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Tech News Roundup

01/16/2018

Key Issues

Tech Politics

In Some Countries, Facebook's Fiddling Has Magnified Fake News. One morning in October, the editors of Página Siete, Bolivia's third-largest news site, noticed that traffic to their outlet coming from Facebook was plummeting. (New York Times)
For Businesses, Donald Trump's First Year Is a Net Success. The tax overhaul that President Donald Trump signed into law last month capped a year in which his initiatives on taxes, regulation-and many of his public pronouncements on the economy-have been broadly welcomed by business. (Wall Street Journal)
Taxes

The GOP's New Tax Plan Will Affect Everyone, But Will It Grow The Economy?. The hubbub over the Republican tax plan has died down some since it passed, but the bill isn't forgotten - not by a long shot. (NPR)

The Agenda: Is the GOP tax law already working?. The ink was barely dry on the $1.5 trillion tax cut Congress passed last month when President Donald Trump began crowing about its successes. (Politico Pro)

US 'yet to consider' EU worries on Trump tax reform. Donald Trump's sweeping tax reform, which the EU said could "seriously" damage economic relations with the US, will take time to be implemented, a top US official said on Wednesday (10 January), with the Trump administration not yet at the point of addressing EU concerns on the issue. (EU Observer)

Is the Trump tax cut good or bad for the middle class?. The wealthiest Americans pay the largest proportion of taxes. Consequently, any tax cut, unless very carefully tailored, will benefit them. (Washington Post)

Immigration

Hopes Dim for DACA Deal as Lawmakers Battle Over Trump's Immigration Remarks. After three days of denunciations from around the world, President Trump declared that he is "not a racist" on Sunday, even as the uproar over his vulgar remarks on immigration overshadowed critical issues facing the capital, including efforts to protect young undocumented immigrants and avert a government shutdown. (New York Times)

A DACA Question: Should Judges Use Local Cases to Halt National Orders?. When a federal judge in California ordered a stop last week to a key plank of President Trump's immigration agenda, he revived a debate that has simmered in this age of partisanship: the role of the impartial judiciary in American democracy. (New York Times)

DACA Participants Can Again Apply for Renewal, Immigration Agency Says. The federal government said on Saturday that it would resume accepting renewal requests for a program that shields from deportation young immigrants who were brought illegally to the United States as children. (New York Times)

Trump blames Senator Durbin for blowing immigration deal. U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday blamed Senator Dick Durbin for blowing up talks on a deal to help immigrants brought to the country illegally as children and said the Democratic lawmaker misrepresented his comments about Haiti and African countries. (Reuters)

Trump says that he is 'not a racist,' denies souring chances for immigration overhaul by using vulgarity. President Trump said Sunday that he is "not a racist" and denied that he had spoiled chances for an immigration overhaul in Congress by using a vulgarity to describe poor countries. (Washington Post)

Amazon's Jeff Bezos to Grant $33 Million in College Scholarships for DACA Students. Grant to fund 1,000 scholarships for "Dreamers," nonprofit group says. (Wall Street Journal)

Trump's 'shithole' remarks roil immigration talks. President Donald Trump's "shithole" remarks have upended sensitive bipartisan talks over immigration and further raised the threat of a government shutdown when funding runs out Jan. 19. (Politico Pro)

'Shithole' epithet turned immigration debate into new Trump drama. After talking on the phone with U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday morning, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin was optimistic that a compromise deal with some Republicans to protect young "Dreamer" immigrants was on the verge of success. (Reuters)

Ryan squeezed by conservatives on DACA vote. For weeks, House Speaker Paul Ryan has said any deal to shield 700,000 young undocumented people from deportation must be bipartisan. (Politico Pro)

How Republican Lawmakers Responded to Trump's Vulgar Immigration Remarks. Reports that President Trump referred to African nations as "shithole countries" and disparaged Haitians during an immigration meeting on Thursday prompted outcry from some lawmakers, but his comments were followed by notable silence from others. (New York Times)

