Inc. merger with Time Warner Inc. is facing some roadblocks: The deal, which President Donald Trump opposed during his presidential campaign, has come under close political scrutiny due to concerns about political leverage over CNN, and confirmation of Makan Delrahim, a key proponent of the merger, to lead the antitrust division at the Department of Justice is tied up in the Senate. (The Hill)
  • Tech mogul Elon Musk is sounding the alarm on the threat robots and artificial intelligence pose to human civilization. Speaking to the National Governors Association Saturday, Musk called for regulation, “pronto.” (CNET)

Correction: A previous version of this brief misspelled Warren Buffett’s surname twice.

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

NG911 Institute lunch event on next-generation 911, IoT and smart cities 12 p.m.
NTIA virtual meeting in multi-stakeholder process on IoT security 2 p.m.
Senate Commerce Committee FCC confirmation hearing 10 a.m.
House Science Committee hearing on technology and energy innovation 10 a.m.
House Committee on Agriculture holds a hearing on rural infrastructure 10 a.m.
NTIA BroadbandUSA webinar 2 p.m.
FCC local number portability administrator transition webinar 3 p.m.
Senate Internet subcommittee hearing on updating FirstNet 10 a.m.
The House Small Business Subcommittee hearing on how telehealth can help rural America 10 a.m.
No events scheduled.


Major tech firms urge U.S. to retain net neutrality rules
David Shepardson, Reuters

A group representing major technology firms including Alphabet Inc and Facebook Inc urged the U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Monday to abandon plans to reverse the landmark 2015 rules barring internet service providers from blocking or slowing consumer access to web content. The Internet Association said in its filing with the FCC that dismantling the net neutrality rules “will create significant uncertainty in the market and upset the careful balance that has led to the current virtuous circle of innovation in the broadband ecosystem.”

Elon Musk warns of AI’s risks, calls for regulation now
Chris Matyszczyk, CNET

He uses it. He needs it. But he’s afraid of it. That might be a reasonable conclusion from Elon Musk’s words, spoken on Saturday to a meeting of the National Governors Association, on the subject of artificial intelligence.

The Labor Department just lost a battle with Google over its alleged gender pay gap
Brian Fung, The Washington Post

The Labor Department will not get access to the full details it has requested on 21,000 Google employees as part of its investigation of equal pay, an administrative law judge has ruled, saying that the agency’s demand for data is too broad and could violate workers’ privacy. The provisional ruling blocks efforts by officials to prove what they have called a “systemic” pay gap at the online search giant between men and women, allegedly uncovered during a routine contracting audit.

CDW-G wins $238M contract for 2020 census mobile testing and field operations
Billy Mitchell, FedScoop

CDW-G has won a $238 million contract to support the Census Bureau’s use of mobile devices in testing for and operating the 2020 decennial census. Through the Decennial Device-as-a-Service contract, Census will receive 75,000 mobile devices prior to an August 2019 test and a total of 400,000 in February 2020 for actual enumeration and for nonresponse followup.

European Stocks Retreat; Metals Jump on China Data: Markets Wrap
Samuel Potter, Bloomberg News

Economic data was the key driver for markets on Monday, with industrial metals and mining companies rallying on better-than-expected Chinese growth and stocks retreating after European inflation figures. The U.S. dollar steadied while the euro and pound fell as Brexit negotiations resumed.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

AT&T CEO Will Lead Distinct Telecom, Media Units After Time Warner Merger
Drew FitzGerald, The Wall Street Journal

AT&T Inc. plans to split the management of its telecom operations and its media assets after clinching a takeover of Time Warner Inc., putting veteran AT&T executive John Stankey in charge of the Time Warner business, according to people familiar with the matter. The reorganization would create two divisions.

AT&T, Time Warner hit bumps on way to merger
Harper Neidig, The Hill

The government’s review of the AT&T-Time Warner merger is not going as smoothly as the companies hoped. The $85 billion deal is widely expected to be approved by the Justice Department, but it is running into a number of political road bumps unusual even for controversial mega-mergers.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

Sprint’s Chairman Has Engaged Warren Buffett About Investment
Ryan Knutson and Shalini Ramachandran, The Wall Street Journal

Sprint Corp. Chairman Masayoshi Son has engaged two of America’s richest men, billionaire investor Warren Buffett and cable mogul John Malone, about investing in the embattled wireless company, people familiar with the situation say. The Japanese billionaire met separately with the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. boss and Mr. Malone, whose Liberty Broadband Corp. is Charter Communications Inc.’s biggest investor, this week at an annual gathering of CEOs in Sun Valley, Idaho, the people said.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Facebook says it shouldn’t have to stay mum when government seeks user data
Ann E. Marimow, The Washington Post

Major technology companies and civil liberties groups have joined Facebook in a closed courtroom battle over secret government access to social media records. Facebook is fighting a court order that prohibits it from letting users know when law enforcement investigators ask to search their political communications — a ban that Facebook contends tramples First Amendment protections of the company and individuals.

Facebook is putting ads everywhere in hopes of finding the next News Feed
Kurt Wagner, Recode

Facebook has a cash cow. It’s called News Feed, and for the past five years, it has been the company’s core moneymaker and source of revenue growth. But there is a problem looming: Facebook has been saying for the past year that it is running out of places to put ads in News Feed.

