Executive Briefing December 7, 2018

Last Thursday, Bonnie Ross, CVP at Microsoft and Head of 343 Industries, visited Washington D.C. to highlight the importance of computer science education and see the amazing work being done at area schools to give students the opportunity to learn computer science.

There are 11,252 current jobs in D.C. requiring a background in computing, and last year D.C. had only 133 computer science graduates enter the workforce. For more information, check out Twitter and Facebook.

TOP STORIES: Microsoft Airband Expansion

Microsoft on the Issues The rural broadband divide: An urgent national problem that we can solve
Every day the world is becoming more digital. But participating in this new era requires a high-speed broadband connection to the internet.  A year and a half ago, Microsoft announced that their Airband Initiative would bring broadband access to 2 million people by July 2022. Based on early progress, Microsoft President Brad Smith announced an increased commitment to extend broadband access to 3 million Americans in rural areas by July 2022. Watch the announcement here.

The New York Times Digital Divide Is Wider Than We Think, Study Says
A new study by Microsoft researchers casts a light on the actual use of high-speed internet across the country, and the picture it presents is very different from the FCC numbers. Their analysis, presented at a Microsoft event on Tuesday in Washington, D.C., suggests that the speedy access is much more limited than the FCC data shows. Overall, Microsoft concluded that 162.8 million people do not use the internet at broadband speeds, while the FCC says broadband is not available to 24.7 million Americans. The discrepancy is particularly stark in rural areas.

Bloomberg Microsoft Boosts Rural Broadband Efforts to Reach More Users
Microsoft Corp., which last year announced a plan to bring broadband to 2 million people in the rural U.S., is boosting the program to reach another 1 million customers across more states. The Microsoft Airband Initiative will now be in 25 states by this time next year, more than doubling the program’s original reach and adding states including California, Indiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia. The company, the world’s largest software maker, plans to reach the 3 million total customers by July 2022.


Broadcasting and Cable Sen. Warner to Propose National Cybersecurity Doctrine
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) plans to call for a new U.S. “cyber doctrine” in what is being billed as a “major address” Friday (Dec. 7). As vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Warner has been a leading figure in the Russian election-influence investigation and a strong voice for stronger defenses against cyberattacks and hacks. He is now putting that into a call for concerted action, or what his office calls a “‘whole-of-society’ doctrine to respond to the cyber and misinformation threats facing our nation.”

The Verge The Secret Service wants to test facial recognition around the White House
The US Secret Service has revealed plans for a test of facial recognition surveillance around the White House, with the goal of identifying “subjects of interest” who might pose a threat to the president. The document was published in late November, but the American Civil Liberties Union publicized its existence today. It describes a test that would compare closed circuit video footage of public White House spaces against a database of images — in this case, featuring employees who volunteered to be tracked.

The Hill FCC chairman acknowledges Russia interfered in net neutrality public comments
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai is acknowledging that Russia-linked email addresses weighed in during the public comment process ahead of the FCC’s net neutrality repeal last year.  Pai said in a statement this week that it is a “fact” that a half-million comments were submitted from Russian email addresses during the public comment period, adding that most of those comments were in favor of net neutrality.


Wired Microsoft Wants to Stop AI’s “Race to the Bottom”
This Thursday, Microsoft president Brad Smith asked governments to regulate the use of facial-recognition technology to ensure it does not invade personal privacy or become a tool for discrimination or surveillance. Tech companies are often forced to choose between social responsibility and profits, but the consequences of facial recognition are too dire for business as usual, Smith said. Read more in this post from Microsoft on the Issues.

The Washington Post The Technology 202: More than 200 companies are calling for a national privacy law
The Business Roundtable’s consumer privacy legislation framework, provided exclusively to The Technology 202, calls on the United States to adopt a national privacy law that would apply the same data collection requirements to all companies regardless of sector — while ramping up Federal Trade Commission staffing and funding to enforce the rule. It calls on companies to give consumers more control of their data and form a national standard for breach notification.

The New York Times The Race Is On to Protect Data From the Next Leap in Computers. And China Has the Lead.
The world’s leading technology companies, from Google to Alibaba in China, are racing to build the first quantum computer, a machine that would be far more powerful than today’s computers. This device could break the encryption that protects digital information, putting at risk everything from the billions of dollars spent on e-commerce to national secrets stored in government databases. An answer? Encryption that relies on the same concepts from the world of physics. Just as some scientists are working on quantum computers, others are working on quantum security techniques that could thwart the code-breaking abilities of these machines of the future.

Politico Biggest prize in Marriott hack: Passport numbers
The massive Marriott data breach exposed sensitive information on some 500 million people, but the most valuable loot may be hundreds of thousands of passport numbers revealed in the hack. Marriott said Friday morning that the breach, which appears to be the second largest behind the Yahoo hack that exposed information on three billion accounts in 2013, compromised a reservation database and that about 327 million of the records may have contained passport information.

Bloomberg U.S. Financial Firms to Further Increase Cybersecurity Spending
U.S. banks and other financial firms are projecting higher spending on cybersecurity as they face bigger threats and more attacks. In a survey of 100 senior security officers, 84 percent said their firms are planning to spend more this year on cybersecurity, up from 78 percent a year ago, data-security provider Thales eSecurity said in a report to be released Tuesday. About 36 percent of companies said they experienced an intrusion in 2018, up from 24 percent in last year’s survey.



  • Blog on China’s World Internet Conference: Unlike the previous two years’ conferences, this one did not feature speakers as high-profile as President Xi Jinping or Apple’s Tim Cook. But Xi was much quoted by Chinese officials, and mentions of “collective governance,” “cyber sovereignty,” “mutual respect,” “multilateralism,” and United Nations leadership were frequent. (TechTank blog – Can China have difficult conversations about the internet?, Dec. 6, 2018)

Information Technology Industry Council

  • News release on STEM education: STEM jobs can no longer be viewed through a vertical lens – a significant share of the American economy now relies on these high-skilled workers to power it. Across the United States, small and large businesses are looking for workers to fill the over 3 million open STEM jobs. The only way to do that is to increase the investment in and commitment to training and education programs that ensure the workforce has the right skills to meet the demand now and in the future. (ITI News Releases – ITI Applauds Trump Administration’s Commitment to Boosting STEM Education, Dec. 4, 2018)

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

  • Publication on the AI economy and accessibility: Artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to make a significant impact on the global economy, adding $15.7 trillion to the GDP by 2030. In pursuit of these economic benefits, many countries have developed national strategies to promote the adoption of AI within their borders, such as China’s ambitious plan to become the global leader in AI. But what can state and local governments — especially those outside of the country’s main tech hubs — do to ensure they are not left behind in the AI economy? (ITIF Publications – How Can Smaller Cities Join the Growing AI Economy?, Dec. 5, 2018)

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.