February 25 2022

This Week in Washington 

Telecompetitor FCC Moves on New National Broadband Map, Carrier Broadband Availability Data Due 9/1
In a public notice released yesterday, the FCC has established September 1, 2022 as the deadline for service providers to submit broadband availability data for inclusion in the long awaited update to the national broadband map. The schedule calls for the commission to begin accepting broadband availability data on June 30, 2022.

New York Times White House Prepares Curbs on Russia’s Access to U.S. Technology
The White House said further sanctions on Russia for its actions against Ukraine could include preventing it from acquiring semiconductors and other technologies used by the country’s military and technology companies. To do so, the Biden administration could use the foreign direct product rule, which would allow the United States to block exports to Russia from anywhere in the world if those exports use American technology, a rule previously invoked by the Trump administration to undermine Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.

CNBC Bipartisan lawmakers want Biden to tell Europe to stop ‘unfairly’ targeting U.S. tech companies
A bipartisan group of 30 lawmakers is urging President Joe Biden to push European leaders to alter language in their proposed Digital Markets Act so that it does not unfairly target U.S. tech companies. In a letter sent Wednesday and shared exclusively with CNBC, the group, led by Reps. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., and Darin LaHood, R-Ill., wrote that they “are greatly concerned that EU’s proposed approach to promoting competition among digital platforms unfairly targets American workers by deeming certain U.S. technology companies as ‘gatekeepers’ based on deliberately discriminatory and subjective thresholds.”

New York Times I.R.S. Will Allow Taxpayers to Forgo Facial Recognition Amid Blowback
The Internal Revenue Service said taxpayers will now be able to access their online accounts through a live, virtual interview to verify their identity instead of using facial recognition technology, which will still be available as an option. After the backlash from privacy groups over the agency’s use of facial recognition technology through private contractor ID.me, the IRS said it will use a different biometric system to verify users’ identities next year.

Wall Street Journal Apple Finds Itself Under Scrutiny in Washington’s Big Tech Clampdown
U.S. lawmakers in both parties are expressing concern with how Apple Inc. runs its App Store, leaving the company playing defense against legislation that would loosen its grip on the profitable business. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 20-2 this month to advance legislation that could erode the fees Apple collects on digital app revenues. The vote came despite calls to senators by Chief Executive Tim Cook, and the company’s warnings that the bill would hurt user privacy and security.

Article Summary

Wall Street Journal Microsoft’s New Security Chief Says It Is Time to Take Shelter in the Cloud
Microsoft Corp.’s new security chief, Charlie Bell, has a message for companies and institutions buffeted by a seemingly never-ending string of cyberattacks: Take shelter in the cloud. Microsoft has built a $15 billion business—and one of the world’s biggest private cyber armies—to counter cyberattacks, but the storm of threats is expanding. U.S. banks flagged nearly $600 million in ransomware payments during the first six months of 2021, and cybersecurity experts put the cost of that much higher. Corporate and public networks are also under siege from scammers looking to steal their secrets.

Reuters D.C. prosecutor presses bid to question Facebook CEO in data privacy lawsuit
Meta Platforms Inc CEO Mark Zuckerberg should be required to answer questions about Facebook’s data privacy practices, the Washington, D.C., attorney general’s office argued in a new court filing stemming from a lawsuit the city filed in 2018 against the social media company. Lawyers for D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said in the filing on Feb. 15 that Facebook had not taken steps to arrange for Zuckerberg’s deposition despite a District of Columbia Superior Court judge allowing the questioning in a Jan. 10 order.

WIRED China Is About to Regulate AI—and the World Is Watching
On March 1, China will outlaw certain kinds of algorithmic discrimination as part of what may be the world’s most ambitious effort to regulate artificial intelligence. Under the rules, companies will be prohibited from using personal information to offer users different prices for a product or service. The sweeping rules cover algorithms that set prices, control search results, recommend videos, and filter content. They will impose new curbs on major ride-hailing, ecommerce, streaming, and social media companies.

EdSurge Satellite Broadband Is Expanding. Can That Reduce the Digital Divide?
A satellite launch expected later this year could expand the availability of high speed internet for the nation’s students. The launch of ViaSat-3, a trio of ultra high capacity GEO satellites, is part of ViaSat’s ambition to create a global network of high-capacity internet. Each of the satellites will offer more than one terabyte per second of total network output, a thousand times the capacity of the company’s first generation satellites, which the company says will allow educators and students across the country to connect “significantly” better.

StateTech Magazine The Push to Expand Rural Broadband Unfolds Across State Government
More than 42 million Americans lack broadband access, including many in rural communities, according to research group BroadbandNow, which provides independent data on broadband access and policy. Now, states have access to significant federal funding to improve the situation. The American Rescue Plan Act earmarked $350 billion for a variety of services for state and local agencies, including expanded broadband access.

USA Today Alarmageddon? Home security, medical device makers worry 3G is being shut down too soon
The 3G wireless that was beyond state of the art for the original iPhone just 15 years ago is now getting ushered offstage by wireless carriers planning to use those airwaves to expand 5G service–and this development is sparking some separation anxiety. The issue here isn’t traditionalists clutching antique iPhones. At AT&T, which has its 3G shutdown set for Feb. 22, less than 1% of mobile data traffic remains 3G, according to spokesman Jim Greer.

WPRI ‘If we lose local news coverage, we’re doomed’: How an RI newspaper has defied the digital age
For Ethan Shorey, being chief editor of The Valley Breeze isn’t a 9-to-5 job. Shorey, alongside his staff, spends most of his Wednesday and Thursday mornings delivering roughly 50,000 free newspapers to more than 800 newspaper racks dispersed throughout northern Rhode Island. “I’m part of their routine and they’re part of my routine,” Shorey said of the newspaper’s dedicated readers. “We sip coffee for a few minutes and talk about the day’s news.”

Tech Podcast of the Week 

Marketplace Tech

  • Podcast on FCC Decision to Expand Competition in Apartments
    The Federal Communications Commission decided last week to provide renters and condo dwellers with more options for internet service. Though it’s a pro-consumer move, it’s difficult to enforce, and, overall, competition among providers is pretty sparse. Still, it’s a small step toward recognizing high-speed internet as a utility, like water and gas. (The FCC aims to expand competition for internet service in apartment buildings – February 23, 2022)