Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order to boost AI | Klobuchar lashes out at tech in 2020 launch | Bill would create cyber workforce exchange | Advocates call out Facebook before EU elections

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TRUMP SETS NATIONAL AI STRATEGY: President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure MORE on Monday signed an executive order laying out a national plan to boost artificial intelligence (AI) technology, amid growing concern that the U.S. is losing out to China.

The executive order directs federal agencies to prioritize and set aside funding for AI programs, while opening up the way for AI researchers and developers to access more government data.

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"Continued American leadership in Artificial Intelligence is of paramount importance to maintaining the economic and national security of the United States," Trump said in a statement.

The order is light on details but ambitious in its mission.

What it does: The order directs all federal agencies to look into launching and expanding AI initiatives that promote their missions; tasks a coalition of government bodies to develop a set of national "regulatory" standards around AI; and directs the National Council for the American Worker and AI select committee to set up "fellowship and training programs" to help U.S. workers learn the skills needed to work with and develop AI technologies.

What it doesn't do: The order does not lay out a specific timeline or tangible goals on AI, experts told The Hill. It also does not direct Congress to appropriate any new funds for AI programs, instead asking federal agencies to take the lead in setting aside more money and resources. Administration officials said a more detailed plan would come over the next six months.
The context: The order comes two years after China announced a detailed plan to become a global leader in artificial intelligence.

"I think that the U.S. is still the dominant force [on AI] and I think that China is rapidly catching up," Oren Etzioni, the CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, told The Hill.

Etzioni said he worries the executive order is "too little, too late," but added it will be hard to tell until the mandates are implemented.
Read more reaction from industry and experts here.

 

2020 AND TECH: Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharFox's Brit Hume fires back at Trump's criticism of the channel Overnight Energy: Warren wants Dems to hold climate-focused debate | Klobuchar joins candidates rejecting fossil fuel money | 2020 contender Bennet offers climate plan O'Rourke says he would 'absolutely' do Fox News town hall MORE (D-Minn.) lashed out at tech giants and called for net neutrality safeguards in the speech launching her presidential campaign over the weekend.

During her remarks in Boom Island, Minn., Klobuchar unveiled an extensive platform that included a net neutrality "guarantee" and internet privacy rules to curb online data collection.

"We need to put some digital rules of the road into law when it comes to privacy," she said.

"For too long the big tech companies have been telling you, 'Don't worry, we've got your back' while your identities in fact are being stolen and your data is being mined. Our laws need to be as sophisticated as the people who are breaking them."

The remarks are the latest sign that social media giants will be a punching bag for 2020 campaigns, a major shift from prior presidential election cycles when candidates, especially Democrats, would court Silicon Valley and even partner with them.

Read more here.

 

A BIPARTISAN CYBER BILL: Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneHillicon Valley: Trump takes flak for not joining anti-extremism pact | Phone carriers largely end sharing of location data | Huawei pushes back on ban | Florida lawmakers demand to learn counties hacked by Russians | Feds bust 0M cybercrime group Senate Commerce chair to renew push for regs on self-driving vehicles Hillicon Valley: Facebook co-founder calls for breaking up company | Facebook pushes back | Experts study 2020 candidates to offset 'deepfake' threat | FCC votes to block China Mobile | Groups, lawmakers accuse Amazon of violating children's privacy MORE (R-S.D.) on Monday introduced a bipartisan bill to create an exchange program between the federal government and private firms aimed at bringing more cybersecurity expertise to the federal workforce.

The legislation, known as the “Cyber Security Exchange Act,” provides a path for cyber experts at private firms or academia to work for federal agencies for up to two years.

At the same time, federal workers would be given a chance to work in the private sector to brush up on the latest in cybersecurity practices.

The big picture: Gaps in the cybersecurity workforce have been a concern for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. The Senate Homeland Security Committee is set this week to take up a bill that would allow federal staff working on cyber to cycle through other agencies.

More on the bill here.

