US Senator Josh Hawley Proposes FTC Overhaul

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US Senator Josh Hawley Proposes FTC Overhaul
Number 1045
Broadcast Date FEBRUARY 10, 2020
Episode Length 6:14
Hosts Rich Stroffolino

US Senator Josh Hawley published a plan to overhaul the Federal Trade Commission to provide more scrutiny of big tech, Sony and Amazon pull out of MWC over coronavirus concerns, and an app misconfiguration exposed information on 6.4 million eligible votes in Israel.


US Senator Josh Hawley published a plan to remake the Federal Trade Commission to provide for more direct congressional oversight as well as better scrutinize big tech, calling out Google and Facebook as instances of the FTC failing to protect consumers. The plan would put the FTC within the Department of Justice, and replace the five commissioner panel with a single Senate-confirmed director. It would also create a “digital market research section” of the FTC to specifically look at big tech. Hawley also calls for new legislation to give the FTC the power to levy fines on first-time civil penalties, authority to enforce data portability and interoperability standards, and to give state attorneys general the authority to enforce the same laws as the FTC.
Sony and Amazon announced they would cancel plans to attend Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year, over concerns about coronavirus, joining cancellations by LG, ZTE, Nvidia, and Ericsson. GSMA, the organizer of the trade show, also announced safeguards over concerns of the epidemic. All travelers from China's Hubei province will not be allowed at the event and travelers who have been in China will need to show proof they have been outside the country at least 14 days prior to the event. Temperature screenings will also be implemented and MWC is promoting a "no handshake" policy. About 5-6% of MWC attendees come from China each year.
The Israeli publication Haaretz reports that the Elector app, used by the country's Likud political party, contained a misconfiguration that could allow anyone to access Israel's entire voter registry. Viewing source on the apps homepage showed usernames and passwords of all admins, allowing anyone to login and download the information. The voter registry contained full names, identity card numbers, addresses and gender of all 6.4 million eligible voters in Israel. The developer of the app confirmed the vulnerability, stating it was a “one-off incident that was immediately dealt with."
On December 20, Jalopnik reports that someone named Alec bought a used 2017 Tesla Model S from a dealer called United Traders. United Traders got it used at auction directly from Tesla on November 15. At that auction, the car was sold with the Enhanced Autopilot and FSD package. That package is sold as a one-time payment by the original owner. It's not a subscription. An audit of the car on November 18, determined that the customer had not purchased the software package and therefore it would be flagged for removal in the next software update. United Traders says that after Alec had agreed to purchase the car but before he took it home, a message popped up saying Autopilot had been upgraded and consequently, it stopped working. Alec and United Traders figured it was a glitch and would get fixed in a following update. However, Tesla customer support told Alec the feature was not in his purchase history, and he would need to pay for it to get it back. A source from United Traders told Jalopnik that the same thing happened with the "Ludicrous Speed" package which was removed 60 days after it resold a Model XP90D with the same response from Tesla that the owner of the used car never paid for the feature.
ARM announced two new processors, the Cortex-M55 for embedded devices and the Ethos-U55 micro neural processing unit. The M55 is the first to use ARM's new Helium architecture, and promises faster vector calculation and the ability to run Machine Learning models 15x faster than previous Cortex-M CPUs. The Ethos-U55 is a co-processor to Cortex-M, with ARM claiming the combination speeding up ML workloads 480x. ARM sees the combination bringing new ML capabilities to embedded edge devices without having to use a cloud backend.
Facebook announced that in 2019, it's bug bounty program paid out $2.2 million on 1,300 bug reports from researchers in 60 countries, up from $1.1 million paid on 700 bugs in 2018, and the most since launching the program in 2011. The program included a $30,000 reward paid to Indiana University researchers for finding malicious third-party software-development kits used on mobile apps that could siphon Facebook account data on 9.5 million users. Facebook also announced it would give security researchers early access to new features to try to find vulnerabilities before public release.
Regulatory filings show that Facebook acquired a majority stake in the London-based computer vision startup Scape Technologies, in a deal estimated around $40 million. Scape developed a pipeline to create 3D maps from video and still images, as well as offering a “Visual Positioning Service” API, which cameras could tap into to determine a location with greater accuracy than GPS.
Motorola's new Razr phone has a hinge system that Razr says "includes moveable support plates that rigidly support the display when the phone is open but collapse out of the way when the phone is closed." CNET used SquareTrade's Foldbot, a robot designed to open and close folding smartphones repeatedly until they die, and found Moto's phone only lasted for about a quarter of the 100,000+ fold time the Galaxy Fold lasted.
Samsung aired a commercial during the Oscars, showing a previously unannounced foldable device, based on leaks to be the Galaxy Z Flip. The phone uses the same folding phone form factor as the Motorola Razr, it doesn't appear to fold completely flat, was shown sitting on a table holding at a 90 degree angle, with a small full color display on the front, and demonstrated showing caller ID with a slider to accept calls. A notice at the bottom of the screen stated, “You may notice a small crease in the center of the main screen, which is a natural characteristic of the screen.” The ad promised more details at Samsung's Unpacked event February 11th.


Preceded by:
"Week in Review for the Week of 2/3/20"
US Senator Josh Hawley Proposes FTC Overhaul
Followed by:
"FTC Launches Inquiry Into Big Tech Antitrust Acquisitions"