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Tech Brief: Kaspersky Lab, Microsoft Reach Antitrust Resolution


Government Brief

  • An audit commissioned by the Department of Veteran Affairs’ Office of the Inspector General found that the agency’s antiquated financial management system hinders the VA’s ability to fully comply with the financial reporting requirements of the DATA Act. The act requires federal agencies to make spending data accessible and available for review, but the audit found that the VA’s outdated financial management system “has become obsolete over the decades, while at the same time Federal financial reporting requirements have become more demanding and complex.” (FedScoop)
  • President Donald Trump is reportedly close to nominating antitrust attorney Joseph Simons as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, a move that will bypass the current acting Republican chair. If confirmed as FTC chairman, Simons will play an important role in the agency’s ongoing review of Amazon.com Inc.’s proposed acquisition of Whole Foods. (Bloomberg)
  • The Federal Communications Commission has accepted a batch of applications from winning bidders for broadcast spectrum reclaimed for wireless broadband. Application denial petitions are due Aug. 21. (Broadcasting and Cable)

Business Brief

  • 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. (Reuters)
  • Facebook Inc. announced that it would further move into the television market by expanding the social media platform’s video offerings to include original content produced exclusively by partners. The new video offerings, which will be featured in a “watch” tab, will provide the company with 45 percent of ad break revenue, while partner providers will earn 55 percent. (TechCrunch)
  • Mozilla Corp., creator of the Firefox web browser, is launching a new program to counter fake news stories spreading across the internet. As part of the initiative, the company hopes to use the Firefox browser to gather data about users’ online news habits. (The Hill)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

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

Legacy systems hinder Veterans Affairs’ DATA Act compliance, report says
Tajha Chappellet-Lanier, FedScoop

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ decades old financial management system makes it all but impossible for the agency to fully comply with the financial reporting requirements of the DATA Act, a recently-released report states. The audit, commissioned by the VA’s Office of the Inspector General and completed by CliftonLarsonAllen LLP in November 2016, was released publicly on Tuesday.

Mozilla launches new effort to counter fake news
Joe Uchill, The Hill

Mozilla, the creators of the popular Firefox web browser, are launching a new program to counter fake news stories. Fabricated news, made to mislead or turn a profit, is a growing problem in online communities.

Most tech investors think the industry’s companies are about to grow even more valuable
Theodore Schleifer, Recode

Tech investors have grown increasingly bullish about the companies they fund over the last six months, even after a series of much-anticipated IPOs proved to pack more fizzle than pop in 2017.Sixty-eight percent of investors told SharesPost, an industry research firm, that valuations for private companies will increase over the next 12 months.

Some U.S. coding boot camps stumble in a crowded field
Salvador Rodriguez, Reuters

The hype is fading for coding “boot camps,” for-profit U.S. schools offering graduates entry into the lucrative world of software development. Closures are up in a field now jammed with programs promising to teach students in just weeks the skills needed get hired as professional coders.

Pentagon’s Silicon Valley Unit Helps Target Terrorists
Anthony Capaccio, Bloomberg

U.S. pilots flying combat sorties against Islamic State and al-Qaeda offshoots may soon be directed to hit “pop-up” targets — such as fleeing vehicles, ambushes and attempts to plant roadside bombs — through streamlined planning tools crafted in Silicon Valley. Starting this month, software specialists from the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, or DIUx, will spend weeks at the Air Force’s war-planning headquarters at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

Europe Stocks Track Asia Losses; Dollar, Oil Climb: Markets Wrap
Samuel Potter, Bloomberg

Tension surrounding the Korean peninsula once again sapped global equity markets, with European stocks following their Asian peers into the red as the rhetoric continued and investors remained on edge. The dollar strengthened a day before U.S. inflation data, and oil advanced.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

Kaspersky Lab to withdraw Microsoft antitrust complaints
Dustin Volz, Reuters

Moscow-based cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab said on Wednesday it would withdraw antitrust complaints made in Europe against Microsoft after the U.S. technology giant agreed to change how it delivers security updates to Windows users. Both companies simultaneously announced a resolution to nearly a year of disputes that included Kaspersky alleging that Microsoft had erected unfair obstacles for independent security vendors on its Windows 10 operating system.

Trump Favors Outside Candidate Simons to Lead FTC
David McLaughlin et al., Bloomberg

President Donald Trump is poised to nominate a longtime antitrust attorney as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, bypassing its acting Republican leader in favor of an outside candidate. Trump’s leading choice for the post is Washington lawyer Joseph Simons, a partner at the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

FCC OKs More Forward Auction Spectrum Applications
John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

The FCC has accepted another batch of applications from winning bidders in the forward portion of the broadcast incentive auction. Those are bidders for broadcast spectrum being reclaimed for wireless broadband.

Maybe Americans don’t need fast home Internet service, FCC suggests
Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica

Americans might not need a fast home Internet connection, the Federal Communications Commission suggests in a new document. Instead, mobile Internet via a smartphone might be all people need.

