Tech Brief: Qualcomm to Request Ban on Some Apple Imports

Washington Brief

  • Qatar Airways announced the United States has lifted its ban on passengers carrying laptops and other large electronic devices onto direct flights from 10 airports in eight predominantly Muslim countries. Qatar Airways is the fourth Middle Eastern airline this week to announce the lifting of the ban on their U.S. flights. (Reuters)
  • The U.S. Office of Special Counsel reached a settlement with the General Services Administration on behalf of a whistleblower who abruptly resigned from the agency last month. The office’s report found the GSA “grossly mismanaged its Technology Transformation Service” and found the response of the Obama administration to the whistleblower’s disclosures to be unreasonable. (Nextgov)
  • A joint report issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation found that hackers have been penetrating the computer networks of companies operating nuclear power stations and energy facilities across the country since May. The report does not indicate that the hackers were able to jump from the computers into the facilities’ control systems, and the reasons behind the cyberattacks are not currently known. (The New York Times)

Business Brief

  • Qualcomm Inc. announced it will formally request the U.S. International Trade Commission ban the import of Apple Inc. products that do not use its processors. The chipmaker has accused Apple of infringing upon its patents, which allow the company to charge royalties on many smartphones even if they don’t use its processors. (The Hill)
  • Microsoft Corp. has begun cutting thousands of jobs, the majority from its sales department, just days after announcing it was shifting its sales strategy to focus more on cloud services. The company said that the majority of cuts — estimated to be roughly 3,000 positions — will occur outside of the country. (The Washington Post)
  • Shares of Tesla Motors Inc. have fallen by almost 15 percent since Monday after the company reported battery manufacturing issues that have sharply limited the production of its luxury cars. The fall comes after Tesla quickly rose to become the most valuable U.S. automaker for almost three months, and just days before assembly of its first mass-market automobile. (CNBC)

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Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Friday
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General

Qatar Airways joins major Middle East rivals in lifting laptop ban on U.S. flights
Conor Humphries and Alexander Cornwell, Reuters

Qatar Airways said on Thursday passengers traveling to the United States can now carry their laptops and other large electronics on board, ending a three month in-cabin ban on devices for the Doha-based airline. Qatar Airways joins Emirates, Turkish Airlines and Etihad Airways, which have also announced this week a lifting of the ban on their U.S. flights.

Special Counsel Backs Whistleblower, Says GSA ‘Grossly Mismanaged’ Tech Funds
Charles S. Clark, Nextgov

The Office of Special Counsel on Thursday announced it had reached a settlement with the General Services Administration on behalf of recently resigned Federal Acquisition Service Commissioner Tom Sharpe. The office said GSA “had grossly mismanaged its Technology Transformation Service” as described in a GSA report OSC has forwarded to Congress and the White House, the special counsel having judged the response of the Obama administration’s GSA to Sharpe’s whistleblower disclosures to be “unreasonable.”

Microsoft begins latest round of layoffs amid reorganization
Hayley Tsukayama, The Washington Post

Microsoft has started cutting thousands of positions, mostly in its sales department, days after announcing it would shift its sales strategy to focus more on cloud services than on its traditional server and desktop businesses. “Microsoft is implementing changes to better serve our customers and partners. Today, we are taking steps to notify some employees that their jobs are under consideration or that their positions will be eliminated,” the company said in a statement to The Washington Post.

Even as they criticize Trump’s agenda, tech execs like Eric Schmidt and Elon Musk are backing Republican campaigns
Tony Romm, Recode

Even some of the tech industry’s most prominent critics of President Donald Trump are opening their checkbooks and donating to Republican lawmakers, as Silicon Valley sets its sights on the 2018 midterm election. With the entire House on next year’s ballot — and about one-third of the U.S. Senate up for a vote, too — the stakes are high for those in the Bay Area who seek to erode the GOP’s control of Congress and erect a new bulwark against Trump’s agenda in areas like immigration and climate change.

YouTube stars urge FCC to save net neutrality
Harper Neidig, The Hill

A group of more than 100 YouTube stars is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to preserve its net neutrality rules, which are currently in the process of being repealed. In an open letter posted on Thursday, 132 internet entertainers said that eliminating the rules could imperil their industry.

Yields Stay Higher as Stocks Drop Before Jobs Data: Markets Wrap
Robert Brand, Bloomberg News

Bond yields stayed elevated after a sell-off in debt this week stoked by a number of central banks stepping up talk of tighter policy conditions. The yen slumped to an eight-week low after the Bank of Japan stepped in to curb the rise in rates.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

Qualcomm asks US to ban iPhone imports
Harper Neidig, The Hill

Chipmaker Qualcomm is asking U.S. trade authorities to ban imports of Apple products, including iPhones, that don’t use its processors. Qualcomm said Thursday it will formally request that the U.S. International Trade Commission temporarily ban the imports to “stop Apple’s unlawful and unfair use of Qualcomm’s technology.”

State Department concocting “fake” intellectual property “Twitter feud”
David Kravets, Ars Technica

The US State Department wants to team up with other government agencies and Hollywood in a bid to create a “fake Twitter feud” about the importance of intellectual property rights. As part of this charade, the State Department’s Bureau of Economic Affairs says it has been seeking the participation of the US Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement, the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, the US Patent and Trademark Office, and “others.”

