Executive Briefing September 28, 2018


The Washington Post The Cybersecurity 202: Congress poised to allow DHS to take the lead on federal cybersecurity
After years of debate, Congress is poised to vote on legislation that would cement the Department of Homeland Security’s role as the government’s main civilian cybersecurity authority. The Senate could vote on the bill, which passed in the House last year, as early as this week as it takes up a slew of cybersecurity-related legislation. Approving the legislation would mark a major shift in Congress’s views on whether DHS should lead the government’s efforts to protect federal computer networks, power plants and other critical infrastructure from digital attacks.

ABC News Senate panel opens hearing on crafting US privacy law
The Trump administration is hoping Congress can come up with a new set of national rules governing how companies can use consumers’ data that finds a balance between “privacy and prosperity.” But it will be tricky to reconcile the concerns of privacy advocates who want people to have more control over the usage of their personal data — where they’ve been, what they view, who their friends are —and the powerful companies that mine it for profit. Senior executives from AT&T, Amazon, Apple, Google, Twitter and Charter Communications are scheduled to testify at the hearing, amid increasing anxiety over safeguarding consumers’ data online and recent scandals that have stoked outrage among users and politicians.

Daily Yonder What’s DC Doing for Rural Internet? Not Enough
What is Washington doing to help promote quality, affordable broadband in rural communities? Not enough, according to this opinion piece. Whether in Congress or at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), policymakers are busy undermining policies that support rural Americans, or they are letting good ideas gather dust on the shelf.


The Roanoke Times Botetourt County to take next steps in increasing broadband access following end of summit
Wednesday marked the end of a two-day broadband summit, where Botetourt County leaders and regional experts discussed the challenges they will face in providing broadband to the region. The summit brought more than 40 speakers to share their own experiences in rural broadband and information on leading technologies such as drones, fiber networks and TV white space. Information shared at the summit will help lead Botetourt County’s Broadband Advisory Commission members as they develop solutions to the lack of broadband access in the county.

Y’all Politics New poll shows 72% favor more action to improve rural broadband
Nearly three in four voters believe expanding rural broadband access would have a positive impact on the nation’s economy, but 72 percent believe that Congress and federal regulators “need to do more” to connect rural America, according to a new nationwide survey released today by Connect Americans Now (CAN). The survey also revealed that 85 percent of voters believe improving rural broadband connectivity would have a positive impact for those on the wrong side of the digital divide. Americans broadly agree that TV white spaces (TVWS) spectrum should be available for local providers to deploy broadband to rural areas.

Total Telecom Nominet wins FCC approval as TV white space database administrator
Nominet, the company operating at the heart of the internet infrastructure and best-known for managing the UK namespace, announced that it has been approved as a TV White Space (TVWS) Database Administrator by the Federal Communications Commission in the USA. This follows Nominet being awarded the first Ofcom qualification to operate the UK’s TVWS database in October 2015 and the development of its Wavedb database.

The Verge How Bad Maps are Ruining American Broadband
US customers pay some of the highest prices for broadband in the developed world, and broadband availability is sketchy at best for millions of Americans. But instead of tackling that problem head on, the FCC is increasingly looking the other way, relying on ISP data that paints an inaccurately rosy picture of Americans’ internet access. And as long as regulators are relying on a false picture of US broadband access, actually solving the problem may be impossible.

Code.org The United States for Computer Science
Code.org’s latest national report on the state of computer science education and policy revealed that in the last 5 years, 44 states have enacted one or more computer science education policies. And since the last report in 2017, 33 states have passed new laws and regulations to expand access to K-12 computer science. However, across 24 states, only 35% of high schools in the U.S. offer computer science.

State Scoop Eight big ideas win $1.6 million in connectivity challenge
HERMES — the High-frequency Emergency and Rural Multimedia Exchange System — won the “off-the-grid internet challenge” in the Wireless Innovation for a Networked Society, or WINS, competition. The category is designed to find new ways to keep people connected to the internet during or after a natural disaster. HERMES won for its assortment of GSM and short-wave radio protocols that its team, Rhizomatica, says can allow text messages to be transmitted 700 miles away.

CBS News Microsoft president says tech companies are “first line of defense” in cybersecurity
Cybersecurity is “job one” for businesses, consumers and governments around the world today, and technology companies are “the first line of defense,” according to Microsoft president Brad Smith. “The security engineers who work at our company – we have 3,500 of them – are the first responders when things go wrong. It has fundamentally changed the role we need to play and really elevated the responsibility we need to fulfill,” Smith said Monday on “CBS This Morning.

