April 8 2022

This Week in Washington 

The Hill Demand for cyber threat intel growing, White House official says
Private sector companies are increasingly asking the federal government for cyber threat intelligence as they seek to shore up their defenses against growing online threats, a White House cyber official told lawmakers on Wednesday. Robert Knake, a U.S. official in charge of budget and policy at the White House’s Office of the National Cyber Director, told a House Homeland Security subcommittee that companies are increasingly pushing for more data from government agencies.

Protocol Congress should get moving on tech competition while it has the chance
In an opinion piece for Protocol, general counsel for Yelp Aaron Schur argues for swift and decisive action from lawmakers to pass the American Innovation and Choice Online Act while they have this window of opportunity. According to Schur, we’ve seen a “torrent of activity in the past two years as lawmakers try to advance vital tech reform to rein in Big Tech platforms that stifle competition. The American Innovation and Choice Online Act would be a significant step forward on the road to solving this problem, without undermining the ability of companies to take action on harmful content on their platforms.”

Federal News Network White House reviewing agency zero trust cybersecurity plans
The White House has set a goal to modernize federal cyber defenses over the next several years using a “zero trust” approach, and agencies just delivered their initial plans to the Office of Management and Budget. The plans describe how each agency proposes to adopt various zero trust approaches and capabilities by the end of fiscal year 2024, a goal set out by the White House’s zero trust strategy released in January. The memo required agencies to submit the implementation plans by March 27.

Washington Post It’s a big day at the State Department for U.S. cyberdiplomacy
Today, the State Department is launching its long-awaited cyberspace and digital policy bureau. The bureau, which will be led by a Senate-confirmed ambassador, will “address the national security challenges, economic opportunities and implications for U.S. values associated with cyberspace, digital technologies and digital policy,” according to an announcement seen by The Cybersecurity 202. It has more than 60 staffers — who mostly come from its cyber coordination and international communications offices — and the State Department plans to add 30 new positions in the bureau this year, a State Department spokesperson said.

NextGov Partisan Rift Stalls Efforts to Secure Critical Infrastructure from Cyberattack
Senior House Democrats and Republicans disagree on legislation Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., has proposed that calls on the Department of Homeland Security to identify “systemically important critical infrastructure”—SICI—for prioritizing the government’s efforts to improve the nation’s cybersecurity.   The Katko bill, and identical legislation proposed by Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, in the upper chamber, draws from a recommendation of the congressionally mandated Cyberspace Solarium Commission.

Fierce Wireless House passes Spectrum Coordination Act, but NTIA and FCC are already coordinating
The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the Spectrum Coordination Act, which would require the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the FCC to update their memorandum of understanding (MOU) on spectrum coordination. The NTIA and FCC already have updated their spectrum coordination efforts and established a meeting schedule, so it seems a matter of making it all official and getting it on the books, so to speak. Their old MOU dates back to January 2003.

Bloomberg ‘Monopolies Must Go’: Tech Giants Feel Rivals’ Antitrust Wrath
Commuters leaving Capitol Hill were greeted with a light show projecting a message cast onto buildings: ‘Monopolies must go.’ The art installation is part of a campaign dubbed “Antitrust Day” to encourage lawmakers to advance tech-focused regulations before a window closes to vote the measures into law. Companies including Yelp Inc., Match Group Inc., and Spotify Technology SA are urging users to write their representatives encouraging them to pass laws in a package of bills designed to curb the power of giant internet companies. The coalition is focusing on two pieces of legislation — the Open App Markets Act and the American Innovation and Choice Online Act.

The Hill Cyber experts warn against government overreach in defending against Russian threats
Cyber executives testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday warned against the government taking an oversize role in defending the private sector against threats coming from Russia. Amit Yoran, chairman and CEO of cybersecurity firm Tenable, said the federal government should be less of a regulator and more of a partner for critical infrastructure as public and private entities respond to warnings of Russian cyberattacks amid its war on Ukraine.

Bloomberg Biden’s New Antitrust Cop Threatens to Slam Brakes on Mergers
To understand how the Justice Department’s new antitrust chief, Jonathan Kanter, is thinking about his job, take a look around his office. Kanter, an affable 48-year-old with oversized dark-rimmed glasses, is planning an aggressively activist approach to his new job. His mission: to reverse decades of lax enforcement that he said has allowed companies to dominate industries and thwart competition. “We’re not just bringing a few big cases, we’re changing the way it’s done,” said Kanter in his first interview since taking over in November.

