October 17, 2021

Excellent Pix

Unlimited Technology

What tech-minded lawmakers want in this year’s defense bill

With help from John Hendel

Editor’s Note: Morning Tech is a free version of POLITICO Pro Technology’s morning newsletter, which is delivered to our subscribers each morning at 6 a.m. The POLITICO Pro platform combines the news you need with tools you can use to take action on the day’s biggest stories. Act on the news with POLITICO Pro.

— Amendment tracker: House lawmakers have filed hundreds of amendments to the annual defense bill, and some could have big implications for tech and telecoms.

— Double the trouble: DoorDash sued New York City for the second time in a week — this time, over the city’s new data-sharing law.

— Cutting qualms: Acting FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said she has concerns about the Senate’s plan to slash a monthly subsidy when codifying a broadband affordability program.

IT’S THURSDAY, SEPT. 16. WELCOME TO MORNING TECH. I’m your host, Benjamin Din. Did you hear Nicki Minaj is going to the White House? But maybe she’s not? Someone please tell me what’s going on.

Got a news tip? Email me at [email protected] and find me on Twitter @benjamindin. Got an event for our calendar? Send details to [email protected]. Anything else? Team info below. And don’t forget: Add @MorningTech and @PoliticoPro on Twitter.

TECH TWEAKS TO WATCH IN THIS YEAR’S DEFENSE BILL — The amendments to the annual National Defense Authorization Act, H.R. 4350 (117), are in — all 800-plus of them —- and now the House Rules Committee is expected to decide early next week which amendments will get a vote. The full House will then vote on those later in the week. Some of the bipartisan or Democratic amendments that caught MT’s eye:

— Paging the White House: One amendment calls on President Joe Biden to create a technology competitiveness council chaired by the vice president, with the goal of developing a national technology strategy and helping the U.S. stay competitive globally on tech issues. And more than 30 lawmakers are backing a separate amendment that would establish a National Digital Reserve Corps within the General Services Administration, allowing private sector tech workers to participate in short-term digital, cyber and AI projects for the government.

— No backdoors: Another amendment would block federal agencies from encouraging tech companies to weaken their encryption of or build backdoors into their consumer products.

— More white papers: Still other amendments call for reports on how foreign governments use surveillance to interfere with privacy, NATO’s efforts against disinformation and misinformation and the national security implications of Open RAN technology.

And here are some Republican-only amendments, which may have a harder time reaching the floor:

— Targeting China: Three Republican amendments explicitly name TikTok, owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance (and two of those also mention Tencent’s popular messaging app, WeChat). Colorado Rep. Ken Buck’s amendment would prohibit the use of TikTok on federally owned devices, while the other two ask the secretary of State to determine if (a) the two apps should face sanctions and (b) whether they have stolen user data and given it to a foreign entity.

One amendment would prohibit exports of telecom equipment to China that could be used for censorship and surveillance, while another would incorporate language from the Defending America’s 5G Future Act, which codifies Chinese telecom giant Huawei’s placement on the entity list, into the defense bill.

— Internet balloons: One amendment from Rep. María Salazar (R-Fla.) calls on the Air Force to implement Operation Starfall, which would provide access to wireless communications abroad through the use of balloons or satellite tech. This bill was introduced in response to Cuba shutting down internet access in the wake of protests and is also backed by Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr.

— No monopolies: Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Texas), who cosponsored the House Judiciary antitrust package, has an amendment that would block Defense Department funds from going to tech companies deemed an illegal monopoly.

DOORDASH DOUBLES DOWN ON NYC SUITS — The food delivery company filed a lawsuit Wednesday against New York City over a new law that requires it to share customers’ data — including their names, phone numbers, emails and addresses — with restaurants.

— The objection: The suit says the law “imposes virtually no restrictions on what restaurants may do with that data,” calling it “a shocking and invasive intrusion of consumers’ privacy.” It also alleges that the law violates the First Amendment.

“While DoorDash always aims to be a partner to cities in which we operate, we must also stand up to public policy that harms Dashers, merchants, or customers,” the company said in a blog post.

— The backstory: The New York City Council passed the legislation at the end of July, despite an outcry from privacy and digital consumer advocacy groups, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The law’s supporters say it regulates food delivery services that exploded in popularity during the pandemic and gives more power to restaurateurs.

The law allows customers to opt out of sharing their data, but its critics said actually doing so would be challenging. In its lawsuit, Doordash said the law’s “presumption that every customer consents to sharing their personal data — unless they specifically opt out on a per-order basis — flies in the face of prevailing privacy best practices.”

— Litigation friendly: Wednesday’s suit follows a separate suit it filed with Grubhub and Uber Eats less than a week earlier targeting a New York City law that caps delivery fees. The company also sued San Francisco in July over similar city caps.

