Tech Brief: Trump’s Budget Would Give DHS $1.5 Billion for Cybersecurity

Washington Brief

  • President Donald Trump’s budget request proposes $1.5 billion for the Department of Homeland Security to defend critical infrastructure and federal computer networks from cyberattacks. The White House also called for greater collaboration between public and private partners on cybersecurity. (The Hill)
  • Homeland security adviser Tom Bossert said Trump’s long-awaited executive order on cybersecurity is unlikely to come out in the near future, suggesting its final release is weeks or months away. Bossert said the president’s impending budget request will include the beginnings of a plan to upgrade federal network security. (Nextgov)
  • The Justice Department indicted two Russian intelligence officers for allegedly coordinating the theft of data from more than 500 million Yahoo Inc. accounts in 2014. The Russian government used the data collected by those officers and two other hackers — who were also charged — to spy on government and civilian targets in the United States and civilian targets in Russia, according to the indictment. (The New York Times)

Business Brief

  • More than 50 tech companies, including Airbnb Inc., Lyft, Dropbox Inc. and Y Combinator signed onto an amicus brief opposing Trump’s most recent executive order on immigration. Apple Inc., Inc. and Microsoft Corp. did not oppose Trump’s new order, which a federal judge in Hawaii has put on hold. (The Hill)
  • Oracle Corp. posted better-than-expected revenue and profits for the first quarter of 2017, a sign of growing demand for the company’s cloud computing services that compete with Amazon and Inc. It’s the third consecutive quarter of revenue gains for Oracle after more than a year of declines. (Bloomberg News)
  • Toshiba Corp. offered shares in its memory chip unit to creditors as collateral for a debt refinancing scheme. The Japanese company is struggling to recover from a $6.3 billion writedown earlier this year over Westinghouse, its U.S. nuclear power unit. (Reuters)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

ITIF event on Chinese innovation 10 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on smart communities 10 a.m.
Open Technology Institute event on strong encryption 1:30 p.m.



Trump Calls for 28 Percent Cut to State Dept. in ‘America First’ Budget Proposal
Eli Yokley, Morning Consult

President Donald Trump’s administration on Thursday will release an outline of its budget request for fiscal year 2018, calling for a $54 billion hike in defense spending paid for by cuts to foreign aid and domestic programs. Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the “America first” budget is based on the promises Trump made to the American people during the 2016 campaign.

What Trump cut in his budget
Kim Soffen and Denise Lu, The Washington Post

On Thursday, the Trump administration released a preliminary 2018 budget proposal, which details many of the changes the president wants to make to the federal government’s spending. The proposal covers only discretionary, not mandatory, spending.

Airbnb, Lyft among dozens of tech companies opposing Trump’s latest travel ban
Ali Breland, The Hill

More than 50 technology companies have signed onto an amicus brief opposing President Trump’s revised executive order barring foreign nationals from six predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. Airbnb, Lyft, Dropbox and Y Combinator were among major technology-focused organizations and companies that signed onto the brief, which was filed Wednesday and supports Hawaii’s lawsuit to block the implementation of the order Trump signed last week.

Oracle’s Cloud Business Shows Momentum as Sales, Profit Beat
Brian Womack, Bloomberg News

Oracle Corp. posted third-quarter revenue and profit that topped analysts’ estimates, signaling growing demand for the software maker’s cloud-based services that compete with Inc. and Inc. Profit before certain items was 69 cents a share, compared with an average estimate of 62 cents.

Toshiba offers memory chip shares as collateral for loans: sources
Taro Fuse and Taiga Uranaka, Reuters

Japan’s crisis-racked Toshiba Corp has offered shares in its memory chip unit to creditors as collateral to secure debt refinancing, people briefed on the matter said on Wednesday. The offer comes one day after the industrial conglomerate missed submitting audited third-quarter earnings for a second time and said it would ‘actively consider’ selling a majority stake in the Westinghouse nuclear unit at the center of its troubles.

