Coronavirus: Theater Owners Request Government Assistance

With movie theaters shuttered across the U.S. due to the coronavirus, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) asked Congress and the Trump administration for loan guarantees and tax benefits to help pay workers and keep theater chains afloat. The top 10 theater chains in the nation have already or will shut down their theaters, representing 89 percent of U.S. screens. NATO represents 33,000+ screens in all 50 states. The Trump administration is considering similar benefits for the airline industry. Continue reading Coronavirus: Theater Owners Request Government Assistance

House of Representatives Okays Extension of Surveillance Act

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 278 to 136 for the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020, to extend provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This legislation established rules for surveillance and information collection “between foreign powers or agents of foreign powers suspected of espionage or terrorism.” Although the House is led by Democrats, the vote was bipartisan, with 152 Democrats and 226 Republicans approving the act. The measure will now go to the Senate, on recess next week. Continue reading House of Representatives Okays Extension of Surveillance Act

Huawei Increases Use of Its Own Chips in 5G Base Stations

When the Commerce Department banned U.S. manufacturers from selling chips to China’s Huawei Technologies, that company increased its own chipmaking capacity in its semiconductor company HiSilicon. According to U.S.-based Huawei executive Tim Danks, in Q4 the company shipped more than 50,000 5G base stations embedded with its chips, about 8 percent of all base stations it sold up to February this year. Danks reported that, although Huawei is ramping up HiSilicon efforts, it intends to return to U.S. technology when possible. Continue reading Huawei Increases Use of Its Own Chips in 5G Base Stations

TikTok Now Political Forum For Youth, Tech Execs Decry App

The younger demographic that gravitates to TikTok is turning it into a political force, forming political coalitions — called hype houses — for their favored candidates, fact-checking others, posting news updates and commenting in real-time. Hype houses come in conservative, liberal, bipartisan and undecided flavors, and are amassing hundreds of thousands of followers. Reddit chief executive and co-founder Steve Huffman, however, is concerned about TikTok’s privacy policies, calling the app “fundamentally parasitic.” Continue reading TikTok Now Political Forum For Youth, Tech Execs Decry App

Trump Administration Plans to Fund AI, Quantum Computing

Artificial intelligence and quantum computing would be awarded increased funding under the Trump administration’s proposed $4.8 trillion budget. The Defense Department and the National Science Foundation would receive more funds for AI research, and $25 million would go towards the creation of a national “quantum Internet,” aimed at making it more difficult to hack into digital communications. The proposed funding comes at a time that China has prioritized both new technologies, and the U.S. seeks to catch up. Continue reading Trump Administration Plans to Fund AI, Quantum Computing

White House Pushes For 5G Standards and U.S. Networks

The Trump administration is working with U.S. tech companies, including AT&T, Dell and Microsoft, to develop common engineering standards for 5G telecom networks that would allow software to run on hardware from any manufacturer. In doing so, the U.S. would be able to advance 5G networks without relying on gear from China’s Huawei. White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said, “the big picture concept is to have all the U.S. 5G architecture and infrastructure done by American firms, principally,” although it could also include technology from Ericsson and Nokia. Continue reading White House Pushes For 5G Standards and U.S. Networks

Pentagon Nixes Commerce Dept. Efforts to Rein in Huawei

The Pentagon has overruled the U.S. Commerce Department’s efforts to make it more difficult for U.S. companies to sell to Huawei Technologies from their overseas facilities. According to sources, the Defense Department and the U.S. Treasury Department also objected to the Commerce Department’s move. The Pentagon’s main concern is that if U.S. companies lose a significant source of revenue, they will be unable to fund research and development sufficiently enough to “maintain a technological edge.” Continue reading Pentagon Nixes Commerce Dept. Efforts to Rein in Huawei

White House Cracks Down on Counterfeit Goods Sold Online

The Trump administration is cracking down on counterfeit products sold over the Internet, warning warehouse operators and e-commerce platforms such as Amazon that they will pay fines if they don’t help identify such products. The Department of Homeland Security released a report on the problem, and the White House in concert with U.S. Customs and Border Protection is leading the initiative. The recent trade agreement with China requires that country to curb counterfeiters or risk potential new tariffs. Continue reading White House Cracks Down on Counterfeit Goods Sold Online

