By Li Zhou | 05/19/2017 10:01 AM EDT
With help from Margaret Harding McGill, Steven Overly, Nancy Scola and Carla Marinucci
POTUS DROPS IN TO TALK INNOVATION - President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence swung by a Thursday afternoon gathering of what appears to be the White House's Jared Kushner-led innovation team, per a pool report and a photo-complemented tweet from social media director Dan Scavino. Administration figures at the table include White House innovation specialist Matt Lira and Haley Van Dyck - the second-in-command at the Obama-era U.S. Digital Service (a.k.a. USDS) who, we told you in March , quietly stayed on in some capacity after Inauguration Day. From the Hill side of things, there's House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. An eagle-eyed source notes that seated one row back are Rob Cook, the former Pixar exec now heading GSA's Technology Transformation Service, and USDS acting administrator Matt Cutts. Spot other familiar faces? Let us know.
TRUMP INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN EXPECTED TO INCLUDE BROADBAND - "President Donald Trump will propose spending $200 billion in federal funds over 10 years to spur investment in the nation's infrastructure, a senior Office of Management and Budget official said," Bloomberg reports . "U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has said the administration is providing principles for its infrastructure plan this month, with a complete legislative package expected by the third quarter. Officials are using a broad definition of infrastructure that includes veterans' hospitals, energy and broadband, Chao said during testimony on Wednesday at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee."
BROADBAND PRIVACY: IT'S BAAACK - House telecom subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) with little fanfare dropped a bill that would make online user sharing of sensitive information, including browser history, an opt-in process across both ISPs and edge providers like Facebook and Google, Margaret reports . "Companies would be required to obtain opt-in consent from consumers before using or sharing sensitive information, including web browsing history and app usage, according to a draft of the bill obtained by POLITICO. ... Blackburn led a legislative effort in the House to use the Congressional Review Act to rescind the FCC's broadband privacy rules, which would have blocked ISPs like Comcast and Verizon from using customers' data like web browsing history and app habits for advertising without their consent."
DOJ, FCC, ICE TO ANNOUNCE BLUE ALERT NETWORK - The Justice Department, FCC and Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement are slated to share plans for the launch of the National Blue Alert Network this afternoon. The Blue Alert Network aims to expedite notices to "law enforcement, the media and the public about violent offenders who have killed, seriously injured or pose an imminent threat to law enforcement, or when an officer is missing in connection with official duties," according to a release.
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TWO ROADS DIVERGE - Democrats and Republicans sounded very different calls to action in response to the net neutrality vote at the FCC on Thursday, Ashley reports. Several Democratic leaders including House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Frank Pallone and Commerce Committee Sens. Ed Markey and Brian Schatz said they're focused on rallying constituents to flood the FCC and Congress with more comments, in an effort to save the existing rules. Meanwhile, Republicans such as Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune and Blackburn urged lawmakers to come together for a legislative compromise that would codify the rules across administrations. "While some may wish to wait until the activities at the FCC and in the courts have completely run their course, my preference would be to begin bipartisan work on such legislation without any further delay," Thune said. "It's not the time yet," Schatz countered. "The FCC is doing something reckless and our goal is to stop them."
- When asked, Democratic FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said she won't take a position on whether the answer to net neutrality lies with Congress. But, "I will say that if they were to weigh in - and they have talked about weighing in for some time now - they should give the expert agency in this nation the flexibility to do its job," Clyburn said. "People have an expectation there should be a referee on the field, ensuring that the open internet remains open and free."
- Reporter allegedly "manhandled" post-FCC meeting: The National Press Club has issued a statement saying CQ Roll Call reporter John Donnelly was "manhandled" by a security guard at FCC headquarters after he tried to ask Commissioner Mike O'Rielly a question outside of the formal press conference. "When Donnelly strolled in an unthreatening way toward [O'Rielly] to pose a question, two guards pinned Donnelly against the wall with the backs of their bodies until O'Rielly had passed. O'Rielly witnesses this and kept walking," the group wrote. An FCC spokesman said it had already apologized to Donnelly about the incident. "We apologized to Mr. Donnelly more than once and let him know that the FCC was on heightened alert today based on several threats," he said. Donnelly confirmed to MT that an FCC spokesperson reached out to him privately. O'Rielly apologized to Donnelly on Twitter.
