THIS WEEK IN WASHINGTON
The Verge Biden plans to connect every American to broadband in new infrastructure package
President Joe Biden’s highly anticipated infrastructure plan, which will be unveiled later today, includes $100 billion to close the digital divide through broadband expansion, prioritizing municipal broadband networks and calling for 100 percent broadband coverage by the end of the decade.
StateScoop FCC leader shares ‘cautious optimism’ for broadband expansion in schools
Acting Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel offered measured confidence Monday about expanding broadband connectivity in schools following the pandemic. Addressing a virtual roundtable meeting of local officials from around Maryland, Rosenworcel promoted a trio of programs funded by Congress and the FCC aimed at improving connectivity for disadvantaged schools and communities.
MarketWatch Rep. David Cicilline envisions targeting Big Tech with series of antitrust bills: report
Tech companies could face a flurry of new antitrust legislation rather than one big overhaul bill, if the Democratic chairman of the House’s antitrust panel has his way. In an interview with Axios on Sunday, Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, said he hopes to pass a number of smaller bills that will be ready in May in order to keep Big Tech’s lawyers off balance.
The Washington Post Here’s how Biden’s infrastructure package could address electric grid cybersecurity
President Biden unveiled a $2 trillion-dollar jobs and infrastructure plan today, Jeff Stein, Juliet Eilperin and Michael Laris report. The plan includes at least $100 billion for a variety of infrastructure priorities, including modernizing the electric power grid. Cybersecurity experts will be looking for funding in the plan to address one of the grid’s biggest problems: increased cyberattacks.
The Hill Warner presses Zuckerberg to tackle vaccine misinformation on Facebook, Instagram
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) on Friday pressed Facebook to do more to combat the spread of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation on both its platform and Instagram. In a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Warner detailed his concerns that the social media giant is not doing enough to get a handle on the increasing tide of misleading information around the safety of the vaccines.
Politico ‘Time is not on our side’ — Biden navigates cyber attacks without a cyber czar
The Biden White House is facing multiple cyber-attacks and cyber espionage campaigns targeting U.S. companies and government agencies, without the services of a cybersecurity czar to coordinate a response and keep lawmakers in the loop. The role, known officially as the national cyber director, remains unfilled two months into Joe Biden’s presidency despite a legal mandate that it be occupied.
Multichannel News FCC Approves Telehealth Funding, Round 2
The FCC has voted 4-0 to approve the framework for a second round of its COVID-19 Telehealth Program. That is the additional $250 million (technically $295.95 million) Congress allocated for the program in the CARES Act. In round one, the FCC allocated $200 million of CARES Act funding for 539 applications from 47 states plus D.C. The FCC said the application window for the new funding round is expected to open by the end of April. The FCC will evaluate all the applications collectively, rather than on a rolling basis. Money will be going to every state, territory and D.C.
Microsoft Official Blog Why we are concerned about Georgia’s new election law
It’s clear to us that the new [Georgia] law contains important provisions that needlessly and unfairly make it more difficult for people to vote. We hope that companies will come together and make clear that a healthy business requires a healthy community. And a healthy community requires that everyone have the right to vote conveniently, safely, and securely. This new law falls short of the mark, and we should work together to press the Georgia legislature to change it.
CNN Business Vaccine passport apps could help us return to normal. First they need to solve the trust problem
The next time you attend a wedding or concert, visit a place of worship, eat indoors at a restaurant or even go to work, you may need to show digital proof of vaccination or negative Covid-19 test results. On Friday, New York became the first state in the United States to roll out a vaccine verification app, often referred to as a digital vaccine passport.
Bloomberg Biden to Let Trump’s H1-B Visa Ban Expire in Win for Tech
President Joe Biden plans to allow a pandemic-related ban on visas for certain temporary workers, enacted by former President Donald Trump, to expire Wednesday, according to people familiar with the matter. The moratorium, which affected H-1B visas used by technology companies to hire foreign coders and engineers, was imposed last June. Biden is opting not to renew it, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the decision hasn’t been announced. The White House declined to comment.
The Associated Press Big Tech’s outsized influence draws state-level pushback
New York state Sen. Michael Gianaris was ecstatic when Amazon named Long Island City in 2018 as a front-runner for its new headquarters, a project that would bring 25,000 jobs and $2.5 billion in construction spending to his district in Queens. But his support faded quickly when he learned that state and city leaders had promised one of the world’s richest companies tax breaks worth $3 billion in secretive negotiations.
Bloomberg T-Mobile Takes a Stab at 5G Home Broadband, Where Others Failed
T-Mobile US Inc., which has emerged as the surprise leader in the new wireless technology known as 5G, is close to unveiling a broadband service for homes that may let a swath of U.S. consumers cut another cord – the landline tying their internet service to a traditional phone or cable company.
Roll Call Kids emerge as bipartisan bridge for taking on social media giants
The bipartisan focus on issues facing children at last week’s House hearing with the chief executives of major social media companies is encouraging advocates who believe kids can be the bridge between Democrats and Republicans who want to take on Big Tech but lack common political ground. The Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on March 25 featured familiar topics as lawmakers peppered the executives – Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet – with questions about disinformation and hate speech online.
CNET How good is Starlink satellite internet from SpaceX? I tried it out
Back in October, SpaceX announced it would be recruiting beta testers for its satellite broadband offshoot Starlink’s “Better Than Nothing” service. As soon as the announcement was made, I signed up to be notified when a spot opened up in my area — Walnut Creek, about 30 minutes east of San Francisco. Fast-forward to February and I forked over $594.30 (tax, shipping and one month of service included) to see what it’s like using Starlink.
THINK TANK/TECH TRADE ASSOCIATION HIGHLIGHTS
The Brookings Institution
- Blog on FCC Priorities
The regulatory scope of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) extends to approximately one-sixth of the domestic economy. What makes the impact of the agency even more significant is how the other five-sixths of the economy relies on the networks the FCC regulates. (TechTank – Rebuilding for the vast scope of FCC responsibilities, March 25, 2021)
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
- Blog on Latest House Energy and Commerce Committee Hearing
Another panel of big tech CEOs are slated to be dragged yet again before a congressional committee to address congressional accusations about their business practices. Sundar Pichai, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jack Dorsey, the CEOs of Google, Facebook, and Twitter respectively will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee today. This is not even close to the first time each has been called to Capitol Hill in the last year. Before the fireworks commence again, it is worth considering what’s been learned from their many previous appearances. (Taxpayers Protection Alliance Blog – Lessons Learned Ahead of Yet Another Big Tech Hearing, March 25, 2021)
Note: Voices for Innovation regularly shares a range of opinion articles and press releases from organizations in and publications covering tech policy. These pieces are meant to educate our audience, not to endorse specific platforms or bills.