ROSENWORCEL: CUTTING MONTHLY INTERNET SUBSIDIES ‘CHALLENGING’ — The FCC’s acting chair said she’s pleased that the Senate infrastructure deal passed last month would codify the pandemic relief program known as the Emergency Broadband Benefit — but she is wary about one provision that would slash the monthly internet subsidy by 40 percent.

“I do think it would be challenging for the agency to reduce the support from $50 a month to $30 a month,” Rosenworcel told John during POLITICO’s inaugural tech summit on Wednesday. “But we will take whatever [the] legislation hands us.”

Congress created the broadband subsidy program as part of December’s pandemic aid package, slating $4.2 billion to help low-income Americans with their internet bills. The bipartisan Senate infrastructure plan would bolster the program with billions more, though at that lower monthly subsidy.

So far, more than 5.5 million households have signed up since the FCC launched the $50 benefit, Rosenworcel noted, adding that about 200,000 new households sign up every week. These numbers, she told POLITICO, demonstrate the need for a robust successor program once this temporary one runs out of funds.

Rosenworcel is not alone in questioning the implications of slashing the benefit, however, and her views could prove influential among Capitol Hill negotiators eyeing future FCC funding. House Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) called the proposed cut a source of “real concerns” last month.

NORTH DAKOTA STATE OFFICIAL FRETS OVER COMING 3G PHASEOUT — Duane Stanley, an official with the North Dakota Attorney General’s Office, is the latest to sound the alarm about a wireless industry plan to sunset its legacy 3G network in the coming months. The AG’s office is joining the Alarm Industry Communications Committee, which says AT&T’s proposed February deadline for shutting down its own 3G wireless service is far too soon, given the many devices relying on that network.

— Take sobriety monitoring ankle bracelets, for example: In North Dakota, a state program meant as an alternative to incarceration involves the monitoring of hundreds of individuals through wireless-connected bracelets, Stanley wrote. “If 3G services were to be terminated before our organization has had an opportunity to upgrade its devices and arrange a swap-out with each monitored offender, there will be significant public safety consequences,” he warned in FCC comments posted Wednesday.

— Ticking clock: Stanley and some other parties want AT&T to push its 3G sunset from February until at least the end of next year. Although the FCC updated its consumer guide for the various planned 3G sunsets last month, critics want the commission to intervene more directly. AT&T, meanwhile, has rebuffed such criticism, telling the FCC this week that its detractors have made “unsupported claims” and that it has provided plenty of notice and transition help.

THE PANDEMIC STRIKES AGAIN — The National Association of Broadcasters is canceling its in-person annual convention in Las Vegas, a glitzy affair that has in past years drawn more than 90,000 attendees, including policy officials and Hill staff, due to concerns over the Delta variant of the coronavirus. The 2022 program will be held in April.

Time Magazine has announced this year’s list of the 100 most influential people, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin.

The Wireless Infrastructure Association announced a slew of promotions: Matt Mandel is now SVP for government and public affairs, Marta Sokol is CFO and Tracy Ford is VP for member services. … Charlie Bell has joined Microsoft as EVP, overseeing the newly formed security, compliance, identity and management team. He was previously an SVP at Amazon Web Services.

MX has joined the Financial Technology Association. … Search engine Neeva has partnered with the Vivaldi browser to be an integrated search option. … AMC Networks is partnering with leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to launch a PSA campaign for Hispanic Heritage Month.

The Day One Talent Hub is taking applications for impact fellowships at the Energy and Education departments, focused on energy innovation and education data science.

Surveilling the surveillers: Law enforcement agencies are using purchased data without warrants. The practice is drawing legal scrutiny, WSJ reports.

Changing tides: “The government helped Tesla conquer electric cars. Now it’s helping Detroit, and Elon Musk isn’t happy,” via WaPo.

Social media blues: “Facebook Tried to Make Its Platform a Healthier Place. It Got Angrier Instead.” WSJ has more.

Man of his word: Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said he would demand answers from Mark Zuckerberg following a WSJ report about the impact of Instagram on youth mental health. On Wednesday, Markey put it in writing.

Delivery update: Walmart, Ford and Argo AI are joining forces to launch a driverless delivery service in three cities, Bloomberg reports.

Raising eyebrows: “Court reinstates Nunes suit over reporter’s tweet,” POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein reports.

Tips, comments, suggestions? Send them along via email to our team: Bob King ([email protected]), Heidi Vogt ([email protected]), John Hendel ([email protected]), Alexandra S. Levine ([email protected]), Leah Nylen ([email protected]), Emily Birnbaum ([email protected]), and Benjamin Din ([email protected]). Got an event for our calendar? Send details to [email protected]. And don’t forget: Add @MorningTech and @PoliticoPro on Twitter.

SEE YOU TOMORROW!

Source News