Protego Weekly Roundup – January 22, 2019

Welcome to the 3rd week of January. It’s frigid on the East Coast, though nothing is colder than the government shutdown (now at day 31). Yet the technology policy world continues to grind along- here are some stories we’re watching:

In Case You Missed It. Dana Martens wrote a piece, Stay Speculative: Designing Our Future), highlighting the role design, innovation and fiction play in imagining tomorrow. As Dana says, “The future is already here — now let’s distribute it.”

China and CRISPR. After shocking the scientific community late in 2018, He Jiankui has had his work declared by Chinese authorities as illegal, and that he pursued the work for “personal fame and gain”. Jiankui announced in November that he had successfully created the world’s first gene-edited babies using the CRISPR technology.  He could face corruption and bribery charges, both of which carry the death penalty in China, and may face also charges of violating established research guidelines, which he did by implanting the genetically modified embryos in the mother instead of destroying them as per convention.

Big Brother Is Watching. Computer scientist Jon Callas, who recently left Apple to join the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as a technology fellow, delves into his move and the implications of surveillance on society in an interview with Foreign Policy that’s worth reading.

Private Tweets Not So Private.  For more than 4 years, private messages sent on the Twitter platform may have been publicly available, according to Twitter.  The issue was caused by users changing their email addresses, inadvertently switching off the ‘Protect your Tweets’ option.

Rubio Privacy Bill Proposes Nationalizing Data Laws:  Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) announced a new privacy bill aimed at protecting personal data of American consumers. The American Data Dissemination Act would ask the Federal Trade Commission to recommend potential rules and regulations that Congress would finalize. Critics worry that this bill would preempt any state laws, which runs the risk of stripping states of their power to protect citizens, and may not have the teeth that similar bills that have already been filed may have.

DOJ Pursuing Criminal Charges Against Huawei:  The DOJ is close to filing an indictment against Huawei for theft of trade secrets, including the technology used in a robot developed by T-Mobile to test smartphones.  This follows the recent arrests of two Huawei employees (CFO Meng Wanzhou, who the US seeks to extradite, and Weijing Wang). Huawei has long been suspected of benefitting from Chinese economic espionage and the forced transfer of technologies from foreign companies doing business in China.

China Investing in 5G and Internet of Things: China’s top economic planning agency announced that they intend to invest heavily in technology infrastructure, as the technology race between the US and China continues to heat up.   According to the South China Morning Post, China’s state planner has singled out AI, the industrial internet, Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G as part of its investment priorities this year as part the country’s efforts to “construct a new form of infrastructure” and “speed up the commercialisation of 5G”, according to Lian Weiliang, deputy head of China’s National Development and Reform Commission.

Governing Artificial Intelligence: The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is convening experts to agree on recommendations for artificial intelligence policy, including standards that may define regulations around the world. “If you want people to trust this stuff, government has to play a role,” said one participant in the session- Daniel Weitzner, a principal research scientist at the M.I.T. Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, a former policy adviser in the Obama administration.