Dean DeChiaro

Facebook incurs wrath from both parties at Libra currency hearing
Bipartisan group asks why Americans should trust Facebook with their paychecks given its repeated data privacy scandals

Senators from both parties questioned at a hearing Tuesday why Americans should trust Facebook’s new digital currency system with their paychecks given the social media giant’s repeated data privacy scandals.

Libra, a cryptocurrency under construction by a Facebook subsidiary called Calibra, was announced in May to a blast of bipartisan incredulity by lawmakers and the Trump administration. Critics asked how the company could ensure that Libra, which is designed to be anonymous, could be prevented from being used by money launderers, traffickers or terrorists.

Mnuchin blasts Facebook's Libra currency on eve of hearings
The treasury secretary expressed concern it ‘could be misused by money launderers and terrorist financiers’

Facebook’s Libra and other cryptocurrencies “could be misused by money launderers and terrorist financiers,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday, one day before Congress begins a series of hearings probing the social media giant’s first foray into next-generation financial technology.

“The U.S. welcomes responsible innovation including new tech that improve the efficiency of the financial system,” Mnunchin said during a White House press briefing.

Hearings on Facebook’s Libra could dim cryptocurrencies’ sheen
Lawmakers have already made up their minds about fintech, some in the industry fear

The financial technology industry is anticipating a windfall of attention and possible scrutiny following upcoming House and Senate hearings on Libra, the new cryptocurrency announced by Facebook last month.

Advocates for the growth of blockchain technology and digital currencies say Facebook’s entry into fintech is an exciting development for an industry that still exists in relative obscurity because of public misconceptions about the technology and lack of clear regulations governing their use.

Sen. Josh Hawley: ‘Huawei is not the answer’
Missouri Republican has emerged as a thorn in Big Tech’s side

Since arriving in the Senate in January, Missouri Republican Josh Hawley has emerged as a key player on technology policy and a thorn in the side of large companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon.

We sat down with him to discuss the cybersecurity threat posed by China, whether the government should break up Big Tech, and what he fears most from social media.

Big Tech now squarely in the sights of antitrust forces
The effort could create a bipartisan political circus on privacy and disinformation

A bipartisan antitrust investigation of large technology companies announced by the House Judiciary Committee will offer lawmakers their latest opportunity to grill some of the industry’s most recognizable and controversial executives.

But it also could provide lawmakers a chance to hold accountable antitrust agencies and potentially to expand the scope of U.S. antitrust law in significant ways. Still, it remains unclear exactly what the committee can accomplish as it sets out.

Bipartisan thumbs-down to facial recognition technology
Surveillance sparks comparisons to Orwellian dystopia

In 2016, police officers in Baltimore used new technology to scan the faces of protesters who filled the city’s streets following the death in custody of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man. Among those whose most recognizable features may have been documented was Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Democratic chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Three years later, Cummings is still angry such surveillance was conducted without a warrant or reason to believe that he — or any other protester, for that matter — had done anything illegal. Now he’s putting the full weight of his committee’s jurisdiction behind a push to ban facial recognition technology until Congress can pass comprehensive legislation to govern its use.

Trump order clears path to ban Huawei 5G equipment from United States
Trump signed an executive order that would allow the Commerce Department to bar transactions from Huawei

President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order allowing the Commerce Department to stop U.S. companies from doing business with companies “subject to the jurisdiction” of a foreign adversary, clearing a path to bar transactions with Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant that officials have labeled a national security threat.

But asked whether the executive order is meant to take direct aim at Huawei, senior administration officials described it as “company and country agnostic.”

Nationalization question hangs over White House’s 5G announcement
FCC chair reiterates his agency’s stance that a free-market approach is the key to beating China in ‘the race to 5G.’

Announcing the latest phase of his plan to implement a fifth-generation broadband network throughout the United States, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Friday reiterated his agency’s stance that a free-market approach to implementation is the key to beating China in “the race to 5G.” 

Nationalizing 5G and selling spectrum access wholesale, as some have proposed — including President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign manager — is “the wrong answer for American consumers at the end of the day,” Pai told reporters on a conference call.

The net neutrality bill is dead in the Senate, but Democrats don’t mind
Democrats are confident they’ll be able to use it to skewer vulnerable GOP candidates next November

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already declared the Democratic net neutrality bill, which passed the House on Wednesday, “dead on arrival” in the upper chamber.

But Senate Democrats don’t seem to mind.

Hunting money launderers? There’s AI for that
Banks explore artificial intelligence to better detect fraud after go-ahead from federal regulators

Encouraged by a recent green light from regulators, the financial services industry is exploring new ways of using artificial intelligence to help them comply with banking regulations and to better detect fraudulent transactions used by criminals and terrorists.

This move toward new approaches to banking compliance comes despite growing concern that more government scrutiny could force the United States to fall behind similar efforts already underway overseas.

The gigantism of big tech forces a fresh look at antitrust
Facebook, Google and Amazon are catching flak from both parties in Congress

Increased public concern over the reach of large technology companies, bipartisan support for thinking anew about how to regulate big business, and ambitious policy proposals ahead of the 2020 presidential election are driving a new conversation over antitrust enforcement in the United States.

In less than two decades, three of America’s most ubiquitous technology platforms — Facebook, Google and Amazon — have grown rapidly in size and clout from small, single-market companies into industry conglomerates, thanks in part to a mostly hands-off approach to antitrust by the U.S. government.