'Thanks, but no thanks' - Norwegians reject Trump's immigration offer. Many Norwegians rejected on Friday a suggestion by U.S. President Donald Trump that they would be more welcome to move to the United States than immigrants from "shithole countries" such as Haiti or African nations. (Reuters)

Workplace Raids Signal Shifting Tactics in Immigration Fight. The Trump administration is taking its campaign against illegal immigration to the workplace. (New York Times)
The top U.S. tech companies founded by immigrants are now worth nearly $4 trillion. Immigrants and their children have helped found 60 percent of the most highly valued tech companies in the U.S., Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker told the Code Conference last year in her annual internet trends report. (Recode)
Global Trade

Major automakers urge Trump administration: don't ditch NAFTA.Global automakers on Monday urged the Trump administration not to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement and expressed hope the United States, Canada and Mexico can successfully conclude a modernized and improved trade pact. (Reuters)

Schumer calls on Trump to act quickly on Section 232 steel report.The Trump administration should act quickly to publish findings of its Section 232 report examining implications of steel imports on U.S. national security and must take meaningful action to help American workers, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Friday. (Politico Pro)

Artificial Intelligence

A.I. Has Arrived in Investing. Humans Are Still Dominating. Artificial intelligence is taking on a bigger role in making investment decisions. (New York Times)

Big Bets on A.I. Open a New Frontier for Chip Start-Ups, Too. For years, tech industry financiers showed little interest in start-up companies that made computer chips. (New York Times)

Alibaba's AI Outguns Humans in Reading Test. Alibaba has developed an artificial intelligence model that scored better than humans in a Stanford University reading and comprehension test. (Bloomberg)
An artificial intelligence take on 2018. This year will be less less risky than 2017, according to an AI-driven forecast, mainly because the world is already accustomed to the volatility created by Brexit and Donald Trump, and nothing like their rattling victories is likely to recur. (Axios)
Public Sector

City-owned Internet services offer cheaper and more transparent pricing. Data shows why customers want muni broadband-and why telecom industry fears it. (Ars Technica)

How DOD defends data in the cloud. Defense organizations can't rely on cloud providers to secure their data, said Rear Adm. Kathleen Creighton, the deputy commander for the Joint Force Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Networks (DODIN), at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's luncheon Jan. 11. (Federal Computer Week)
Changes coming to GSA's contractor cybersecurity requirements. The General Services Administration plans to officialize regulations on how contractors should handle and protect sensitive information for federal clients, as well as report any incidents that could put that information at risk. (Fed Scoop)

Smart Cars Collect a Lot of Data. FTC Wants to Know How It's Used. While some types of information may make drivers safer, others are more geared toward selling ads. (Next Gov)
Cybersecurity
Russian DNC Hackers Targeting Senate, Cyber Firm Says. Sen. Ben Sasse wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to testify on the issue. (Next Gov)

BlackBerry launches cybersecurity software for self-driving cars. Canadian software maker BlackBerry Ltd on Monday launched a new cybersecurity software, which identifies vulnerabilities in programs used in self-driving cars. (Reuters)

Privacy

Big Brother on wheels: Why your car company may know more about you than your spouse. Daniel Dunn was about to sign a lease for a Honda Fit last year when a detail buried in the lengthy agreement caught his eye. (Washington Post)

Broadband/Communications

Lawmakers to Trump: Don't forget rural broadband. President Donald Trump's still-unreleased infrastructure plan is already facing one big demand from dozens of lawmakers: a dedicated pot of money for rural broadband. (Politico Pro)

Net neutrality advocates look to states after FCC repeal. State legislatures are waging their own fight to restore net neutrality rules after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) moved to scrap them last month. (The Hill)

FCC chairman: False Hawaii missile alert 'absolutely unacceptable'. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai on Sunday said preventative safeguards weren't in place when an emergency alert was inadvertently sent to Hawaii residents on Saturday, calling the error "absolutely unacceptable." (The Hill)
The Senate's push to overrule the FCC on net neutrality now has 50 votes, Democrats say. Fifty senators have endorsed a legislative measure to override the Federal Communications Commission's recent decision to deregulate the broadband industry, top Democrats said Monday. (Washington Post)

