Dev Download, July 7 - July 13

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.


Ransomware ‘Stopped’ by New Software (BBC, 7/12)
Ransomware, used by hackers to encrypt data to extort a ransom payment, may have met its match in software developed at the University of Florida. Researchers have created an “early-warning system” which prevents ransomware from completely encrypting files, mitigating the losses suffered by victims.

Putin Says All Encryption Must Be Backdoored In Two Weeks (TechDirt, 7/8)
Having already signed a surveillance bill mandating backdoors to all encryption, Russian President Vladimir Putin has released an executive order to ensure this expansion of government powers happens within two weeks.

Facebook Begins End-To-End Encryption Rollout (The Washington Times, 7/8)
Facebook has begun offering users the ability to opt-in to end-to-end encryption on its messaging platform, which will make messages indecipherable to anyone except the sender and recipient. The “secret conversation” feature is being offered to select users currently, with a widespread deployment planned for late summer.


Data Localization Would Harm US Economy, Tech Experts Warn (Morning Consult, 7/13)
On Wednesday, a panel of tech experts warned Congress of the dangers of data localization, where countries enact policies to block cross-border data traffic. The experts detailed how restrictive policies can harm US companies, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises whose business relies on their ability to compete in a global marketplace.

EU-US Privacy Shield Agreement Goes Into Effect (The Verge, 7/12)
After nearly a year of negotiations, the EU and U.S. have formally adopted Privacy Shield, an agreement that replaces the now-invalidated Safe Harbor. The pact allows for vital cross-border data flows while outlining privacy protection standards for citizens’ data. The Alliance issued a policy brief on the agreement, which can be read here.


Patent Trolls: Now Made in China (The American Spectator, 7/11)
Many US-based patent trolls are looking to shift to a more amenable environment — China. With a widespread acceptance for and even government sponsorship of the practice, this “land of opportunity” is appealing to zealous trolls, who have proven they can harm U.S. businesses both at home and abroad.

Supreme Court’s Alice Decision Protected My Small Businesses From Patent Trolls (The Hill, 7/7)
Patent troll victim Michael Skelps discusses how a recent Supreme Court decision helped safeguard his small business and others like it. The Supreme Court’s ruling to reject vague language as patentable provides some relief to fledging businesses facing major threats at the hands of zealous trolls.


The 25 Most High Tech Cities in the World (TechInsider, 7/12)
Based on factors including investments, patents filed, and startups, TechInsider has compiled a list of the world’s most tech-savvy places. As our digital ecosystem expands and innovates, these are the cities to keep an eye out for.

Star Wars and the Future of Healthcare (TechCrunch, 7/12)
The future of physicians may not be the self-sufficient droid surgeons of Star Wars, but the usage of robotics in healthcare will certainly continue to be on the rise. Ultimately, intelligent machines will function “not as a replacement, but rather as a valuable supplement” to helping human doctors treat patients.

The Future of Healthcare Is Not People Versus Machines (TechCrunch, 7/11)
In the future of healthcare, advanced technology does not necessarily mean decreasing human workforces — in reality, it has the potential to lead to a “digital-driven and human-enabled” system, where technology complements its human counterparts instead of replacing them.


A Tesla Co-Founder Is Making Electric Garbage Trucks with Jet Tech, and Why Not (Wired, 7/11)
Ian Wright, one of the creators of Tesla Motors, is looking to revolutionize typical garbage trucks by making them electric and including a turbine engine for use when the battery runs low. Wright’s creation drastically reduces fuel consumption, and the technology has not gone unnoticed as vehicles have already been ordered.


Artificial Intelligence Is Setting Up the Internet for a Huge Clash with Europe (Wired, 7/11)
Rapidly advancing A.I. may soon find itself at odds with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), set to go into effect in 2018. The stipulations of the GDPR are meant to protect the data of European citizens, but fails to address innovations like neural networks.

Spotify vs. Apple Comes to Washington (The Hill, 7/9)
Spotify and Apple’s fight over the latter’s in-app purchasing practices has reached the ears of D.C. legislators, with Spotify making its case to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Alliance President and CEO Jake Ward issued a statement last week regarding the issue, which can be read here.

Federal Court Rules that Sharing Your Netflix Password is a Federal Crime (Fusion, 7/7)
Bad news for those still using their ex’s-second cousin’s-stepmother’s Netflix password: thanks to the U.S. Court of Appeals, without explicit permission from password owner, using that password is now considered criminal. While streaming sites are unlikely to use this ruling to attack guilty parties, the case does reflect a vague use of an overly-broad law, and could still have negative repercussions for consumers.