Tech Brief: Verizon Confirms Leak of 6 Million Customers’ Data

Washington Brief

  • President Donald Trump’s nominee for FBI director, Christopher Wray, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and said that he would prioritize cyber issues and reauthorizing foreign surveillance powers at the agency if confirmed. (FCW)
  • Hundreds of tech companies, including Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., joined forces on the National Day of Action on Net Neutrality in a coordinated show of opposition to the Federal Communications Commission’s proposed effort to roll back the Obama-era net neutrality rules. Companies large and small shared pro-net neutrality messages and changed their home page banners to voice support for the current FCC rule that protects websites from unfair treatment by internet service providers. (The New York Times)
  • The White House Office of American Innovation is turning its IT modernization efforts to improving federal customer service, part of a larger effort to improve the experience of Americans who turn to the government for a variety of programs. The Jared Kushner-led office is working on “strategic, multiyear projects” that mirror customer service in the private sector. (Nextgov)

Business Brief

  • Verizon Communications Inc. confirmed that the personal data of 6 million of its customers was leaked online due to misconfigured security settings on a cloud server. The leak, discovered by cybersecurity firm UpGuard, included customer names, phone numbers and PIN codes that are used to confirm users’ accounts. (CNN)
  • Amazon’s 30-hour Prime Day sales event, which saw deep discounts to some of the company’s own products, was the company’s largest ever sales day. Amazon saw a 60-percent increase in sales compared to Prime Day 2016, an increase driven in large part by consumer interest in Amazon’s Echo line of home speakers. (TechCrunch)
  • Uber is merging its ride-sharing business in Russia with tech company Yandex. Uber will invest $225 million in the joint business and will take a 36.6 percent stake in the new venture that’s valued at $3.73 billion. (Bloomberg)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Thursday
Pollster to release results of net neutrality poll among Trump voters 9 a.m.
Senate subcommittee hearing on public-private partnerships in space exploration 10 a.m.
FCC monthly commissioner meeting 10:30 a.m.
Ridesharing teleforum hosted by The Federalist Society 12:30 p.m.
Friday
No events scheduled.

 

General

Office of American Innovation Targets Federal Customer Service
Frank Konkel, Nextgov

The White House Office of American Innovation has its crosshairs set on improving federal customer service, a major challenge because of the government’s “near monopoly” in providing poor service delivery. The White House’s customer service effort is linked to modernizing government technology and will include long-term “strategic, multiyear projects,” according to Chris Liddell, assistant to the president and director of strategic initiatives.

Off the Map: The Rough Road Ahead for Self-Driving Cars in China
By Liza Lin and Tim Higgins, The Wall Street Journal

As auto makers such as General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co., along with tech companies including Google and Apple Inc., rush to develop self-driving vehicles or the software behind them, the world’s largest auto market—China—is creating roadblocks. Self-driving cars need detailed maps to help them discern their exact location, navigate tricky intersections and avoid fixed objects like buildings.

Democrats in Congress are promising to do everything they can to stop the FCC from gutting net neutrality
Tony Romm, Recode

Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress find themselves at war once again over net neutrality, blaming each other for failing to adopt lasting rules that safeguard the open internet — and put to rest a debate that’s more than a decade in the making. The spark came Wednesday in the form of a massive online rally, as tech giants like Google and Twitter joined liberal activists in an attempt to pressure the Federal Communications Commission into preserving rules that require the likes of AT&T, Charter, Comcast and Verizon to treat all web traffic equally.

Relief Rally Spurs Stocks to Record; Dollar Falls: Markets Wrap
Eddie Van Der Walt and Garfield Clinton Reynolds, Bloomberg

European shares were swept up in a rally that took global stocks to a record after Janet Yellen spurred expectations the Fed won’t rush to end the era of cheap money. European bonds gained while the dollar fell against most major peers.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

Google Spared $1.3 Billion Tax Bill With Victory in French Court
Gaspard Sebag, Bloomberg

Google won its fight against a 1.12 billion-euro ($1.3 billion) French tax bill after a court rejected claims the search-engine giant abused loopholes to avoid paying its fair share. Google didn’t illegally dodge French taxes by routing sales in the country out of Ireland, the Paris administrative court decided Wednesday.

Blumenthal asks antitrust pick to discuss White House role in AT&T deal
David Shepardson, Reuters

Senator Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said on Wednesday that he asked President Donald Trump’s top antitrust pick to meet to discuss any contact he has had with the White House regarding AT&T’s plan to merge with Time Warner. Blumenthal told reporters on Capitol Hill that he requested the meeting with Makan Delrahim in the wake of a New York Times report that White House advisers battling television news station CNN mulled using a government review of AT&T’s merger plans as leverage.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

Verizon data of 6 million users leaked online
Selena Larson, CNN

Verizon confirmed on Wednesday the personal data of 6 million customers has leaked online. The security issue, uncovered by research from cybersecurity firm UpGuard, was caused by a misconfigured security setting on a cloud server due to “human error.”

