Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) on Thursday unveiled legislation to create a Department of Labor grant program for apprenticeships in cybersecurity. The bipartisan bill, known as the “Cyber Ready Workforce Act,” would establish grants to help create, implement and expand registered apprenticeship programs for cybersecurity. Under the bill, the programs would be required to offer certain cybersecurity certifications and help connect participants with local businesses or other entities for apprenticeships in hopes to boost the number of qualified workers for federal cyber jobs.
For years, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple have fought regulators in Europe on privacy, antitrust and tax issues. In the United States, the tech titans were on friendly terrain. But on Thursday, the Federal Trade Commission kicked off a series of hearings to discuss whether the agency’s competition and consumer-protection policies should change to better reflect new technologies and companies.
Congress needs to hire more teachers — for itself. As high-profile hearings have made clear this year, lawmakers struggle to understand the Internet platforms that dominate online life, and given the limited resources the legislative branch has to build up its knowledge base, that is no surprise. Thankfully, recent appropriations bills offer a reason for hope.
Microsoft has reached an agreement with Network Business Systems to provide internet to underserved communities. The tech giant will roll out its Airband project in Illinois, Iowa, and South Dakota, serving 126,700 people. To do so, the company will make use of a variety of technologies, including TV white spaces. These are essentially frequencies that have been assigned to television broadcast but are going unused. Read more on this partnership from Microsoft on the Issues.
Multinational corporate giants, such as Microsoft, are investing in promising, developing-world solar energy start-ups and entrepreneurs in order to lay the foundations for both universal clean energy and broadband access. Microsoft Airband Initiative is working to close the digital divide overseas, as well. In August, program managers awarded grants to three African start-ups that are bringing both solar energy and broadband access to off-grid households and communities. The winners of the third annual Microsoft Airband Grant Fund – Nigeria’s ColdHub, Rwanda’s MeshPower, and Kenya’s Agsol – brings the total number of Microsoft Airband grant partners in Africa to 19.
Law360 FCC Clears Nominet To Run TV ‘White Space’ Database (paywall)
The FCC has found database operator Nominet fit to operate technology used to monitor spectrum bands held by broadcasters in order to direct unlicensed users toward unused gaps on the airwaves. The National Association of Broadcasters previously asserted that Nominet had sloppily managed a database of unused frequencies, had failed field tests and was likely to interfere with the transmission of TV programs. The FCC appears largely to have rejected those concerns, however.
The tech industry and consumer groups are gearing up for a fight as lawmakers begin considering whether to draft a national privacy law. The push to get Congress to enact federal privacy standards is gaining new urgency after California passed what is seen as the nation’s toughest privacy law this June. The measure forces businesses to be more transparent about what they do with consumer data and gives users unprecedented control over their personal information.
Since the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect on May 25, more than 5 million people from 200 countries have used Microsoft’s new privacy tools to manage their data. And on both an absolute and per capita basis, the largest number of people come from the U.S., a country not formally covered by GDPR, demonstrating a desire by American consumers for greater control over their personal data.
California is once again poised to take the lead on important new technology policy. A bill to set cybersecurity standards for Web-connected devices — from thermostats to webcams to cars — is awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) signature after cruising through the state legislature late last month. If Brown signs it, California would become the first state to pass legislation to govern security of the Internet of Things, which experts say is crucial as these products proliferate and malicious hackers find new ways to exploit them.
Yesterday, the European Parliament approved amendments to the Copyright Directive, a piece of legislation intended to update copyright for the internet age. Few pieces of legislation have polarized Europe this much in recent years. Critics said the vote heralded the death of the internet, while supporters congratulated themselves for saving the livelihoods of starving artists and giving US tech giants a poke in the eye.
Microsoft on Tuesday announced new easy-to-use cloud services that draw on artificial intelligence to help with certain kinds of work — namely customer service and marketing. The move could help Microsoft’s Dynamics cloud business software become more competitive with Salesforce, which has begun offering premium AI features for its services. Amazon, Google, and other companies are also making strides in these two areas.
Amazon is investigating allegations that some of its employees have offered to leak confidential information and delete negative product reviews in exchange for money. According to a Wall Street Journal report on Sunday, Amazon (AMZN) staff members are peddling internal data and other advantages that independent merchants can use to try to get higher rankings for their products in searches on the site. The practice is “particularly pronounced in China,” the article said.
New York Times Facebook Accused of Allowing Bias Against Women in Job Ads
Facebook has been criticized in recent years over revelations that its technology allowed landlords to discriminate on the basis of race, and employers to discriminate on the basis of age. Now a group of job seekers is accusing Facebook of helping employers to exclude female candidates from recruiting campaigns. The job seekers, in collaboration with the Communications Workers of America and the American Civil Liberties Union, are filing charges with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Tuesday against Facebook and nine employers.
THINK TANK/TECH TRADE ASSOCIATION HIGHLIGHTS
- Statement on Music Modernization Act: Internet Association Director, Federal Government Affairs & Counsel Mike Lemon issued the following statement on the passage of the Music Modernization Act (H.R. 1551) in the Senate: “The internet industry commends the Senate for bringing mechanical licensing into the digital era by passing the Music Modernization Act. This legislation will benefit consumers, songwriters, and the rest of music ecosystem by bringing more choice and innovation into the market. We look forward to the House passing this bill shortly.” (Internet Association — Statement On Senate Passage Of The Music Modernization Act, September 19, 2018).
Information Technology Industry Council (ITI)
- Statement on Tariffs: ITI president and CEO Dean Garfield released the following statement regarding the Trump Administration’s plan to move forward with imposing $200 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese goods. “President Trump’s decision to impose an additional $200 billion is reckless and will create lasting harm to communities across the country. If implemented, these tariffs will have both short- and long-term effects on the United States – from increased prices at the checkout counter to decreased leadership on the emerging technologies that will shape our future.” (ITI Statement — Tech Industry: Tariffs are Reckless and will Harm Americans, September 17, 2018).
- Blog on OTI’s comments to the FCC: On Monday, OTI submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) giving feedback on the state of broadband deployment and access in the United States. OTI believes that high-speed broadband is not being deployed to all Americans, as evidenced by the country’s longstanding and persistent digital divide. (New America Publications — OTI to FCC: Broadband is Not Reaching All Americans, Sept. 19, 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 endorse specific platforms or bills.