Overnight Technology

Overnight Tech: Random glitches or cyber breach?

LEDE: Wednesday morning was filled with technical glitches. United Airlines grounded its entire fleet because of a router issue. The New York Stock Exchange suspended all trading because of a “technical issue.” And the Wall Street Journal’s homepage suffered an outage.

Some on Capitol Hill weren’t sold on the idea that the trio of events was a coincidence — despite suggestions from law enforcement and the affected parties that that was, indeed, the case.

“We had three so-called coincidences today,” Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) told FBI Director James Comey during an afternoon hearing. “I don’t believe in coincidences.”

{mosads}”We are not big believers in coincidence either,” Comey replied “We want to dig into that. So we’ve been in contact with all three companies to understand what’s going on. And we do not see any indication of a cyber breach of cyber attack. I actually think the Wall Street Journal pieces is connected to people flooding their website in response to the New York Stock Exchange to find out what’s going on.”

Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), when asked whether he believed the NYSE’s statement that the suspension had not resulted from a cyber breach, had a simple answer.

“To be determined,” he said. 

FCC NAMES WORKING GROUP ON CHARTER-TIME WARNER DEAL: The Federal Communications Commission has named a group of officials to lead the agency’s review of the Charter-Time Warner-Bright House Networks transaction. The working team will be led by Owen M. Kendler, a lawyer on detail from the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. William Rogerson will be the team’s senior economist. General Counsel Jonathan Sallet will lead a steering committee with four bureau chiefs.

ELECTION COMMISSION DEVELOPS API: 18F, a technology division of the government, released an API for Federal Election Commission data that will allow third-parties to develop apps to sort through campaign finance data. The group said the new application programming interface is the first step in helping to update the FEC. It said it is developing a new app and will eventually redesign the FEC website. 

ARE LYFT AND UBER DRIVING RECALLED CARS?: That’s the question asked by the American Prospect in a piece Tuesday. The companies, they report, don’t require that drivers stop working for the service until they get a recalled car fixed. “Lyft drivers use their personal vehicles to drive on the platform–the same car they use in their daily lives, driving their kids to school or friends around town. Drivers have a strong personal incentive to make sure their car is in a safe operating condition,” a Lyft spokesperson told the magazine.

MICROSOFT CUTS JOBS: The tech giant is laying off up to 7,800 employees, the company said. The losses come primarily from its phone business.

PATENT LITIGATION TICKS BACK UP: A total of 3,050 patent litigation cases were filed in district courts in the first half of 2015, according to statistics from Unified Patents, which aims to deter invalid patent infringement claims. After the number of lawsuits dipped in 2014, the group projected that this year’s numbers would reach more than 6,000 — about the same as 2013, which was the highest ever. 

Advocates are using the numbers to bolster their argument for patent litigation reform in Congress. The group found 68 percent of those suits were brought by non-practicing entities, or companies that make most of their money from licensing patents. While some of those companies are described as patent trolls, they can also include individual inventors, universities and others who license their patents legitimately.

TECH COMPANIES PITCH PATENT REFORM IN HOUSE: Engine and the Consumer Electronics Association are organizing another fly in for tech executives to pitch patent reform to members of Congress. The chief operating officer of FourSquare will join the founders of three other tech companies on Capitol Hill to educate new members. Ahead of the House vote this month, they will also press their case on a number of key policy provisions. 

JUDGE THROWS OUT PATENT DAMAGES IN APPLE CASE: A federal judge in Texas threw out the $533 million in damages resulting from a patent case linked to iTunes. The damages were awarded to patent owner Smartflash LLC. There could be a new trial to reassess damages — but the Patent and Trademark Office could also find as part of a review that Smartflash’s patents are invalid.


Opponents of broad patent reform will hold a 9:30 a.m. briefing in Rayburn 2335. Panelists will be representing Qualcomm, the Heritage Foundation, the American Conservative Union, among others.  

At 10 a.m., Brookings will host a discussion on the future of Internet governance. 

At 2 p.m., the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) will speak about the importance of African-American employment in the tech industry.


Senators are using an annual spy policy bill to try to tell companies like Google and Twitter to do their job in fighting terrorism.

A federal judge in Virginia has upheld last year’s decision to cancel the Washington Redskins’s trademarks on grounds that the team’s moniker and logo are disparaging to Native Americans.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is raising alarm about the sale of iPhone cases that are made to look like the handle of a 9 mm handgun. 

The New York Stock Exchange temporarily suspended trading on all securities for more than three and a half hours on Wednesday because of technical problems.

The U.S. government could hand off its oversight role of the Internet domain name system by July of next year, but it could bleed into September of 2016, according to officials Wednesday.  


Please send tips and comments to David McCabe, dmccabe@thehill.comand Mario Trujillo,mtrujillo@thehill.com Follow us on Twitter:@HilliconValley, @dmccabe


Tags Barbara Mikulski Bill Nelson Charles Schumer G.K. Butterfield New York Stock Exchange Patent reform
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