Karan Chopra: How to Close America’s Opportunity Gap (Ep. 109)

Tech Policy Podcast_WashingTech_Karan Chopra

Bio

Karan Chopra (@karchopra) a is Executive Vice President and Co-Founder of Opportunity@Work, where he  provides leadership on strategic direction and execution of Opportunity@Work’s priorities and the TechHire initiative. He co-founded Opportunity@Work because he believes that meaningful work is not just a matter of economic wellbeing but of individual dignity.

Karan’s career has focused on building entrepreneurial ventures that increase upward mobility and provide opportunity for all. Prior to co-founding Opportunity@Work, Karan was the co-founder and director of GADCO (Global Agri-Development Company) — a vertically-integrated agri-food business in sub-Saharan Africa. He led the company from business plan to building and operating the largest rice farm in Ghana, developing a processing center and launching a packaged food brand that contributed to domestic food security in Ghana and impacted the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Leading publications and institutions, including World Bank, UNDP, World Economic Forum, Financial Times and Guardian, have featured GADCO.

Karan is also the co-founder of WAVE (West Africa Vocational Education), a social venture tackling youth unemployment in Nigeria. WAVE is empowering West African youth with industry relevant skills and access to jobs while improving outcomes for employers. Prior to this, Karan was at McKinsey & Company where he was awarded the social sector fellowship.  Prior to this, Karan was a software developer with Siemens.

Karan holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering with highest honors from Georgia Tech and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School with high distinction graduating as a Baker Scholar. In 2014, Forbes named Karan in its 2014 list of Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneurs by Forbes magazine and selected as a New Voices Fellow at the Aspen Institute.

Resources

Opportunity@Work

Opportunity@Work Learn to Earn Application (Deadline October 15th)

Mindset: the New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

News Roundup

Social media still in spotlight regarding Russia

Social media companies turned over more evidence linking Russia to ads placed across their platforms. According to the Washington Post, Google reported tens of thousands of dollars worth of Russia-linked ads  across YouTube, Gmail and search results. Facebook had reported 10 million views of Russia-linked ads on its platform. And Twitter suspended 201 accounts linked to Russia. Executives from Facebook, Google parent Alphabet, Twitter are scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on November 1st. The House Intelligence Committee has asked the executives to testify in connection with their own investigation the same day.  Harper Neidig reports in the Hill.

More federal agencies breached

A new report came to light last week that Russia hacked an NSA contractor’s home computer back in 2015. We’re just finding out about it now, but officials discovered it in Spring 2016. According to the Wall Street Journal, Russia stole sensitive information that lays out how the U.S. hacks into foreign governments’ computer networks. The Russian hackers apparently got in via the Kaspersky antivirus software the contractor was running on his computer. A separate Fed Scoop report found that hackers breached the Federal Deposit and Insurance Corp. more than 50 times between 2015 and 2016. Hackers exposed the personal identifying information of hundreds of thousands of Americans in those breaches.

Google crackdown on fake news draws protest from diverse media voices

Google’s crackdown on fake news is biased against smaller, independent content producers. That’s a according to several smaller content producers that have noticed sharp declines in their web traffic. The declines have come since April. That’s when Google announced its Project Owl initiative the company says it designed to boost more authoritative content. Daisuke Wakabayashi reports in the New York Times.

FCC finally responds to Puerto Rico

The FCC has finally developed a plan to help Puerto Rico’s communications infrastructure get back up and running. On the advice of Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, the FCC has established a Hurricane Recovery Task Force, which will focus on all Hurricane-affected areas, including Puerto Rico.  The FCC has also approved $77 million to help repair Puerto Rico’s communications networks. The agency also gave Google an experimental license to deploy its ballon-based communications system dubbed “Project Loon”.

IRS under fire for signing a contract with Equifax

The IRS came under fire last week for entering into a $7  million contract with Equifax. The deal was for Equifax to help the IRS prevent tax fraud. The IRS and Equifax signed the agreement just three weeks after the Equifax data breach that exposed the personal information of 145 million customers.

The IRS’s Deputy Commissioner Jeffrey Tribiano told the House Ways and Means Committee that the contract was a “bridge contract.” The IRS had put the contract out for rebid and awarded the new contract to Experian. But Equifax protested that decision. As a result, Tribiano said, the IRS was under pressure to sign a bridge contract with Equifax since the existing one was set to expire on September 29th.

Tribiano told members of Congress that if the IRS failed to sign the bridge contract, millions of Americans would be unable to get their credit transcripts. But the Government Accountability Office says the IRS could have moved forward with Experian. It said that the IRS could have moved forward with Experian if it considered doing so to be in the best interests of the United States.   The GAO is expected to decide the outcome of Equifax’s protest against the Experian award on October 16th.

Backpage.com settles with 3 women

Backpage.com settled with 3 women who allege they were victims of sex trafficking that the now-defunct site facilitated. The women were between the ages of 13 and 15 when the alleged sex trafficking happened. The court did not disclose the amount of the settlement. The parties settled in Pierce County, Washington Superior Court, which is in the Seattle area. In the meantime, IBM has announced that it is backing Senator Rob Portman’s bill to make websites amore accountable for content posted by third parties.

Can algorithms draw district maps?

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford last week. The key question in the case is whether courts can throw out voting district maps for being too partisan. This will be a landmark decision. The outcome of this case is likely to have huge implications for American democracy for generations to come. But a recent paper published by computer scientists at the University of Illinois proposes letting algorithms do the work of redistricting. Daniel Oberhaus reports in Motherboard.

EU orders Amazon to pay $295 million in back taxes

The European Union has ordered Amazon to pay $295 million in back taxes to Luxembourg. The EU’s Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager says that Luxembourg did not tax almost three quarters of Amazon’s profits. Robert-Jan Bartunek reports in Reuters.

Marsha Blackburn running for Senate

Marsha Blackburn announced last week in a YouTube video that she’s running for Bob Corker’s Senate seat in Tennessee. But Twitter took down Blackburn’s campaign ad because in it, she talks about having fought against “the sale of baby body parts”.

Verizon announces that hackers compromised ALL 3 billion Yahoo! accounts

Verizon announced last week that, back in 2013, hackers compromised ALL of  Yahoo’s 3 billion accounts. Before the acquisition, Yahoo! had said that the hacks affected just 1 billion accounts. Verizon acquired Amazon earlier this year for $4.5 billion. Nicole Perlroth reports in the New York Times.