By LI ZHOU
With help from John Hendel and Nancy Scola
DRIVING THE DAY: TECH CEOS DESCEND ON WHITE HOUSE — “Tech industry leaders from companies like Apple, Amazon and Google are set to head to the White House Monday to brainstorm on how to improve the government's creaky IT systems — aiming to find common ground with the Trump administration after weeks of tension over climate change, immigration and other policies,” Nancy and Steven report. “The official focus of the meeting has non-partisan appeal: upgrading federal systems that one senior White House official described as ‘in some cases 10 to 20 years out of date.’ And the tech giants could stand to benefit if the government moves to modernize with the help of their hardware, software and cloud-computing services.”
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“But the gathering comes at a low point in the tumultuous relationship between President Trump and Silicon Valley, with many in the tech world deeply disturbed by Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. Activist groups have been urging Silicon Valley's tech workforce to press their CEOs to disengage from Trump.”
“According to the White House, those expected to attend include Apple CEO Tim Cook, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google's parent company Alphabet. Also on the list are Oracle CEO Safra Catz, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, Qualcomm CEO Steven Mollenkopf, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen and Palantir CEO Alex Karp. They will be joined by Peter Thiel, the billionaire investor and Trump adviser, and John Doerr of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.”
“Notably absent from list of attendees distributed by the White House is Facebook. The company's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, had joined other tech executives in a December, post-election meeting with Trump in New York.” Read more, here.
BROADBAND TRIPLE PLAY — Rural broadband deployment has emerged as one of the buzziest tech policy areas in Congress, inspiring a trio of hearings this week. The Senate communications subcommittee is due to examine the Universal Service Fund and rural broadband investment on Tuesday, while a House Small Business subcommittee will look at the expansion of broadband to rural areas on Thursday. The House telecom subcommittee is also slated to review the mapping of broadband coverage on Wednesday.
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FIRSTNET DRAFT STATE PLANS EXPECTED THIS WEEK
— FirstNet, the public safety broadband network for first responders, is expected to release its draft state plans as soon as this week, Urgent Communications reports. The government body will roll out the plans with AT&T, which was awarded the contract to help build out the network. States will then be able to provide feedback and recommendations, and once the plans are finalized, states will have the choice to either accept FirstNet’s deployment framework or develop their own LTE radio access network. In the opt-out scenario, a state would pay a fee to use the FirstNet LTE Core and the Band 14 spectrum.
GOLDEN STATE PRIVACY UPDATE
— California could become the latest state to take broadband privacy into its own hands after Congress voted to rescind the FCC’s rules. State Assemblymember Ed Chau is slated to unveil a bill that will “require ISPs to get opt-in consent from consumers in order to use, disclose, sell or permit access to customer personal information.” It would also add data-security standards and prohibit pay-for-privacy programs. “The legislation responds to the April 2017 repeal of the Federal Communications Commission rules by Congress and the Trump Administration that would have given broadband Internet customers increased control over their personal information,” according to a news release. Massachusetts, Minnesota and New York have also floated bills on the issue.
SILICON VALLEY MUST-READS —
— Instacart’s response to the Amazon-Whole Food acquisition: Instacart, which has an exclusive contract to deliver perishables from Whole Foods, released a statement in the wake of Amazon’s purchase of the grocery chain. “From the beginning, we’ve been committed to helping grocers compete online. That’s more important than ever given Amazon just declared war on every supermarket and corner store in America. We already work with over 160 retailers across the country and look forward to partnering with many more,” it said, via TechCrunch.
— Reddit’s rich valuation: “Venture capitalists are giving a major boost to the link-sharing website, with funding that will give the company a valuation of about $1.7 billion, two people familiar with the matter said,” Bloomberg reports.
— Inside Apple’s iPhone assembly plants in China: “Today, the iPhone is made at a number of different factories around China, but for years, as it became the bestselling product in the world, it was largely assembled at Foxconn’s 1.4 square-mile flagship plant, just outside Shenzhen. The sprawling factory was once home to an estimated 450,000 workers,” Brian Merchant writes in a book excerpt published in The Guardian. “If you know of Foxconn, there’s a good chance it’s because you’ve heard of the suicides. In 2010, Longhua assembly-line workers began killing themselves. Worker after worker threw themselves off the towering dorm buildings, sometimes in broad daylight, in tragic displays of desperation – and in protest at the work conditions inside.”
Eshoo net neutrality roundtable today : As MT previously reported, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) is convening a roundtable including Gigi Sohn, formerly a counselor to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, to discuss the issue at Mozilla Headquarters today.
YouTube expands strategy to combat terrorism : It shared four new steps the platform is doing to address terrorist content including amping up video analysis efforts to pinpoint extremist videos and adding experts devoted to flagging this content, VentureBeat reports.
Arianna Huffington’s role at Uber : The New York Times takes a look at how the media mogul became an influential member of the ride-sharing company’s board.
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