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Should Net Neutrality Be Silicon Valley’s Next Big Fight?

Silicon Valley is rightly focused on President Donald Trump's immigration order. But it should be gearing up for another fight that's vital to both tech companies and their customers.

Net neutrality is in the crosshairs again. Ajit Pai, the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has made it clear that he's no fan. He's already halted a net neutrality-related investigation launched by his predecessor and recently reaffirmed his belief that, one way or another, the "days are numbered" for the Open Internet rules.

Pai was not available for comment, but advocates on both sides of the net neutrality debate believe it's only a matter of time before he tries to undo the rules.

If the courts or Congress don't overturn them, Pai will, said Berin Szoka, president of Tech Freedom, a group that advocates against regulations affecting the technology and telecom industries, at a forum in Menlo Park, Calif., on net neutrality last week.

"It's no mystery what Ajit is going do," he said.

How exactly Pai will go after the rules is an open question, said Craig Aaron, CEO of Free Press, a consumer advocacy group that lobbied for them.

But he added, "I think he's making it pretty clear that he's not interested in enforcing them and that he would welcome pretty much any opportunity to undermine or defang them."

The net neutrality rules say that internet service providers shouldn't unreasonably discriminate against particular internet sites or services. That has been spelled out in three big prohibitions: broadband providers are barred from blocking, throttling or prioritizing for a fee access to particular sites and services. Under the rules, providers are also required to disclose how they manage their networks.

The threat that those rules might be overturned should be of utmost concern to Silicon Valley and the broader tech industry. Tech companies including Google, Facebook,... Read More »

How Uber Got Into This Human Resources Mess

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to help lead an investigation into claims of sexual harassment and pervasive sexism leveled against the car-hailing company by former engineer Susan Fowler, whose explosive blog post hit the Silicon Valley startup like a tsunami earlier this week.

"As most of you know, I left Uber in December and joined Stripe in January. I've gotten a lot of questions over the past couple of months about why I left and what my time at Uber was like," Fowler wrote at the start of her very detailed recounting of what can only be described as an organization in chaos. "It's a strange, fascinating, and slightly horrifying story that deserves to be told while it is still fresh in my mind, so here we go."

Strange, fascinating and horrifying indeed, from Fowler's gripping telling. In response to Fowler's essay, Kalanick wrote that it was the first he'd heard about these claims, which are numerous and detailed. Her account even includes a truly bizarre example of Uber denying women engineers leather jackets that the male techies got since there were too few female hires to bulk-order.

But most of her allegations are much more serious and problematic. For example, Fowler wrote that she and a number of other female engineers had reported her manager for propositioning them. She was told he wasn't penalized because he was a "high performer."

"It became obvious that both HR and management had been lying about this being 'his first offense', and it certainly wasn't his last," Fowler wrote. "Within a few months, he was reported once again for inappropriate behavior, and those who reported him were told it was still his 'first offense.' The situation was escalated as far up the chain as it could be escalated, and still... Read More »

Japanese Startup Positions Itself for Automotive Security

Having just completed its Series A financing round, Tokyo-based startup Trillium Inc is pre-emptively positioning itself as the provider of security solutions for autonomous cars.

The company designs and provides custom, multi-layer adaptive cyber-security systems, focused in the near-term on automotive needs, but which are also applicable to the entire IoT spectrum.

"With funding now in place, we are set to move quickly to market with a robust and urgently needed solution," said David Uze, Trillium's CEO. "Hundreds of articles on autonomous driving appear in the media every day, but almost none mention the elephant in the room: automakers do not yet have a reliable defense against cyber-threats. Period. One serious hack could immediately halt progress in automated driving. But we have the remedy," he claims in a company statement.

Trillium's claims its robust, comprehensive and cost-effective solution secures all three key "cyber-threat domains" in the car with a software-based approach compatible with any architecture or operating system. The company adds its solution can be implemented for as little as on tenth the cost of competing solutions -- most of which are still under development.

"We have moved into the real-world testing phase via partnerships with a legendary Japanese Super GT racing team and a leading maker of automotive semiconductors. We are now having in-depth discussions with several major automakers and tier-one suppliers. We're ready to implement whenever they are," said the CEO.

The new investment will help the company accelerate the development and deployment of its automotive IoT cyber-security platforms: 'SecureCAR' and 'SecureIoT' and expand in-vehicle implementation and testing of cyber-security retrofits on current-model connected vehicles. The funds will also serve the expansion of business operations in the Silicon Valley while establishing a satellite penetration testing and engineering hub in Michigan, USA.

To circumvent continually evolving threats, the company plans to deliver Security as a... Read More »

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