Executive Briefing December 17 21

This Week in Washington

Washington Post Biden’s ambitious broadband funding has a key impediment: an outdated map of who needs it
With $65 billion allocated to improve broadband, President Biden has claimed the infrastructure law will fundamentally transform the Internet, making high-speed access as ubiquitous as electricity, ensuring that tens of millions of Americans will soon be able to logon with speeds required for the basic activities of everyday life: to work remotely, to attend school, to access telemedicine. And $42 billion of that figure will be largely distributed among states to ensure broadband reaches even the most remote, unserved “last mile” customers.

NextGov NDAA Inclusions Prioritize Pentagon Emerging Technology Pursuits
Though noticeably light on certain cybersecurity measures, the proposed U.S. defense spending bill for 2022 incorporates many provisions that would mandate new research, pilot programs, oversight and strategies to advance the Pentagon’s adoption of modern and emerging technologies. Section 226 of the bill would direct federal officials to assess potential AI applications and produce clear metrics and performance objectives for staff to turn to when deploying them.

CNBC White House wants universal broadband by 2030, but funding could take years to deliver
According to the Federal Communications Commission, about 14.5 million people do not have access to high-speed internet. But outside experts warn the number is likely much higher. Broadband Now projects as many as 42 million people lack access to high-speed internet. Microsoft has said as many as half of all Americans do not use broadband, even if they have access to it.

The Hill Officials press for actionable recommendations from new cyber advisory committee
Top officials at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Friday urged a newly established advisory committee composed of experts from across sectors to propose solutions to help tackle the growing wave of cyberattacks faced by the nation. The Cybersecurity Advisory Committee, established by DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) earlier this month, met in a hybrid format both in McLean, Va., and remotely for the first time Friday. It discussed strengthening the nation’s basic cybersecurity practices and concerns about disinformation, among other issues.

CNN New White House policy gives agencies 24 hours to assess cyberattacks of potential national security concern
The White House has enacted a new policy requiring the FBI and other agencies to help US officials quickly assess whether a cyberattack “rises to the level of a national security concern” that could hamper the provision of key services such as fuel or food, according to a National Security Council memo obtained by CNN and two US officials.

Reuters U.S. cybersecurity officials see mainly low-impact attacks from logging flaw, so far
The U.S. agency charged with defending the country against hacking said on Tuesday the majority of attacks it has seen using a recently disclosed flaw in widely used open-source software were minor, with many of them seeking to hijack computing power to mine cryptocurrency. Officials at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said they had not confirmed reports by multiple security companies of ransomware installations or attempts by other governments to steal secrets.

Article Summary

PC Gamer Microsoft is trying to entice pirates to turn towards the light
Piracy is a worldwide problem. Not only does it deprive software developers and companies of much deserved revenue, it also opens up end users to scurvy dogs pushing out increasingly sophisticated malware. No one knows more about the effect of piracy than Microsoft. For decades, users have been using illegal copies of Windows and Office. It’s a losing battle, but rather than fight those using illegitimate software, Microsoft is trying a different approach, dangling a carrot in front of users, rather than forcing users to walk the plank.

Protocol Big Tech is still fighting to curb California’s privacy law
California’s revamped privacy law, the California Privacy Rights Act, goes into effect in January 2023. The law, which passed by ballot proposition in 2020, is the product of years of backroom battles between lawmakers, regulators, businesses and privacy advocates. Tech giants including Google and Pinterest, as well as top industry groups including TechNet and Internet Association, urged the agency to issue regulations that would narrow the scope of CPRA. One of their top concerns is how the agency plans to define “automated decision making,” which consumers can opt out of under the law.

MakeUseOf Microsoft Has Developed an AI That Can Find and Fix Bugs in Code
Recently, Microsoft developed an AI capable of detecting and fixing bugs in code using deep learning. But how did this piece of revolutionary tech come to exist, and how does it work? BugLab is an artificial intelligence Python implementation that hunts for and fixes bugs within code. It was developed by Miltos Alamanis and Marc Brockschmidt, two researchers at Microsoft Research.

Colorado Newsline Rep. Perlmutter co-sponsors legislation to protect local journalism
In the resolution, the Democratic representatives wrote that local print and digital journalism is disappearing at a record rate. They added that while many local reporters retain the trust of their communities, trust in journalists is “at an all-time low nationally,” and “nonjournalistic digital media” has been “falsely labeled and marketed as news.” The resolution also says that local print and digital journalism are essential to promoting “good governance” at the state and local level and that a lack of local news will allow for “greater local and statewide political corruption.”

Tech Podcast of the Week

#ShiftHappens

  • Podcast on Microsoft Airband
    More than 100 million Americans do not use the Internet at broadband speeds, according to Microsoft. Which is why the company’s Airband initiative strives to bring robust connections and training to underserved areas. Learn about the effort’s origins and tech takeaways to benefit your own organization. (S8 E5: Bringing Broadband to Everyone with Vickie Robinson of Microsoft Airband – November 16, 2021)