T-Mobile executive sees low-band spectrum as great equalizer with Verizon, AT&T
Monica Alleven, FierceWireless

T-Mobile’s 700 MHz spectrum deployment and its decision to pick up a boatload of 600 MHz spectrum in the recent incentive auction are helping to narrow the gap between it and rivals AT&T and Verizon, finally getting the low-band spectrum that is crucial to success as a carrier, according to T-Mobile’s vice president and head of investor relations. “To have a strong low-band spectrum position is essential as a carrier. I think that’s why Verizon and AT&T had a stranglehold for such a long time because they had the lion’s share of the low band,” said Nils Paellmann, at the Oppenheimer 20th Annual Technology, Internet & Communications Conference in Boston.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Facebook launches Watch tab of original video shows
Josh Constine, TechCrunch

Facebook has a new home for original video content produced exclusively for it by partners, who will earn 55 percent of ad break revenue while Facebook keeps 45 percent. The “Watch” tab and several dozen original shows will start rolling out to a small group of U.S. users tomorrow on mobile, desktop and Facebook’s TV apps.

Exclusive: Tesla developing self-driving tech for semi-truck, wants to test in Nevada
Marc Vartabedian, Reuters

Tesla Inc is developing a long-haul, electric semi-truck that can drive itself and move in “platoons” that automatically follow a lead vehicle, and is getting closer to testing a prototype, according to an email discussion of potential road tests between the car company and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), seen by Reuters.Meanwhile, California officials are meeting with Tesla on Wednesday “to talk about Tesla’s efforts with autonomous trucks,” state DMV spokeswoman Jessica Gonzalez told Reuters.

Snap needs to prove it’s still growing despite Facebook’s repeated copying
Kurt Wagner, Recode

Take two. Snap is set to report its highly anticipated Q2 earnings on Thursday, its second earnings report since going public in early March, and, more importantly, a chance to turn things around after a very disappointing inaugural earnings report in May.

The New Copycats: How Facebook Squashes Competition From Startups
Betsy Morris and Deepa Seetharaman, The Wall Street Journal

Tech startups live by the rule that speed is paramount. Houseparty, creator of a hot video app, has an extra reason for urgency.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

Can the U.S. stop malware and buy it at the same time?
Derek B. Johnson, FCW

The federal government is the world’s largest purchaser of malware. But the recent arrest of British hacker and information security researcher Marcus Hutchins by U.S. federal authorities reignited a long-simmering debate about how the government regulates malware, exploits and other software vulnerabilities.

Hackers allegedly tried to trick HBO with altered document
Alfred Ng, CNET

With HBO’s hack, it’s becoming harder to separate fact from fiction. The company was hit in a massive cyberattack, which the thieves claimed took six months of planning.

Disney sued for allegedly spying on children through 42 gaming apps
Dani Deahl, The Verge

A federal class action lawsuit filed last week in California alleges that the Walt Disney Company is violating privacy protection laws by collecting children’s personal information from 42 of its apps and sharing the data with advertisers without parental consent. The lawsuit targets Disney and three software companies — Upsight, Unity, and Kochava — alleging that the companies created mobile apps aimed at children that contained embedded software to track, collect, and then export their personal information along with information about their online behavior.

What Would Improve Data Security? 75% of Government IT Pros Say Biometrics
Jack Corrigan, Nextgov

Nearly three-quarters of government IT experts around the world see biometrics, prediction tools and other emerging technologies as the key to improving data security and privacy throughout the public sector, according to a recent report. Employees may also reap the benefits of these systems, with 89 percent of respondents saying investments in emerging tech, particularly advanced analytics tools, will boost overall job satisfaction.

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

Driving Community Change
Marc Morial and Logan Green, Morning Consult

Communities are built on networks. Personal relationships, connections between citizens and their elected officials and a common sense of purpose are all necessary for growth and sustainability.

Google’s War Over the Sexes
Ross Douthat, The New York Times

Men and women are different. On this, almost everyone acquainted with reality agrees.

When it comes to cybersecurity, companies need force fields, not walls
Mike Armistead, Recode

There is a fracture in our modern way of life. The crack is imperceptible to most, even though it’s a dire threat.

Memo to the Google memo writer: Women were foundational to the field of computing
Marie Hicks, The Washington Post

The rampant sexism in the tech world was put on full display this week after an internal memo from a Google software engineer went viral on the Internet. If we are to believe the memo’s author — who was fired from the company Monday — women are more prone to “neuroticism” and less likely to pursue leadership roles in the tech industry because of “biological differences.”

The case for $5,000 bitcoin
Joon Ian Wong, Quartz

Bitcoin is either an enormous bubble or has a lot further to run. Financial forecasters are weighing in on the cryptocurrency, trying to divine where bitcoin’s price is headed, now that it sits at around $3,400, up from around $600 a year ago. Here are the arguments for bitcoin hitting $5,000—or higher.

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

Electronics Standards Are In Need of Repair
Mark Schaffer, The Repair Association

U.S. electronics standards of the past have pushed manufacturers toward more recycled plastics, fewer hazardous materials, smarter end-of-life management, and better energy efficiency. But now, manufacturers hold so many positions on green electronics standards boards that they can effectively resist leadership standards.