Tech Brief: Trump Signs Cybersecurity Executive Order

Washington Brief

  • President Donald Trump issued a long-awaited executive order to improve the nation’s cybersecurity, including implementing reviews of security practices and digital vulnerabilities. Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is expected to play a major role as leader of the administration’s Office of American Innovation. (Politico)
  • The Department of Transportation is investigating whether drones could replace human safety inspectors in construction projects. (Nextgov)
  • U.S. company Yahoo Inc. is under fire from Germany’s federal cyber agency for not providing data related to a series of hacks into customers’ emails going back to 2013. Germany is increasingly concerned with cybersecurity due to Russian interference in the French and U.S. presidential elections. (Reuters)

Business Brief

  • Alphabet Inc. alleges a former engineer stole thousands of documents related to self-driving cars before leaving to work for Uber Technologies Inc. A U.S. district judge in San Francisco is asking the U.S. attorney’s office to investigate the matter and blocked the part of Uber’s driverless car program Alphabet says it stole. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Another hacking crisis emerged in France, this time phishing attacks targeting customers of the nation’s central bank in an effort to get them to divulge personal information. (Bloomberg News)
  • With U.S. regulators exercising more scrutiny over deals with China, technology investors are looking at Israel instead, with Chinese investment in internet, medical devices, and cybersecurity in the Middle Eastern country increasing to a record $16.5 billion last year. (CNET)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Duke Law School conference on the FCC’s process for auctioning spectrum 8:30 a.m.
Advisory Committee to the Congressional Internet Caucus panel discussion on broadband infrastructure funding 12 p.m.



Blocked from US tech investing, China goes to Israel instead
Ben Fox Rubin, CNET

Chinese investors hoping to put their money in US tech startups have been hitting roadblocks lately, with tougher scrutiny from US regulators scuttling deals. Unfazed by this change, which was brought on in part by a new administration focused on US protectionism, Chinese investors are putting their money in Israeli companies instead, according to a report from Reuters published Thursday.

A drone inspects a bridge. Now what?
Mohana Ravindranath, Nextgov

Are drones better safety inspectors than humans? That’s what a Transportation Department research project aims to find out.

Commerce’s Ross: China’s plans threaten U.S. semiconductor dominance
David Lawder, Reuters

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross sees the U.S. semiconductor industry as still dominant globally but said he is worried that it will be threatened by China’s planned investment binge to build up its own chipmaking industry. Ross told Reuters in an interview this week that his agency is considering a national security review of semiconductors under a 1962 trade law because of their “huge defense implications” including their use in military hardware and proliferation in devices throughout the economy.

How Australia Bungled Its $36 Billion High-Speed Internet Rollout
Andrew McMillen, The New York Times

Fed up with Australian internet speeds that trail those in most of the developed world, Morgan Jaffit turned to a more reliable method of data transfer: the postal system. Hundreds of thousands of people from around the world have downloaded Hand of Fate, an action video game made by his studio in Brisbane, Defiant Development.

SoftBank Leads $502 Million Investment in U.K. Tech Startup
Jeremy Khan, Bloomberg News

SoftBank Group Corp. is leading a $502 million investment in Improbable Worlds Ltd., a London-based virtual reality startup, in one of the U.K.’s largest venture capital deals. The valuation wasn’t disclosed.

Commodity Rout Shows Signs of Easing as Gold Rises
Robert Brand, Bloomberg News

Gold climbed a second day amid a rebound for metal prices that helped ease a commodity rout even as oil remained depressed. Bonds extended gains.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

Judge Asks Federal Prosecutors to Investigate Uber’s Driverless Car Program
Jack Nicas, The Wall Street Journal

A judge asked federal prosecutors to investigate Uber Technologies Inc. and one of its engineers for potential theft of trade secrets from Google, heightening the stakes of a legal battle between Uber and Google parent Alphabet Inc. over driverless-car technology. U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco referred the case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate Alphabet’s allegations that one of its former engineers colluded with Uber to steal 14,000 Google documents related to self-driving cars before joining Uber.

Setback for Uber as European court advised to treat it as transport firm
Julia Fioretti and Michele Sinner, Reuters

Uber faces the biggest challenge yet to its European roll-out after the region’s top court was advised to rule that the U.S. ride-hailing firm is actually a transport service not an app. Although the opinion of the Court of Justice of the European Union’s (ECJ) Advocate General Maciej Szpunar is non-binding, its judges usually follow such advice and are likely to reach a final ruling in the landmark case in the coming months.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

Cisco acquires artificial intelligence specialist MindMeld for $125M, furthers software-focused strategy
Sean Buckley, Fierce Telecom

Cisco is continuing its buying spree by acquiring artificial intelligence (AI) vendor MindMeld for $125 million, a move that signals the routing giant’s ongoing move to transform itself into a software-focused company. San Francisco-based MindMeld has developed a conversational platform based on natural language understanding (NLU).

