The Dev Download keeps you up-to-date with the latest tech policy news. The Download is published each Wednesday, ensuring you and your team are informed on what policymakers are talking about.
CYBERSECURITY & GOVERNMENT SURVEILLANCE
Senate Dem Blocks Intelligence Authorization Over FBI Surveillance (The Hill, 6/27)
Following a narrow rejection last week of legislation to expand FBI surveillance powers, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has prevented further action on the bill in question for fear of the proposal being brought forward again and passed. The legislation would have allowed the FBI to obtain browsing history and other consumer information without warrants during terrorism investigations. Senator Wyden warned that this expansion is “almost like spying on...thoughts.”
Burr Keeps Up Pressure for Encryption Bill (Federal Computer Weekly, 6/27)
Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) has not yet given up the fight to have his and Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) controversial legislation considered in the Senate, a bill which tackles the issue of encryption by playing into scare tactics that claim encryption is an “enabler” of terrorist communications. The two sponsors are the leading members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, but so far their efforts have been curbed by resistance from both other senators and privacy advocates.
China Moves Closer to Adopting Controversial Cybersecurity Law (Reuters, 6/27)
On Monday, the Chinese parliament held a second reading of a proposed cybersecurity law looking to tighten China’s already exacting censorship. If passed, the legislation would require network operators to function under state supervision and would make the storing of personal information and business data overseas extremely difficult.
House Group Sees ‘Obstacles’ in Cracking Encryption for Police (The Hill, 6/23)
A group of House lawmakers studying encryption have affirmed its importance, calling it a “good thing” in protecting users from criminals and hackers. The recognition of the benefits of end-to-end encryption comes at a vital time as policymakers continue to push for legislation mandating companies weaken or break their encryption.
Kerry Backs Government Access to Encrypted Data (The Hill, 6/23)
On Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry appeared to endorse law enforcement's request for weakened encryption. Kerry stated that data is subject to “lawful availability” like other kinds of information. The Alliance supports robust end-to-end encryption, recognizing that there is no technologically feasible way to give access to only the ‘good guys.’
Elusive Privacy Shield Deal Makes a Choppy Landing (Politico, 6/25)
On Friday, the much needed EU-U.S. Privacy Shield survived another series of changes, but still the agreement “isn’t on firm ground.” Privacy Shield still needs to pass the scrutiny of European members, and advocates urge members to quickly agree upon the pact. The full text, obtained Wednesday by Politico, can be found here.
EU, United States Agree on Changes to Strengthen Data Transfer Pact (Reuters, 6/24)
Following another round of changes to the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, the revised data pact has been sent for review by European member states with a vote likely to be held in early July. Under the new pact, the U.S. has specified the conditions under which they would collect data in bulk, a previous source of concern for privacy advocates.
PATENT LITIGATION REFORM
New Innovation Center Aims to Unleash Invention, Trademark Data (FedScoop, 6/23)
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has unveiled a program called Developer Hub, a resource for developers looking to become more involved in the industry. The Hub is meant to offer information about patents, an avenue to easily access the troves of patent data in existence, and to allow for a more streamlined filing process.
INTERNET OF THINGS
The Internet of Things in Action (GovTech, 6/24)
IoT is often referred to in terms of its massive future potential, but in many ways it is already being used to improve the present. From solar powered trash compactors to interactive bus stops, the Internet of Things is already innovating the world around us.
State Department Invests in IoT (FedScoop, 6/23)
C3 IoT, an IoT development platform, is set to receive up to $25 million from the State Department to tackle the issues of energy and environmental sustainability. Developers at C3 IoT will have the ability to analyze data from the State Department’s thousands of facilities across the globe, ultimately providing advice and predictive analytics to the agency.
Mercedes’s New E-Class Kinda Drives Itself- And It’s Kinda Confusing (Wired, 6/27)
As autonomous vehicles consistently make headlines, Mercedes-Benz is offering a different kind of luxury, a semi-autonomous car, where the car leads but the driver is required to remain alert and intervene whenever necessary. The technology is far from fully developed, but provides an option for individuals uncomfortable relinquishing total control to their vehicle.
