Overnight Tech: Tech reacts to Obama's final State of the Union

LEDE: Not much tech policy made its way into President Obama's final State of the Union address, but that didn't stop some from reacting to the brief references Obama made to topics important in the tech world.

TechNet CEO Linda Moore praised the president's message in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, his support for clean energy technologies and his prominent support for computer science and technical education.

"We couldn't agree more," she said in a statement. "Our economy demands that students have technical skills, but we're currently not doing nearly enough to prepare them for the jobs of the future."

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Sen. Mark WarnerMark WarnerLawmakers play catch-up as smartphone banking surges 5 questions about the Yahoo hack Dem senator calls for probe over Yahoo hack MORE (D-Va.), who has become one of the loudest voices in Washington in favor of finding ways to provide benefits to freelancers in the on-demand economy, praised the president's call for making it easier for workers in the "new economy" to enjoy the benefits and protections usually associated with employment.

"Moving forward, I believe that we must seize the opportunities and confront the challenges of this new economy in order to make it work better for more people​ in Virginia and across the country," Warner said in a statement.

Not all the reaction was positive, however. Michael O'Reilly, a Republican on the Federal Communications Commission, said the president's mention of the agency's landmark net neutrality rules showed that the administration had used its influence in the process leading to the order.

"Not Surprising: Admin took full credit for #NetNeutrality in #SOTU, thereby destroying @FCC pretense of independent process," he tweeted, before adding the hashtag "#SOTUSwitcheroo."

FCC EXPLAINS ENFORCEMENT ACTION: The Federal Communications Commission issued a detailed response defending its enforcement bureau after a group of senators raised concerns that it was "aggressively pursuing substantial, unprecedented, and seemingly arbitrary fines." Much of the response, signed by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler explained the enforcement bureau's legal justification and procedures. Wheeler said the agency's enforcement arm is "rooted soundly in statutory authority and commission rules." The letter was sent to senators in December but publicly released Wednesday.

EFF DEFENDS ANONYMITY IN COLLEGE SPEECH: The Electronic Frontier Foundation sent a letter to the Education Department on Wednesday urging the agency to protect anonymous online speech at college campuses. The letter is a delayed response to a host of women's rights and civil rights groups that back in October urged the Education Department to adopt new federal guidelines to protect students from online harassment. They specifically mentioned the social media app Yik Yak. EFF said it agreed with many of the anti-harassment recommendations but "preemptively removing access to anonymous online speech platforms violates all students' First Amendment rights."

GOOGLE REPORTS 13 NEAR MISSES WITH AUTONOMOUS CARS: Google released a report on Wednesday showing that its self-driving cars had 13 near misses between the end of September 2014 and November of last year. In each of the cases, the human driver in the car intervened -- but a simulator showed later that had the human not taken over, the car would have made contact with another vehicle. In some cases, the contact would have been the result of actions taken by a human driver in another car.

TECH COMPANIES RIPE FOR SALE?: A Merrill Lynch analysts note highlighted a handful of high-profile technology companies that are ripe to be bought, according to Business Insider. The firm listed Groupon, Yelp, GrubHub, Pandora and others in its analysis.

TURN OFF YOUR APPLE WATCH, JEB: A funny video came out of presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's (R) meeting with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register on Wednesday. During the meeting, Bush received a call on his Apple Watch, and didn't appear to realize that his timepiece had such capabilities. "That's the coolest thing in the world," he says.

 

ON TAP:

At 9 a.m., the Federal Trade Commission will hold an all-day conference on consumer privacy and data security.

At 10:30 a.m., Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) will give brief remarks on cybersecurity at the opening of a new Visa facility dedicated to cyber operations in Virginia.

At noon, Public Knowledge will hold a talk on reform of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

At noon, the American Consumer Institute will host a talk in the Rayburn Office Building on how Title II will impact broadband investment.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Democratic Sen. Al FrankenAl FrankenSenators challenge status quo on Saudi arms sales Overnight Defense: Senate rejects effort to block Saudi arms sale | ISIS may have fired chemical agent in Iraq | Trump, Gary Johnson tied among military voters Human rights groups cheer Saudi arms sale vote despite failure MORE (Minn.) has Google in his sights over allegations the company mines the data of students who use its applications for schools.

The Government Accountability Office on Wednesday issued a report that turned up no information on companies that were selling communications technology to the Iranian government to either suppress or monitor its citizens' speech.

The U.S. government has seen a rise in cyberattacks that penetrate industrial control systems, a top cybersecurity official said Wednesday.

Foreign policy dominated chatter on social media around President Obama's last State of the Union address on Tuesday, according to data from Facebook and Twitter.

Hackers protesting the sentencing of two Myanmar men in Thailand have struck for the second time this year, disabling many sites associated with the Thai court system, according to the Associated Press.

 

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