This week, the Cybersecurity Tech Accord announced the inclusion of 16 new company signatories committed to improving the security of cyberspace. Access Smart, App Detex, Avepoint, CSC, Cyber Trust Alliance, Dogtown Media, Dynamic Consulting, ePrivacy, Hmatix, International Software Systems, LawToolBox, Netcom Learning, Reveal Data, US Licensing Group, US Medicalit, and WIPFLI have all joined in the pledge to protect users and customers everywhere. Many thanks to all VFI members who have taken this pledge for progress! You can read the full announcement here.
THIS WEEK IN WASHINGTON
Multichannel News Microsoft Petitions FCC for White Spaces Rulemaking
Microsoft has asked the FCC to launch a notice of proposed rulemaking (an NPRM) on its proposed changes to the 2014 rules for allowing unlicensed use of the so-called white spaces between channels in TV’s licensed spectrum. The computer company has filed a petition for rulemaking in hopes of getting action, pointing out that the National Association of Broadcasters, which has had lots of issues with potential white space device interference in the past, has said it can support some of those changes and signaled it was time for the FCC to get moving on proposing them and collecting comment.
B+C Broadband Economic Impact Bill Introduced
Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who co-chair the Senate Broadband Caucus, have introduced the self-evidently named Measuring the Economic Impact of Broadband Act, just the latest effort in a political season where broadband access is an election issue–Klobuchar is running for President. Currently, the FCC is collecting input on how to better gauge where broadband is or isn’t by collecting more accurate and reliable data. The bill’s goal is to gauge the consequences of deployment and the lack of it by collecting such data on the digital economy.
Multichannel News House Passes ACCESS BROADBAND Act
On Wednesday, the House passed a mouthful of a bipartisan broadband bill. That was the Advancing Critical Connectivity Expands Service, Small Businesses Resources, Opportunities, Access, and Data Based on Assessed Need and Demand (ACCESS BROADBAND) Act (HR 1328). The legislation, which was only introduced a month ago, must still pass the Senate if it is to make it into law. The bill is meant to spur the Trump Administration to boost broadband access in underserved areas, which means the mostly rural areas where there is less of a business case for it.
Gizmodo FTC to Face Questions Over How It Handled Years’ Worth of Privacy Disasters
America’s top consumer watchdog will face questions from congressional lawmakers this week concerning a veritable laundry list of privacy-related incidents, including many that will be centered around Facebook’s own protracted series of failures. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is holding its first oversight hearing for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in nine months, and the first since the Democrats won control of the House last fall. Privacy concerns, stemming from major security incidents over the past two years, including Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica incident and the commission’s ongoing investigation into the Equifax data breach, will largely dominate the conversation.
The Hill Trump signs executive order aimed at improving federal cybersecurity workforce
President Trump on Thursday signed an executive order aimed at improving the cybersecurity workforce within the federal government. Senior administration officials said during a call with reporters that the order will create a rotational program for cybersecurity staffers within the federal government to let them work at different agencies and pick up new skills. And they said that other measures in the order, like creating a “President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition” for cybersecurity, will ultimately improve the quality of cybersecurity staffers in both the government and in the private sector.
The Verge House Democrats want to see how much Big Tech is spending to curb extremism
On Thursday, Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee pressed major tech companies, including Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and Google, to submit their budgets to curb content from terrorists and extremists on their platforms. Committee chairman Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) first pushed the companies for a briefing in March after the white nationalist terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, was live-streamed to Facebook. According to the committee, no company was able to adequately comply with the committee’s requests.
StateScoop North Carolina pumps $9.8 million into rural broadband expansion
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday announced $9.8 million in new funding to expand broadband access to the state’s rural areas. The initiative, which is funded through a grant program via the state’s Broadband Infrastructure Office, will fund 21 broadband providers that are expected to bring improved internet access to 9,800 households and 590 businesses in 19 counties.
CNET Border officials don’t have data to address racial bias in facial recognition tech
Facial recognition technology is prone to errors, but when it comes to racial bias at airports, there’s a good chance it’s not learning from its mistakes. Debra Danisek, a privacy officer with the US Customs and Border Protection, talked to an audience Friday at the International Association of Privacy Professionals Summit about what data its facial recognition tech collects — but more importantly, about what data it doesn’t collect. “In terms of, ‘Does this technology have a different impact on different racial groups?,’ we don’t collect that sort of data,” Danisek said. “In terms of keeping metrics on which groups are more affected, we wouldn’t have those metrics to begin with.”