Warren proposes breaking up Facebook, Google, Amazon
Warren declaring war on the country’s most powerful technology firms and a culture of “weak antitrust enforcement”

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a 2020 presidential candidate, proposed on Friday a plan to break up Google, Facebook and Amazon, declaring war on the country’s most powerful technology firms and a culture of “weak antitrust enforcement” that allowed them to grow so big.

In a Medium post, the Massachusetts Democrat accused the three firms of using “resources and control over the way we use the Internet to squash small businesses and innovation, and substitute their own financial interests for the broader interests of the American people.”

Border wall technology: Better than concrete, or Big Brother of the borderlands?
As defense startups peddle their wares, privacy activists worry

Democratic support for installing hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of surveillance technology on the U.S.-Mexico border, billed by party leaders as a 21st-century alternative to President Donald Trump’s medieval wall, is worrying privacy activists at the same time that it excites nascent defense startups.

Amid staunch opposition by Democrats, the fiscal 2019 omnibus package signed into law by Trump earlier this month contained only $1.4 billion for wall and barrier construction. That’s compared with about $100 million for sensor towers and remote video surveillance systems, plus an additional $564 million for nonintrusive scanning equipment at border entry points, which was also included.

China threat looms over Senate 5G hearing
Senators signaled support for building a fifth-generation wireless network, but raised concerns that China is already on its way to establishing dominance

Senators from both parties on Wednesday signaled support for building a fifth-generation wireless network that could enable innovation in telecom, agriculture, and health care sectors but raised concerns that China is already on its way to establishing dominance over the technology.

At the year’s first hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, new Chairman Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said nationwide 5G implementation could propel the United States “into the fourth industrial revolution,” by creating millions of new jobs and enhancing transportation and agricultural systems through enhanced connectivity.

Border wall debate ignores biggest source of illegal immigration: visa overstays
But stopping travelers from overstaying their visas isn’t a simple fix

When police approached 22-year-old Xiangyu Zhang at a gas station near his home in La Marque, Texas, last July, they found him sitting in his vehicle with two loaded rifles, including an AM-15 semiautomatic. Zhang, an undocumented immigrant from China, had threatened in an online chatroom for troubled military veterans to shoot schoolchildren, and in December he pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm while in the country without papers.

Zhang lived undocumented in the United States for two years, but he didn’t arrive illegally by walking across the border from Mexico. He entered legally, holding a temporary visa, and when the visa expired, Zhang stayed, becoming one of hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals who in recent years have overstayed visas and are now living in the country illegally.

How one Democrat threads the needle on border security
Sen. Bob Casey won against an immigration hard-liner in a state that went for Trump. Now he has some advice for his party

Of the 10 Democratic senators who faced 2018 re-election challenges in states won by President Donald Trump two years earlier, few were forced to defend their positions on immigration more than Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.

Casey was up against Rep. Lou Barletta, who rose to prominence on an anti-immigrant platform and spent much of the 2018 campaign trying to capitalize on Trump’s success touting enforcement and border security policies. Taking a page from the president, Barletta hammered Casey on immigration, seeking to portray him as soft on immigrant crime, in favor of so-called “sanctuary cities,” and out of touch with the concerns of Pennsylvanians.

Feinstein signals 2020 support for Biden over Harris
Calif. Democrat says she loves Kamala Harris but it’s a “different kind of thing”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Thursday that it would be difficult not to support former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. if he runs for president in 2020.

“I’ve worked with him, I saw him in action, I saw him as vice president, I saw his growth, his ability, and I saw his humanity,” the longtime senator told reporters. “He’s an incredible human being, so it’s very hard for me, if he runs, to ignore that.”

Trump Administration to Make Asylum-Seekers Wait in Mexico
Similar asylum policy proposed last month was stymied by the courts

The Homeland Security Department on Thursday announced a plan to keep Central American asylum-seekers in Mexico for the duration of their immigration proceedings, claiming it would “reduce illegal migration by removing one of the key incentives that encourages people from taking the dangerous journey to the United States in the first place.”

Under the plan, asylum-seekers would be temporarily returned to Mexico after being issued a notice to appear in U.S. immigration court. The department said it reached an agreement with Mexico to issue asylum-seekers humanitarian visas and access to attorneys and the United States for the purpose of appearing in court.

In Oversight Role, House Democrats Aim for Both Check and Balance
Investigating the president carries risks for incoming House majority

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings has seen the headlines. The 12-term Maryland Democrat, who in January will take control of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, knows he has the power to become President Donald Trump’s worst nightmare. For now, he’s taking a more measured approach.

“A nightmare has to be in the eyes of the beholder,” Cummings said in a recent interview. “If a nightmare comes with me doing my job that I’m sworn to do, so be it.”

Democrats Push Back on Plan to Make Green Cards Harder to Obtain
Public health advocates, others warn about effects of ‘public charge’ crackdown

Democratic lawmakers are joining local health officials, community organizers and immigrant rights groups around the country in opposition to a Trump administration regulatory proposal that would make it harder for foreign nationals to obtain green cards if they have received government assistance.

Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Nanette Barragán, both California Democrats, said in a public comment submitted to the Homeland Security Department that the proposed regulation would represent “another misguided step in advancing this administration’s cruel, anti-immigrant agenda.”