Executive Briefing January 11, 2019


The Washington Post The Cybersecurity 202: House Democrats’ first bill aims big on election security
House Democrats came out swinging on election security in their first bill of the new Congress on Friday, promising at least $120 million for new voting machines — so long as they use paper ballots rather than digital ones. The move suggests the new House majority plans to push for the strongest election security measures they can get rather than seek compromise with the GOP-controlled Senate or the Trump administration.

POLITICO Wicker readies 5G hearing
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) is already eyeing a potential hearing on 5G wireless deployment and said bipartisan legislation from the previous Congress from Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) — the STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act — could be a good starting point for the panel’s examination. “I would expect 5G and privacy to be among the first issues,” Wicker told John on Tuesday. “I would hope that [5G] would be one of our first hearings.”

POLITICO Shutdown’s Effect On New Tech
Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel warned that a lengthy shutdown could delay new electronic devices from entering the marketplace at a time when the industry is moving rapidly toward next-generation and internet of things technology. Rosenworcel also said on Twitter that during the shutdown key FCC duties, such as certifying new devices that emit radio frequency, are not happening. She warned in an interview with Margaret that a sustained shutdown could cause a bottleneck at the FCC as companies try to get new devices to consumers.


Daily Yonder Telehealth changes will increase rural broadband demand
Several policy changes from Washington, D.C., should accelerate urban and rural telehealth deployments. On November 1 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the body that manages these two healthcare programs, finalized new rules that include payment reimbursements for telehealth. These changes are good news for communities that want broadband to help expand access to healthcare.

Mesabi Daily News Ecklund targets rural broadband with funding bill
Broadband connectivity has plagued rural areas and the Iron Range for a number of legislative sessions, even as technology use has increased tenfold in education, business and health care, to name a few industries. State Rep. Rob Ecklund, DFL-International Falls, hopes to change that. He unveiled a bill Wednesday to expand high-speed broadband in Minnesota through a two-year $70 million investment.

NextGov Survey: Americans Warming to Use of Facial Recognition Tech
A growing number of Americans are OK with the facial recognition technology, especially if it increases public safety, according to a national survey released Monday. Conducted on a national poll of 3,151 U.S. adults in December, the survey found only one in four Americans believe the federal government should strictly limit the use of facial biometrics technology. The survey also indicates Americans are more likely to support any apparent tradeoff to their own privacy caused by facial recognition technology if it benefits law enforcement, reduces shoplifting or speeds up airport security lines.

Barron’s Delta Air Lines Looks to Facial Recognition Technology to Improve Travel
A program started in early December for international travelers out of Atlanta uses biometrics to let passengers navigate through gates and Delta Sky Club lounges without having to repeatedly look for their personal ID. Delta plans to make the service available in Detroit later this year at selected gates. “Facial recognition should speed the boarding process,” Helane Becker, senior airline analyst at Wall Street firm Cowen & Co., told Barron’s in an email.

Pagosa Daily Post CDE, School of Mines Collaborate on Free Computer Science for K-5
Up to 1,500 elementary school teachers across Colorado could receive training this year to teach basic computer science concepts in their classrooms, thanks to a new partnership between Colorado School of Mines and the Colorado Department of Education. The state will provide funding to the Mines Computer Science Department for free, one-day workshops for K-5 teachers across the state. School districts can begin recruiting teachers for this professional development opportunity and apply for training slots including funds to provide stipends to participating teachers who complete the training.

VentureBeat Heartland Tech Weekly: Utah’s approach to tech education could be a model for the nation
Governor Gary Herbert is requesting $3.9 million in this year’s state budget to ensure that three different computer science courses are available in every Utah school by 2022. Currently, only 16 percent of the state’s high schools offer an intermediate or advanced computer science course, according to Skonnard.

The Denver Post Amazon may be working on “database of suspicious persons” using facial recognition
A patent application filed by Amazon offers a vision of how doorbell cameras could be equipped with new technology that would allow the devices to gather data and identify people considered to be “suspicious.” The application describes how a series of cameras could be used to piece together a composite image of an individual’s face, giving homeowners and police the ability to more easily identify someone who has engaged in potential criminal activity.



  • Blog on data privacy legislation: Congressional leaders in both parties have expressed an interest taking up privacy legislation and are doing serious work to that end. Incoming House committee chair, Democrat Frank Pallone of New Jersey, endorsed “comprehensive legislation” earlier in the year and, shortly after the election in November, announced that proposals for privacy and security will be part of the Democratic agenda. (TechTank blog – Will this new Congress be the one to pass data privacy legislation?, Jan. 7, 2019)
  • Blog on AI and climate solutions: AI might be affecting the supply and demand for energy and the implications of AI for how modern society uses energy. In a nutshell, the message is that AI helps make markets more efficient and easier for analysts and market participants to understand highly complex phenomena—from the behavior of electrical power grids to climate change. (Brookings Report – How artificial intelligence will affect the future of energy and climate, Jan. 10, 2019)

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

  • Blog on digital innovation and the economy: But the world is now beginning to transform into a new kind of digital system, one that will not only build on existing devices and systems, but also increasingly will incorporate emerging technologies such as sensors, robotics, and artificial intelligence as they improve in price and performance. This next digital economy will be significantly more connected, more automated, and smarter. (ITIF Publications – The Task Ahead of Us: Transforming the Global Economy With Connectivity, Automation, and Intelligence, Jan. 7, 2019)

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.