TECH & CYBER BRIEFING: Ivanka Trump, Tech Policy Arrive at CES

Washington arrives at the annual CES technology showcase today to talk tech policy,highlighted by an appearance from Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser, who is a featured keynote speaker.

Trump is likely to talk about the White House’s “Pledge to America’s Workers” that gets commitments from large tech companies to retrain hundreds of thousands of workers in high tech skill sets over the coming years. Trump currently serves along with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross as co-chair of the National Council for the American Worker, which helps shape administration efforts to develop a competitive workforce for the future.

The appearance is not without controversy. The announcement of Trump’s keynote sparked a #BoycottCES hastag on Twitter. Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association that sponsors CES, defended the invitation to Trump over the weekend, telling BBC in an interview she has done “great work.”

“There’s a lot of focus on jobs of the future, and certainly the keynote that I’ll be doing with Ivanka Trump will be focusing on… how industry is working with government on this very important issue,” Shapiro told BBC.

Also on today’s agenda, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph Simons will participate in fireside chat, followed by a panel called “Insights with the FCC and FTC” in the afternoon. The latter panel will feature FCC Commissioners Geoffrey Starks and Michael O’Reilly, as well as FTC Commissioners Rebecca Slaughter and Christine Wilson, discussing regulations on privacy, 5G and the Internet of Things.

Meanwhile, Apple will make its first official speaking appearance at CES in 28 years, pitching the public on its commitment to consumer privacy.

Apple is sending Jane Horvath, its senior director of global privacy, to promote Cupertino’s platform security. She’ll speak on a panel alongside Facebook’s chief privacy officer, who’s likely to make the case for renewing trust in the social network. The appearances will be a departure from the typical CES fare about embedding technology ever-more deeply into our personal lives. But it’s still not clear whether the privacy fanfare is just more hype, or whether 2020 will mark a turning point for the tech industry making good on its promises of protection. Bloomberg News’ Austin Carr has more on privacy talk at CES.

Artificial Intelligence Principles Issued by White House: Federal agencies and the private sector would have new guidelines for developing artificial intelligence technologies, such as AI-powered medical devices and autonomous vehicles and drones, under a draft set of principles from the Trump administration.

The 10 principles released today by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy would direct federal agencies to develop consistent policies on AI technology, including soliciting public engagement from academics, nonprofits, industry and civil society, while also ensuring the products are safe for the public and don’t discriminate.

“We believe that consistency is really, really important and it sends a very important and very powerful message to industry so that they actually have clarity on the way that they should be thinking about bringing forth products which fall under some sort of regulatory oversight,” Michael Kratsios, U.S. chief technology officer, said on a press call yesterday.

Kratsios and Lynne Parker, the U.S. deputy chief technology officer, are expected to speak further about the the AI regulatory principles during separate panels on Wednesday at CES. Read more on the principles.

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Happening on the Hill

Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Top Homeland Security Hill Agenda: Legislation to allow the government to subpoena internet companies in order to protect electric grids and other infrastructure from cyberattacks will be a high priority in early 2020, top homeland security lawmakers say. That legislation would be part of a larger focus on protecting America from an increasing breadth of cybersecurity attacks on its businesses, governments, and citizens, Republicans and Democrats leading the House and Senate homeland security committees said in interviews. They say bipartisan efforts on cyber-related issues may make progress as the 2020 elections vie for lawmakers’ attention and border-security negotiations continue to stall. Read more from Michaela Ross.

Industry and Regulation

Facebook Tightens Policy Against Deepfakes Ahead of Election:Facebook has shed more light on its efforts to eradicate doctored videos known as deepfakes, addressing an issue it’s identified as an emergent threat ahead of the U.S. election. The operator of the world’s largest social network pledged to remove content that has been “edited or synthesized” beyond adjustments for quality or clarity and is deemed likely to mislead viewers. Facebook emphasized, however, that its new rules will not apply to parody or satire. Facebook said videos that don’t immediately meet its internal criteria for removal may still get fact-checked by more than 50 organizations it’s partnered with worldwide. The company added that it will collaborate with Reuters to help newsrooms spot deepfakes through free online courses. Read more from Edwin Chan.

YouTube’s Major Privacy Upheaval on Kids Videos Starts: YouTube overhauled its systems yesterday to comply with a landmark privacy ruling, a move that could dent revenue for the Google video giant and thousands of its creators. Alphabet’s Google settled with federal regulators in September for violating laws on collecting data from minors, and YouTube agreed to a series of changes. Videos designed as “made for kids” would be stripped of targeted ads, which fetch higher prices, and other valuable features, such as user comments and live chats. The Federal Trade Commission, which fined Google over the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, has given broad directives about what it considers child-directed video, including clips with popular animations and kids play with toys. Individual video creators will face fines for violating COPPA going forward, which has sparked panic. Read more from Mark Bergen.

Google Warns of Monopoly Powers in Oracle Fight: Google urged the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that the company’s use of Oracle’s software for the Android mobile operating system violated copyrights, in a case that may reshape legal protections for software code. Google, in a filing to the court dated yesterday, largely repeats the search giant’s well-established arguments in a case that has been contested for almost a decade: That it was legal to use parts of Oracle’s Java programming language to help make Android communicate more easily with other software. A defeat, Google has argued, would restrict further innovation in the computing industry. Read more from Gerrit De Vynck.

Why Digital Taxes Are the New Trade War Flashpoint: Big internet companies have long been the target of complaints that they don’t pay enough in taxes. Fed up, France imposed a 3% levy on the digital revenue of companies that make their sales primarily in cyberspace, such as Facebook and Alphabet’s Google. Other countries also are targeting companies, many of which are American, that have multinational earnings that often escape the taxman’s grip. The U.S. isn’t taking this sitting down.William Horobin and Aoife White provide an overview of the digital tax fight.

Meanwhile, the Computer & Communications Industry Association filed comments and plans testify today at a hearing before the U.S. Trade Representative calling for a strong U.S. response to the French digital services tax, the industry group said in a statement. “We need to make clear that undermining multilateral efforts at global tax reform with unilateral, discriminatory taxes will have consequences,” CCIA President Matt Schruers said in a statement. “CCIA appreciates USTR’s investigation into the French digital tax and its careful consideration of remedies aimed at changing the behavior of partners violating their commitments.” 

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To contact the reporters on this story: Rebecca Kern in Washington at rkern@bgov.com; Giuseppe Macri in Washington at gmacri@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Zachary Sherwood at zsherwood@bgov.com; Brandon Lee at blee@bgov.com

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