The Dev Download is a weekly compilation of news clips relevant to software developers. The weekly report includes articles dated from the preceding Thursday to Wednesday, and covers a variety of tech industry topics.
Data Flows and Transfers
EU Data Protection Chief: We Have Serious Concerns About Privacy Shield
(Ars Technica UK, 5/24)
While European officials won’t issue their official report until Monday, it is expected to include serious concerns about the lack of privacy protections for EU citizens in the transatlantic data flow agreement known as Privacy Shield, which is a proposed replacement for the now-invalidated Safe Harbor agreement.
EU Countries Call for the Removal of Barriers to Data Flows
On Monday, more than a dozen EU nations stressed the need for regulators to recognize the borderless nature of the internet, and that restrictive, one-size-fits-all policies governing data flows can stifle innovation. The comments come after the European Commission unveiled the framework for the Digital Single Market Strategy last year, a plan to tear down online barriers between European countries.
Government Surveillance/ Privacy
Consumer Protection Agency to Look at Disclosure Rules
(The Hill, 5/24)
This fall, the Federal Trade Commission will meet to review the disclosure policies of various companies, including privacy policies and advertisement divulgation. As technology becomes more prevalent in our everyday lives, the FTC argues that often “challenging” disclosures must be transparent.
House Privacy Gurus Gear Up Anti-Government Hacking Campaign
(Morning Consult, 5/24)
Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) and other members of the House plan to introduce legislation to counter a recent United States Supreme Court ruling that would grant judges the authority to issue warrants allowing the government to hack computers anywhere in the world. Without Congressional action, the Court’s decision would take effect in December.
Encryption is the Foundation of the New Data Center
Built-in, end-to-end encryption is increasingly becoming a necessary component in the fast-growing digital ecosystem to protect our financial, health, and personal information from bad actors. Once too complex for wide-use, developments in IT security are making it easier for data to be secured in motion and at rest on a variety of platforms.
Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oreg.) has introduced legislation with a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers to block the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling that expands the government’s hacking authority by allowing judges to issue warrants for remote access to data on computers located outside of their district.
It’s Time to Update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act
(The Hill, 5/25)
Former FTC Commissioner Julie Brill encourages members of the Senate to protect private emails, social media messages, and other electronic communication through the modernization of ECPA. The law should “catch up” with rapidly advancing technologies, rather than using an antiquated law Brill found of little help in her decades of experience in civil law enforcement.
Tech Companies Warn Senators Not To ‘Weaken’ Email Privacy Bill
(The Hill, 5/24)
Nearly 70 tech companies and organizations are urging the U.S. Senate to approve the unanimously-passed House bill reforming email privacy. In particular, the letter warns against adding a civil agency carve-out that would allow the government to obtain a subpoena - rather than a court-issued warrant - to access electronic communications, undermining the reforms desperately needed to bring ECPA into compliance with the Fourth Amendment.
Grassley Hints at Changes on Email Privacy Reform
(The Hill, 5/19)
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) does not anticipate instant passage of ECPA reform in his Committee. The bill, which would require the government to treat electronic communications like snail mail by requiring a court-issued warrant before accessing, has been unanimously approved by the House, and now awaits action in Senate Judiciary.
House Lawmakers Turn Up Heat on FDIC Over Cybersecurity (Wall Street Journal, 5/24)
A Congressional investigation has revealed “significant shortfalls” in a U.S. bank regulator’s cybersecurity policies. The implications of such shortfalls mean that Americans’ private information could be more susceptible to being stolen, and it could mean breaches may have occurred without regulators’ knowledge.
SWIFT, the network that links banks across the world, has called for new efforts to counter a proliferation of bank fraud attempts that recently netted scammers more than $80 million from Bangladesh’s central bank.
Data Innovation and Opportunity
Free Data Programs Benefit Consumers, Increase Competition
(Morning Consult, 5/25)
While some fear that sponsored data programs are detrimental to businesses unable to compete with capital-rich companies, these programs could actually prove advantageous for everyone involved. Data discounts mean consumers are able to ultimately use more data and are thus more likely to purchase and patronize apps they may not have otherwise.