Workforce/Diversity

All the ways women are still discriminated against in STEM. A new Pew Research Center analysis offers a grimmer statistic to layer on top of that: Half those women-despite comprising a fourth of the workforce-have experienced gender discrimination at work. (Quartz)

As Labor Pool Shrinks, Prison Time Is Less of a Hiring Hurdle. A rapidly tightening labor market is forcing companies across the country to consider workers they once would have turned away. That is providing opportunities to people who have long faced barriers to employment, such as criminal records, disabilities or prolonged bouts of joblessness. (New York Times)

OK Google, You've Been Served. Does Google discriminate against white, male and conservative employees? Two former Google workers allege as much in a class-action lawsuit they filed against the company last week.
(Wall Street Journal, Editorial)

Internet of Things
U.S. transport chief to unveil revised self-driving car guidelines.The Trump administration plans to unveil revised self-driving car guidelines this summer as the government sets out to rewrite regulations that pose legal barriers to robot vehicles, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said on Sunday. (Reuters)

Alexa, We're Still Trying to Figure Out What to Do With You. These days, you can find virtual assistants like Amazon's Alexa or Google's Assistant in all sorts of things, from smart speakers and smartphones to washing machines and bathroom mirrors. (New York Times)

G.M. Says Its Driverless Car Could Be in Fleets by Next Year. The advent of self-driving cars, the subject of so much fanfare over the last few years from automakers and technology companies, may be just around the corner - at least according to General Motors. (New York Times)

Safety Advocates Say Not So Fast on Driverless Cars. A survey released by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety found widespread unease by drivers with regards to autonomous vehicles. (Gov Tech)

Smart Thermometers Track Flu Season in Real Time. A company making "smart thermometers" that upload body temperatures to its website claims to be tracking this year's flu season faster and in greater geographic detail than public health authorities can. (New York Times)

Energy

Global carmakers to invest at least $90 billion in electric vehicles. Ford Motor Co's plan to double its electrified vehicle spending is part of an investment tsunami in batteries and electric cars by global automakers that now totals $90 billion and is still growing, a Reuters analysis shows. (Reuters)

Ford Goes 'All In' on Electric Cars. Ford Motor Co. will more than double spending on electrified vehicles, amplifying its investment in a segment that the auto industry sees growing from what's now just a fraction of the market. (Bloomberg)

Utility Jobs Lost as New Power Plants Need Fewer Workers. Older plants are being supplanted by newer power plants fired by natural gas, as well as wind and solar farms. (Wall Street Journal)

Shell invests in Nashville solar firm, but it's no less an oil company. The future may be bright for renewables, but Shell is still an oil company. (Ars Technica)

FACTBOX: China carmakers ramping up electric car investments. Chinese automakers so far have announced plans to invest more than $20 billion in new electric and hybrid vehicles. (Reuters)

Environment/Sustainability

Ford to boost investment in electric cars by 2022. Ford says it will boost its investment in electric vehicles to $11bn (£8bn) in the next five years, more than doubling a previous commitment. (BBC)

The Three Stumbling Blocks to a Solar-Powered Nation. Every hour, the sun bombards the Earth with enough light to satisfy our energy needs for a year, but there are barriers to our solar-energy future. (Wall Street Journal)

Tech Business
Samsung aims to double Africa's share of its revenues in five years. South Korea's Samsung Electronics plans to double the annual revenue contribution from its African markets to 20 percent of the firm's global total in the next five years, the head of its business on the continent said on Monday. (Reuters)

Instagram And Shopify: How Businesses Are Targeting Your Feed. A new class of online retailer is using Shopify, a tool that allows its users to take a different route into the manufacturing ecosystem. (NPR)

Tim Kruger: How Do We Slow Climate Change Before It's Too Late?. Africa Tech Now, billed as the "No. 1 event showcasing African entrepreneurship," debuted at CES this year. (NPR)

D.C.-area technology investment soared in 2017, but early-stage firms still struggle. Venture capitalists poured $1.55 billion into D.C. area technology start-ups last year, an industry report found, as a handful of so-called megadeals propelled the region to a six-year high for technology investing in 2017. (Washington Post)

