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Tech News Roundup

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09/21/2017

Key Issues

Tech Politics

Internet Giants Face New Political Resistance in Washington. Last month, Facebook and Google came out forcefully against a bill that would hold companies accountable for hosting sex trafficking on their websites. (New York Times)

Trump Administration is killing Silicon Valley With Policies on Trade, Immigration, and Investment. If you want an ominous warning about the impact of the Trump era on Silicon Valley, look at a former American behemoth of innovation: Detroit. (NewsWeek)
White House offered Peter Thiel intel adviser post. Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and close ally of President Trump, has had talks to be a top intelligence adviser to the White House, according to a Vanity Fair report on Wednesday. (The Hill)
Facebook, After 'Fail' Over Ads Aimed at Racists, Makes Changes. Responding to evidence that its tools had allowed ads to be directed at users who used racist comments or hate speech in their profiles, Facebook said Wednesday that it would change how ads can be targeted. (New York Times)
Antitrust

Artificial intelligence pioneer calls for the breakup of Big Tech . Yoshua Bengio, the artificial intelligence pioneer, says the centralization of wealth, power and capability in Big Tech is "dangerous for democracy" and that the companies should be broken up. (Axios)
A Start-Up Slump Is a Drag on the Economy. Big Business May Be to Blame.. Unemployment has fallen, and the stock market has soared. So why has the economic expansion since the recession been so tame, with sluggish productivity and, at least until recently, anemic wage growth? (New York Times)
New Antitrust Group Targets Tech 'Super Monopolies'. Tech giants like Alphabet Inc.'s Google and Amazon.com Inc. will be prime targets of the Open Markets Institute, a newly-incorporated Washington think tank that intends to bolster Democrats' calls to change antitrust laws. (BNA)

Comcast's top government guy says Trump won't stop many mergers. President Donald Trump has previously threatened to break up Comcast* while repeatedly taken aim at one of its rivals, AT&T, as the wireless giant inches closer to purchasing Time Warner. (Recode)
Public Sector

DOD looks to get aggressive about cloud adoption. The Defense Department says it is finally getting serious about moving to the cloud. (FCW)
Op-Ed: How MGT changes the game for federal CIOs. The Modernizing Government Technology Act passed the Senate on Sept 18 as part of the annual defense bill, and is expected to become law before the end of the year, once the language is hammered out. (FCW)
VA CIO Rob Thomas retiring from government. The Department of Veterans Affairs' acting CIO, Rob Thomas, will retire from government service in October. (FedScoop)
CFTC chairman: Government must ditch 'analog regulation,' embrace blockchain. J. Christopher Giancarlo sees a digital revolution coming for financial regulators, and he says blockchain technology is the key to protecting the government's oversight of markets. (FedScoop)
Engagement increases as agile continues its rise in government. Using agile development to build systems and programs across state government has yet to be a fully mandated practice, but states are increasingly tapping into the methodology to deliver better results, say private and public sector tech leaders in the latest episode of StateScoop's Priorities podcast. (StateScoop)

Global Trade

Ex-Im Supporters Welcome Trump Nominees, Still Oppose Garrett. Supporters of the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) are keeping up their criticisms of President Donald Trump's choice to lead the bank, despite praising his most recent picks for Ex-Im's board of directors. (BNA)

Immigration
Tim Cook says DACA is the 'biggest issue of our time'. Apple CEO Tim Cook, who has been increasingly vocal on social issues in the light of Donald Trump's U.S. presidency, spoke out on the topic of immigration this morning at a conference in New York, specifically in favor of "Dreamers." (Recode)
Trump administration red tape tangles up visas for skilled foreigners, data shows. The Trump administration is making it more difficult for skilled foreigners to work in the United States, challenging visa applications more often than at nearly any point in the Obama era, according to data reviewed by Reuters. (Reuters)

California sues to block Trump's border wall. The State of California is suing to block President Donald Trump's plan to construct a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, the top lawyer for the state told reporters Tuesday. (Politico Pro)
Censorship

Internet firms say removing extremist content within hours is huge challenge. Removing extremist content from the internet within a few hours of it appearing poses "an enormous technological and scientific challenge", Google's general counsel will say later on Wednesday to European leaders who want it taken down quicker. (Reuters)

Workforce/Diversity

Howard Schultz: Companies need to balance profit and conscience. Howard Schultz, who rose from the projects in Brooklyn to create Starbucks, is making it a personal mission to find jobs for some of the least-advantaged and, in his view, most deserving in the United States: veterans and their families, refugees, and, with a job fair today, young people who are neither going to school nor working. (Axios)

