TECH & CYBER BRIEFING: Chao, A.I., Privacy, Section 230 at CES

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Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios will be keynote speakers at CES today on a panel about the future of transportation.

Chao is set to talk about emerging transportation technology, though the agency didn’t give specifics, Courtney Rozen reports. The conference already features several sessions on self-driving cars and drones, and the secretary discussed her department’s efforts to test flying drones over people in her speech at the event in 2018.

Kratsios is expected to discuss the artificial intelligence regulatory principles the White House Office of Science and Technology introduced this week that seek to provide regulatory guidance to federal agencies and the private sector on developing trustworthy, non-discriminatory AI technology. Read more on those principles.

A panel on artificial intelligence on today will feature former Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who is now running for the 50th congressional district seat in southern California. Lynne Parker, U.S. deputy chief technology officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Svetlana Matt, a legislative assistant to Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), will also be speaking on the artificial intelligence panel, along with Michael Beckerman, CEO and president of the Internet Association, which represents large tech companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook.

Also today, a panel entitled “Innovation and Privacy: How We Keep Both” will feature Christi Barnhardt, senior counsel to Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Khaliah Barnes, the privacy and public policy manager at Facebook.

Wrapping up today’s tech policy sessions is a panel on the future Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, featuring Jeff Kosseff, who literally wrote the book on the history of the obscure provision that grant large tech companies liability protection. Some members of Congress want to make changes to Section 230, including Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who are working on a bill that would make the liability protections contingent on tech companies making stronger protections for children’s privacy online.

Apple Privacy Exec Defends Encryption After FBI Request: Apple’s top privacy executive defended the company’s use of encryption after recent clashes with law enforcement and politicians over access to information locked on iPhones. IPhones are prone to be lost or stolen, so Apple needs to make sure the devices are encrypted to protect data such as health and payment information, Senior Director of Global Privacy Jane Horvath said during yesterday’s panel discussion at CES.

She also called terrorism and child sexual abuse “abhorrent” and stressed that Apple helps law enforcement with investigations every day.

The FBI recently asked Apple to help it access information on iPhones belonging to an alleged gunman who killed three people at a Florida naval base last month. The gunman is dead and the handsets are locked by a password and encrypted, so federal investigators can’t get the device data. Mark Gurman has more.

Ivanka and The Future of Work: Ivanka Trump spoke during yesterday’s keynote about the White House’s “Pledge to America’s Workers,” which seeks commitments from large tech companies to retrain workers in high tech skill sets. Trump provided an update that 400 companies, including tech giants Salesforce and Google, have now committed to more than 14 million retraining and apprenticeship opportunities in the coming years.

Trump, who currently serves co-chair of the National Council for the American Worker, also announced that the council will be issuing a national workplace strategy in the coming months. The council helps shape administration efforts to develop a competitive workforce for the future. She said the White House is working with the Ad Council to launch a campaign focusing on providing more technical training programs.

Consumer Technology Association President and CEO Gary Shapiro, who interviewed Trump, stressed CTA member companies’ commitment to retraining workers in high tech jobs.

“On behalf of the industry, we want to work with you, we want to create jobs,” Shapiro said. “I believe, no matter who is president in the future, these types of things that you are putting in place, and your leadership frankly, and the council’s, including the private sector, will and shall continue. They are very important.”

Trump responded, “If we can’t come together on this, we can’t come together on anything.”

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Happening on the Hill

Online Manipulation Hearing: The House Energy and Commerce Consumer Protection Subcommittee plans a hearing today titled, “Americans at Risk: Manipulation and Deception in the Digital Age.” Facebook Vice President of Global Policy Management Monika Bickert and others will testify.

Ahead of the hearing, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) lauded Facebook’s Monday decision to combat deepfakes by removing content that has been “edited or synthesized.” The decision is “a sensible and responsible step,” Schiff said in a statement yesterday, adding he hopes YouTube and Twitter follow Facebook’s lead. “I intend to continue to work with government agencies and the private sector to advance policies and legislation to make sure we’re ready for the next wave of disinformation online,” he said.

