Broadband and the Trump administration budget
05/22/2017 10:00 AM EDT
With help from Margaret Harding McGill and Nancy Scola BROADBAND AND THE BUDGET — When the Trump administration lays out its budget plan Tuesday, broadband is expected to be part of the plan’s £200 billion in infrastructure funding over ten years. Details are scant so far on the allocation, but lawmakers of both parties have been pressing for high-speed internet buildout — especially to rural and underserved areas — to be part of any infrastructure package.
A massive broadband project would create potential new opportunities for many companies. We’re tracking.
Story Continued Below WHAT TO WATCH IN CONGRESS — Now that the FCC has officially voted to begin the rulemaking process to undo the agency’s net neutrality rules, Democrats are trying to harness constituent outrage.
Meanwhile, House telecom subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn told POLITICO she’s working to develop Senate support for her broadband privacy bill, which would require both ISPs and websites to develop opt-in policies for sharing users’ sensitive information. We’re tracking. — Also this week: The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday will look at law enforcement access to data overseas, an issue that’s produced a series of mixed court rulings.
That same day, the Judiciary panel will hold a confirmation hearing for Vishal Amin, President Trump’s nominee for White House intellectual property enforcement coordinator. The House digital commerce subcommittee on Tuesday will look at how tech is affecting how products are being delivered to consumers, as part of its “disrupter series.” Postmates CEO Bastian Lehmann is among those scheduled to testify. TECH COUNCIL TO TALK H-1BS — The White House’s American Technology Council will focus on the future of H-1B visas and modernization of government tech during its first meeting this June, Recode reports.
Executives from tech giants including Amazon and Google have been invited to the gathering. GOOD MONDAY MORNING and welcome to Morning Tech, where we’re eagerly anticipating the new season of The Bachelorette. Send your tech and telecom tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and @liszhou.
Catch the rest of the team’s contact info after Quick Downloads. WHY WEINER HAD TO GIVE UP HIS IPHONE — Under his newly struck plea deal, ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner agreed to forfeit the iPhone he’s admitted to using to send obscene messages to a 15-year-old.
And there’s some interesting Capitol Hill history behind that legal development. —Back during the culture wars of the late ’80s, President Reagan called on Congress to take a powerful weapon in the “war on drugs” — the government’s right to seize property — and apply it to another scourge: pornography. Distributors of obscenities and child pornography, warned Reagan, were “employing new technologies and reaching new audiences.” Some in Congress agreed, and in 1998 passed the Child Protection & Obscenity Enforcement Act. (Weiner, for what it’s worth, was an aide to then-Rep.
Chuck Schumer at the time.) The law’s been controversial; critics worry about overreaching feds taking away property only marginally related to the crime. But don’t expect to hear anyone — including his former Hill colleagues — rushing to help Weiner get back his smartphone. SOFTBANK INVESTMENT FUND GOES LIVE — Softbank and Saudi Arabia have officially launched their Vision Fund for investing in tech companies, with £93 billion of committed capital as of Saturday, CNBC reports. “The deal combines the deep pockets of a Saudi prince with one of the world’s most ambitious tech investors, a pairing that has drawn commitments from corporate giants such as Apple and Qualcomm,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
The announcement came as President Trump visited Saudi Arabia this weekend. Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son, after meeting with Trump last December, talked about investing £50 billion from the fund in U.S. companies. SENATORS QUESTION FCC OVER ALTERCATION WITH JOURNALIST — Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked the FCC to scrutinize an incident following the agency’s open meeting last Thursday, when CQ Roll Call reporter John Donnelly was allegedly manhandled by security while trying to ask Commissioner Mike O’Rielly a question. “The Federal Communications Commission needs to take a hard look at why this happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again … [I]t’s standard operating procedure for reporters to ask questions of public officials after meetings and news conferences,” Grassley said in a statement.
The FCC has said it apologized to Donnelly. Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) have also asked the FCC to provide a more detailed explanation of what happened. THE TRUMP TWITTER INTERVENTION — A Wall Street Journal report details how White House aides are so concerned about the impact of the President’s tweets that they staged an “intervention” or sorts to convince him to change course. “Mr.
Trump’s aides have also been pressing for more restraint by the president on Twitter , and some weeks ago they organized what one official called an ‘intervention.’ Aides have been concerned about the president’s use of Twitter to push inflammatory claims, notably his unsubstantiated allegation from March that his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, had wiretapped his offices. In that meeting, aides warned Mr. Trump that certain kinds of comments made on Twitter would ‘paint him into a corner,’ both in terms of political messaging and legally, one official said.”
NET NEUTRALITY CELEB SHOUT-OUTS — Celebrities, they’re just like us … tweeting about net neutrality. Original crew members of the USS Enterprise voiced support for the current rules last week, with William Shatner — Star Trek’s first Captain Kirk — tweeting in response to Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, “@FCC I’m not silent; net neutrality must stay!” Meanwhile, George Takei, aka Mr. Sulu, warned, “Citizens of the Internet, our rights are being eroded, and dangerously so.” Let us know if you spot other famous names weighing in on either side of the wonky debate.
SILICON VALLEY MUST-READS — — Ev Williams apologizes for Twitter’s role in election: The company’s co-founder Ev Williams sat down with The New York Times and shared his views on the internet being “broken” and the role Twitter may have played in the 2016 election outcome. “President Trump has said he believes Twitter put him in the White House. Recently, Mr.
Williams heard the claim for the first time. He mulled it over for a bit, sitting in his Medium office, which is noteworthy only for not having a desk. ‘It’s a very bad thing, Twitter’s role in that,’ he said finally. ‘If it’s true that he wouldn’t be president if it weren’t for Twitter, then yeah, I’m sorry.'” — Facebook pressed on Russia propaganda: Oxford University researchers Philip Howard and Robert Gorwa say lawmakers should ask Facebook to testify before Congress in the investigation of Russia’s influence on the election. “In many ways, massive coordinated propaganda campaigns are just another form of election interference.
If Facebook has data on this, it needs to share it,” they write in The Washington Post. “The House Intelligence Committee should call Facebook to testify as part of its investigation.” — Facebook’s content guidelines also leaked this weekend: A trove of internal documents obtained by The Guardian detail the company’s approach to tackling issues like hate speech, “revenge porn” and violent language. See excerpts from the documents, here.
The news sparked a lot of techie jokes on Twitter, with Amazon CTO Werner Vogels tweeting, “‘Cloud Computing wins the Preakness’ – is there nothing we will not disrupt :-)” TRANSITIONS — Christopher Libertelli, Netflix’s vice president of global public policy, is leaving the company, per Recode. … Salle Yoo, Uber’s general counsel, is now its Chief Legal Officer, meaning the company is now seeking someone to fulfill its general counsel role, also via Recode. QUICK DOWNLOADS
Samsung’s expansion plans: Acquisitions remain top of mind for the company, Reuters reports. Etsy fights for its identity: The company was built on the idea that “people and profit” were not “mutually exclusive,” but now it’s found itself at a crossroads as a public company, Bloomberg reports. AT&T workers strike over contract disagreement: “More than 35,000 AT&T workers began a weekend-long strike on Friday after their union accused the company of failing to make a fair proposal during contract negotiations,” The New York Times reports.
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