See How Tech Companies Got Together for a Day of Online Protest
Cecilia Kang, The New York Times

For one day, tech companies big and small united on a common cause: to protest the government’s rollback of rules for the internet. Google, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon and hundreds of smaller tech companies coordinated a huge online protest on Wednesday against the Federal Communications Commission’s plan to scrap net neutrality rules, which guarantee that broadband service providers treat all internet traffic equally.

Reps. Pallone, Doyle Push for FCC Oversight Hearing
 John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

Ranking members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Communications Subcommittee Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) are pushing their Republican colleagues to hold an FCC oversight hearing by the end of the month. Communications Subcommittee chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) had signaled at a June 21 broadband hearing that was the plan, but the ranking members want to make sure that happens.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Amazon’s Prime Day was the biggest sales day in its history, up 60% on 2016 led by the Echo
Ingrid Lunden, TechCrunch

We said yesterday that all signs pointed to Amazon’s Prime Day sales event smashing through its own numbers, and that is exactly what happened: the company today announced that the 30-hour sale, which saw deep discounts on Amazon’s own Echo products as well as a host of other bargains (hundreds of thousands of items, in Amazon’s words), was the biggest sales day in the company’s history, and up 60% compared to a year ago. “To those customers who tried Prime for the first time and our long time members, thank you for a great Prime Day,” said Greg Greeley, Vice President, Amazon Prime, in a statement.

Uber Cedes Russia to Yandex With $3.7 Billion Merger Agreement
Eric Newcomer, Bloomberg

Uber Technologies Inc. is handing over the keys to its business in Russia. The San Francisco-based company and Yandex NV are merging their ride-hailing businesses in Russia.

Uber Drivers Win Preliminary Class-Action Status in Labor Case
David Streitfeld, The New York Times

Uber drivers have won a tentative victory in their long-running legal battle to be classified as employees rather than independent contractors. A federal court in North Carolina gave conditional certification on Wednesday to a class-action lawsuit by several Uber drivers that was brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Mark Zuckerberg Hits the Road to Meet Regular Folks—With a Few Conditions
Reid J. Epstein and Deepa Seetharaman, The Wall Street Journal

Mark Zuckerberg is trying to understand America, so he’s embarked on a journey to meet people like hockey moms and steelworkers who don’t typically cross his path. But there are rules to abide by if you are an ordinary person about to meet an extraordinary entrepreneur.

Facebook is still trying to get people pumped about virtual reality
Kurt Wagner, Recode

There are lots of things you can do using virtual reality, you probably just aren’t aware of them. So says Facebook.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

FBI nominee stresses cyber and spy powers
Sean D. Carberry, FCW

If confirmed as the next FBI director, Christopher Wray will drill down on cyber in his first 90 days, and prioritize reauthorizing foreign surveillance powers and finding a solution to the encryption debate, he told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.Wray, who has been in private practice since leaving the Justice Department in 2005, said he is not a cyber expert and will need to get up to speed if confirmed.

Kaspersky Lab says it has become pawn in U.S.-Russia geopolitical game
Katya Golubkova, Reuters

Russian cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab, reacting to a U.S. government move restricting its activities, said on Wednesday it had fallen victim to U.S.-Russia global sparring while the Kremlin criticized the U.S. action as politically-motivated. The Trump administration on Tuesday removed the Moscow-based firm from two lists of approved vendors used by government agencies to purchase technology equipment, amid concerns its products could be used by the Kremlin to gain entry into U.S. networks.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Protecting Intellectual Property Is Critical for Our Economy
Jenny Beth Martin, Morning Consult

At first blush, the recent dispute between Comcast and TiVo may seem to be nothing more than a feud between two competitors vying for a competitive edge in the free market. Closer inspection, however, reveals this dispute to be anything but a free-market clash – and the implications for U.S. consumers, inventors and even the future of the rule of law are at stake.

What We Lose When the World Moves On From Email
Farhad Manjoo, The New York Times

Though its political implications are yet unclear, the publication of an email chain in which Donald Trump Jr. arranged a June 2016 meeting with a lawyer peddling the Russian government’s help for his father’s presidential campaign ought to inspire some pretty obvious tech advice: Step away from the inbox, stupid! That’s not a partisan slight.

Research Reports

Online Harassment 2017
Maeve Duggan, Pew Research Center

To borrow an expression from the technology industry, harassment is now a “feature” of life online for many Americans. In its milder forms, it creates a layer of negativity that people must sift through as they navigate their daily routines online.