Shutdown ripples in tech – POLITICO


With help from Nancy Scola, Margaret Harding McGill and Steven Overly

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— Tech feels the shutdown: A bipartisan bill with industry buy-in to elevate the position of the federal chief information officer may not move through the House until after the shutdown. And one of its sponsors says the lapse in funding is putting the government behind in tech recruiting.

— Carrier conundrum: Carriers pledged to end controversial data sharing agreements with third parties — but congressional critics like Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) still aren’t satisfied.

— This is how they do it: Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) offered an early look at how House Democrats may try to sell net neutrality legislation to Republicans.

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MORE TECH SHUTDOWN RIPPLES — Consideration of the Federal CIO Authorization Act, H.R. 247 (116), co-sponsored by Reps. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) and Will Hurd (R-Texas), was bumped off the House schedule on Thursday and may not be taken up until the shutdown is over, according to a spokesperson for one of the bill’s co-sponsors. “My guess is that nothing is moving until the shutdown ends,” said James Lewis, Kelly’s communications director. The delay is the latest in a long saga for the bill, which passed the House with overwhelming support in the 115th Congress but was not picked up by the Senate before the session adjourned.

— Kelly and Hurd last week reintroduced the measure, which would elevate the position of federal chief information officer. Congressional leaders indicated earlier this week the measure could be taken up as early as Thursday, but the action was shelved as the House debated appropriations packages to reopen the government, Lewis said.

— Shutdown hurting federal tech employment? Kelly, who served as ranking member for the Information Technology subpanel on House Oversight and Government Reform in the past Congress, says the shutdown also will “make it more difficult for the government to attract and maintain the high-quality IT workforce needed to [deliver] 21st century government services.” And that could give emerging regional competitors like Amazon, which will look to fill thousands of slots for its next headquarters in Crystal City, Va., a leg up.

— “The government is already struggling to replace retiring IT workers,” Lewis said. “Now, we will have to compete against Amazon in the DC metro PLUS try and attract people to a ‘company’ that is publicly showing it will let politics prevent it from paying its workers.”

A FURLOUGH DISPENSATION FOR FEDERAL TECH — We noted Thursday that the White House-based U.S. Digital Service remains up and running despite the partial shutdown. So too, it turns out, does 18F, the team of federal technologists housed within the otherwise largely furloughed GSA.

— 18F gets its funding not from Congress, but from the consulting work with federal agencies that is its reason for being. As such, notes a GSA spokesperson, 18F “continues to be operational” but “certain [agency] project work is suspended.”

CARRIERS CONCEDE TO CRITICS — Amid congressional calls for federal investigations, mobile carriers said they would terminate a series of data-sharing arrangements with third parties that drew ire in Washington. AT&T and T-Mobile vowed to terminate all such services by March, while Sprint said it ended one arrangement with an aggregator that “violated the terms of our contract.” The pledges came after Motherboard revealed the three companies were still selling location data, despite prior pledges to end the practice. The report revealed that such information was trickling down in unregulated markets to users who could locate a customer’s location without authorization.

— Meanwhile, a spokesman for Verizon, the one major carrier not implicated in the report, said the company has “followed through on our commitment to terminate aggregation arrangements,” outside of four agreements with roadside assistance companies that “have agreed to transition out of the existing arrangements” also by March.

— But not all lawmakers appear keen to take the companies at their word. “I’ll believe it when I see it,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who initially sounded the alarm on the issue last year, said in a statement Thursday. Wyden said “the time for taking these companies at their word is long past,” and that Congress needs to step up and pass “strong” federal privacy legislation.

HOUSE DEMS’ NET NEUTRALITY PLAYBOOK — Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) offered up an early look at how Democrats in the chamber may approach net neutrality legislation in the new Congress, during a podcast interview on Thursday. “One of the things our committee can do and one of the things we’re going to be taking a look is introducing a net neutrality bill in the House of Representatives and try to do it in such a way that it sort of concurs with what the [52] senators voted for so that we have a chance to get this through in the Senate,” Doyle said, referring to the measure to restore the Obama-era rules that won the support of three Republican lawmakers in the chamber in 2018.

FCC WINS BATTLE IN SMALL CELL LITIGATION — The FCC notched a victory Thursday in the court fight over its order pre-empting city and state laws on fees and timelines for 5G equipment installation. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request from several cities, including Seattle and California’s San Jose and Huntington Beach, to halt implementation of the order while the litigation is pending. The court sided with the FCC, which opposed the request, finding that the cities failed to show that there would be “irreparable harm” if the order takes effect in part as planned Jan. 14. Republican Commissioner Brendan Carr, who spearheaded the order, cheered the ruling as “more good news for U.S. leadership on 5G.”

— Win some, lose some: The 10th Circuit, based in Denver, also on Thursday granted a request from the cities to transfer the case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California. The FCC, Verizon, Sprint and industry trade groups had opposed the transfer.

EXPORTS MAKE YOU LOSE CONTROL — This week brought tech companies’ first opportunity to weigh in on the Trump administration’s plan to impose export controls on broad categories of their most promising — and potentially lucrative — technologies, including artificial intelligence, language processing, data analytics and quantum computing. In comments submitted to the Commerce Department, associations representing the industry’s largest players urged officials to only place controls on a narrow range of technologies, just those that would undermine national security if sold overseas without restrictions.

— The Information Technology Industry Council pushed for controls based on the technology’s application, rather than on the technology itself. BSA | The Software Alliance argues the rules should exclude technology that’s available for sale on the commercial market. And the Internet Association adds that the industry’s operations are already global, so U.S. export controls will be ineffective unless officials coordinate with other countries. Tech companies fear new export controls on so-called “emerging technologies” will disadvantage them relative to global rivals, but the exact repercussions will only become clear as the Commerce Department specifies the affected technologies in the next phase of its rulemaking process.

— Microsoft’s Bing has a child pornography problem, via TechCrunch.

— Google’s #MeToo moment: A shareholder is suing the Google board for approving an exit package for an exec accused of sexual harassment, The New York Times reports.

— Big Bird: “Your old tweets give away more location data than you think,” Wired reports.

— With you it’s always ‘me, me, me’! Amazon investors are questioning how CEO Jeff Bezos’ divorce will affect the company, via Reuters.

— The Grandpa Gazette: Older people are more likely to share fake news on Facebook, The Guardian reports.

— Especially if you can’t even do it: “Deleting Facebook won’t fix the problem,” Anand Giridharadas writes in a New York Times op-ed.

Tips, comments, suggestions? Send them along via email to our team: Eric Engleman (eengleman@politico.com, @ericengleman), Kyle Daly (kdaly@politico.com, @dalykyle), Nancy Scola (nscola@politico.com, @nancyscola), Margaret Harding McGill (mmcgill@politico.com, @margarethmcgill), Steven Overly (soverly@politico.com, @stevenoverly), John Hendel (jhendel@politico.com, @JohnHendel) and Cristiano Lima (clima@politico.com, @viaCristiano).





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