Amazon Is a Lifeline for Retail Workers (If They Live in the Right City). Elijah Hahe spent years toiling in retail-supermarket cart boy, gas station attendant-with little to show for it but low pay, inconsistent hours and skimpy benefits. So when Hahe heard a radio ad for positions at a new Amazon.com Inc. warehouse near Columbus, Ohio, he applied immediately. (Bloomberg)
Environment/Sustainability

Will federal safety panel ban toxic flame retardants in household products?. Manufacturers long ago stopped adding a cancer-causing flame retardant to children's pajamas, but federal officials failed to ban the chemical during the late 1970s and as recently as five years ago it was the most widely used fire-resistant compound in household furniture. (ITI Rick Goss Quoted, Chicago Tribune)

These California Cities Just Sued Five Oil Companies Over Climate Impact. Two California cities have separately sued five major oil companies over their contribution to global warming, and are seeking billions to pay for projects protecting the people and property in the Bay Area against rising seas. (BuzzFeed News)

Nicaragua to sign Paris deal, leaving US, Syria as only countries opposed. The Nicaraguan government is preparing to join the Paris climate agreement, making Syria the only country not to be a party to the deal and the United States the only nation determined to pull out of it. (The Hill)
Taxes

Europe Renews Offensive on Silicon Valley With Tax Reforms. The European Union's offensive against Silicon Valley looks as though it is likely to resume, as officials in Brussels consider a raft of proposals aimed at increasing the amount of tax paid by digital titans like Facebook and Amazon. (New York Times)

Senate Republicans Embrace Plan for $1.5 Trillion Tax Cut. Senate Republicans, abandoning a key fiscal doctrine, agreed on Tuesday to move forward on a budget that would add to the federal deficit in order to pave the way for a $1.5 trillion tax cut over the next 10 years. (New York Times)

States Won't Sweat Conformity to Retroactive Tax Reform. States that want to follow retroactive provisions of whatever tax reform package comes from Congress this year probably wouldn't worry about legal challenges. (BNA)
Internet of Things

Elaine Chao reduces self-driving car privacy to a footnote. Cars and trucks that will use technology to drive themselves promise to change transportation. But they raise countless new privacy issues: How will the data they collect be used? (CNN)

Tesla is working with AMD to develop its own A.I. chip for self-driving cars, says source. Tesla is getting closer to having its own chip for handling autonomous driving tasks in its cars. (CNBC)

Tech Business

The music business is growing again - really growing - and it's because of streaming. Familiar song, new tempo: Music streaming is big, and getting bigger fast. Digital downloads are falling off a cliff. (Recode)
As Apple slows, fast-moving Chinese rivals gain in wealthy markets. Slowing innovation at iPhone maker Apple gives Asian rivals their best chance yet to conquer developed markets, retailers and consumers say - thanks to better designs and lower prices. (Reuters)
China Rushes to Surpass U.S. in Decoding Citizens' Genes. In this western Chinese city famed for panda conservation, scientists are advancing the world's most ambitious effort to save a far-less-endangered species: humans. (Wall Street Journal)

Rise Of The Beerbots: Is Tech Taking The Craft Out Of Homebrewing?. In 2009, food writer Emma Christensen began brewing beer at home. She quickly grew to love each stage of the hours-long process, much of which is spent tending to a crock of boiling wort, or unfermented beer, and adding hops every few minutes. (NPR)

ITI Member News

Sheryl Sandberg called Facebook's ad-targeting embarrassment 'totally inappropriate and a fail on our part'. The ad-targeting feature that allowed Facebook advertisers to target "Jew haters" and other offensive labels was "totally inappropriate and a fail on our part," according to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. (Recode)
Google to Buy Part of Phone Maker HTC. Alphabet Inc.'s Google is set to buy part of struggling Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC Corp., according to people familiar with the situation, part of the search giant's latest effort to crack the handset market. (Wall Street Journal)
Toshiba Decides on Bain-Apple Group in Chip-Business Sale. Toshiba Corp.'s TOSYY -1.67% board on Wednesday voted to sell its memory-chip business to a group that includes Apple Inc.and Dell Technologies Inc. DVMT 0.01% for ¥2 trillion ($18 billion), moving the deal closer to final agreement despite objections from a Toshiba business partner. (Wall Street Journal)

Today on the Hill

House is not in session today.
The Senate will convene at 8:30 a.m. for a pro forma session.