Mobile operators to spend $21B on 5G NR by end of 2025: SNS
Monica Alleven, Fierce Wireless

Mobile operators will spend more than $21 billion on standardized 5G New Radio (NR) infrastructure by the end of 2025, according to SNS Research. Of course, pre-standards 5G work is already well underway and SNS Research previously released an estimate saying that by the end of 2017, pre-standards 5G network investments are expected to account for over $250 million.

ComScore to offer viewership numbers for Netflix, Amazon, Hulu
Ben Munson, Fierce Cable

Measurement firm ComScore is promising to offer viewership data for OTT platforms through a new solution based on the company’s Total Home Panel. Total Home Panel is a single-source research platform for measuring cross-platform media consumption.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Twitter CEO: Trump tweets ‘really important’ for transparency
Ali Breland, The Hill

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is defending President Trump’s use of the social media platform. “I believe it’s really important to hear directly from our leadership. And I believe it’s really important to hold them accountable,” Dorsey said on a segment NBC News’ “Sunday Today with Willie Geist,” which will air this weekend. 

NFL to Produce Live Show for Twitter
Jon Lafeyette, Broadcasting and Cable

Twitter made a new deal with the NFL that will put live football programming on the social media site. Last season, Twitter streamed Thursday Night Football.

An update on Uber’s participation in this year’s Code Conference
Peter Kafka, Recode

Here’s an update on Uber’s investigation into its workplace culture: Uber’s top executives and board will see it at the very end of May. But the company won’t distribute it to its employees, and explain what its next steps will be, until sometime after that, likely the week of June 5.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

Trump signs long-awaited cyber order, launching hacking defense review
Eric Geller, Politico

President Donald Trump on Thursday signed a long-delayed cybersecurity executive order that launches sweeping reviews of the federal government’s digital vulnerabilities and directs agencies to adopt specific security practices. The directive is Trump’s first major action on cyber policy and sets the stage for the administration’s efforts to secure porous federal networks that have been repeatedly infiltrated by digital pranksters, cyber thieves and government-backed hackers from China and Russia.

German cyber agency chides Yahoo for not helping hacking probe
Andrea Shalal, Reuters

Germany’s federal cyber agency said on Thursday that Yahoo Inc. had not cooperated with its investigation into a series of hacks that compromised more than one billion of the U.S. company’s email users between 2013 and 2016. Yahoo’s Dublin-based Europe, Middle East and Africa unit “refused to give the BSI any information and referred all questions to the Irish Data Protection Commission, without, however, giving it the authority to provide information to the BSI,” Germany’s BSI computer security agency said.

Cybercrime Outbreak Targets French Banking Customers
Marie Mawad  and Fabio Benedetti Valentini, Bloomberg News

There’s an outbreak of email and telephone hoaxes in France falsely attributed to the country’s central bank, as criminals multiply attempts to steal credentials from French companies and consumers, the Bank of France said. People have been receiving emails with fake bills, reports of bank accounts being frozen and of loans granted — all to trick them into handing over account numbers and other such data, France’s central bank said on Thursday.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Without Workplace Reforms, Robots Could Replace More Women Than Men
Rebecca Henderson, Morning Consult

A war of words has broken out among commentators over whether robots will create or destroy more American jobs. The more important question is: Whose job will be the most affected by the robot revolution?

The future of net neutrality might rest on this obscure court case
Brian Fung, The Washington Post

There’s a huge court case you need to hear about. It might not be on your radar yet because, frankly, some of it gets pretty technical. But the outcome is likely to have enormous repercussions for online privacy, net neutrality and the economy.

What Facebook Could Learn From China’s Censors
Li Yuan, The Wall Street Journal

To get Facebook Inc. unblocked in China, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has tried everything from lobbying Chinese leaders to taking a run past smoggy Tiananmen Square. Facebook’s recent difficulties with violent videos posted to the social network are giving Mr. Zuckerberg a taste of what it would be like to operate in China.

Research Reports

A concept paper on digitisation, employability and inclusiveness: the role of Europe
European Commission

Over the last year or so, there have been numerous expressions of concerns that digitisation, in particular robots and artificial intelligence, will replace jobs and increase inequality. These concerns come from the research community, technologists and trade unions and are widely reported in the media.