Big Tech Firms Increase Spending to Influence Lawmakers

Big Tech is now one of the biggest lobbying groups in Washington, D.C. Facebook posted the greatest increase in spending last year, followed by Amazon, Apple and Microsoft. By increasing spending in lobbying, the companies hope to influence privacy legislation, pursue government contracts and rebut charges of unfair competition. Alphabet is the only Big Tech company to reduce its spending for lobbying in 2019, by 44 percent to $11.8 million. It also ended its relationship with lobbyists at six outside firms. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Increase Spending to Influence Lawmakers

Apple Drops iCloud Encryption Plan Based on FBI Concerns

According to six sources, in response to FBI concerns, Apple dropped the plan to allow iPhone users to encrypt backups in its iCloud service. Although this took place two years ago, it is just now being reported. Stress between Apple’s stance on privacy and law enforcement’s push to have access to its phones re-emerged a few weeks ago when a Saudi Air Force officer killed three Americans at Naval Air Station Pensacola. U.S. attorney general William Barr and President Donald Trump urged Apple to unlock the killer’s two iPhones. Continue reading Apple Drops iCloud Encryption Plan Based on FBI Concerns

IBM Releases Policy Proposal to Regulate AI, Prevent Bias

As lawmakers in the U.S. and Europe ponder how to best regulate artificial intelligence, IBM called for the industry and governments to jointly create standards to measure and avoid AI bias. The company, led by chief executive Ginni Rometty, issued a policy proposal on the eve of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Although their policies are not as strict as governments might otherwise propose, the goal is to find a consensus among all parties. IBM, which has lagged in technology, now focuses on AI and cloud services. Continue reading IBM Releases Policy Proposal to Regulate AI, Prevent Bias

NSA Discovers Windows Vulnerability — and Tells Microsoft

The National Security Agency (NSA) discovered a vulnerability in versions of Windows and, instead of retaining it, reported it to Microsoft, which is now patching the flaw in its handling of certificate and cryptographic messaging functions. The vulnerability could have enabled attackers to use malicious code that would pretend to be legitimate software. Microsoft also warned all current users of Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional or Ultimate to upgrade immediately. Continue reading NSA Discovers Windows Vulnerability — and Tells Microsoft

Terrorist Act Revives Clash Between Government and Apple

In the aftermath of a deadly shooting at a Naval air station in Pensacola, Florida that was later declared an act of terrorism, Attorney General William Barr requested that Apple provide access to the two iPhones used by the killer. He later complained that Apple has thus far provided no “substantive assistance.” The Saudi Arabian assassin, Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, was training with the U.S. military but had earlier posted anti-American, anti-Israeli and jihadist screeds on social media. Continue reading Terrorist Act Revives Clash Between Government and Apple

CES 2020: The High-Wire Tension of Innovation and Privacy

CTA director of regulatory affairs Rachel Nemeth, who moderated a CES panel on innovation and privacy, asked Baker Botts co-chair, antitrust group Maureen Ohlhausen to put the topic in historic context. “The Congressional debate on the Fair Credit Reporting Act (1970) brought forward many of the same issues we’re discussing today,” said Ohlhausen, who also served as a commissioner and acting chair of the FTC. “People were worried about computers and the use of their data. The FTC has long enforced privacy statutes, and began to apply them to the Internet once it became consumer-oriented.” Continue reading CES 2020: The High-Wire Tension of Innovation and Privacy

China’s Cloud Hopper Cyberhack Bigger Than First Revealed

Cloud Hopper, a massive cybertheft effort allegedly run by China’s intelligence services and operating through cloud services since at least 2016, is much bigger than it was originally believed to be. U.S. prosecutors identified and charged two Chinese nationals, but both remain at large. The original indictment listed 14 unnamed companies and about a dozen cloud providers. The Trump administration escalated the military’s use of cyber weapons, but hasn’t revealed its rules, leading to a bipartisan push for transparency. Continue reading China’s Cloud Hopper Cyberhack Bigger Than First Revealed

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