Tech Brief: Toshiba Decides to Sell Chip Business to Bain Capital-Led Group

Government Brief

  • Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai defended the agency’s ongoing review of the proposed merger of Sinclair Broadcast Group with Tribune Media, telling House Democrats in a letter that he did not discuss any matters relating to FCC proceedings in two meetings that he had with President Donald Trump earlier this year. Opponents of the merger have questioned Sinclair’s links with the Trump administration and Pai. (Variety)
  • Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he expects Facebook Inc. officials to testify at a public hearing sometime this fall about Russian efforts to use the social media platform to impact the 2016 presidential election. Facebook received pushback from lawmakers after acknowledging earlier this month that Russian-backed entities spent roughly $150,000 on political advertisements leading up to the election. (Politico)
  • Supporters and opponents of the FCC’s ongoing review of the net neutrality rules are continuing to submit public comments through the agency’s open internet docket, despite the fact that the official comment period ended Aug. 30. The docket contains over 22 million comments at last count, with over a thousand new comments posted in the past week, even though only public comments filed before the deadline will be considered in the FCC’s deliberations regarding a potential rollback of the net neutrality rules. (Broadcasting and Cable)

Correction: A previous version of this brief misstated the name of Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Business Brief

  • Toshiba Corp. has reportedly decided to sell its chip business to a bidding group led by U.S. private-equity firm Bain Capital. Toshiba cut off negotiations with two other bidding groups to focus on the Bain Capital group, which includes Apple Inc. and Dell Technologies Inc., although a final agreement has yet to be reached. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • A leading regulator from the European Union set up meetings with Silicon Valley giants for this week, including Apple and Facebook, to press the tech industry on matters concerning privacy, hate speech and consumer protection. One of the top issues that Věra Jourová — the EU commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality — intends to discuss is the future of the Privacy Shield agreement, a transatlantic trade pact allowing tech companies to store data from European citizens in the United States. (Recode)
  • Some European leaders plan to meet with executives from social media companies on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting. British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni are expected to meet with representatives of internet companies — including Facebook, Microsoft Corp., and Google Inc. — to discuss efforts to remove terrorist content from their platforms in an expedited fashion. (Reuters)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

New America event on 5G 12 p.m.
NTIA webinar on broadband access 2 p.m.
Atlantic Council event on cyber risk 4 p.m.
Alliance for Manufacturing Foresight cybersecurity event 2 p.m.


At U.N., Britain to push internet firms to remove extremist content quicker
Michelle Nichols, Reuters

The leaders of Britain, France and Italy will push social media companies on Wednesday to remove “terrorist content” from the internet within one to two hours of it appearing because they say that is the period when most material is spread. British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni will raise the issue at an event on the sidelines of the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations.

Venture-Capital Group Sues Trump Administration Over Immigration Rule
Douglas MacMillan, The Wall Street Journal

A group representing U.S. venture-capital investors is leading a lawsuit against the Trump administration, claiming it took illegal steps to prevent an immigration policy that would have helped foreign-born founders stay in the U.S. to build startups. In a legal complaint filed Tuesday, the National Venture Capital Association, along with other plaintiffs, claims the Department of Homeland Security violated rules around administrative procedures when it delayed the start of the International Entrepreneur Rule one week before the regulation was scheduled to go into effect in July, according to a copy of the complaint reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Author of key Internet freedom law opposes new sex trafficking bill
Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica

The United States Senate is moving toward passage of a bill that would—for the first time—water down a landmark 1996 law that shields website operators from lawsuits and state prosecution for user-generated content. And one of the authors of that 1996 law, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), argued Tuesday that this would be a mistake.

Trump’s Tech Team Wants to ‘Wow’ Public
Frank Konkel, Nextgov

The White House Office of American Innovation views the federal government’s reliance on old technology and track record of providing poor customer service to citizens as a bipartisan opportunity to earn back the trust of millions of Americans. Led by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the office is making use of the White House’s convening power, bringing top private-sector tech chiefs to Washington to share knowledge, best practices and ideas with administration officials.

Library of Congress doubles down on digital with the launch of ‘labs’ site
Tajha Chappellet-Lanier, FedScoop

The Library of Congress is experimenting with information crowdsourcing through a new project from the just-launched, the library’s new home for digital experiments. The site debuted on Tuesday as “a new online space that will host a changing selection of experiments,” including projects by Library challenge winners and “innovators-in-residence.”

Traders Hold Back in Fed Countdown; Oil Advances: Markets Wrap
Samuel Potter, Bloomberg

Stocks, government bonds and most majors currencies were mixed as investors trod water in the countdown to the Federal Reserve’s rate decision and press conference. Commodities looked more decisive, with oil rising alongside industrial metals.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

Toshiba Decides on Bain-Apple Group in Chip-Business Sale
Takashi Mochizuki, The Wall Street Journal

Toshiba Corp. decided Wednesday to sell its chip business to a group that includes Apple Inc. and Dell Technologies Inc., a person familiar with the matter said, although the parties have yet to reach a final agreement and opposition to the deal remains. The bidding group is led by U.S. private-equity firm Bain Capital.

A top European Union official is planning to press Apple, Facebook and others this week on privacy and hate speech
Tony Romm, Recode

One of the European Union’s leading regulators is making a house call to Silicon Valley this week. Her agenda: A series of meetings with the likes of Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg to press the tech industry on privacy, hate speech and consumer protection.