KAMALA HARRIS TALKS "NET NEUTRALITY" FOR THE FIRST TIME - California's freshman senator issued a statement Thursday vigorously objecting to what she called the Ajit Pai-led FCC's "regulatory assault" on a free and open internet - marking the first time Harris has gone on the record in the debate, a fact confirmed by both a rigorous Nexis search and her office. Harris, of course, has been a U.S. senator for all of four and a half months. And before that, as a San Francisco DA and state attorney general, her work focused on the internet's more unsettling side, like, per her official AG bio, "fighting piracy and crimes committed online." Worth noting, too, is that within the last two weeks, she signed onto an op-ed and a joint letter on the topic with about a dozen colleagues each time.
But Harris's inaugural solo remarks that "as a senator, I will fight to protect the net neutrality rules" take on added weight given the importance of the debate to her home city and home state, what with the huge presence of the tech industry there. Her full remarks, with a dash of Golden State pride - "Nearly 50 years ago, California researchers embarked on a bold experiment to devise an interoperable computer network." - are here.
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SILICON VALLEY MUST-READS -
- Uber's newest app isn't for the average driver: Ride-hailing service Uber is no longer just shuttling people. On Thursday, the company formally debuted Uber Freight, a mobile app that connects truck drivers with shipments that need to be hauled. It's a relatively niche service for the company, but one Uber has been eying for some time. Last year, Uber spent $650 million to acquire Otto, a company that developed self-driving trucks.
The move is particularly interesting in light of Uber's work to develop self-driving technology - efforts that have recently embroiled the company in a trade secrets lawsuit with competitor Waymo. Some economists anticipate autonomous vehicles will ultimately eliminate the need for long-haul truckers, delivery drivers and others who make a living behind the wheel.
But those concerns may be overblown, according to David Strickland, the former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration head who now leads the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets trade group. Strickland told members of a House Appropriations subcommittee Thursday that the trucking industry suffers from a driver shortage and that regulations may require a human to sit behind the wheel even after trucks drive themselves.
- Concerning work conditions at Tesla: The Guardian looked into a Tesla "factory of the future" in California and discovered that the working conditions there have been extensively grueling and strenuous. "Ambulances have been called more than 100 times since 2014 for workers experiencing fainting spells, dizziness, seizures, abnormal breathing and chest pains, according to incident reports obtained by the Guardian. Hundreds more were called for injuries and other medical issues. In a phone interview about the conditions at the factory, which employs about 10,000 workers, [Elon Musk] conceded his workers had been 'having a hard time, working long hours, and on hard jobs,' but said he cared deeply about their health and well being. His company says its factory safety record has significantly improved over the last year."
- Friday night Facebook? The social network will livestream 20 Major League Baseball games on Fridays, with the first one broadcasting this evening, Business Insider reports. "By distributing a live game per week on Facebook, Major League Baseball can re-imagine this social experience on a national scale," Facebook's Head of Global Sports Partnerships Dan Reed said in a statement. Facebook is among the social platforms expanding its push into live sports; both Twitter and Amazon have also explored deals with other sports bodies including the NFL and NHL.
TRANSITIONS - William "Bill" Freedman, FCC assistant general counsel in the administrative law division is, per Chairman Ajit Pai, leaving the agency and relocating to Fenwick Island, Del. .... Jenner & Block added three ex-FCC officials to its communications, internet and technology practice: former General Counsel Howard Symons, former Wireless Bureau Chief Roger Sherman and Johanna Thomas, a legal adviser to former Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.
Uber makes an appeal for arbitration in Waymo suit: The ride-sharing firm has appealed a district judge's decision, Bloomberg reports.
NextDoor continues to grapple with racial profiling: Despite developing an algorithm to address the issue, implementation gaps have allowed the problem to persist, BuzzFeed reports.
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