Overnight Tech: Feds to update driverless car rules | Senate panel threatened ex-Yahoo chief with subpoena | Sessions rips encryption | Tech groups sign DACA legal brief | What to know about tech's Russia hearings

Overnight Tech: Feds to update driverless car rules | Senate panel threatened ex-Yahoo chief with subpoena | Sessions rips encryption | Tech groups sign DACA legal brief | What to know about tech's Russia hearings
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TRUMP ADMIN WANTS TO UPDATE DRIVERLESS CAR GUIDANCE: The Trump administration is already in the process of updating its federal guidance for driverless vehicles, Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoHillicon Valley: Facebook rift over exec's support for Kavanaugh | Dem worried about Russian trolls jumping into Kavanaugh debate | China pushes back on Pence Trump administration moves ahead with plans to rewrite self-driving cars rules Transportation Department will 'no longer assume' commercial drivers are human MORE said Thursday.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) unveiled a new framework in September designed to pave the way for autonomous vehicles and build upon efforts from the previous administration.

"Work is advancing so quickly, however, that an updated version is already in the works," Chao said at a DOT event on Thursday. "That's how fast technology is changing."

The Trump administration updated a voluntary, flexible framework for self-driving cars that was first issued by the Obama administration last fall.


Under "A Vision for Safety 2.0," a 15-point safety assessment for automakers and companies was reduced to a 12-point safety checklist, and the guidance no longer includes a suggestion that automakers consider ethical and privacy issues.

The new guidelines, which seek to clarify the federal versus state role in autonomous vehicle rulemaking, also only applies to cars that have a level three automation or higher.

The voluntary approach has been praised by the industry because it can allow the typically slow-moving government to keep pace with the rapidly evolving technology.

Read more from our colleague Melanie Zanona here.


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Ex-Yahoo CEO threatened with subpoena to testify before Senate committee: Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer agreed to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee in an upcoming hearing examining data breaches only after being threatened with a subpoena, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Mayer's position is that she is testifying voluntarily, but agreed to do so "with a clear understanding that the legal recourse was imminent if she didn't cooperate," said one source.

The Senate Commerce Committee's release announcing the hearing and Mayer's testimony did not mention a subpoena or threat of legal action against Mayer.

The Committee did not respond to requests for comment.

Individuals who do not appear before Congress when summoned can be held in contempt of Congress, which is a federal misdemeanor. Those found in contempt can face a maximum $1,000 fine and a maximum one-year sentence in federal prison, though actual cases of being held in contempt are extremely rare.

Mayer will appear alongside the interim CEO of Equifax, Paulino Barros, in the hearing which was announced on Wednesday and is scheduled to take place on Nov. 8.

Read more here.


SESSIONS LASHES OUT AT TECH FIRMS: Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMcGahn departs as White House counsel The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump requests Turkey's evidence on missing journalist | Takeaways from Texas Senate debate | Key Mueller findings could be ready after midterms The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — GOP faces ‘green wave’ in final stretch to the midterms MORE is taking aim at technology firms for preventing law enforcement from accessing encrypted evidence for ongoing terror investigations, warning that such actions could have "deadly consequences."

The issue has become a point of tension between tech companies and federal investigators in high-profile cases, such as the 2016 dispute between the FBI and Apple over data stored on an iPhone belonging to a suspect in the 2015 San Bernardino terror attack.

Sessions, who delivered remarks on national security in New York City, said that over the past year the FBI was unable to access nearly 7,500 mobile devices in connection with ongoing investigations "even though there was court orders or legal authority to do so."

Read more here.


TECH GROUPS SIGN ONTO DACA LEGAL BRIEF: More than 100 tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Uber and Lyft have signed onto an amicus brief in defense of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The brief, a supporting document provided by parties not involved in a case, is in support of a lawsuit filed in California to challenge President Trump's cancellation of the program, according to Reuters.

"DACA's rescission will inflict serious harm on U.S. companies, all workers, and the American economy as a whole," a draft version of the document reads, according to Reuters.

Read more here.


CONGRESS DEMANDS ANSWERS FROM SINCLAIR: Members of Congress are pushing Sinclair on the possible effects of its pending merger with Tribune Media, including whether the media company would continue to push controversial "must-run segments."

In a letter sent to the broadcaster, 49 members of Congress, led by Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), underscored the scale of the deal and pressed Sinclair to explain how its $4 billion merger would benefit Americans.

"Should the merger go through, the combined company would reach 72 percent of American homes, which is well above the cap that Congress imposed in order to protect viewpoint diversity and localism," they wrote.

"As such, we would like to review additional information about why Sinclair believes this merger would be in the public interest, as well as the impact it would have on the broader media landscape," it continued.

Read more here.


FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM THE SOCIAL MEDIA HEARINGS: Top officials from Twitter, Facebook and Google traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to testify before three different congressional committees on how Russian actors used their platforms to influence Americans during the 2016 presidential race.

Lawmakers grilled the tech giants' representatives on the specifics of what steps they're taking to stop foreign actors from manipulating their platforms in the future.

Here are five takeaways from the Silicon Valley firms' two days of congressional committee hearings.

Read more here.


DOJ WEIGHING LAWSUIT OVER AT&T-TIME WARNER DEAL: The Department of Justice (DOJ) is considering a lawsuit to try to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger even as it is in talks with the companies over a possible settlement to approve the deal, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The newspaper, citing anonymous sources, reported that regulators and the companies are not close to an agreement.

The department could approve the $85 billion merger with certain conditions if it decides not to file a lawsuit, the newspaper noted, adding that its sources say that the agency could go either way at this point.

The report injects uncertainty into a deal that was widely expected to win easy approval from regulators.

Read more here.



Republicans launch into sales push for tax plan

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Qualcomm accuses Apple of sharing proprietary info with intel

Apple's Q4 results

WSJ: Facebook, take note: In China's 'New Era,' the Communist Party comes first

The Intercept: The Amazon amendment