Executive Briefing August 27 21

This Week in Washington

CNBC Google, Microsoft plan to spend billions on cybersecurity after meeting with Biden
The commitments range from working toward new industry standards to supplying other businesses with stronger security tools and providing skills training to workers to fill the roughly 500,000 unfilled U.S. cybersecurity jobs. Biden recently signed an executive order requiring U.S. agencies to use two-factor authentication for logins, which can help prevent cyberattacks.

Axios How the FCC got boxed out of the broadband push
As the federal government readies to spend tens of billions of dollars on broadband upgrades, the Federal Communications Commission — the agency that has traditionally doled out subsidies for internet connections — is on the sidelines. The bipartisan infrastructure bill recently approved by the Senate commits $42.5 billion to broadband deployment and related projects, but the money would flow to the states, with oversight from the Commerce Department.

Reuters U.S. SEC to scrutinize firms’ digital-engagement practices as investor worries grow
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will seek input on whether digital customer engagement innovations used by financial firms should be governed by existing rules or may need new ones, commission chair Gary Gensler told Reuters. While the SEC’s thinking on the subject is at an “early stage,” its rules may need updating to account for an artificial intelligence-led revolution in predictive analytics, differential marketing and behavioral prompts designed to optimize customer engagement, he said.

FedScoop Navy taking new steps on software development modernization
The Department of the Navy has established a team to take stock of its software tools to try and streamline its ability to write code. A new cross-functional team will take steps that include completing an inventory of the department’s software factories and reviewing development standards. The team will also write a new policy to determine what products are best to use when developing code, according to Navy spokeswoman Sandra Gall.

The Hill FCC proposes $5M fine against conservative activists for robocalls
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday proposed a fine of more than $5 million for conservative activists Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl for making over 1,000 illegal robocalls without prior consent. In a statement, the FCC said it was proposing a $5,134,500 fine against Burkman and Wohl for making 1,141 robocalls to cell phones without consent, thus violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

NextGov U.S. Expands Cybersecurity Collaboration with Singapore
The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has committed to working with the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore on research and development and critical technologies, as part of a broader effort to increase ties between the two nations. “Besides strengthening information sharing, fostering cybersecurity exchanges between Singapore and the U.S., and cooperation through joint exercises, the [Memorandum of Understanding] will expand into new areas of cooperation such as critical technologies, and research and development,” CISA said in a press release Monday.

Associated Press Senators question DOJ funding for AI-powered policing tech
A Democratic senator said the U.S. Justice Department needs to look into whether the algorithm-powered police technologies it funds contribute to racial bias in law enforcement and lead to wrongful arrests. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, was responding to an investigation by The Associated Press published Thursday about the possibility of bias in courtroom evidence produced by an algorithm-powered gunshot detection technology called ShotSpotter.

Article Summary

Digital Information World Could Blockchain Put an End to Internet Piracy Once and For All?
Online piracy is something that puts intellectual property rights holders at risk since it would prevent them from obtaining the remuneration that they deserve. Piracy is also risky for the people that download pirated software online because of the fact that this is the sort of act that could potentially end up infecting their systems with all kinds of malware, and the kind of identity theft that occurs can make this supposedly free software even more expensive than the legitimate versions that you could have easily purchased online.

CIO Ally and Microsoft partner on quantum computing
Quantum computing is much ballyhooed for its potential to run simulations of vast amounts of data, ideally to help enterprises solve hairy optimization problems. And while the relative immaturity of quantum technology has dampened some of its attendant enthusiasm, one financial service provider is forging ahead. Ally Financial has partnered with Microsoft to leverage the tech giant’s quantum computing assets in its Azure cloud. With quantum, Ally is aiming to run sophisticated simulations exploring new financial products for customers more efficiently than with conventional computers, says Sathish Muthukrishnan, the all-digital bank’s chief information, data and digital officer.

Think Tank / Tech Trade Association Highlights

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

  • Podcast on Addressing Climate Change Through Innovation
    Addressing climate change requires accelerating clean energy innovation across the full range of economic sectors—from transportation to electricity, manufacturing, and agriculture. Rob and Jackie sat down with David Hart, director of ITIF’s Center for Clean Energy Innovation, to discuss the scope of the challenge and the best paths forward for policymakers. (ITIF Podcast – Addressing Climate Change Through Innovation, With David HartAugust 23, 2021)

The Brookings Institution

  • Podcast on Broadband Infrastructure Plan
    In early August, the U.S. Senate unveiled the draft language for the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a $1 trillion bill that allocates $65 billion to broadband infrastructure. These targeted investments seek to make high-speed internet access more affordable and accessible, particularly for underserved rural communities. Introduced by President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, this proposal joins a host of other efforts to bolster online access for citizens, including programs like the Emergency Connectivity Fund and Lifeline program, to connect underserved communities with affordable broadband service. (TechTank Podcast – How will Biden’s broadband infrastructure plan address rural poverty while closing the digital divide?August 23, 2021)