Engadget Microsoft’s AI tech will aid humanitarian efforts
Microsoft is offering up its AI technology to those working on humanitarian efforts around the world. Over the next five years, its AI for Humanitarian Action program will put $40 million towards initiatives focused on four priorities — disaster response, needs of children, refugees and displaced people and human rights. “We believe that technology, like artificial intelligence combined with cloud technology, can be a game changer, helping save more lives, alleviate suffering and restore human dignity by changing the way frontline relief organizations anticipate, predict and better target response efforts,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a blog post.

Reuters Facebook, Google to tackle spread of fake news, advisors want more
Facebook (FB.O), Google (GOOGL.O) and other tech firms have agreed on a code of conduct to do more to tackle the spread of fake news, due to concerns it can influence elections, the European Commission said on Wednesday. Intended to stave off more heavy-handed legislation, the voluntary code covers closer scrutiny of advertising on accounts and websites where fake news appears, and working with fact checkers to filter it out, the Commission said.


The App Association

  • Blog on TV White Spaces: 25 million rural Americans are part of an underserved population that cannot access telehealth tools, do homework, or apply for jobs. With these massive connectivity gaps in mind, ACT | The App Association teamed up with Congressmen Austin Scott (GA-08) and Mark Pocan (WI-02) to host a briefing on existing infrastructure that can connect rural America to the internet. The event, “Back to School: Addressing the Homework Gap and the Digital Divide with Unlicensed Spectrum,” highlighted the remarkable effect the use of television white spaces (TVWS) could have on rural communities across the United States. (App Association Blog – White Space, Growing Gap: Addressing the Digital Divide with Unlicensed Spectrum, September 21, 2018)

American Enterprise Institute

  • Blog on data privacy and Senate Commerce Committee hearings: The internet was not designed with privacy and security at top of mind. It was built to spread information, not contain it, and has succeeded at this central objective in spectacular fashion. As the internet and digital economy mature, however, privacy and security are now rising on the list of priorities for consumers and increasingly for policymakers as well. Yesterday, several of the world’s biggest technology and internet companies testified before the Senate Commerce Committee on a truly vexing question: how to harness the blessings of information abundance while simultaneously protecting against its misuse. (AEI Blog – The best solution to digital privacy challenges? More technology, not European-style regulation, September 27th, 2018)

Internet Association

  • Blog on data privacy: Americans deserve, and internet companies support, a modern approach to privacy regulation that meets consumer demands and provides a clear and consistent national framework from coast to coast. This approach must include a new federal law that protects personal data and provides people with more control over how the data they share is collected, used, and shared online and offline. (IA Blog – An American Privacy Framework, September 26, 2018)

Information Technology Industry Council (ITI)

  • Statement on data privacy: ITI president and CEO Dean Garfield released the following statement regarding the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) releasing a Request for Comments on privacy. “Data and human ingenuity are the lifeblood of today’s most beloved, useful, and in-demand innovations, and protecting that data is critical for individuals, companies and governments alike. We commend NTIA for taking a deliberative and thoughtful approach to advancing a national privacy framework that both protects our privacy as users and our ability to continue to be the world leaders in innovation. (ITI Statement – Tech Industry: NTIA Takes Positive Step to Advance Privacy Discussion, September 25, 2018)

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

  • Blog on allegations of bias of social media companies: In an op-ed for USA Today, ITIF Vice President Daniel Castro and Research Assistant Michael McLaughlin write that businesses have no incentive to inject bias in their platforms, and consumers would be substantially worse off if social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter were broken up. Instead, policymakers should allow businesses to determine the best way to serve their customers. (ITIF Blog – Dear Jeff Sessions and Conservatives, Don’t Mess with Google, Facebook, or Twitter, September 25, 2018)

New America

  • Blog on broadband data: On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to eliminate requirements for cable operators to report information on the services they provide, including broadband speeds, the number of subscribers, and information about the equipment a particular operator provides. This move reflects an ongoing struggle at the FCC with inaccurate broadband mapping due to an over-reliance on internet service providers (ISPs) to provide information on broadband deployment and availability. (New America Blog – The FCC’s Approach to Data Is (Still) a Disaster, September 27, 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.