THIS WEEK IN WASHINGTON
The Hill Senate includes nearly $2 billion in cyber, tech funds to COVID-19 bill
The Senate version of the latest COVID-19 relief package includes nearly $2 billion for federal cybersecurity and technology modernization programs, with $1 billion set aside for the General Service Administration’s Technology Modernization Fund, $650 million dedicated to the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency’s risk mitigation services and $200 million for the U.S. Digital Service.
CNBC Democratic lawmaker proposes a national online privacy standard as states move forward with their own laws
Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) will reintroduce her version of federal privacy legislation today, which includes pre-emption of state laws and additional funding for the Federal Trade Commission so it can hire 500 employees focused on privacy and security. The bill is narrowly focused on giving Americans the most essential privacy rights and protections, with DelBene saying that additional legislation can build upon this to target issues surrounding artificial intelligence, facial recognition technology and other sources for privacy concerns
Axios Lawmakers pivot back to news antitrust fight
On the heels of Australia’s legislative push to require digital platforms to pay news publishers for their content, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is reintroducing bills in both the Senate and House today that would allow publishers to negotiate with online platforms over how their content is shared. The group, which includes Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) and John Kennedy (R-La.) and Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Ken Buck (R-Co.), is reintroducing the measures ahead of two congressional antitrust hearings this week.
Politico Biden taps another Big Tech trustbuster
President Joe Biden is expected to nominate Lina Khan, an antitrust legal scholar supported by opponents of Big Tech monopolies, to be a commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission, according to sources familiar with the matter. Khan worked on the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee’s 16-month investigation into competition among large tech companies, and she gained name recognition in antitrust circles while she was a student at Yale Law School after writing a paper exploring how Amazon.com Inc.’s pricing policies could violate antitrust laws.
The Verge Senators call on FCC to quadruple base high-speed internet speeds
The federal government’s definition of high-speed broadband has remained stagnant over the last six years, sitting at 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up since 2015. But faced with pandemic-fueled network loads and a new push for infrastructure spending, lawmakers are getting ready to upgrade that definition. In a letter to government leaders Thursday, a bipartisan group of senators called for a quadrupling of base high-speed broadband delivery speeds making 100Mbps down and 100Mbps up the new base for high-speed broadband.
The New York Times Tech’s Legal Shield Appears Likely to Survive as Congress Focuses on Details
Former President Donald J. Trump called multiple times for repealing the law that shields tech companies from legal responsibility over what people post. President Biden, as a candidate, said the law should be “revoked.” But the lawmakers aiming to weaken the law have started to agree on a different approach. They are increasingly focused on eliminating protections for specific kinds of content rather than making wholesale changes to the law or eliminating it entirely.
The New York Times A Leading Critic of Big Tech Will Join the White House
President Joe Biden appointed Tim Wu, a Columbia law professor known for his calls to break up large tech companies, to the White House National Economic Council as a special assistant to the president for technology and competition policy. The role is a new one for the council, where Wu will focus not only on tech but on competition in labor policy and the concentration of power in the agriculture and drug industries.
Roll Call One year in, broadband access and telehealth are two big winners under COVID-19
Of all the everyday priorities that changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, few became more crucial than the need to stay connected – to the internet, to teachers and to doctors. Efforts to expand broadband internet access, and especially systems that could connect individuals to their health care providers, have long benefited from bipartisan support, even if Republicans and Democrats disagree over exactly how to best achieve those expansions.
Axios State efforts likely to prod Congress on privacy
In the absence of uniform federal rules, states across the U.S. have ramped up online privacy legislation, which could in turn push Congress to pass its own law faster and with tougher provisions. Driving the news: Virginia became the second state to enact a consumer privacy law this week. A number of other states are working on similar bills.
The Wall Street Journal T-Mobile to Step Up Ad Targeting of Cellphone Customers
Politico The Pentagon had an email security problem. The pandemic fixed it.
The scramble to protect coronavirus research from hackers has spurred the Defense Department to fix a much larger problem – a long-known security hole that allowed tens of thousands of emails to go into the world unprotected from snooping. In December, the Pentagon quietly adopted a security measure for ensuring that its email conversations with outsiders would be encrypted – more than a decade after many private companies and other institutions had done the same.
Texas Tribune Twitter sues Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, asks court to halt his investigation of the social media company
Twitter Inc. is suing for a temporary restraining order against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) to keep his office from investigating the company and seeking Twitter’s internal documents detailing its decision-making process for banning users and other content moderation issues. Twitter alleges that Paxton’s document request, which came after then-President Donald Trump was banned from Twitter in January following the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, is a part of a “retaliatory” investigation that violates the First Amendment.
Teslarati Starlink FCC application reveals plans for satellite internet in moving vehicles
The idea of Teslas being connected to the internet through Starlink may soon become a reality, with SpaceX recently filing an application to the FCC to expand the satellite service to “moving vehicles, vessels, and aircraft.” The application comes not long after Musk gave the nod on Twitter for a Starlink “Mini,” which could provide internet connectivity on the go.
THINK TANK/TECH TRADE ASSOCIATION HIGHLIGHTS
Information Technology & Innovation Foundation
- Blog on Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act
Groupthink has always been the bane of sound public policy, never more so than now, as it has become widely accepted that America has a competition problem. After years of dormancy, antitrust has become the topic of heated debates and the subject of a far-reaching reform effort. “Anti-monopoly” is now the solution de jour for all that ails the U.S. economy, just as it was in the early New Deal. (ITIF Blog – Democrats’ Antitrust Reform May Revamp Competition in America—But at the Expense of Innovation?, March 8, 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.