 

COMING IN HOT... LITERALLY...: Climate change, ISIS and cyberattacks lead a list of the most-feared global threats, according to a new survey.

The Pew Research Center study released Sunday found that respondents in 13 of 26 countries surveyed listed global climate change as a top international threat.

Respondents in eight nations named ISIS as a top threat, while those in the U.S., Japan, South Africa and the Netherlands pointed to cyberattacks from other countries.

The survey found that global climate change is a rising concern. More than two-thirds -- 67 percent -- of the roughly 27,000 respondents questioned listed it as a major threat in this study, compared to 63 percent in 2017 and 56 percent in 2013.

Concerns about cyberattacks are also increasing, with 61 percent now calling it a threat, up from 54 percent in 2017.

And while ISIS is still listed as a major concern, the amount of people worried about it dipped from 66 percent in 2017 to 62 percent.

Pollsters found political divides on climate change and ISIS, with Republicans and GOP-leaning respondents in the U.S. far less likely to list climate change as a threat than Democrats and Democratic-leaning individuals.

Read more on the survey here.

 

DID BEZOS BLOW UP NATIONAL ENQUIRER'S AGREEMENT WITH FEDS? The publisher of the National Enquirer is facing questions about whether it violated a cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors after allegations from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos that the tabloid tried to blackmail him.

Sources on Friday told Bloomberg News that federal prosecutors with the Southern District of New York are looking into publisher American Media Inc.'s (AMI) conduct, raising the prospect of new legal problems for the company.

At stake is an agreement AMI entered into with federal prosecutors to gain immunity in the probe into possible campaign finance violations in President Trump's 2016 campaign. As part of the agreement, AMI admitted to paying former Playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000 to suppress her claims of an affair with Trump.

The non-prosecution agreement is exceptionally broad, including language barring AMI from committing any criminal activity for three years. That could make it easier for prosecutors to identify laws AMI might have broken in its dealings with Bezos, legal experts told The Hill.

"[The] agreement to refrain from prosecuting AMI and [the company's CEO David Pecker] was because the prosecutors saw some value that their investigation would receive based upon truthful information coming from AMI and Mr. Pecker," Jeff Tsai, a former federal prosecutor, told The Hill.

More on the potential fallout here.

 

FINGERS POINTING AT FACEBOOK: A coalition of 33 advocacy groups on Monday penned an open letter accusing Facebook of "undermining transparency" ahead of the European Union's (EU) parliamentary elections later this year.

The coalition of groups, led by Mozilla, is asking Facebook to "make good" on its pledge to fight disinformation on the platform ahead of the elections, which will take place in May.

"Facebook promised European lawmakers and users it would increase the transparency of political advertising on the platform to prevent abuse during the elections," the letter reads. "But in the very same breath, they took measures to block access to transparency tools that let users see how they are being targeted."

Facebook has drawn sharp criticism in recent weeks over its decision to insert new code that disabled multiple ad transparency tools, including a tool from Mozilla.

The tools allowed users to explore the criteria advertisers were using to target them, as well as learn more information about the groups behind advertisements on their newsfeeds.

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"By restricting access to advertising transparency tools available to Facebook users, you are undermining transparency, eliminating the choice of your users to install tools that help them analyse political ads, and wielding control over good faith researchers who try to review data on the platform," the coalition wrote in the letter.

Facebook's director of product management, Rob Leathern, has said the code was changed in order to prevent the tools from exposing users' personal information.

Leathern told The Hill Facebook is committed to improving ad transparency.

Read more here.

 

ICYMI: Five takeaways from the acting attorney general's fiery House hearing

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: Because it is Monday.

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

New report found dating apps like Tinder or Grindr have led to child abuse. (Tech Crunch)  

Israeli cyber researchers, lured by mysterious operatives, claim effort was to discredit research. (Associated Press)

GOP Senate chair has hindered cyber legislation from moving forward. (Politico)

Russia prepares capability to unplug or limit internet in case of emergency. (BBC)

Huawei threatens lawsuit against Czech Republic after security warning. (The New York Times)