Last fall, we sounded the alarm that the federal Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)—which has helped more than 22 million American households get online—would expire unless Congress takes action. Unfortunately, Congress has not extended the program—at least not yet. As a result, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will end enrollment in the ACP next Wednesday, February 7.
Until then, qualifying households can still enroll here—though funding is projected to run out in April. For more information on this program, see this recent VFI blog. There is still time to share your views about the ACP with Congress—if you haven’t done so already.
Thank you for reading. You’ll find this week’s tech policy news highlights and a featured podcast below.
This Week in Washington
- The New York Times and The Hill: A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators introduced the Kids Online Safety Act (KONA), a wide-ranging measure that would require online platforms, including social media sites, messaging apps, and video game sites, to take “reasonable measures” to prevent harm to minors on their platform. Although the bill faces an uphill battle with civil rights groups arguing that it violates the First Amendment, it has gained support from prominent children’s groups, medical associations, and Snap Inc., the developer of Snapchat, which became the first social media company to back the bill.
- CNBC: During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, CEOs of social media titans, including Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, TikTok’s Shou Zi Chew, Discord’s Jason Citron, X’s Linda Yaccarino, and Snap’s Evan Spiegel, testified on their safeguards for children who utilize their platforms. The CEOs detailed their respective companies’ plans for better safety and security.
- Washington Examiner: To keep up with the growing demand for chips, OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman has been in talks with members of Congress about building new semiconductor factories in the U.S. to curb the potential of AI outpacing the number of chips available.
- POLITICO: Top officials charged with protecting U.S. elections against cyber threats believe that Americans should have confidence in the integrity of the 2024 election, and they believe this year’s ballot will be safer than those of previous elections.
- CyberScoop: After the Securities and Exchange Commission’s X account was hacked through a sim-swapping attack that took advantage of their disabling of their multifactor authentication (MFA), federal policymakers, agencies, and experts are at odds on whether they should be required to utilize MFA.
- WKYT: The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce hosted its inaugural Artificial Intelligence Summit, which brought together business leaders, policymakers, and AI experts to discuss the impacts and opportunities AI will have on the world. This meeting marks the first time that chamber, private, and academic partners have come together to have this discussion in the U.S.
- StateScoop: Washington Governor Jay Inslee became the nation’s 10th governor to sign an AI executive order directing agencies to develop new policies on how state agencies can use the technology and research how it may affect the state’s workforce, educational institutions, and vulnerable populations.
- StateScoop: Massachusetts announced the state’s 2024 Municipal Cybersecurity Awareness Grant Program, which is administered by the Office of Municipal and School Technology, that will provide 78,000 employees from municipalities and public school districts with training aimed at improving cyber preparedness through virtual training, evaluations, and threat simulations.
- StateScoop: New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy appointed Dave Cole, former White House advisor under the Obama administration, as the state’s new chief innovation officer. Cole is taking this role over from Beth Novak, who was appointed as the state’s first AI strategist, and will be responsible for improving the “design and delivery of policies and services to the state’s residents, businesses and institutions.
- Pivotal with Hayete Gallot
BeeOdiversity’s mission is to help regenerate biodiversity and reduce pesticides and heavy metals in the environment by combining the brilliance of Mother Nature with technology. Their BeeOmonitoring solution uses data obtained from bees to measure pollutants and the state of biodiversity — and then help people use those measurements to change things for the better. After 10 years of collecting environmental data in partnership with bees and beekeepers worldwide, BeeOdiversity is working with Microsoft to process and interpret their findings through AI and machine learning tools. These new tools give them the power to review massive datasets and deliver timely, actionable insights that would have been impossible to uncover before. The beauty of this approach is that bees work every day to visit billions of plants across a vast area — and people rarely argue with their findings. (BeeOdiversity uses AI and Mother Nature to protect the environment – January 30, 2023)