Tech Brief: ITC to Review Qualcomm’s Apple iPhone Patent Allegations


Government Brief

  • A comprehensive new study of data on the growing number of partisan websites focused on U.S. politics found that the internet, Facebook Inc. and online advertising allow divisive political content to spread across large amounts of people. The analysis determined that, in 2016 alone, at least 187 new partisan websites were launched, with site publishers in some cases running both liberal and conservative platforms simultaneously and raking in significant ad revenue. (BuzzFeed News)
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit will not block the Federal Communications Commission’s April decision to eliminate price caps for much of the business broadband market. The FCC’s business data services ruling deems certain local markets as competitive, even when there is only one broadband service provider. (Ars Technica)
  • The FCC is looking for input on how to improve the filing process for Form 477, the publicly available data set the agency uses to analyze broadband coverage across the United States. The FCC announced last week that it planned to revise the filing process for data collection of phone and internet access after complaints that the agency relied on inaccurate and flawed information. (Nextgov)

Business Brief

  • Officials with the U.S. International Trade Commission have agreed to investigate allegations made by Qualcomm Inc. that Apple Inc. infringed on the chipmaker’s patents when it created the iPhone 7 and other tech devices. Qualcomm’s suit asked U.S. trade regulators to ban iPhone models that contain broadband modem chips not made by Qualcomm. (Reuters)
  • Walt Disney Co. announced that it is starting two online subscription streaming services to offer programming directly to consumers, a move seen as a competitive broadside against cable providers and Netflix Inc. Disney — the world’s largest entertainment company — also announced that it would be pulling future movies from Netflix. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Russian Miner Coin, co-owned by one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s internet advisers, plans to raise the equivalent of $100 million in cryptocurrency in an effort to challenge China in bitcoin mining. The company announced that it plans to use Russian-designed semiconductor chips for use in satellites as a means of minimizing the power consumption of computers for crypto-mining. (Bloomberg)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Wednesday
No events scheduled.
Thursday
D.C. Tech-Security Conference 8:15 a.m.
The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council holds and event on the importance of modern infrastructure 11 a.m.
Friday
No events scheduled.

General

Putin’s Aide Seeks $100 Million to Rival China in Bitcoin Mining
Ilya Khrennikov, Bloomberg

A company co-owned by one of President Vladimir Putin’s internet advisers plans to raise the cryptocurrency equivalent of as much as $100 million in a push to help Russian entrepreneurs challenge China in bitcoin mining. Russian Miner Coin is holding a so-called initial coin offering, where investors will use units of ethereum or bitcoin to buy new RMC tokens.

U.S. push for freer NAFTA e-commerce meets growing resistance
Sharay Angulo, Reuters

A U.S. proposal for Mexico and Canada to vastly raise the value of online purchases that can be imported duty-free from stores like Amazon.com and eBay is emerging as a flashpoint in an upcoming renegotiation of the NAFTA trade deal. Vulnerable industries like footwear, textiles and bricks and mortar retail in Mexico and Canada are pushing back hard against the proposal by the U.S. trade representative to raise Mexican and Canadian duty-free import limits for e-commerce to the U.S. level of $800, from current thresholds of $50 and C$20, respectively.

The Culture Wars Have Come to Silicon Valley
Nick Wingfield, The New York Times

The culture wars that have consumed politics in the United States have now landed on Silicon Valley’s doorstep. That became clear this week after Google on Monday fired a software engineer, James Damore, who had written an internal memo challenging the company’s diversity efforts.

Google CEO Cuts Vacation Short To Deal With Crisis Over Diversity Memo
Laura Sydell, NPR News

Google CEO Sundar Pichai cut his the vacation short and returned to the company’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters as criticism mounted over a senior engineer’s controversial memo condemning Google’s diversity initiatives. The engineer was subsequently fired.

Havens Jump on North Korea Tension; Stocks Slide: Markets Wrap
Samuel Potter, Bloomberg

A risk-off tone gripped markets on Wednesday, with gold, the Japanese yen and bonds rising as tension grew between the U.S. and North Korea. European stocks slumped following declines across most of Asia.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

U.S. to review Qualcomm’s complaints about Apple iPhone patents
Susan Heavey and Stephen Nellis, Reuters

U.S. trade officials have agreed to investigate Qualcomm Inc’s allegations that Apple Inc infringed on patents with its iPhone7 and other devices, the U.S. International Trade Commission said on Tuesday. The ITC will make its decision “at the earliest practicable time” and will set a target date for completing its investigation within the next 45 days, the commission said in a statement.

