Overnight tech: Feds look to boost self-driving cars

LEDE: The Obama administration wants a stake in the development of self-driving cars.

Transportation Secretary Anthony FoxxAnthony FoxxFeds require new safeguards for railroad employees Uber to spend M to meet demand during Metro maintenance Virginia gov threatens to withhold DC Metro funding MORE was in Detroit on Thursday to announce that the administration will request close to $4 billion over ten years to "accelerate the development and adoption of safe vehicle automation through real-world pilot projects." The testing would take place in certain areas of the country, according to a release, and the program would "work with industry leaders to ensure a common multistate framework for connected and autonomous vehicles."

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"We are on the cusp of a new era in automotive technology with enormous potential to save lives, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and transform mobility for the American people," said Foxx in a statement. "Today's actions and those we will pursue in the coming months will provide the foundation and the path forward for manufacturers, state officials, and consumers to use new technologies and achieve their full safety potential."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also rolled out new policy guidance on autonomous vehicles, which included a commitment to produce policy guidelines within six months for states grappling with how to regulate self-driving cars.

GOOD FOR GOOGLE, UBER: That could be good news for companies developing the cars -- including Google and Uber -- who risk facing a patchwork of unfavorable state regulations. Notably, California's Department of Motor Vehicles recently released draft regulations that would require a licensed human driver behind the wheel of every autonomous vehicle. The proposed rule prompted a rebuke from the man leading the self-driving car project Google.

"This maintains the same old status quo and falls short on allowing this technology to reach its full potential, while excluding those who need to get around but cannot drive," wrote Chris Urmson. "While we're disappointed by this, we will continue to work with the DMV as they seek feedback in the coming months, in the hope that we can recapture the original spirit of the bill."

WHITE HOUSE EMAILS: Work emails stored in the private account of the White House director of science and technology policy might have to be handed over under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the Competitive Enterprise Institute and backed by the Associated Press. The AP reported that a federal appeals court appeared likely to overturn a lower court decision after arguments Thursday. 

NETFLIX LOOKING TO CUT BACK ON 'UNBLOCKERS': Netflix on Thursday said in the "coming weeks" it will start preventing customers from using proxies or "unblockers" to access video content that is available in other countries but not their own. The video licensing contracts that Netflix and other video providers rely on are geographic specific, meaning a movie that is available on Netflix in the United States may not be available in India. That is becoming an increasing problem for Netflix as it expands around the globe. Some customers have used proxies to access more video by making it appear that their Internet connection is in a different country. 

CANDIDATES SHOULD GET MESSAGE IN EARLY: GOP candidates in Thursday night's 9 p.m. debate would be smart to get their most important talking points in early, according to Targeted Victory, a digital media buying firm. Even though viewership for the debates has been much higher than average this cycle, Targeted Victory has noticed a strong drop off after the 10 p.m. hour. That is especially true in New Hampshire, which logged a 35 percent viewer drop off by the end of last month's CNN debate. 

HOUSE GOP ASKING MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT CLINTON SERVER: The House Science, Space and Technology Committee has sent letters to four companies who did work on Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonSanders: Clinton shouldn't pick VP from Wall Street McAfee on chances of Libertarian win: 'We're not that stupid' Libertarian candidate raps at party convention MORE's private email server, which she maintained while at the State Department. "Understanding these companies' roles in providing software and services to maintain former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private email server is critical to improving government cybersecurity standards," said Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas).

AT&T DIVERSITY CHIEF OUTLINES COMPANY'S EFFORTS: Clynt Marshall, AT&T's Chief Diversity Officer, talked to the International Business Times about the company's diversity and inclusion efforts. She noted that the company sees having diverse leaders as good for business. "Not only do our employees think it's a great place to work, but it makes people want to do business with us because they see that we do business with people who look like them," she said. "And we don't have to manufacture it. We don't have to go and find some black executive or black officer to come and sit with them."

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: 

JetBlue's main website went down Thursday afternoon because of a power outage, the low-cost airline said. The outage reportedly has caused some cancellations and delays.

Religion is once again the most talked-about political topic on Facebook heading into Thursday's Republican presidential debate.

The Wikipedia page of former President George W. Bush has been edited 45,862 times, the most of any English language page in the 15-year history of the online encyclopedia. 

The widow of a man who was killed in a November terrorist attack is suing Twitter for allegedly allowing the "explosive growth" of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), resulting in the death of her husband.

A new poll released Thursday found more people are comfortable with office surveillance cameras than they are with a social media company using their information to serve up targeted ads. 

 

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