January 22 2021

COVID-19: Industry News & Response

New York Times Microsoft, Oracle and Salesforce join a push for digital vaccination credentials
Airlines, workplaces and sports stadiums may soon require people to show their coronavirus vaccination status on their smartphones before they can enter. A coalition of leading technology companies, health organizations and nonprofit groups — including Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, Cerner, Epic Systems and the Mayo Clinic — announced on Thursday morning that they were developing technology standards to enable consumers to obtain and share their immunization records through health passport apps.

GeekWire Microsoft campus near Seattle will be used to administer COVID-19 vaccine
Microsoft is turning its empty campus into a COVID-19 vaccination site. The Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant is working with the state of Washington and local hospitals to open up buildings at its headquarters for vaccine administration. Microsoft President Brad Smith made the announcement Monday as part of Gov. Jay Inslee’s news conference detailing the state’s new COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan.


Axios Biden taps Rosenworcel to lead FCC
President Biden has designated Jessica Rosenworcel as acting chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission, according to an agency statement. Rosenworcel served as an FCC commissioner during both the Obama and Trump administrations. She supported net neutrality rules and opposed mega-mergers that came before the agency including that between T-Mobile and Sprint.

Politico Lawmakers to Press FCC on Broadband Subsidy Awards
A bicameral, bipartisan mix of lawmakers is preparing to push the FCC today on vetting the $9.2 billion in awards that the agency announced last month through its Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction. Winners included traditional broadband providers like Charter Communications and Frontier as well as less conventional companies like SpaceX, specializing in satellite-beamed broadband. The letter to the agency comes amid questions about whether some applicants over-promised.

The Hill Biden includes over $10 billion in cyber, IT funds as part of COVID-19 relief proposal
President-elect Joe Biden is set Thursday to roll out a sweeping COVID-19 relief plan that includes more than $10 billion in funding to boost the nation’s cybersecurity and information technology after a massive Russian cyberattack. In the proposal, billed as an “American rescue package,” Biden calls on Congress to approve a major investment in IT and cybersecurity for the federal government, describing it as “an urgent national security issue that cannot wait.”

Cyberscoop Rob Joyce named new NSA cybersecurity director
Rob Joyce, the National Security Agency’s special U.S. liaison officer at the U.S. Embassy in London, will replace Anne Neuberger as director in the agency’s Cybersecurity Directorate, the NSA announced Friday. The Biden transition team announced Wednesday that Neuberger will soon be joining the Biden administration as deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology on the National Security Council (NSC). Joyce has a long track record of working in cybersecurity leadership roles in the U.S. government.

Multichannel News House Democrats Dems Press Merrick Garland to Drop Net Neutrality Suit
Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and a baker’s dozen Democratic members of the California congressional delegation have called on attorney general nominee Merrick Garland to make net neutrality one of his first orders of business in the new post. Garland has been a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which has principle oversight of FCC decisions like the elimination of net neutrality rules. Specifically, the legislators want Garland to withdraw the government’s lawsuit against California net neutrality law ASAP when he takes over after Inauguration Day.

The Hill FTC chairman Simons to step down this month
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joseph Simons said Tuesday he would be resigning from the government agency later this month. Simons said his resignation, announced a day before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, will be effective Jan. 29. “It’s been a great honor to lead this incredible organization filled with so many talented people working on behalf of American consumers,” Simons said in a statement.

The 74 Million Biden Expected to Make Narrowing Digital Divide an ‘Early, Urgent Priority’ to Help Students during Pandemic
With millions of students still lacking reliable internet to complete their assignments and interact with teachers, the incoming Biden administration is expected to take multiple steps to address the digital divide, according to sources who have participated in conversations with the transition team. Bart Epstein, CEO of the nonprofit EdTech Evidence Exchange, said he understands naming a new director for the Office of Educational Technology to be “an early, urgent priority” for the administration.

Washington Post Biden inherits bipartisan momentum to crack down on large tech companies’ power
Antitrust action is perhaps the most formidable tool in the incoming administration’s arsenal to rein in Silicon Valley. President-elect Joe Biden is ascending to power after months of bipartisan momentum to expand antitrust enforcement against the tech industry and update existing competition laws for the digital era. Before even taking the oath of office, Biden and his staff are already under pressure to scale up that work. The recent violence at the Capitol and its aftermath is adding fresh urgency, as tech platforms’ role in amplifying violent rhetoric highlights the industry’s broad power and influence over American democracy.


Morning Consult Telecom Industry, Broadband Advocates Push for Internet Subsidies in Next Stimulus
With few funds dedicated to expanding at-home internet access in the $2.2 trillion “phase three” economic stimulus package, broadband advocates and the telecommunications industry are starting to push for the Federal Communications Commission and Congress to ensure that the government prioritizes expanding and funding existing subsidy programs in the next relief legislation to bring more Americans online as the coronavirus continues to spread.

ZDNet Microsoft Defender is boosting its response to malware attacks by changing a key setting
Microsoft says it is stepping up security for users of Microsoft Defender for Endpoint by changing a key setting, switching the default from optional automatic malware fixes to fully automatic remediation.  The change means that when Microsoft Defender for Endpoint detects malware on PCs on a network, the antivirus will automatically start analyzing all threats that are related to the alert, poring over files, processes, services, registry keys and all other areas where a threat could reside.

Washington Post Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said the Trump ban reflected ‘a failure’ to police online discourse
In a lengthy philosophical tweetstorm, Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey said he took no pride in the decision to remove President Trump’s account from the service last week, describing the decision as a “failure” to ultimately create a service that could sustain civil discourse and healthy conversations. Dorsey’s statements — the first time the CEO spoke about the decision — arrived on the heels of an emotional week in which right-wing figures disavowed the power of Silicon Valley companies, while employees and the public had begged the company for more explanation of its actions in response to the violent Jan. 6 pro-Trump rally at the Capitol.


The Brookings Institute

  • Blog on Passing a Federal Privacy Law
    President-elect Joe Biden has vowed an agenda to build back better. And he can do this provided high-speed broadband access is part of his broader economic recovery plan. President-elect Biden will face an overwhelming list of priorities in his first 100 days, including a national vaccination strategy, school re-openings, policing reform, and possibly a second impeachment trial precipitated by the historic insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. More than 100,000 small businesses have permanently closed during the pandemic, and the nation’s unemployment rate remains unchanged at 6.7% in December 2020 with 10.7 million people unemployed. (TechTank – After 20 years of debate, it’s time for Congress to finally pass a baseline privacy lawJanuary 14, 2021)

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