Uber reviews Asia business amid U.S. bribery probe: source
Staff, Reuters

Uber Technologies Inc, which is the subject of a U.S. federal probe into whether it broke bribery laws, has started a review of its Asia operations and notified U.S. authorities about payments made by staff to police officers in Indonesia, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters. The review comes after Uber said in August it was cooperating with a preliminary investigation led by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) into whether its managers violated U.S. laws against bribery of foreign officials, specifically the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

FCC Chairman Defends Review of Sinclair-Tribune Merger in Letter to House Democrats
Ted Johnson, Variety

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai defended the review of the proposed merger of Sinclair Broadcast Group with Tribune Media, writing in a letter to House Democrats that he did not discuss any FCC proceedings in two meetings he had with Donald Trump. Responding to a series of questions about the merger sent by Senate Democrats last month, Pai wrote that his actions since he became chairman “have not been fueled by a desire to help any particular company.”

Net Neutrality Comments Keep on Coming
John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

The FCC’s open internet docket—technically “Restoring Internet Freedom”—is the gift that keeps on giving. Amid complaints about bogus comments and DDoS attacks, commenters continue to flood the FCC with input even though the official comment period ended Aug. 30.

Comcast isn’t too terrified about Trump’s threats to break it up
Tony Romm, Recode

President Donald Trump has previously threatened to break up Comcast while repeatedly taken aim at one of its rivals, AT&T, as the wireless giant inches closer to purchasing Time Warner. But Comcast’s leading voice in Washington, D.C. — David Cohen — told Recode that the regulatory climate for big mergers remains as friendly as ever in the nation’s capital, no matter what Trump himself has said.

T-Mobile boosts data throttling threshold to 50GB per month
Steven Musil, CNET

T-Mobile customers on the carrier’s unlimited data plans will soon get to use at least 50 gigabytes of data each month before they face a possible speed reduction. T-Mobile, the third-largest wireless player — well behind Verizon and AT&T — previously warned that it may reduce customers’ download speeds once they had consumed 32GB of data each month.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Burr: Facebook to testify publicly on Russian electoral disruption
Elana Schor, Politico

The Senate Intelligence Committee chairman said Tuesday that he expects Facebook officials to appear at a public hearing examining its role in Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election. The social networking giant is under intense scrutiny for its involvement in Russian meddling during last year’s presidential campaign and acknowledged earlier this month that it accepted about $150,000 in political ad spending from entities potentially linked to Russia.

Bitcoin Is Likely to Split Again in November, Say Major Players
Lulu Yilun Chen and Eric Lam, Bloomberg

Bitcoin is looking increasingly likely to splinter off again in November, creating a third version of the world’s largest cryptocurrency as miners and developers pursue separate visions to scale its rapidly growing marketplace. Major industry players, including the bitcoin investor Roger Ver known as “Bitcoin Jesus” for proselytizing on behalf of the digital currency, say consensus between opposing camps looked increasingly unlikely.

Tesla shares fall from record high after warning from analyst
Noel Randewich, Reuters

Shares of Tesla fell from record highs on Tuesday after an analyst warned that the electric car maker may take longer than expected to become profitable.Jefferies analyst Philippe Houchois launched coverage of Tesla with an “underperform” rating, helping send shares of the company headed by entrepreneur billionaire Elon Musk down 2.17 percent to $376.74 after closing at a record high the day before.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

How the Democrats plan to stop hackers from breaching 2018 campaigns
Chris Bing, CyberScoop

“Never again,” says Aaron Trujillo, chief of staff for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “That’s the message.” Roughly one year ago, the DCCC — the campaign arm for Democrats in the House of Representatives — revealed that its systems were breached by hackers.

What Cybercom’s independence means
Lauren C. Williams, FCW

U.S. Cyber Command was designated as an independent combatant command by presidential order in August. Now the big question is whether the cyber forces are going to separate from the National Security Agency.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

A majority of voters are concerned with data breaches, yet there are no national data security standards to protect consumers at checkout. It’s time retailers share responsibility for data security. Learn more from the Electronic Payments Coalition.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

The FCC Gets Real on Wireless Competition
Rick Boucher, Morning Consult

Each year, the Federal Communications Commission provides a report to Congress on the state of competition in the nation’s mobile wireless market, including “an analysis of whether or not there is effective competition.” In contrast to the past eight years, this year’s draft report provides both a comprehensive analysis of the state of the wireless industry and a clear answer to the question.

Backers of heavy-handed Internet rules are all thumbs
Pete Sepp, Washington Examiner

One of the most ironic developments in telecom policy has to be the recent campaign by self-styled advocates of a “free and open internet” to preserve heavy federal regulations on how online service is delivered. In their zeal to tip the scales in their favor, they’re proven to be all thumbs.

Before Wisconsin, Foxconn Vowed Big Spending in Brazil. Few Jobs Have Come.
David Barboza, The New York Times

Before the Taiwanese manufacturing giant Foxconn pledged to spend $10 billion and create 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin, the company made a similar promise in Brazil. At a news conference in Brazil, Foxconn officials unveiled plans to invest billions of dollars and build one of the world’s biggest manufacturing hubs in the state of São Paulo.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

Four times as many voters trust financial institutions over retailers to create new, more secure ways to pay, which is just one reason why the payments industry is focused on innovation. Banks and credit unions are continuously working to provide consumers with the latest security features when they pay. Get the latest from EPC.

Research Reports

Broadband: Additional Stakeholder Input Could Inform FCC Actions to Promote Competition
Government Accountability Office

Selected experts and stakeholders told GAO that infrastructure costs and other factors can limit broadband deployment and the extent of broadband competition. Factors these individuals identified included providers’ costs to deploy antennas, install wires or cables, and obtain permits to access existing infrastructure.

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