Since its inception eight years ago, the Raine Group has sought to invest in promising new content providers. Now its betting on Propagate Content, the company that created the first original series for Apple and Twitter. (New York Times)
Spotify AB upended the world of music with its popular streaming service. Now it is threatening to do the same to Wall Street. (Wall Street Journal)
Exclusive: U.S. lawmakers urge AT&T to cut commercial ties with Huawei - sources. U.S. lawmakers are urging AT&T Inc, the No. 2 wireless carrier, to cut commercial ties to Chinese phone maker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and oppose plans by telecom operator China Mobile Ltd to enter the U.S. market because of national security concerns, two congressional aides said. (Reuters)

ITI Member News

Facebook fallout. Digesting Facebook's move to emphasize meaningful connections over time spent ("less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media"). (Axios)

Facebook Is Changing. What Does That Mean for Your News Feed?.Facebook has overhauled how it ranks the posts, videos and photos that appear in its users' News Feeds, introducing major changes on Thursday designed to put what friends and family have to say first. (New York Times)

The Difficulties With Facebook's News Feed Overhaul. Imagine you're a cookie mogul. You figured out a way to make lots of money by giving away delicious cookies for free, and in less than a decade, you created a global cookie behemoth. (New York Times)

One Website's Facebook Apocalypse Is Another's Opportunity to Shine. Publishers digest implications of social network's move to make substantial changes to its news feed. (Wall Street Journal)
Facebook's Sandberg, Twitter's Dorsey to leave Disney board.Facebook Inc Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter Inc Chief Executive Jack Dorsey will not seek re-election to Walt Disney Co's board because of growing conflicts of interest between the media giant and the technology companies, Disney said on Friday. (Reuters)
Marketers Say Facebook's News Feed Update Will Be 'Nail in the Coffin' for Organic Posts. Prioritizing posts from friends that generate engagement will reduce the reach of brands' unpaid posts and may raise ad prices. (Wall Street Journal)
Is the Answer to Phone Addiction a Worse Phone?. In an effort to break my smartphone addiction, I've joined a small group of people turning their phone screens to grayscale - cutting out the colors and going with a range of shades from white to black. (New York Times, Column)
Google App Goes Viral Making An Art Out Of Matching Faces To Paintings. Google's app matching faces to famous paintings went viral prompting, a flurry of selfies over the weekend. (NPR)
Amazon's Grocery Sales Increased After It Devoured Whole Foods.Natural foods chain's products helped push online sales up after merger last year. (Wall Street Journal)

Apple's star presence no longer overshadows CES. Amazon's Alexa voice platform, and now Google's assistant voice platform, were the clear ecosystem winners of CES. (Recode)

Apple and Tencent Reach Deal to Let WeChat Users Dole Out Tips.Tipping function was suspended last year after a dispute between Apple and Tencent on the terms. (Wall Street Journal)

End of a chip boom? Memory chip price drop spooks investors. After a blistering year-and-a-half long surge, a sudden drop in some memory prices, followed by Samsung Electronics Co's disappointing profit estimate, is causing jitters among investors who had bet the chip boom would last at least another year. (Reuters)
Google to relaunch map service in China: Nikkei. Alphabet Inc's Google will relaunch its map service in China after an eight-year absence, Nikkei reported on Monday. (Reuters)

Apple shareholders want the company to keep children away from screens. Good. Two major shareholders of Apple have called on the company to take the lead in countering the harm that excessive screen time can do to children. (Washington Post, Editorial)
Google Plans to Expand Huge Undersea Cables to Boost Cloud Business. Google is expanding its sprawling network of undersea cables to plug into new regions around the world, in a bid to speed up its cloud-computing business and catch up to rivals Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. (Wall Street Journal)

Today on the Hill

The House will meet at 12:00 p.m. for morning hour and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m.
The Senate will convene and resume consideration of the House message to accompany S.139, the vehicle for the FISA Amendments Reauthorization bill at 4:30 p.m.
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