Ethical Question Leaves Potential Buyers Torn Over Self-Driving Cars, Study Says (The Guardian, 6/23)
An ethical question has been posed to potential users of self-driving vehicles about a deadly catch-22. In a situation where harm is inevitable, should an autonomous vehicle protect pedestrians by harming its passengers or protect its passengers by harming pedestrians? A study found that drivers will want to save the pedestrians unless their own lives are endangered in the process, raising questions about how safety features should be implemented in these vehicles.
BREXIT & TECH
What Brexit May Mean for U.K. Tech, From IPOs to Data Sharing (Bloomberg, 6/27)
Brexit’s impact could be far-reaching for the tech industry, influencing everything from immigration to data sharing to IPOs. This comprehensive look into Brexit’s consequences covers everything the tech industry can expect in the upcoming months and years after the UK leaves the EU.
What UK Startups Make of the Shocking Brexit Vote (TechCrunch, 6/24)
In the wake of last week’s vote, startups are suffering from “Brexit-induced business blindness,” feeling little to no certainty about their future in an EU-less market. London has served as an “attractive home” in the past, but developers are now looking to take their businesses elsewhere to retain the EU’s skills market and avoid the potential isolation outside the EU.
How Brexit Affects the Global Technology Industry (Washington Post, 6/24)
With a majority of British tech firms urging the UK to “Remain,” the Brexit vote poses questions for London’s rising technology sector and the global industry as a whole. Major points of concern include a loss of funding by European backers, less talent acquisition due to diminished immigration, and more confusion regarding transatlantic data transfers.
Brexit Backers Are Forgetting the Internet Erases Borders (Wired, 6/23)
Even as many vote “Leave” to stem immigration and allegedly provide protection from foreign threats, isolation in the age of the internet becomes a moot point. The internet has “turned borders into a technicality,” meaning that while information can flow unhindered online, leaving the EU does not mitigate the risk of online radicalization as much as the Leave campaign proposes.
Brexit: Where UK Tech Companies Stand on the EU Referendum (Engadget, 6/22)
In a survey of UK-based tech companies, only one respondent supported the Leave campaign. Heads of tech companies on the side of Remain expressed their need for open markets and the financial assistance of the EU as well as more moral reasons such as the need for inclusivity and diversity.
Clinton Promises Broadband to All Americans by 2020 in Rollout of Technology Plan (The Washington Times, 6/28)
In a comprehensive 14-page plan for tech policy in a Clinton administration, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton outlines strategies dealing with a number of issues, from the digital divide to the patent system to international data flows. Among her more ambitious goals is the assertion that by the year 2020, all American households will have access to available and affordable broadband.
The App Boom is Not Over (TechCrunch, 6/25)
While some claim that the “app boom” of the last few years is dwindling, writer Anshu Sharma argues there’s never been a better time to be an app developer. As global smartphone access and usage continue to rise alongside app revenue, creators can continue to expect good things from the market.
US Customs Wants to Collect Social Media Account Names at the Border (The Verge, 6/24)
U.S. Customs and Border Protection have proposed a new optional field in border declarations, where individuals entering the country can declare their social media accounts and online screen names. This access to social profiles can be expected to be used as an investigative tool, but the full extent of its use is still unclear.
Wheeler Doesn’t Tip Hand on ‘Ongoing’ Zero-Rating Probe (The Hill, 6/24)
On Friday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler answered question about the ongoing investigation into data discounts, clarifying that the issue is too ”broad” to be dealt with in a one-size-fits-all manner. Alliance board member and Hitch Radio CEO Ayinde Alakoye recently wrote a piece on the importance of data discounts, which can be found here.
Live-Streamed Videos from House Sit-in Viewed on Facebook 3M Times (The Hill, 6/23)
Using Facebook’s live-streaming video service, the House Democrats’ sit-in last week over gun control was viewed over 3 million times. Mark Zuckerberg lauded the “openness to the political process” brought by the streaming, which many turned to for insight as the House cameras were turned off.