House to Vote on 5G Bills: The House will vote today on the following four bills dealing with 5G and wireless deployment under suspension of the rules:

  • Through H. Res. 575, the House would urge stakeholders in the development of fifth-generation (5G) wireless technologies and infrastructure to carefully consider and adhere to “The Prague Proposals,” a set of recommendations developed at a conference in the Czech capital by security officials from several governments. They include designing networks and services with resilience and security in mind, setting law enforcement and national security policies with respect for privacy, and guiding development of laws and policies with “transparency and equitability.”
  • Under H.R. 2881, the president would have to develop a strategy to protect U.S. fifth and future generations of wireless technologies. For more, see the BGOV Bill Summary by Naoreen Chowdhury.
  • Under H.R. 4500, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) would promote private-sector involvement with international organizations that set standards for wireless networking technologies. For more, see the BGOV Bill Summary by Adam M. Taylor.
  • Under H.R. 3763, the president would have to establish an interagency working group to enhance U.S. leadership at international standards-setting bodies for the fifth and future generations of wireless technologies. For more, see the BGOV Bill Summary by Naoreen Chowdhury.

Legislation & Letters:

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is cosponsoring a bipartisan bill that would help news publishers jointly negotiate with internet platforms such as Facebook and Alphabet’s Google. McConnell added his support to the bill on Monday, according to Congress’s website. The legislation would grant publishers a four-year exemption from antitrust laws so they could negotiate financial terms with the tech giants that often serve as a gateway for readers and online advertisers. The bill (S. 1700), which has seven Senate supporters in total, was introduced by Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). A companion measure in the House was introduced by the chairman of the antitrust subcommittee, Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and the Judiciary Committee’s ranking member, Rep. Doug Collins of (R-Ga.). Read more from Ben Brody and Naomi Nix.
  • Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) has introduced a bipartisan bill that would require the Federal Communications Commission to incorporate data on maternal health outcomes in broadband health maps. The Data Mapping to Save Moms’ Lives Act aims to show the correlation of poor access to broadband services and high rates of poor maternal health outcome, with the goal of helping to identify where improved access to telehealth services could be most effective.
  • Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who leads the House Judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee, sent a 10 page questionnaire yesterday to Makan Delrahim, the Justice Department’s antitrust division, seeking additional details regarding text messages between Delrahim and Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen as Sprint and T-Mobile awaited FCC sign off on their deal, Victoria Graham reports. Cicilline also questioned Delrahim on the DOJ’s role in several antitrust cases against chipmaker Qualcomm and Attorney General William Barr’s influence in the division’s ongoing tech investigations. Cicilline’s latest letter expands on a similar one issued to Delrahim in May.

Industry and Regulation

U.S. Companies Told to Brace for Likely Cyberattack: U.S. corporations need to brace for possible cyberattacks within a month as Iran retaliates for the killing of a top military figure, threat experts said yesterday, Alex Morales reports. “I don’t think they’re going to bring the economy to its knees,” said John Hultquist, director of intelligence analysis at the cybersecurity firm FireEye. “But can they do a lot of damage to individual participants – major companies? Absolutely.”

It’s not too late to prepare, Hultquist said in an interview after speaking at a symposium at the Washington office of the Council on Foreign Relations. Priscilla Moriuchi, head of nation-state research at threat tracking firm Recorded Future, said she expects a cyberattack “within a month” but noted that impacts may be unknown for weeks and months after an assault begins. Targets could include oil and gas companies operating in the Middle East, and perhaps public web pages of military bases, she said.


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In the Courts

Facebook Can’t Quash Investor Suit Over Cambridge Analytica Data:Facebook failed to shake off a shareholder suit filed in California state court alleging misappropriation and unauthorized use of Facebook users’ personal information, after the Northern District of California found its ruling in a prior action doesn’t bar the claims. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in March 2019 dismissed similar claims after finding Facebook’s forum selection clause required they be filed in the Delaware Court of Chancery. But the court here declined to issue a permanent injunction barring the claims filed in the California Superior Court for the County of San Mateo as an attempt to relitigate the forum selection issue. It’s up to the superior court to decide whether the federal court ruling bars a subsequently-filed suit arising from the same facts and circumstances, the court said. Read more from Peter Hayes.

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With assistance from Victoria Graham

To contact the reporters on this story: Rebecca Kern in Washington at; Giuseppe Macri in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Zachary Sherwood at; Brandon Lee at

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