Dovish Fed, Dutch Vote Spur Stocks as Oil Advances
Min Jeong Lee et al., Bloomberg News

Futures on the S&P 500 rose 0.2 percent after the benchmark gauge added 0.8 percent on Wednesday.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

EU’s Antitrust Chief Sounds Alarm Over Risk of Automated Online Price Collusion
Natalia Drozdiak, The Wall Street Journal

The European Union’s antitrust agency is closely scrutinizing whether algorithms make it easier for companies to collude over prices online and is considering stricter fines for cartels using those tools, the bloc’s competition chief said Thursday. At issue are programs companies use that continuously crawl the internet to check prices in online shops.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

Mayors slam AT&T for slow Internet, long phone outages
Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica

AT&T is failing to provide fast Internet service to many customers and is doing a poor job maintaining old copper phone networks, mayors and other elected officials from California and Nevada said yesterday. The officials are taking the side of workers in a union’s ongoing labor dispute with AT&T, saying that the carrier has cut jobs while letting customers suffer long network outages.

In Dallas, 911 Center Is Haunted by ‘Ghost’ T-Mobile Calls
Ryan Knutson, The Wall Street Journal

Repeated hang-up calls are flooding the 911 center in Dallas, causing massive backlogs, and no one can figure out why. The calls are coming from customers of T-Mobile US Inc., Dallas officials said Wednesday at a news conference.

The crucial service Trump left out of his massive infrastructure goals, and how the FCC wants to fix it
Brian Fung, The Washington Post

America’s top telecom regulator wants the government to expand that thinking by including a type of network that 3 out of 4 Americans use on a daily basis, but doesn’t often make it on the politicians’ lists: high-speed Internet. “If Congress moves forward with a major infrastructure package, broadband should be included,” said Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, in a speech Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

Google, Facebook Build a Data Highway to Asia—Financed by a Chinese Developer
Eva Dou and Drew Fitzgerald, The Wall Street Journal

A real-estate magnate is financing Google’s and Facebook Inc.’s new trans-Pacific internet cable, the first such project that will be majority-owned by a single Chinese company. Wei Junkang, 56, is the main financier of the cable between Los Angeles and Hong Kong, a reflection of growing interest from China’s investors in high-tech industries.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

GoPro to Cut 270 More Jobs
Anne Steele, The Wall Street Journal

GoPro Inc. will cut another 270 jobs amid its broader restructuring aimed at making the company profitable. The cut—which follows a similar cut of 200 jobs in November—is part of the company’s efforts to lower its expenses. GoPro stock popped 8% after hours to $7.94.

WhatsApp, Telegram patch flaws in instant messaging applications
Joseph Menn, Reuters

WhatsApp and Telegram patched flaws in their popular instant messaging applications after security researchers showed that they could seize control of user accounts. Researchers with Check Point Software Technologies Inc discovered problems with the way the two apps process some types of files without verifying that they do not contain active code that could be malicious.

Snap shares hit new low in choppy trading as valuation concerns mount
Sinead Carew and Saqib Ahmed, Reuters

Shares in Snap Inc hit a fresh low on Wednesday, falling as much as 2.6 percent before clawing back some losses in choppy trading as analysts questioned the company’s prospects. In its tenth day of trading after its $3.4 billion public listing, the owner of the Snapchat messaging app was last down 0.9 percent at $20.40 after hitting a low of $20.05 in the first few minutes of trade.

Slack is adding Square CFO Sarah Friar as its first independent board member
Kara Swisher, Recode

Slack, the popular business communications platform, has added Square CFO Sarah Friar as its first independent board member. She will also become its first female director.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

Trump’s budget proposal gives DHS $1.5 billion for cybersecurity
Morgan Chalfant, The Hill

President Trump’s first federal budget blueprint proposes $1.5 billion for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to protect federal networks and critical infrastructure from cyberattacks. The budget request, which bolsters DHS funding by 6.8 percent while making deep cuts to other agencies and departments, also calls for deepened cooperation between the government and the private sector on cybersecurity.