GE, Canon, Germany’s Merck Accused of EU Antitrust Breaches
Natalia Drozdiak, The Wall Street Journal

The European Union’s antitrust watchdog accused General Electric Co., Japan’s Canon Inc. as well as German pharmaceuticals group Merck KGaA and Sigma-Aldrich Corp. of breaching the bloc’s merger rules. The moves come as the EU is trying to drive home to companies the urgent need to submit accurate and truthful information when registering a deal for antitrust review with Brussels.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

Amazon and Dish Network: A Match in the Making?
Shalini Ramachandran et al., The Wall Street Journal

For years Dish Network Corp. Chief Executive Charlie Ergen has sought out deals and partnerships with just about every major telecom company, from Sprint Corp. to T-Mobile US Inc. to AT&T Inc.—so far, to no avail. Now, the satellite-television mogul is turning his attention to the technology world and a new—and somewhat surprising—potential partner has emerged: Amazon.com Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos.

FCC Gets Deregulation Earful 
John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

Comments were coming in fast and furious this week on the FCC’s review of all its media-related regulations. The FCC voted May 18 to launch a review of all its rules and regs applying to media outlets—broadcast, cable and satellite.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Tesla sinks 20% from high—entering bear market territory—as concerns about ‘bubble stock’ mount
Tae Kim, CNBC

What a difference a couple of weeks make. After hitting an all-time high in late June, Tesla shares have collapsed 20 percent as of Thursday’s close, due to mounting concerns about its sales results, competition and the safety of its cars.

Tesla to Build World’s Biggest Lithium-Battery Project in 100 Days—or It’s Free
Robb M. Stewart, The Wall Street Journal

Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk has agreed to build the world’s largest lithium-ion battery system in Australia, an ambitious project that he hopes will show how the technology can help solve energy problems. The plan is to build a 100-megawatt storage system in the state of South Australia—which has been hit by a string of blackouts over the past year—that will collect power generated by a wind farm built by French energy company Neoen.

iPhone Bugs Are Too Valuable to Report to Apple
Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Vice News

In August 2016, Apple’s head of security Ivan Krstic stole the show at one of the biggest security conferences in the world with an unexpected announcement. “I wanna share some news with you,” Krstic said at the Black Hat conference, before announcing that Apple was finally launching a bug bounty program to reward friendly hackers who report bugs to the company.

Facebook, Twitter Are Said to Seek World Cup Clips From Fox
Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg News

Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Snap Inc. are seeking online rights to video highlights from next year’s World Cup, soccer’s most popular tournament, according to two people familiar with the matter. The companies have offered 21st Century Fox Inc. tens of millions of dollars for rights to highlights from the Russia-hosted games that air in the U.S., according to the people, who declined to provide more specific terms and asked not to be identified because the talks are private.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

Hackers Are Targeting Nuclear Facilities, Homeland Security Dept. and F.B.I. Say

Since May, hackers have been penetrating the computer networks of companies that operate nuclear power stations and other energy facilities, as well as manufacturing plants in the United States and other countries. Among the companies targeted was the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation, which runs a nuclear power plant near Burlington, Kan., according to security consultants and an urgent joint report issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation last week.

Symantec to buy Israeli cybersecurity firm Fireglass
Liana B. Baker, Reuters

Symantec Corp is acquiring Israeli cybersecurity startup Fireglass, the company said on Thursday, in a small deal designed to boost its products that protect corporate email and web browsing from threats.Symantec is paying an undisclosed sum for the Tel Aviv-based company of about 40 employees.

Surfer Who Saved the World from WannaCry Gets Ready for the Next Big Virus
Gavin Finch, Bloomberg News

The 23-year-old who saved the world from a devastating cyberattack in May was asleep in his bed in the English seaside town of Ilfracombe last week after a night of partying when another online extortion campaign spread across the globe.Around 6 p.m. on June 27, Marcus Hutchins, a self-taught computer-security researcher and avid surfer, was awakened by a phone call from a colleague telling him another attack was underway.

Research links pro-Trump, anti-Macron Twitter bots
Morgan Chalfant, The Hill

A computer scientist says there are links between Twitter bots that circulated pro-Trump messages ahead of the 2016 election and bots that engaged in a disinformation campaign against French President Emmanuel Macron while he was a candidate. Emilio Ferrara, a computer scientist at the University of Southern California, made the discovery when analyzing the Twitter campaign organized ahead of the May French election that involved spreading negative information about Macron connected to a leak of hacked campaign data.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

WannaCry or WannaFixIt? Time for Action on Data Security
Tim Sparapani, Morning Consult

As we’ve seen from the latest round of WannaCry ransomware attacks, no one is safe from these viruses that have locked up the data of more than 200,000 users in at least 150 countries. When desperate consumers and businesses are hit, they often end up paying to get access to their data, which puts a tangible price on their hassle and inconvenience and makes it clear that safeguards that block attacks are essential.

Why this IT modernization push could actually work
Bajinder Paul, FCW

The federal government has been working toward finding ways to modernize its IT infrastructure for decades. The challenge has been that 75 to 80 percent of the federal IT budget is spent on operations and maintenance, leaving little for innovation and modernization.

Research Reports

Global Cybersecurity Index 2017
International Telecommunication Union

In 2016, nearly one percent of all emails sent were essentially malicious attacks, the highest rate in recent years. Ransomware attacks increasingly affected businesses and consumers, with indiscriminate campaigns pushing out massive volumes of malicious emails.