Tech Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead


Week in Review

Immigration concerns

  • The Information Technology Industry Council, which represents major Silicon Valley firms in Washington, criticized recently introduced immigration legislation backed by President Donald Trump which the trade group says would limit access to STEM-skilled workers. GOP Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.) and David Perdue (Ga.) introduced the legislation at the White House with Trump.
  • Tech giants and startups asked the Trump administration not to rescind a rule proposed by former President Barack Obama that would allow foreign entrepreneurs to bring their businesses to the United States for two years, with the potential to stay longer. The International Entrepreneur Rule was set to take effect this year, but last month the Department of Homeland Security delayed its implementation until March 2018.
  • Canadian government officials and tech company executives, meanwhile, are taking advantage of tightening immigration and H-1B visa policies under the Trump administration to lure potential employees across the border. Factors include public health care and greater job security.

Companies concede to a rise in censorship

  • Apple Inc. agreed to remove virtual private network applications from its app stores in China. The Chinese government has been bolstering its “great firewall,” which blocks access to many, mostly foreign, websites — a firewall that VPNs could circumvent. The company defended its actions, saying it complies with the law in every country, but is facing public backlash for giving into China’s censorship demands. With the company’s largest foreign market as well as its production line based in the country, it would have a lot to lose if it didn’t comply with China’s rules.
  • Amazon.com Inc. followed suit and is also complying with the Chinese government’s censorship efforts. The company that operates Amazon Web Services in China sent emails to its customers telling them to stop using software that could circumvent the country’s “Great Firewall.”

Congress on cybersecurity

  • Concerned about cybersecurity risks posed by the “internet of things,” Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced a bill to have the federal government’s procurement of connected devices meet “thorough, yet flexible” guidelines. Internet-connected devices are vulnerable to distributed denial of service attacks and some can effectively be reconfigured to spy on users.
  • Senate committees advanced two bipartisan bills designed to give students and small businesses incentives to boost their cyber skills as part of an effort to combat the growing threat from cyberattacks.

  • Despite founder and CEO Eugene Kaspersky’s denial that his Russia-based Kaspersky Lab, which makes security software, has any connection to Russian intelligence, lawmakers are seeking to stop federal government use of the firm. Kaspersky has said he’s willing to testify before Congress about his company’s alleged ties to Russian spy services. 

Facebook upping its AI game

  • Apple’s Siri is about to get some competition: Facebook Inc. announced its acquisition of artificial intelligence startup Ozlo Inc., which is to be layered in with the company’s Messenger app. The hope is that Ozlo can help Messenger build a better virtual assistant.
  • Facebook said it plans to use improved machine learning that will identify fake news and send such articles to third-party fact checkers, who will add an addendum to suspicious posts. The move is part of the company’s efforts to fight fake news following criticism that those types of articles influenced the 2016 U.S. presidential election. 

What’s Ahead

  • Congress will be in recess until Sept. 5.

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Monday
NATOA seminar on compensation for public land use 2 p.m.
Tuesday
No events scheduled.
Wednesday
No events scheduled.
Thursday
D.C. Tech-Security Conference 8:15 a.m.
Friday
No events scheduled.
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Briefings

Tech Brief: Lobbying Tech Groups Target NAFTA Renegotiations

According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, the number of tech companies and trade associations registered to lobby U.S., Canadian and Mexican government officials has more than doubled in the last few months. Companies like Cisco Systems Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are looking to zero out tariffs for tech goods and remove restrictions on cloud storage as officials prepare to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Tech Brief: Intel CEO Leaves Trump’s Manufacturing Council

Brian Krzanich, Intel Corp.’s chief executive, joined the chief executives of Merck and Under Armour in announcing that he would leave Trump’s council on American manufacturing following the president’s response to violence during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. Krzanich said he resigned “to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues.” 

Tech Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit will not block the Federal Communications Commission’s April decision to eliminate price caps for much of the business broadband market. The FCC’s business data services ruling deems certain local markets as competitive, even when there is only one broadband service provider.

Tech Brief: Benchmark Capital Sues Former Uber CEO Kalanick

Benchmark Capital is suing Uber Technologies Inc.’s co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick for not honoring the terms of his resignation and allegedly trying to stack the company’s board with allies to prepare for a return as CEO. The Silicon Valley venture firm, one of Uber’s biggest shareholders, alleges that Kalanick is attempting to “entrench himself for his own selfish ends” — an accusation a Kalanick spokesman called “without merit.”

Tech Brief: Kaspersky Lab, Microsoft Reach Antitrust Resolution

Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab plans to withdraw antitrust complaints it made in Europe against Microsoft Corp. after the U.S. tech company agreed to work with outside antivirus vendors on delivery of its security updates for Windows users. The Moscow-based security company in June accused Microsoft of abusing its dominance in the computer market by favoring its own antivirus software over those of independent security companies.

Tech Brief: SoftBank Considers U.S. Ride-Hailing Investment

SoftBank Group Corp.’s founder and CEO, Masayoshi Son, publicly expressed interest in branching out into the U.S. ride-hailing market by investing in Uber Technologies Inc. or Lyft Inc. SoftBank has funded Uber’s competitors in China, India and Southeast Asia, but last month reports came out that the company was looking at buying a stake in Uber.

Tech Brief: WannaCry Hero Indicted for Kronos Malware

Marcus Hutchins, the security researcher credited with helping to stop the spread of the global WannaCry cyberattack in May, was indicted for his alleged involvement in creating, advertising and distributing Kronos malware between July 2014 and July 2015. Kronos steals victims’ banking credentials by directing them to malicious websites.

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