Telegram Blocks Terror Content After Indonesia Threatens Ban
Stephen Wright, The Associated Press

The encrypted messaging app Telegram is forming a team of moderators who are familiar with Indonesian culture and language so it can remove “terrorist-related content” faster, its co-founder said Sunday, after Indonesia limited access to the app and threatened a total ban. Pavel Durov, who with his brother Nikolai founded the app in 2013, said in a message to his 40,000 followers on Telegram that he’d been unaware of a failure to quickly respond to an Indonesian government request to block a number of offending channels – chat groups on the app – but was now rectifying the situation.

Airbnb host hit with $5,000 fine for canceling on an Asian guest over her race
Madeleine Sheehan Perkins, Business Insider

An Airbnb host has been fined $5,000 for abruptly canceling on an Asian guest because of the guest’s race. The host, Tami Barker, is now permanently barred from the home-sharing platform.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

U.S. to Create Independent Military Cyber Command
Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press

After months of delay, the Trump administration is finalizing plans to revamp the nation’s military command for defensive and offensive cyber operations in hopes of intensifying America’s ability to wage cyberwar against the Islamic State group and other foes, according to U.S. officials. Under the plans, U.S. Cyber Command would eventually be split off from the intelligence-focused National Security Agency.

Global cyber attack could spur $53 billion in losses: Lloyd’s of London
Suzanne Barlyn, Reuters

A major, global cyber attack could trigger an average of $53 billion of economic losses, a figure on par with a catastrophic natural disaster such as U.S. Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Lloyd’s of London said in a report on Monday. The report, co-written with risk-modeling firm Cyence, examined potential economic losses from the hypothetical hacking of a cloud service provider and cyber attacks on computer operating systems run by businesses worldwide.

House Boosts Cybercom Budget But Cuts NIST Funds
Staff, Nextgov

Friday’s big news on the Hill was House passage of Congress’s major annual defense policy bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, which was chock full of tech and cyber provisions. The House bill included a 16 percent funding hike for U.S. Cyber Command and mandated a new Pentagon and State Department plan to combat and deter adversary cyberattacks.

South Carolina May Prove a Microcosm of U.S. Election Hacking Efforts
Alexa Corse, The Wall Street Journal

To understand the scale of the hacking attempts against election systems in the 2016 presidential election, consider South Carolina. On Election Day alone, there were nearly 150,000 attempts to penetrate the state’s voter-registration system, according to a post election report by the South Carolina State Election Commission.

House moves to bar Pentagon contracts with firms backing North Korean cyberattacks
Morgan Chalfant, The Hill

House lawmakers have voted to approve a provision that would bar the Pentagon from doing business with telecommunications firms knowingly supporting North Korean cyberattacks. The amendment, offered by Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.), was approved Friday morning by the full House to be included in an annual defense policy bill. 

California is facing a major battle over internet privacy
Colin Lecher, The Verge

When the Congress voted in March to overturn landmark FCC privacy rules, consumers and advocacy groups were incensed by the decision. The FCC rules that were set to go into effect would have forced internet service providers to get permission from customers before selling their data to third parties.

UAE orchestrated hacking of Qatari government sites, sparking regional upheaval, according to U.S. intelligence officials
Karen DeYoung and Ellen Nakashima, The Washington Post

The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, in late May that sparked the ongoing upheaval between Qatar and its neighbors, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

With so many untruths about the Durbin amendment out there, it’s time to set the record straight. The Durbin amendment hasn’t benefited anyone but big-box retailers, while consumers, small businesses, community banks, and credit unions suffer. Get the facts from the Electronic Payments Coalition.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Washington, Network Neutrality and a Potential Resolution
Daniel Sepulveda, Morning Consult

Network neutrality is the principle that the telephone or cable company that provides you with access to the internet should be neutral as to how you use that access and which companies, people and services you engage with. In practice that means that the company that gives you access to the internet should not be able to block, mess with or demand a special fee from any company, service or speaker in exchange for privileged access to you.

It’s our last chance to choose information independence over special interests
Jared Polis, Recode

What if you were charged $30 dollars to access only 100 websites? Could you still stream videos online if you had to purchase a $10 “expansion bundle” every month to access video streaming services? Or would you still search the news if you had to spend an additional $20 dollars for an “extension package” every month to access Fox News, CNN, CNBC or MSNBC’s websites?

Please Prove You’re Not a Robot
Tim Wu, The New York Times

When science fiction writers first imagined robot invasions, the idea was that bots would become smart and powerful enough to take over the world by force, whether on their own or as directed by some evildoer. In reality, something only slightly less scary is happening.

The Young Robot-Builders of Afghanistan
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, The Atlantic

This year at FIRST Global Challenge, a robotics competition in Washington, D.C., an international committee of judges will assess the creativity and collaboration of 163 teams from 157 nations focused on tackling the global water crisis. From Sunday through Tuesday, the teams will present robots designed to clean contaminated water, as represented in a simulation by colored balls.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

Retailers have been repeating misleading “facts” about the Durbin amendment in order to protect their $42 billion—and counting—windfall. Yet, evidence shows the Durbin amendment is a failure, further underscoring why it needs to go. Learn the truth from EPC.

Research Reports

Threats to Information Security — Public Health Implications
William J. Gordon et al., The New England Journal of Medicine

In health care, information security has classically been regarded as an administrative nuisance, a regulatory hurdle, or a simple privacy matter. But the recent “WannaCry” and “Petya” ransomware attacks have wreaked havoc by disabling organizations worldwide, including parts of England’s National Health Service (NHS) and the Heritage Valley Health System in Pennsylvania.