Jan 18, 2017

The tech angle from the Wilbur Ross confirmation hearing

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Why it matters: Commerce weighs in on everything from privacy to wireless spectrum. So while the Secretary of Commerce doesn't have the high-profile of, say, the FCC chair, it's still a key role to watch for tech and telecom companies.

  • Spectrum: "Well, for sure, the vast majority of the federally occupied spectrum that's unused now is in the hands of the Department of Defense," said businessman Wilbur Ross. "So [the] first objective has to be do no harm, we can't compromise national defense, homeland at all. But we also need to be rational and it can't be that there's hoarding." Quick take: That's probably good news for people who want more federal spectrum turned over to private companies.
  • The internet domain system: He acknowledged that the transition away from a U.S.-controlled domain name system is settled business for now. He was skeptical of the move, however, and said he'd be happy to look at alternatives if they ever come up.
  • Privacy: Asked about the framework governing data transfers between the US and EU, Ross said he recognized that "agreements that exist obviously exist" but said "there will be a tension between privacy on the one hand and the problems of localization of data and the implications that they have for the internet as we go forward."
  • Broadband deployment: "Broadband is to a very large degree a path to a future," Ross said, adding broadband was an important part of infrastructure policy. Quick take: This signals that broadband may be included in the major infrastructure plan Donald Trump is expected to roll out.

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Updated 29 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 6,325,303 — Total deaths: 377,460 — Total recoveries — 2,727,679Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 1,820,523 — Total deaths: 105,644 — Total recoveries: 458,231 — Total tested: 17,340,682Map.
  3. Public health: Protests against police brutality threaten coronavirus response — Controlling the virus in nursing homes won't be easy.
  4. Business: More than 1 in 6 black workers lost jobs between February and April.
  5. Climate: The alarm over climate financial risk gets louder because of coronavirus.
  6. Media: Interest in the George Floyd protests has soared past the coronavirus.

Updates: George Floyd protests nationwide

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued across the U.S., inciting a federal response from President Trump, the National Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

The latest: Immigration agents have been deployed to assist federal, state and local law enforcement. The U.S. Secret Service closed the streets immediately on all four sides of the White House Tuesday, until "riots become peaceful, or stop."

NASA passes the torch

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

With the historic crewed SpaceX launch last weekend, NASA passed the torch to private companies that will need to step up to build the economy the space agency envisions in orbit.

Why it matters: This new era of spaceflight will likely be marked by new conflicts — possibly including product placement (like the Tesla that drove the astronauts to the pad on Saturday), safety concerns and cultural differences between companies, the space agencies and people they serve.