December 3 2021

This Week in Washington

Axios Biden administration makes first move on data privacy
The Biden administration is launching its first big effort on privacy policy by looking at how data privacy issues affect civil rights. An administration perspective on privacy policy could be key in developing a long-awaited national privacy law by putting the White House stamp on how to regulate privacy.

The Hill CISA announces members of team providing advice on cybersecurity threats
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on Wednesday announced the establishment of its Cybersecurity Advisory Committee and the nearly two dozen members who will provide input on efforts to enhance cybersecurity defense priorities. The committee will include 23 individuals from government, key industry groups across multiple sectors, and leaders in nonprofit groups and journalism.

Reuters FCC nominee does not support U.S. internet rate regulation
Federal Communications Commission nominee Gigi Sohn told the Senate Commerce Committee that it would take at least a year for the FCC to reinstate net neutrality rules and that she does not support government regulation of broadband rates. Sohn added that she wants to see Congress legislate on net neutrality to avoid what she called the “ping pong game” of changing policies between administrations.

Washington Post FTC demands information from top companies, such as Amazon and Walmart, in sweeping supply chain probe
The Federal Trade Commission on Monday ordered nine large U.S. companies, including Walmart, Amazon and Procter & Gamble, to provide detailed information about their operations, in a bid to unravel the causes of the supply chain disruptions that are clouding the economic recovery.

The New York Times Lawmakers Target Big Tech ‘Amplification.’ What Does That Mean?
Lawmakers have spent years investigating how hate speech, misinformation and bullying on social media sites can lead to real-world harm. Increasingly, they have pointed a finger at the algorithms powering sites like Facebook and Twitter, the software that decides what content users will see and when they see it. Some lawmakers from both parties argue that when social media sites boost the performance of hateful or violent posts, the sites become accomplices. And they have proposed bills to strip the companies of a legal shield that allows them to fend off lawsuits over most content posted by their users, in cases when the platform amplified a harmful post’s reach.

The Hill House passes bipartisan bills to strengthen network security, cyber literacy
The House on Wednesday passed three bipartisan bills intended to shore up network security and increase cyber literacy across the nation, following a difficult year fraught with several significant cybersecurity attacks.  The Understanding Cybersecurity of Mobile Networks Act, sponsored by Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), was approved by a vote of 404-19. The bill would require the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to examine and report back on cybersecurity vulnerabilities in mobile networks.

Washington Post Congress is weighing changes to Section 230, again. Here are what bills stand a chance.
A House hearing Wednesday may reveal whether any of the proposals on the table have enough traction to become law — or whether Congress needs to go back to the drawing board. The session, hosted by the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s communications and technology panel, is expected to focus on a raft of bills introduced by members of the committee, including ones targeting algorithmic amplification, civil rights abuses and digital ads.

The Hill Democrat pushes for pipeline reliability standards
Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) is pushing for the creation of an organization that would seek to set both physical and cybersecurity reliability standards for pipelines.  According to a draft of forthcoming legislation that was first shared with The Hill, Rush wants to create a reliability organization that’s run through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Article Summary

Gizmodo Microsoft Makes Breakthrough in the Quest to Use DNA as Data Storage
The company announced in a new research paper the first nanoscale DNA storage writer, which the research group expects to scale for a DNA write density of 25 x 10^6 sequences per square centimeter, or “three orders of magnitude” (1,000x) more tightly than before. What makes this particularly significant is that it’s the first indication of achieving the minimum write speeds required for DNA storage.

WIRED The Movement to Hold AI Accountable Gains More Steam
Algorithms play growing role in our lives, even as their flaws are becoming more apparent: A Michigan man wrongly accused of fraud had to file for bankruptcy; automated screening tools disproportionately harm people of color who want to buy a home or rent an apartment; Black Facebook users were subjected to more abuse than white users. Other automated systems have improperly rated teachers, graded students, and flagged people with dark skin more often for cheating on tests. Now, efforts are underway to better understand how AI works and hold users accountable.

JD Supra What U.S. Companies Should Expect from China’s New Data Privacy Laws
China had a lot of legislative movement in the area of data privacy this year. On June 10, 2021, the Data Security Law (DSL) was passed and it became effective on Sept. 1, 2021. This law more closely mirrors the EU’s GDPR and regulates processing personal information. It provides more rights to Chinese consumers like the ability to access, correct, and delete their personal data. Both laws place emphasis on national security and accordingly model principles around data processing, cross-border transfers, and enforcement.

GeekWire Microsoft and KPMG will try out quantum algorithms on real-world problems
Microsoft and KPMG are getting set to test Azure Quantum’s capabilities on the sorts of real-world problems that should give quantum computing an edge over traditional approaches. Such problems have to do with optimizing systems and networks, such as where best to place cellular phone towers or how to allocate investments to match a client’s priorities relating to risks vs. rewards.

Washington Post Local news deserts are expanding: Here’s what we’ll lose
The state of local journalism is widely, and correctly, understood to be grim. About 2,200 local print newspapers have closed since 2005, and the number of newspaper journalists fell by more than half between 2008 and 2020. In many places where papers still exist, a lack of resources prevents them from reporting thoroughly on issues vital to the community — issues like public safety, education and local politics.

Tech Podcast of the Week

Marketplace Tech

  • Podcast on Infrastructure Bill and Broadband
    The one trillion dollar infrastructure package goes beyond money for bridges and roads. It also includes around 65 billion dollars for a different type of infrastructure: broadband. Something that was especially vital for many in this pandemic, with those lacking access often unable to work or attend school remotely. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Christopher Mitchell, the director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the nonprofit Institute for Local Self-Reliance. He says that while the $65 billion is going into lots of different programs, there are a few big themes. (As the infrastructure bill becomes law, what does it mean for broadband? – November 15, 2021)