Bloomberg Microsoft Offers Election Software That Will Flag Hack Attempts
Microsoft Corp. will offer free software tools to protect elections and help voters, monitors and agencies make sure votes are counted properly. The software company said the tools will make it harder to hack elections in the first place, but if one is, it will be clear that results have been altered or tampered with. Microsoft said the tools will probably be tested in some U.S. elections as soon as this year but will not be able to be widely deployed for the U.S. presidential election in 2020.
VentureBeat How Microsoft is using AI to improve accessibility
The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is more than double that of those without, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics. Just as sobering, it’s estimated that only one in 10 members of the disability community have access to devices adapted to their needs. There’s no silver bullet. But if you ask Microsoft, the seeds of a solution lie in AI and machine learning.
ZDNet Microsoft Build 2019: Microsoft Build 2019: Everything announced on Azure, IoT, Edge on Chromium, AI, Windows apps, Microsoft Graph
Microsoft’s Build 2019 developer conference had a heavy dose of cloud, artificial intelligence and Internet of things as well as strategic points for Windows developers. Build is touted as a developer event and it is to some degree. But Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella also uses the conference to outline a bit of vision. Microsoft’s big vision today revolves around cloud and Office 365, which is a part of the software buffet known as Microsoft 365. Build 2019 kicks off as Microsoft just reported strong earnings, commercial cloud momentum, and hybrid cloud strength. Here’s everything that unfolded at Build 2019 by topic.
Morning Consult 4 Warnings About What a Patchwork of State Privacy Laws Could Mean for You
In an interview with Recode, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said a national standard for data privacy that pre-empts state laws “won’t happen.” If she blocks efforts for a single national standard on data privacy, a patchwork of state laws like California’s law, Washington state’s proposal and more will become a complicated and confusing reality. Here are just four warnings about what this could mean for your data privacy. Spoiler alert — it isn’t good.
CNBC Europe’s sweeping privacy rule was supposed to change the internet, but so far it’s mostly created frustration for users, companies, and regulators
The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation was celebrated as a revolution in how internet privacy could be legislated. Known as GDPR, the regulation gave sweeping new powers to individuals in how they can control their data, including the right to demand that companies tell them how their data is used, and to ask corporations to destroy their data, a tenet of the law known as “the right to be forgotten.” Among some consumers, GDPR is perhaps best known as a bothersome series of rapid-fire, pop-up privacy notices. Those astronomical fines have failed to materialize. The law has created new bureaucracies within corporations, and with those, tension and confusion. And it’s unclear if the EU data authority that oversees the law is adequately staffed to handle its demands.
Washington Post Google vows greater user privacy, after decades of data collection
Google is jumping on the latest tech trend: privacy. At its annual conference for software developers, the search and advertising giant showed off several new products and features that it said were created to help customers maintain control over their own data. Instead of the bulk of that data being shared with Google and stored in cloud computing centers, in the company’s vision, it would instead live on devices like mobile phones and tablet computers.
CNET Ban on facial recognition tech up for vote in San Francisco
San Francisco could soon become the first city in the US to ban the use of facial recognition technologies by city agencies. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors rules committee on Monday unanimously approved the “Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance,” which would require supervisors’ approval before agencies — including the police department — could use public funds on the technology. The ordinance faces a final vote before the full Board of Supervisors on May 14.
THINK TANK/TECH TRADE ASSOCIATION HIGHLIGHTS
Microsoft on the Issues
- Blog on ElectionGuard: At the Microsoft Build developer conference, CEO Satya Nadella announced ElectionGuard, a free open-source software development kit (SDK) from our Defending Democracy Program. Among ElectionGuard’s many benefits, it will enable end-to-end verification of elections, open results to third-party organizations for secure validation, and allow individual voters to confirm their votes were correctly counted. (Microsoft on the Issues – Protecting democratic elections through secure, verifiable voting, May 6, 2019)
- Report on how cities are preparing for automation: This report examines how three cities—Phoenix, Indianapolis, and South Bend—are preparing for the work of the future. Like most communities around the country, the three cities highlighted in this report are just beginning to address the challenge of automation. The steps they have taken, including the areas in which they are experimenting or seeing progress, as well as the gaps that remain, offer instructive lessons for leaders around the country. (Work, Workers, and Technology Blog – Automation Nation, May 8th, 2019)
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
- Blog on GDPR and compliance uncertainty: EU policymakers and data protection authorities should focus on clarifying the legislation, specifying the technical requirements to provide information, and take into account the costs and difficulties compliance may impose on companies in some cases. Otherwise European businesses will continue to face difficulties interpreting and complying with the GDPR. (ITIF Publications – GDPR Penalties Prove Why Compliance Isn’t Enough—And Why Companies Need Clarity, May 8th, 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.