Happy new year and welcome back. Hey, did you do some cleaning? This inbox looks neater than when I was last here.
OK, let's dive back in...
Bloomberg veteran Emily Chang's book on Silicon Valley and gender could hardly hit at a more important time. After the discussion started in 2017, the real question is if the issue will be considered resolved or if 2018 will be the year we see the kind of fundamental, structural change needed to remove the institutional barriers that have been erected in a tech industry dominated by men.
What we're reading: In an excerpt from Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley, published in the February issue of Vanity Fair, Chang writes about one of the many challenges women in tech face: sex parties.
"If you do participate in these sex parties, don't ever think about starting a company or having someone invest in you. Those doors get shut. But if you don't participate, you're shut out. You're damned if you do, damned if you don't," Chang writes.
The full tale is a troubling but necessary read. The article is online now, while the print version hits newsstands later this week.
Lawmakers are coming back later this month. So are the big battles over tech policy.
The most urgent: The Section 702 surveillance law — used by the intelligence community to justify warrantless surveillance of electronic communications of foreign nationals located abroad — expires in mid-January, thanks to a short-term extension Congress passed before leaving for the holidays.
That debate pits hard line intelligence hawks against people like Sens. Rand Paul and Ron Wyden, who have threatened a filibuster when faced with the prospect of a long-term extension of the law. In the middle are lawmakers who are pushing for light reforms that won't satisfy the privacy advocates.
Also on the radar:
Go deeper: There are a number of broader issues that matter to tech, including potential legislation on immigration and infrastructure. Axios' Caitlin Owens has a rundown of what's next on Capitol Hill here.
Axios' Sara Fischer scoops this morning in Media Trends that Microsoft, along with a slew of rural broadband and technology groups, is launching a new issue advocacy coalition called Connect Americans Now that aims to eliminate the digital divide in rural America.
The bigger picture: It's part of a greater push by the company and others to close the broadband gap by using TV's "white spaces" spectrum — or vacant channels that use TV frequencies, which are generally cheaper than fiber optic cable.
Why it matters: Expanding rural access to broadband has long been a challenge in the U.S., since internet providers worry they'll never recoup the investment they make in building those networks. Roughly 34 million Americans lack a broadband connection and the vast majority – 23.4 million – live in rural areas.
Snapchat is getting lots of negative attention for banning Snaps from its New Year's Eve party. It not only encouraged employees not to post Snaps, but went a step further by blocking all public Snapchat posts from the downtown Los Angeles venue.
Why this matters: As Recode's Tony Romm points out, the social networking giants make their money (and lots of it) by encouraging us to share our every outing.
"The hypocrisy is glaring," Romm tweeted. "Tech giants want -- and expect -- you to submit to sharing, and being shared. it's their dna. but even they, like their users, crave privacy from time to time. they have that benefit; you occasionally don't."
Luckily, the company has no control over Instagram, so there is plenty of social media evidence of the gathering.
Counterpoint: Lots of tech companies like to keep their social gatherings private. (Remember this 2015 mega-bash that Uber threw in Vegas?)
But, but but: Asking people not to post is different than using the power of your platform to block posts.
If you weren't following tech news during the holidays, no worries. Here is a quick catch-up on a few big stories from the past 10 days.
Apple tries to mend fences over iPhone battery issues
SoftBank pulls off tender offer for Uber shares
What to expect from this year's smartphones
Check out how one man is turning discarded junk into trendy furniture.