Expect a Cyber Budget Boost But Stay Tuned for that Executive Order, Homeland Adviser Says
Joseph Marks, Nextgov

President Donald Trump’s budget, due out Thursday, will include early indications of a broad plan to upgrade the security of federal networks, Trump’s top homeland security adviser said Wednesday. Don’t expect a multibillion-dollar investment that will modernize government cybersecurity in one fell swoop, though, Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert said during an address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.

Russian Agents Were Behind Yahoo Hack, U.S. Says
Vindu Goel and Eric Lichtblau, The New York Times

The Justice Department charged two Russian intelligence officers on Wednesday with directing a sweeping criminal conspiracy that stole data on 500 million Yahoo accounts in 2014, deepening the rift between American and Russian authorities on cybersecurity. The Russian government used the information obtained by the intelligence officers and two other men to spy on a range of targets, from White House and military officials to executives at banks, two American cloud computing companies, an airline and even a gambling regulator in Nevada, according to an indictment.

Senator asks DHS for plans to treat election infrastructure as critical
Morgan Chalfant, The Hill

A Democratic senator is looking for answers on whether the Trump administration will keep in place the designation of election infrastructure as “critical” and, if so, how the new administration plans to implement it. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) directed a number of questions at Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly in a letter this month in order to better understand the designation, which was made by his predecessor Jeh Johnson just weeks before Barack Obama left the White House.

House intel chairman: No evidence of wiretapping claim
Manu Raju et al., CNN

President Donald Trump’s claim that former President Barack Obama ordered the wiretapping of his phones ran into headwinds on several fronts Wednesday, as three top Republicans said they’d seen no evidence of the assertion. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said he does not believe Trump’s claim that Obama wiretapped him, but said it’s possible Trump communications may have been gathered in “incidental” intelligence collection.

Dem lawmakers propose bill to regulate drone data collection
Olivia Beavers, The Hill

Two Democratic lawmakers proposed legislation Wednesday that they said would protect individuals’ privacy and inform the public about the U.S. government’s expanded drone use. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said in a news release The Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act would set transparency standards and include privacy protection provisions.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

Looking for something voters can agree on? Repeal the Durbin amendment. Recent polling shows that by a 2-1 margin voters think the Durbin amendment should be repealed. It is a failed policy, with retailers pocketing an extra $42 billion at their customers’ expense. Get the facts about retailers’ broken promises from EPC.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Why ‘American Winning’ Will Need Trump and Tech Together
Michael Beckerman and Gary Shapiro, Morning Consult

In his first address to Congress, President Donald Trump asked all Americans to embrace the “renewal of the American spirit” and “believe in [the] future.” We can all agree that a strong American future is possible through bipartisan cooperation within government and industry.

It’s Time for America to Protect Its Cyber Borders
Rick Orloff, Nextgov

On the heels of Donald Trump’s inauguration, the U.S. intelligence community released a report detailing the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the U.S. presidential election. While the report carried a lot of shock value, it wasn’t surprising.

An Easy Way to Make the Skies Friendlier
Christopher Koopman and Eli Dourado, The Wall Street Journal

Uber is great, but ride-sharing for airplane pilots, potentially the most disruptive innovation in the sharing economy, hasn’t gotten off the ground. The Supreme Court clipped its wings by declining to hear a case brought by Flytenow, ending the tiny company’s yearslong quest to survive.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

Across party lines, a majority of voters identify the Durbin amendment as a price control. History has taught us price controls rarely work as intended and the Durbin amendment is another example of failed policy. It’s time to end the merchant markup once and for all. Learn how to take action now.

Research Reports

The 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study: Women in Cybersecurity
The Center for Cyber Safety and Education and Executive Women’s Forum on International Security, Risk Management and Privacy

The report clearly highlights the fact that as the workforce gap in cybersecurity continues to rise, the number of women professionals in the field remains stagnant at 11%. Despite higher levels of education, women still earn less than men and more than half experience various forms of discrimination.