technology

Analysis: For Trump, Wins and Losses During Abe Summit
‘The body language on trade was just really startling,’ expert says

President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a news conference at the former’s West Palm Beach, Fla., resort. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

White House aides set a low bar for their boss ahead of his two-day summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — and President Donald Trump often cleared it with ease. But experts say there were a few stumbles too.

Trump aides made clear they had no “deliverables” in mind ahead of the Tuesday-Wednesday talks, which touched on everything from a new round of trade talks to dealing with North Korea to their respective golf games. That diplomat-speak refers to agreements or other things the White House wants meetings with world leaders to produce.

Three Cybersecurity Bills to Hit Trump’s Desk This Year, Staffers Say
Movement on ‘Internet of things,’ intelligence and homeland security measures

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., left, and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., talk before the start of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing on “World Wide Threats” on Thursday, May 11, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

SAN FRANCISCO — Dozens of bills are filed in Congress relating to cybersecurity and data breaches but many if not most may never see a committee markup let alone a floor vote. But key congressional staffers speaking at the RSA Conference here predicted at least three bills are likely to get to the president’s desk this year. 

A House-passed measure that would reorganize the Department of Homeland Security and create a new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has also cleared the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and is awaiting Senate floor passage. 

Grid Cybersecurity Bills Advanced by House Energy Subcommittee
Bipartisanship crumbles for export bill

The committee advanced bills to protect the electric grid and pipeline control systems from cyber attack. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Bipartisan bills that aim to improve the government’s response to cybersecurity attacks on the electric grid advanced out of a House Energy and Commerce panel Wednesday. The action was the latest sign of heightened awareness on Capitol Hill that malicious hackers might be able to turn out the lights.

Four pieces of legislation — all focused on putting into statute coordination within the Department of Energy to prevent cyber attacks on the grid and other energy infrastructure — were advanced by the Energy Subcommittee by voice votes. The votes showed unusual unity on the often-partisan panel.

Justices Weigh Congressional Inaction on Internet Sales Tax
Supreme Court muses about “obsolete” ruling

The Supreme Court weighed an internet tax case and seemed to want Congress to resolve the issue.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Supreme Court almost yearned Tuesday for Congress to resolve a major internet sales tax issue, if only to relieve the justices from having to make a call in a case with potential widespread effects on the nation’s online commerce.

“Is there anything we can do to give Congress a signal it should act more affirmatively in this area?” Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked near the end of an hour of oral arguments.

Homeland Security, Cybersecurity and Silos
Administration looks for ways to strengthen cyberattack defenses

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said her department is working on a new cybersecurity strategy that can be applied in both the public and private sectors. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

SAN FRANCISCO — The Homeland Security Department is working on a cybersecurity strategy that aims to strengthen the overall digital economy’s defenses against cyberattacks, Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said at a cybersecurity conference here on Tuesday.

The strategy “will bolster our digital defenses by prioritizing enhancements in risk identification, vulnerability reduction, threat reduction, and consequence mitigation,” Nielsen said without identifying when the strategy is likely to be made public. “We must be more aware of vulnerabilities built into the fabric of the internet, and other widespread weaknesses.”

A Deeper Look at 2016 Facebook Ads Targeting Pennsylvania, Wisconsin
Large volume of ads came from suspicious groups, many of them Russian in origin

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before House and Senate committees last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A forthcoming peer-reviewed study of paid political ads that appeared on Facebook in the weeks just prior to the 2016 presidential election shows that of 228 groups purchasing ads on hot-button issues, 122 — more than half — were submitted by “suspicious” groups whose identities may never be known.

The University of Wisconsin researchers, led by Professor Young Mie Kim, defined “suspicious” as meaning there was no publicly available information on who was behind the groups.

On Cloud Computing Contract, No JEDI Contract Tricks
Pentagon undersecretary denies Amazon has a leg up

Aerial view of the Pentagon building photographed on Sept. 24, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With up to $10 billion at stake, industry watchers are paying close attention to the Pentagon’s cloud computing contract, which is expected to be awarded by the end of the year.

Given Amazon’s cloud computing expertise, some have speculated that the contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, is theirs to lose, President Donald Trump’s distaste for the company notwithstanding.

Congressional Gridlock Plays Central Role in Internet Tax Case
Supreme Court could reshape online commerce nationwide this term

Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., introduced a bill on the online sales taxation issue last year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday in a major internet sales tax case, and it won’t be the first or last time the justices will try to figure out whether gridlock in Congress plays a role in their decision.

But usually the gridlock is not quite on this scale. The Supreme Court could reshape online commerce nationwide when it decides this term whether to overturn its 1992 ruling that bars states from collecting sales tax from out-of-state vendors.

Tech Companies Oppose Expanded Oversight of Sensitive Technology
Legislation focuses on on foreign deals

Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., is pushing a bill that would broaden oversight over offshore sales or transfers of sensitive technology. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Representatives of the technology industry are warning lawmakers that a plan to give an interagency panel authority over offshore sales or transfers of sensitive technology would impede routine business deals.

The House Financial Services Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee held its fourth and final hearing Thursday on a bill by Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., that would broaden the authority of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to include a range of business deals involving U.S. and foreign companies, including offshore joint ventures involving technology transfer.

FCC Rejects Democrats’ Request to Review Sinclair License
Broadcast group made its anchors read a promotional script blasting other outlets’ ‘fake news’

Ajit Pai, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission, rejected 12 senators’ request to investigate Sinclair Broadcasting group's license after its "fake news" segment. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai declined Thursday to follow through on a request from 12 senators that his bureau review Sinclair Broadcasting group’s license and temporarily block its merger with Tribune Media.

Eleven Democratic senators and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote their request in a letter to Pai Thursday that highlighted the local television media conglomerate’s recent move to force its anchors in dozens of U.S. cities to read a scripted, uniform segment blasting “fake news” and media bias that favors liberals.