Tech Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead

Week in Review

Homeland Security 

  • 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.
  • A pair of audits by KPMG found that staff in the offices of the DHS chief information officer and chief financial officer maintain lax security protocols and leave unsecured electronics and computer passwords on their desks.
  • Qatar Airways announced the U.S 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 was the fourth Middle Eastern airline last week to announce the lifting of the ban on their U.S. flights.

European Union cracks down on tech companies

  • Antitrust regulators with the European Union have appointed a panel of experts to provide a second opinion on their case against Google Inc.’s Android mobile operating system. The European Commission charged Google last month with a record $2.7 billion penalty for favoring its shopping services over those of its competitors, but the fine for the Android case could be even larger.
  • The European Parliament approved recommendations for tech companies to make electronic devices like cellphones and laptops easier to fix, including a provision creating a European Union-wide definition on the practice of “planned obsolescence.”
  • The Trump administration filed an application with a European court in support of Apple Inc.’s appeal of an EU order that the company pay $14.8 billion in back taxes to Ireland.

Federal Communications Commission

  • The Federal Communications Commission adopted an order clarifying that phone privacy rules are in effect, dismissing challenges to telecom privacy rules Congress nullified earlier this year through a Congressional Review Act resolution.
  • Jerry Ellig, a senior fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., has been named the new chief economist for the FCC.

What’s Ahead

  • The House of Representatives will return from the Fourth of July recess on Tuesday. The U.S. Senate will reconvene Monday.
  • Google, Twitter Inc. and other tech organizations and advocacy groups will be participating in the Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality on July 12. The day will feature events across the country and online in response to the FCC’s efforts to undo the net neutrality rules.

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Monday
Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee event on European data warrants 12 p.m.
Tuesday
Media Institute event with Microsoft’s Brad Smith on rural broadband 12:30 p.m.
Wednesday
Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy event on net neutrality 10:30 a.m.
Thursday
Senate subcommittee hearing on public-private partnerships in space exploration 10 a.m.
FCC monthly commissioner meeting 10:30 a.m.
Friday
No events scheduled.

 

Morning Consult Tech Top Reads

1) Trump administration backs Apple’s appeal of EU tax case
Harper Neidig, The Hill

2) Broadcom wins U.S. antitrust consent to buy Brocade: FTC
Diane Bartz, Reuters

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

4) FCC Approves Phone Privacy Clarification Order
John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

5) Raiding the minibar — we’re addicted to sexual harassment scandals
Allison Baum, Recode

6) Reports: Microsoft set to announce thousands of layoffs as it focuses on cloud software
Alex Schiffer, The Washington Post

7) Why the Robot Takeover of the Economy Is Proceeding Slowly
Craig Torres, Bloomberg News

8) Lawmakers press on Census finances and leadership
Chase Gunter, FCW

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

10) Hackers Are Targeting Nuclear Facilities, Homeland Security Dept. and F.B.I. Say
Nicole Perlroth, The New York Times

Briefings

Tech Brief: Foxconn to Build $10 Billion Factory in Wisconsin

President Donald Trump announced that Foxconn Technology Group will build a $10 billion factory in Wisconsin that’s expected to create 3,000 initial jobs. The factory is the largest economic development project in state history, and Trump indicated the commitment was a direct result of him winning the state’s electoral votes during the 2016 presidential election.

Tech Brief: IT Upgrade Gets No Funding in House Appropriations

Despite a renewed effort in Congress and by the Trump administration to modernize the federal government’s IT infrastructure, House appropriations bills headed to the floor this week don’t include any funding for a bill to upgrade government technology. The bills instead acknowledge the importance of these efforts, leading to some concerns about Congress’ commitment to financially supporting a larger modernization push.

Tech Brief: FCC Reauthorization Could Nix 1975 Media Rule

House Republican lawmakers are attempting to end the ban on media cross-ownership as part of their draft legislation for reauthorizing the Federal Communications Commission, according to a GOP memo circulating in advance of a scheduled Tuesday oversight hearing. The 1975 rule prevents TV and radio stations from owning daily newspapers in the same media market.

Tech Brief: White House Supports FCC’s Net Neutrality Repeal

The White House weighed in on the net neutrality debate, with deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issuing a statement in support of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to roll back rules instituted by the 2015 Open Internet Order. President Donald Trump stopped short of filing comments with the FCC on the matter, but Sanders said that the issue should be resolved through congressional legislation.

Tech Brief: Internet Association Asks FCC to Keep Net Neutrality

The Internet Association, a group that represents major tech companies including Alphabet Inc. and Facebook Inc., is officially calling on the Federal Communications Commission to keep net neutrality rules in place. In comments filed with the agency, the Internet Association noted that a net neutrality repeal could cause damage to the markets and limit innovation.

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