Article Summary

Microsoft on the Issues Disrupting cyberattacks targeting Ukraine
Today, we’re sharing more about cyberattacks we’ve seen from a Russian nation-state actor targeting Ukraine and steps we’ve taken to disrupt it. We recently observed attacks targeting Ukrainian entities from Strontium, a Russian GRU-connected actor we have tracked for years. This week, we were able to disrupt some of Strontium’s attacks on targets in Ukraine. On Wednesday April 6th, we obtained a court order authorizing us to take control of seven internet domains Strontium was using to conduct these attacks. We have since re-directed these domains to a sinkhole controlled by Microsoft, enabling us to mitigate Strontium’s current use of these domains and enable victim notifications.

Reuters AI is explaining itself to humans. And it’s paying off
Microsoft Corp’s LinkedIn boosted subscription revenue by 8% after arming its sales team with artificial intelligence software that not only predicts clients at risk of canceling but also explains how it arrived at its conclusion. The system, introduced last July and described in a LinkedIn blog post on Wednesday, marks a breakthrough in getting AI to “show its work” in a helpful way. While AI scientists have no problem designing systems that make accurate predictions on all sorts of business outcomes, they are discovering that to make those tools more effective for human operators, the AI may need to explain itself through another algorithm.

Wall Street Journal Google Bans Apps With Hidden Data-Harvesting Software
Google has yanked dozens of apps from its Google Play store after determining that they include a software element that surreptitiously harvests data. The Panamanian company that wrote the code, Measurement Systems S. de R.L., is linked through corporate records and web registrations to a Virginia defense contractor that does cyberintelligence, network-defense and intelligence-intercept work for U.S. national-security agencies.

Fierce Telecom NTCA worries cuts to USF support could chill rural broadband investment
The Rural Broadband Association urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to waive scheduled cuts to Universal Service Fund (USF) support for rural operators, arguing a reduction in financial assistance could force them to raise rates for consumers or halt planned network investments. Last June, the Commission waived a scheduled 8.6% reduction in support that was due to take effect in July on the grounds that such a move could further strain rural operators pushing to meet increased demand for broadband services in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. NTCA wants the FCC to do the same for a cut set to take effect on July 1.

Silicon Angle Microsoft deploys and tests AI models in space aboard the ISS
Microsoft Corp. today revealed how it has been working with Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to develop and test artificial intelligence models in orbit aboard the International Space Station. One of the first models they developed is designed to handle the chore of checking astronaut’s gloves after each spacewalk for wear and tear. The test was one of about two dozen experiments involving AI, cloud and edge computing that were run on HPE’s Spaceborne Computer-2, which was installed on the ISS about a year ago.

Protocol Amazon’s satellite internet launch takes aim at SpaceX’s Starlink
Amazon is taking on SpaceX’s internet satellite constellation, Starlink. The company signed a deal with three companies to launch up to 83 of its Project Kuiper internet satellites, marking what Amazon calls the biggest rocket deal in commercial space history. The company made a deal with United Launch Alliance for 38 launches; signed on with Arianespace for 18 launches; and partnered with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin for 12 launches, with the option for Amazon to add up to 15 more.

New Jersey Hills Why community newspapers are vital
A local newspaper is critical to the communities it serves. Sure, newspaper publishing is a business but it is also a community service endeavor. It is a public trust, an obligation to provide fair, objective and insightful reporting, and over the years, we have won hundreds of newspaper awards doing just that. For our weeklies, like newspapers all over the country, the past 20 years have been tough, as ad revenue migrated to the web, and social media posts usurped rational and responsible public comment and knowledge.

Tech Podcast of the Week 

Community Broadband Bits

  • Podcast Interview with NTIA Digital Equity Director
    This week on the show, Christopher is joined by Angela Thi Bennett, Director of Advocacy & Impact at DigitalC, a community-based Cleveland nonprofit which operates a fixed wireless network in the city’s unserved and underserved neighborhoods. Before she leaves to become the first Digital Equity Director for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), Angela sits down with Christopher to talk about everything the organization does to advance digital equity goals in the city, driven by an agenda that focuses on healthcare, education, and economic growth. (Empowering Community in Cleveland, with Digital C – Episode 499 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast – March 29, 2022)