Tech Groups Want Public Probe of Zero-Rating Plans
(The Hill, 5/24)
Wireless carriers have started offering data usage exemptions for certain video or data sources, leading to concern in the tech industry that this could generate imbalance in the market. In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, tech groups urged the FCC to move their reviews from “behind closed doors” and into the public eye.
Americans’ wireless data usage drastically increased between 2014 and 2015, renewing calls from advocates to ensure adequate wireless spectrum capacity. The FCC has undergone efforts to meet increased demand by auctioning unused spectrum.
Research involving large amounts of consumer data is subject to ethical review, a disjointed system in which members of review boards have historically studied neither digital security nor ethics. To combat these ineffectual requirements for studies and invasive gathering of consumer data, there needs to be a balance between big-data research and consumer security.
Patent Litigation Reform
Billions at Stake in University Patent Fights
While some argue publicly-funded Universities should share, rather than patent, intellectual property, in 2014, patent licensing revenue for Universities was $2.2 billion. This underscores the high-stakes that Universities have in impending legislation to reform patent litigation proceedings, and why many are opposed to reform that would change the current system.
Oracle and Google are locked in a years-long battle over Java APIs, and whether Google’s use of them in Android constitutes “fair use” and is thus not subject to copyright restrictions. The results of the case will have longstanding implications for software developers and the industry at large.
In yet another example underscoring the importance of patent litigation reform, a known patent troll has alleged infringement on smartphone manufacturers, claiming that the ability for smartphones to store and play music violates their patent. Google, which has a stake given smartphones that use the Android operating system include Google’s “Play Music” app, has gone on the offensive, seeking a declaratory judgement.
Internet of Things
T-Mobile has partnered with Twilio to grow the IoT market. While most connected devices currently rely on in-home WiFi networks, developers will not be able to embed wireless voice, text, or data services into internet-connected devices.
Samsung and SK Telecom have partnered in South Korea to introduce a wireless network dedicated to providing the infrastructure to grow IoT. While the project is still in its beginning stages, initial applications include street lights with sensors to collect pollution and weather data.
Transportation Network Companies
Toyota is Establishing a ‘Strategic Partnership’ with Uber, Which is a Really Big Deal (The Verge, 5/24)
Toyota will invest in Uber, and Uber drivers will be able to lease vehicles from Toyota paid for by their earnings through the ridesharing service. The move could also jump start Uber’s efforts to equip part of their fleet with self-driving cars in response to an announcement by competitors Lyft and General Motors earlier this year to introduce a fleet of driverless vehicles.
Post-Uber Austin Has a Chance to Redo Ride-Hail
(Buzzfeed News, 5/24)
Nearly one month ago, Uber and Lyft left Austin after a local ordinance was passed requiring enhanced driver screening procedures. To fill the void, the City is courting smaller ride-hailing alternatives to Uber and Lyft, while others predict that the two major U.S. ride-hailing companies will return to Austin and its large market of prospective users.
Poll: Public divided on Uber, Lyft regulation
(The Hill, 5/19)
In the recent debate over regulating popular ride-hailing applications like Uber and Lyft, a slim majority of Americans are unaware of the disputation as a whole. For those who are familiar with the issue, a greater number favor creating specific rules for these innovative companies instead of regulated them like taxis by using restrictive one-size-fits-all policies.
Congressmen Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) outline five steps Congress can take to support the expanding and innovative tech industry. They believe should work in a bipartisan manner to stop patent trolls, protect the online speech, increase spectrum capabilities, rebuild infrastructure, and allow innovative services to thrive.
With a larger social goal in mind, dating application Bae aims to connect black singles on a platform more accepting than some of its more popular competitors. Brian Gerrard, Bae’s CEO and Founder, joined the Apps Alliance’s policy team on the Hill last week to discuss ways to strengthen STEM education, particularly in underserved communities, and access to capital for companies owned by African American entrepreneurs. Bae is a member of the Application Developers Alliance.