Overnight Tech: Policymakers flock to tech trade show

LEDE: Attention this week will be on CES 2016, the annual international consumer electronics trade show in Las Vegas, bringing together product announcements and appearances from lawmakers and regulators.

A Wednesday session features Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler and Federal Trade Commission Chair Edith Ramirez. They’ll speak with the Consumer Technology Association’s CEO, Gary Shapiro. Other commissioners from both agencies will appear on a panel later in the day.


Also appearing at the conference will be Megan Smith, the Chief Technology Officer of the United States, the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Tom Kalil and Secretary of Transportation Anthony FoxxAnthony Renard FoxxBig Dem names show little interest in Senate Lyft sues New York over new driver minimum pay law Lyft confidentially files for IPO MORE.

Beyond policy, the show will also feature presentations by executives from companies including General Motors and Netflix.

LEW TALKS DISRUPTION: At an event with Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) on Monday, Treasury Secretary Jack LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewApple just saved billion in tax — but can the tax system be saved? Lobbying World Russian sanctions will boomerang MORE spoke about the collision between new technologies and the status quo. “You don’t make change without disrupting something along the way,” Lew said, before offering up a caution. “Issues like consumer protection matter just as much regardless of the medium that you’re transacting through or the information ... that you’re communicating over."

EFF SAYS T-MOBILE IS THROTTLING: After running tests on T-Mobile’s “Binge On” program, the Electronic Frontier Foundation concluded that the company is simply throttling customers’ video content. It urged the Federal Communications Commission to investigate whether the program violates net neutrality rules.

“Our tests show that video streams are capped at around 1.5Mbps, even when the LTE connection and the rest of T-Mobile's network can support higher throughput between the customer and the server.

A YEAR IN PATENT LITIGATION: A total of 5,769 patent lawsuits were filed in district court in 2015 — the second highest year in history, according to a report by Unified Patents released Monday. More than six in 10 of those cases involved the high-tech industry. Of those high-tech patent cases, nearly all of them were brought by non-practicing entities, or companies that make most of their money by licensing patents. Many call these companies patent trolls and have used the data to call for patent litigation reform. But critics of broad reform say that some of those supposed trolls are individual inventors or universities.

PRESS PAUSE: The FCC has paused the shot clock for the Charter-Time Warner Cable deal to consider new documents filed as part of the commission’s review. The clock starts again on January 20. “We have recently submitted supplemental information to underscore the benefits of these transactions and it is expected that the FCC would want to give the public time to comment,” Charter said in a statement. “We are working well with the FCC on its review of our deal and continue to look forward to a timely approval.” A shot-clock pause is not entirely unheard of in the context of deal reviews.

CLYBURN TO GET NEW CHIEF: Democratic FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn will see the departure of her second chief of staff in less than a year. Broadcasting and Cable reported that Chanelle Hardy has left the commission. Hardy replaced Clyburn’s previous chief of staff, Adonis Hoffman. Broadcasting and Cable reported that Holly Saurer will take over the job.

BEHIND FACEBOOK’S FEED: Slate dug into the people and methods behind the algorithm that guides Facebook’s news feed. In addition to engineers, Facebook also pays thousands of people to give qualitative, human feedback that helps guide the tweaks. The company is also increasingly relying on its billions of users for feedback.

LYFT PARTNERS WITH GM: General Motors is investing $500 million into Lyft as part of a $1 billion fundraising round the ride-hailing platform announced on Monday. And the partnership isn’t just financial: Lyft will work with GM on projects that combine the automaker’s self-driving cars with Lyft’s network. They will also collaborate on short-term rentals for Lyft drivers.

BIG PICTURE: Facing pressure from its more valuable competitor Uber, Lyft has been looking outward for ways to grow. While Uber has been expanding rapidly abroad, Lyft is offering its users service in markets around the world by partnering with local ride-hailing services, like China’s Didi Kuadi. The same is true for self-driving cars — which Uber is developing on its own at a facility in Pittsburgh.



Sixty percent of the Uber rides that were taken on New Year's Eve had no extra surge pricing in effect, according to statistics released by the company.

New York’s attorney general wants daily fantasy sports operators FanDuel and DraftKings to return the money they made in the state, the Associated Press reported on Friday.

2015 was the year that federal regulators, lawmakers, and presidential candidates finally took close notice of the growing on-demand economy, scrutiny that will only intensify in the new year.

Popular free messaging service WhatsApp was temporarily down last week for users across the globe.

Twitter last week reached an agreement with transparency organizations to restore the tool that archived lawmakers’ deleted tweets around the world.

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