January 14 2022

This Week in Washington

CyberScoop If hackers are exploiting the Log4j flaw, CISA says we might not know yet
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly warned that while there have not been any known large-scale hacks caused by the Log4j vulnerability in the United States, it could be months before cybersecurity officials know the full extent of any potential damage caused. Easterly told reporters that she expects Log4j to be used in hacking efforts “well into the future.”

FedScoop JAIC creates new position for ‘AI assurance’
The Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center is creating a new position to lead “AI assurance,” overseeing AI ethics policy and test and evaluation. Jane Pinelis will take on the role in a part-time capacity while splitting time as the chief AI engineer at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory. The JAIC’s new AI assurance role will incorporate both quantitative testing and verification of AI systems but also includes work to ensure that those using the systems have confidence in the algorithms.

Fierce Telecom NTIA crafts rules for $48B in broadband funding
The new year has only just begun but the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is wasting no time getting down to business. The agency, which has been tasked with administering a majority of the $65 billion in broadband funding recently allocated by Congress, is asking the public for input on the design of several grant programs through which that money will flow.

The Hill Castor, Schakowsky seek information on children’s online safety program
Reps. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) are seeking information about the enforcement of children’s online safety regulations from six privacy compliance organizations. The Democrats on Monday said they sent a letter to the organizations with questions aimed at ensuring they are fulfilling their obligation to provide protection for children as tasked by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Safe Harbor program.

CyberScoop Feds’ spending on facial recognition tech expands, despite privacy concerns
The FBI on Dec. 30 signed a deal with Clearview AI for an $18,000 subscription license to the company’s facial recognition technology. While the value of the contract might seem just a drop in the bucket for the agency’s nearly $10 billion budget, the contract was significant in that it cemented the agency’s relationship with the controversial firm. The FBI previously acknowledged using Clearview AI to the Government Accountability Office but did not specify if it had a contract with the company.

Nextgov FCC Chair Proposes Updating Data Breach Reporting Requirements
Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel is exploring an expansion of consumer protections by increasing requirements for internet service providers to report their security breaches. “Current law already requires telecommunications carriers to protect the privacy and security of sensitive customer information. But these rules need updating to fully reflect the evolving nature of data breaches and the real-time threat they pose to affected consumers,” she said in a press release Wednesday.

Fierce Telecom More broadband projects eligible for funding under new ARPA rules
The U.S. Treasury Department revised its rules specifying how states can use federal funding provided by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), enabling a broader range of broadband projects to receive support. The agency originally specified that funding could only be used to provide coverage to un- and underserved locations which lack access to a wireline connection offering speeds of 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream. Its preliminary rules, which were issued in May 2021, also encouraged states to prioritize fiber projects, the inclusion of affordable service options and support for local networks owned and operated by local governments, non-profits and cooperatives.

Axios Senate confirms new NTIA chief
The Senate on Tuesday voted 60-31 to confirm Alan Davidson to lead the telecom unit of the Commerce Department, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Davidson, who previously started Google’s policy shop in D.C. in 2005 and most recently was with Mozilla, will take over NTIA as it prepares to oversee $48 billion in funding for broadband deployment as part of the newly passed infrastructure law.

The Hill Senate Judiciary Committee to debate key antitrust bill
The Senate Judiciary Committee will mark up a bipartisan antitrust bill on Thursday that looks to prevent technology companies from giving preference to their own products over those from their rivals. The American Innovation and Choice Online Act is similar to a bill approved by the House Judiciary Committee last June, and supporters said it would help small businesses while cracking down on giant firms’ anticompetitive behavior.

Article Summary

Protocol The real action for tech regulation is far from Washington, D.C.
Lawmakers are ready to change Big Tech — just not the ones in Washington, D.C. Congress continues to flail when it comes to regulating privacy, competition and more, but state and even some local governments have already jumped in to fill the void in recent years. Now they’ve got big plans for 2022 that could have national implications. As state legislatures convene this month, the bills and policies that emerge are likely to increase tech companies’ fears of a legislative patchwork — a system of divergent, and sometimes stringent, obligations among different states.

The Daily Dot Voters want Congress to act on data privacy, poll finds
More than half of voters want Congress to pass a federal data privacy law, according to a new poll. Morning Consult and Politico found that 56% of registered voters either “strongly” supported or “somewhat” supported the passing of a law that would “make it illegal for social media companies to use algorithms to determine the content users see based on personal data social media companies have collected from them.”

Nextgov NIST Updates Cybersecurity Engineering Guidelines
Set against a national backdrop of enhanced cybersecurity risk across all industries, the National Institute of Standards and Technology updated its guidance for system engineers. Called the “Engineering Trustworthy Secure Systems,” the document stems from President Joe Biden’s 2021 executive order aimed at boosting the federal government’s defenses in the wake of several large-scale attacks on critical infrastructure.

Tech Podcast of the Week

Banter: An AEI Podcast

  • Podcast on National Security and Tech
    Klon Kitchen is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he focuses on the intersection of national security and defense technologies and innovation. Back from the break, Klon joins Phoebe and Robert to discuss topics including the influence of big tech, strategic cybersecurity, and the malicious influence foreign adversaries like China and Russia wield online. (Klon Kitchen on data privacy, American tech corporations, and defense – January 4, 2022)