U.S. card firm Vantiv clinches $10 billion deal to buy Worldpay
Pamela Barbaglia, Reuters

U.S. credit card processing company Vantiv moved closer to creating a $29 billion global payments powerhouse on Wednesday with a formal offer to buy Britain’s Worldpay for 8 billion pounds ($10 billion). Although the deal was first announced on July 5, it has taken several weeks of talks to conclude, with the deadline for a formal offer extended twice as the companies haggled over governance and ways to safeguard British jobs.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

One broadband choice still counts as “competition” after court decision
Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica

A Federal Communications Commission decision to eliminate price caps in much of the business broadband market can remain in place after a federal judge denied a petition to halt the FCC order. The FCC’s Republican majority in April imposed a new standard that deems certain local markets competitive even when they have only one broadband provider.

FCC Asks for Help Fixing Faulty Broadband Provider Data
Jack Corrigan, Nextgov

The Federal Communications Commission wants recommendations on how to improve its data collection process for phone and internet access after becoming aware the agency was basing policies on increasingly flawed information. On Friday, the FCC announced its plan to revise the filing process for Form 477, a data set the agency uses to analyze broadband coverage in different areas of the country and show the public what providers they could access.

T-Mobile to FCC: Sinclair/Tribune Needs Repack Conditions
John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable 

T-Mobile has come just short of asking the FCC to deny the Sinclair/Tribune merger on the grounds that it could impede its access to broadcast spectrum for which it paid billions in the broadcast incentive auction, citing Sinclair calls for incentive auction delays in the past. “The ‘New’ Sinclair will have over 110 stations slated for repacking and over 50 stations vacating the newly created 600 MHz band—making it by far the largest broadcaster engaged in repacking,” T-Mobile told the FCC.

More Bad News for Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Takeover Bid
Lloyd Grove, The Daily Beast

Rupert Murdoch’s long-delayed ambition to acquire all of Europe’s profitable Sky Television hit another snag on Tuesday when the Britain’s Conservative government asked regulators to consider new allegations against Fox News. In a letter to Ofcom, the agency that regulates the U.K.’s communications industry—and initially concluded that Fox News and its Murdoch-controlled parent company, 21st Century Fox, passed the “fit and proper” test—Tory MP Karen Bradley, secretary of state for media, culture and sport, directed Ofcom to revisit that conclusion, and report back by Aug. 25.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Inside The Partisan Fight For Your News Feed
Craig Silverman et al., BuzzFeed News

The most comprehensive study to date of the growing universe of partisan websites and Facebook pages about US politics reveals that in 2016 alone at least 187 new websites launched, and that the candidacy and election of Donald Trump has unleashed a golden age of aggressive, divisive political content that reaches a massive amount of people on Facebook.

Disney Unveils New Streaming Services
Erich Schwartzel and Joe Flint, The Wall Street Journal

Walt Disney Co. just became the biggest cord-cutter Hollywood has ever seen. The world’s largest entertainment company said Tuesday it is starting two online subscription streaming services to offer its sports, movies and television programming directly to consumers, a broadside at distributors old and new, including cable providers and Netflix Inc.

At Google, Memo on Gender and Diversity Sparks Firestorm
Jack Nicas and Yoree Koh, The Wall Street Journal

Google found itself under fire Tuesday, with critics saying the company squelched free speech by firing a male employee who wrote a divisive memo denouncing its diversity push, while others said his views showed that the company’s diversity policies were needed. The company elaborated on its reasons for firing software engineer James Damore, saying he violated company policies banning harassment and discrimination by writing and distributing a lengthy memo that criticized the search giant’s efforts to attract more women and minority engineers.

Google Wants to Keep ‘localhost’ Local
Michael Byrne, Vice News

The vast majority of the internet-consuming public should never come into contact with a “localhost” domain and that’s how it should be. Most web developers probably already assume that’s the case, but it’s not quite.

It’s not just Google — many major tech companies are struggling with diversity
Rani Molla, Recode

An internal memo written by a male Google engineer has reignited a heated debate about representation in Silicon Valley. Google’s new diversity VP has since come out against the memo’s central claims — which include statements about women being biologically unsuited to engineering jobs — but the debate still rages on.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

Malware campaigns hit North Korea following nuclear ICBM tests
Patrick Howell O’Neill, CyberScoop

Researchers have stitched together two sophisticated malware campaigns that are targeting North Korea, raising suspicion over counteractions tied to the country’s aggressive weapons testing. Cybersecurity researchers from Cylance released a report Tuesday asserting that Konni, a recently discovered but long active family of remote access trojans, was used in a malware campaign targeting North Korea shortly after a July 3 missile test.

