THIS WEEK IN WASHINGTON
The Washington Post Democrats’ new infrastructure bill highlights cybersecurity concerns
Coming up on the Biden administration’s agenda now that the massive coronavirus relief bill has passed: A major infrastructure and jobs package. The House’s new $312 billion infrastructure bill, as part of that push, aims to secure the country’s most critical infrastructure – and increase the cybersecurity of essential services, including hospitals, broadband and the electric grid.
FedScoop Carr: FCC must continue freeing up spectrum for 5G
The Federal Communications Commission must continue to free up wireless spectrum, often used by federal agencies, for commercial 5G services if the U.S. wants to maintain its leadership in the space ahead of competitors like China, said Commissioner Brendan Carr. The senior Republican on the commission proposed a spectrum calendar to free up and auction off airwaves as quickly as possible, during an American Enterprise Institute event Monday.
The Washington Post Congress mulls legislation to require companies to report major cyberattacks
The breaches of SolarWinds and Microsoft software, which collectively ensnared the data of federal and local governments as well as thousands of other U.S. organizations, have renewed a longstanding debate: Should companies be required to report cybersecurity breaches to the government? Lawmakers have debated the issue for more than a decade without much success in passing legislation. What’s different this time is companies are actively urging Congress to take swift action. They say failure to do so puts national security at risk.
Wall Street Journal House Panel Weighs Moves to Rein in Big Tech, Aid Media
Newspapers, TV stations and other news outlets that have seen their revenue siphoned away by online platforms could get an assist from Congress under legislation that a House panel took up Friday. If passed, the legislation would grant news organizations a four-year exemption from antitrust laws to band together to negotiate compensation from online platforms that use their content, including Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. “It’s not good news for democracy when a company as large as Google threatens to boycott a nation,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said at Friday’s hearing.
CyberScoop Biden administration mulls software security grades after SolarWinds
The White House is contemplating the use of cybersecurity ratings and standards for U.S. software, a move akin to how New York City grades restaurants on sanitation or Singapore labels internet of things devices, a senior administration official told reporters on Friday. The concept of government labeling and grading in cybersecurity isn’t entirely new. Some experts have long coveted an Energy Star-style rating system resembling the program that the Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Department use to promote energy-efficient devices.
Axios 7 people who’ll likely drive the Biden administration’s tech policy
The White House is said to be considering a number of people to fill the administration’s remaining major antitrust posts: Jon Sallet, an adviser to the Colorado attorney general, and longtime antitrust lawyer Jonathan Kanter are both being considered to lead the Justice Department’s antitrust division, while Karl Racine, Washington, D.C.’s attorney general, is also being vetted for a possible administration role, potentially at the Federal Trade Commission, according to sources familiar with the matter.
GeekWire Microsoft and Google continue battle over online news as Brad Smith testifies on Capitol Hill
Microsoft vs. Google: The tech titans have been locked in a tense battle for the past several weeks over how online platforms such as Google and Facebook distribute content from news media organizations. The issue revolves around how and if tech companies should pay local publishers and broadcasters for content included in search results or news feeds.
The Wall Street Journal Why the Next Big-Tech Fights Are in State Capitals
Tech companies are turning their attention to statehouses across the country as a wave of local bills opens a new frontier in the push to limit Silicon Valley’s power. Arizona, Maryland and Virginia are among states where lawmakers are seeking to limit the power of tech companies like Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Apple Inc. on a range of issues, from online privacy and digital advertisements to app-store fees.
The Verge California bans ‘dark patterns’ that trick users into giving away their personal dat
If you’ve ever struggled through a maze of online customer service to cancel a subscription or delete an account, you’ve likely encountered “dark patterns” — user interfaces that are designed to trick and frustrate users. The concept was coined in 2010 but is slowly being addressed in US legislation, with California this week announcing that it is banning the use of dark patterns that stop users from opting out of the sale of their personal data.
NBC News If you build it, they will learn: Why some schools are investing in cell towers
The Dallas Independent School District is used to providing internet service to students when they’re on school property. But it’s never had something quite like the 90-foot towers going up at a handful of schools in the district — its first foray into building its own network of cellular transmission towers. Like a growing number of school districts across the country, spurred in part by the coronavirus pandemic, the Dallas school system has recently gotten into the cell tower business.
The Verge T-Mobile’s long-promised 5G home broadband will launch later this month
T-Mobile US Inc. said during an analyst event that it’s on track to debut its 5G home broadband service later this month as a 4G version of the service currently undergoes pilot testing with 100,000 households. T-Mobile didn’t share an exact launch date, but it says it hopes to expand the service to 7 million or 8 million customers within the next five years.
The Associated Press ‘Big burden’ for schools trying to give kids internet access
When the coronavirus pandemic shut down schools, educators had to figure out how to get kids online. Fast. In a patchwork approach born of desperation, they scrounged wireless hot spots, struck deals with cable companies and even created networks of their own. With federal relief money and assistance from state governments and philanthropists, they have helped millions of students get online for distance learning.
Axios Broadband’s $7 billion Band-Aid
Stimulus money dedicated to paying for internet access – including $7 billion in this week’s new law – is likely to prove a short-term Band-Aid on a long-term problem. Why it matters: The pandemic put a spotlight on the need for internet access to participate in work and school – access that millions of Americans still lack.
CNBC SpaceX prepares for Air Force test connecting an aircraft to its Starlink satellite internet
Elon Musk’s SpaceX is preparing to further test its Starlink satellite internet in a demonstration for the U.S. Air Force, the company revealed in a recent request to the Federal Communications Commission. “SpaceX seeks to make minor modifications to its experimental authorization for additional test activities undertaken with the federal government,” the company wrote to the FCC in a filing on Thursday.
THINK TANK/TECH TRADE ASSOCIATION HIGHLIGHTS
Information Technology & Innovation Foundation
- Blog on Federal Data Privacy Legislation
U.S. privacy law is at a crossroads. Many consumers are confused and frustrated by how frequently organizations report massive data breaches or confess to misusing people’s sensitive information. This has created a groundswell of support for new laws to hold them accountable. But while there is now bipartisan agreement on the need for federal privacy legislation, there is no clear consensus on what it should look like. The biggest risk is inaction. In the absence of federal legislation, states will continue responding to the public’s concerns. (ITIF Blog – It’s Time For a New Approach to Solving America’s Data Privacy Dilemma, March 17, 2021)
The Brookings Institution
- Blog on 5G and Federal Spectrum Policy
The internet is the most powerful and pervasive platform in the history of the planet. A huge amount of that power comes from its ubiquitous wireless extension. From the beginning of time, communications commanded the user to come to the message; for the last several decades that equation has been reversed. The wireless revolution put users in control to command the information to come to them wherever they may be. (TechTank – Spectrum: The pathway of the 21st century, March 12, 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.