The Dev Download keeps you up-to-date with the latest tech policy news. The Download is published each Wednesday, ensuring you and your team are informed on what policymakers are talking about.
Apple to Expand Encryption on Macs (The Hill, 6/14)
Apple is beginning to expand the encryption features on its Mac computers, allowing files to be encrypted with multiple keys. Currently Macs offer encryption through only one key. However, Apple is expected to release its new, more secure system next year.
FBI Has Orlando Shooter’s Phone; Now What? (USA Today, 6/14)
As the FBI begins investigating the man responsible for the tragic mass shooting in Orlando, questions have begun to arise about his phone, currently in FBI possession. Though the FBI has not confirmed any specifics regarding access to the phone, some expect that if the phone’s contents are not easily accessible, law enforcement could renew their push for backdoors, master keys, and mandatory decryption.
Apple Echoes Commitment to Encryption after Orlando Shooting (Inside Sources, 6/13)
In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, Apple executive Craig Federighi pledged to not lose sight of the best interests of its customers and continue offering end-to-end encryption by default. The comments come after Apple stood its ground in February when the FBI sought a court-order to compel the company to bypass the phone’s encryption.
Orlando Attack May Rekindle Encryption Fight (Politico, 6/13)
Federal investigators looking for the digital trail of the Orlando gunman could find themselves in the midst of another encryption fight, should his phone’s contents be encrypted. Given the previous showdown between Apple and the FBI was never truly resolved, the attack in Orlando could restart the encryption debate and prompt Congressional action.
Senators Establish Cybersecurity Caucus (The Hill, 6/14)
Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) announced Tuesday the creation of the first Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus aimed at combatting threats to American national and digital security. The caucus will present Congress with holistic and adaptable defense strategies.
A Team of Elite Ex-NSA Hackers Is Giving Everyone the Ability to Hunt Down the Most Advanced Cyber Threats (Tech Insider, 6/14)
Based out of Silicon Valley, a company founded by three ex-NSA analysts is offering comprehensive cyber protection to computer owners, claiming to be able to predict hackers’ movements and prevent their attacks up to a year in advance. The company calls itself Area 1, and provides cybersecurity even as online threats proliferate.
Senators Push Committee Leaders to Elevate Military Cyber Force (The Hill, 6/14)
Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) are encouraging fellow lawmakers to include a provision in the national defense policy bill which would upgrade the military’s cyber unit, effectively turning it into a combatant command. Calling cyber one of the “fastest growing threats facing our nation,” this is the second attempt by the two senators to include this provision.
House Homeland Security: 80 Bills, 16 Laws and Increased Cyber Oversight (Federal News Radio, 6/13)
Looking back on the past year, the House Homeland Security Committee has approached issues of cybersecurity with rapidity, approving 80 bills. The committee is also taking steps to review legislation on bills they approved and have been signed into law, hoping to gauge their effectiveness.
House Panel Approves $1.8 Billion for DHS Cyber Spending (The Hill, 6/9)
The House Appropriations Subcommittee of the Homeland Security Committee unanimously approved a spending bill to allocate nearly $2 billion for protection against cyberattacks and to preserve existing online infrastructure. The funds would primarily go to defending civilian government networks, preventing foreign attacks, and improving emergency systems of communication.
Email Privacy Update at ‘Impasse’ in Senate (The Hill, 6/9)
Following a series of unfavorable amendments, sponsors of an email privacy bill, whose House companion was unanimously passed in the lower chamber in April, have pulled the bill from the committee’s agenda altogether. This postpones indefinitely any further Committee discussion or votes and thereby jeopardizes any updates to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 in this Congress.
PATENT LITIGATION REFORM
U.S. Supreme Court Eases Way for Larger Patent Damage Awards (Bloomberg, 6/13)
On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled to change existing limits on the ability of judges to award enhanced damages, removing what they called “overly rigid” testing in determining penalties. In a time of emboldened patent trolls, the court’s ruling underscores the need for comprehensive patent litigation reform.
Patent Trolls Rear Their Ugly Heads in Courtrooms Around the World (Financial Times, 6/9)
Alliance Board Member Todd Moore discusses his experiences as a patent troll victim and the dangers of trolls’ largely unconstrained behavior. Alliance US Policy Director Geoff Lane also spoke about the importance of comprehensive reform.
A Google Car Expert Told Us There’s One Thing That Could Seriously Delay Self-Driving Cars (Tech Insider, 6/15)
Many scientists have proposed changing city infrastructure to help ease autonomous vehicles into reality, but Brad Templeton, a consultant on Google’s driverless car project, has a different proposal. He believes cars should harness cell phone data from passengers, allowing vehicles to become better acquainted with other vehicle movements and traffic patterns.
An Uber Executive Says Driverless Cars Will Hit The Road ‘Sooner Than You Think” (Tech Insider, 6/14)
Chief product officer at Uber Jeff Holden asserted Tuesday that, after gathering and working with some of the world’s top robotics experts, self-driving cars are closer to reality than many expect. Uber began testing an autonomous Ford Fusion on the road in May.
Driverless Trains Could Be Only 5 Years Away (GovTech, 6/14)
German rail company Deutsche Bahn is looking to introduce self-driving trains into their network by 2021. The company will begin testing the trains later this year in response to a fatal head-on collision in February caused by operator mistakes.
Fiat Could Partner with Uber and Amazon to Create Self-Driving Cars (Business Insider, 6/9)
Fiat Chrysler has been looking to branch into the world of autonomous vehicles, opening discussions with Uber and Amazon. As Uber and Amazon make plans for incorporating driverless technology into their services, Fiat hopes to provide the cars the companies will use.
Aspiring ‘Smart Cities’ Must Engage Communities, Build Partnerships and Fail Fast (StateScoop, 6/14)
At the Smart Cities Innovation Summit in Indiana this week, speakers encouraged smart cities to make connections with local communities and invest in projects that would provide clear benefits to civilians. Collaborating with local governments and stakeholders could lead to more collaborative partnerships and ultimately higher success rates.
Lawmakers Reject Proposal that Would’ve Schooled Them on Tech (Wired, 6/13)
On Friday, Congress voted against an amendment aimed at reviving and allocating funds to the Office of Technology Assessment. Before it was disbanded in 1995, the office was charged with providing lawmakers relevant scientific research and information to help them make more informed decisions.
Presidential Candidates Told to Prioritize Internet Freedom (Motherboard, 6/13)
A group of privacy advocates and organizations released an internet policy platform for the 2016 presidential candidates, encouraging the acknowledgement and protection of the internet’s ever-growing potential. The platform was distributed to leading presidential candidates on Monday.