Why HBO Hackers Demanded Payment in Bitcoin
Tali Arbel, The Associated Press

The digital currency Bitcoin is the payment of choice for HBO’s cyberattackers. The hackers demand what they say is their “6-month salary” in bitcoin, suggesting it’s at least $6 million.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

The evidence is mounting: There are now at least a dozen studies that illustrate the failure of the Durbin amendment. In fact, a recent paper from Federal Reserve economists provides empirical evidence of harm to the consumer. Get the facts from the Electronic Payments Coalition.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Class Actions Could Fight Discrimination in Tech
Anita Hill, The New York Times

The recent leak of a Google engineer’s screed against the company’s diversity initiatives is a reminder that the notion of Silicon Valley as the seat of human progress is a myth — at least when it comes to way the women behind the latest in technology are treated. The tech industry is stuck in the past, more closely resembling “Mad Men”-era Madison Avenue or 1980s Wall Street than a modern egalitarian society.

Expect to see more and more tech execs running for political office
Tim Bajarin, Recode

There have been many stories written recently about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg doing a tour of America to try and find out what people all over the U.S. are thinking and are concerned with these days. He called it a fact-finding trip, and stated that it had no political focus.

7 Ways to Fill Cyber Workforce Gaps in a Generation
Joseph Marks, Nextgov

Here’s the downside to all the job-easing and time-saving technologies proliferating across government, industry and commerce: There aren’t nearly enough skilled workers to make sure that technology is secure. The U.S. is facing a shortfall of nearly 300,000 cybersecurity workers, according to government funded research.

How Uber Is Building Uber for Trucking
Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic

As Uber battles taxis and other ride-hailing apps in cities across the world, the company is beginning to move quickly into a much larger transportation market: trucking. This spring, Uber unveiled Uber Freight, a brokerage service connecting shippers and truckers through a new app.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

In a new paper, Federal Reserve economists confirm what many industry experts have said before: The Durbin amendment harms consumers. There are now at least a dozen studies that illustrate why this failed policy must be repealed. Learn the truth from EPC.

Research Reports

The IT Boom and Other Unintended Consequences of Chasing the American Dream
Gaurav Khanna and Nicolas Morales, Center for Global Development 

With the majority of all H-1B visas going to Indians, we study how US immigration policy coupled with the internet boom affected both the US and Indian economies, and in particular both countries’ IT sectors. The H-1B scheme led to a tech boom in both countries, inducing substantial gains in firm productivity and consumer welfare in both the United States and India.

Briefings

Tech Brief: Lobbying Tech Groups Target NAFTA Renegotiations

According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, the number of tech companies and trade associations registered to lobby U.S., Canadian and Mexican government officials has more than doubled in the last few months. Companies like Cisco Systems Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are looking to zero out tariffs for tech goods and remove restrictions on cloud storage as officials prepare to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Tech Brief: Intel CEO Leaves Trump’s Manufacturing Council

Brian Krzanich, Intel Corp.’s chief executive, joined the chief executives of Merck and Under Armour in announcing that he would leave Trump’s council on American manufacturing following the president’s response to violence during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. Krzanich said he resigned “to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues.” 

Tech Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit will not block the Federal Communications Commission’s April decision to eliminate price caps for much of the business broadband market. The FCC’s business data services ruling deems certain local markets as competitive, even when there is only one broadband service provider.

Tech Brief: Benchmark Capital Sues Former Uber CEO Kalanick

Benchmark Capital is suing Uber Technologies Inc.’s co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick for not honoring the terms of his resignation and allegedly trying to stack the company’s board with allies to prepare for a return as CEO. The Silicon Valley venture firm, one of Uber’s biggest shareholders, alleges that Kalanick is attempting to “entrench himself for his own selfish ends” — an accusation a Kalanick spokesman called “without merit.”

Tech Brief: Kaspersky Lab, Microsoft Reach Antitrust Resolution

Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab plans to withdraw antitrust complaints it made in Europe against Microsoft Corp. after the U.S. tech company agreed to work with outside antivirus vendors on delivery of its security updates for Windows users. The Moscow-based security company in June accused Microsoft of abusing its dominance in the computer market by favoring its own antivirus software over those of independent security companies.

Tech Brief: SoftBank Considers U.S. Ride-Hailing Investment

SoftBank Group Corp.’s founder and CEO, Masayoshi Son, publicly expressed interest in branching out into the U.S. ride-hailing market by investing in Uber Technologies Inc. or Lyft Inc. SoftBank has funded Uber’s competitors in China, India and Southeast Asia, but last month reports came out that the company was looking at buying a stake in Uber.

Tech Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead

Apple Inc. agreed to remove virtual private network applications from its app stores in China. The Chinese government has been bolstering its “great firewall,” which blocks access to many, mostly foreign, websites — a firewall that VPNs could circumvent. The company defended its actions, saying it complies with the law in every country, but is facing public backlash for giving into China’s censorship demands.

Tech Brief: WannaCry Hero Indicted for Kronos Malware

Marcus Hutchins, the security researcher credited with helping to stop the spread of the global WannaCry cyberattack in May, was indicted for his alleged involvement in creating, advertising and distributing Kronos malware between July 2014 and July 2015. Kronos steals victims’ banking credentials by directing them to malicious websites.

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