January 7 2022

This Week in Washington

Fierce Telecom FCC rolls out Affordable Connectivity program to replace EBB
Goodbye Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) and hello Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officially replaced the former with the latter, launching a new subsidy program that is set to dish out more than $14 billion in support for broadband users. Congress mandated the creation of the ACP as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which became law in November 2021. The program was designed as a permanent extension of the EBB, with a handful of changes.

CyberScoop FTC warns of potential penalties for firms that fail to fix Log4j software flaws
The Federal Trade Commission Tuesday warned companies that if they fail to take action to remedy a major recent software vulnerability in open-source software tool Log4j, there could be legal repercussions. “When vulnerabilities are discovered and exploited, it risks a loss or breach of personal information, financial loss, and other irreversible harms,” the agency warned. “It is critical that companies and their vendors relying on Log4j act now, in order to reduce the likelihood of harm to consumers, and to avoid FTC legal action.”

Nextgov Feds Step Up Cybersecurity Support for State Governments
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is actively working to help states strengthen their cybersecurity efforts by setting up a 50-state network of federal cybersecurity coordinators, one per state. In November, then-CISA Executive Director Brandon Wales told the House Oversight and Reform Committee his agency had already hired 36 coordinators. As of the end of December, that had increased to 37, with another five positions going through selection processing, according to Laura Delaney, CISA’s deputy assistant director for the Integrated Operations Division.

Washington Post Why 2022 could be a ‘watershed year’ for tech regulation
Up until now, the so-called techlash that ushered in historic scrutiny of Silicon Valley companies has been mostly toothless, producing few new rules in the United States to rein in their conduct. But 2022 may finally be the year that policymakers turn their fiery tech rhetoric into significant regulation of the industry — if they don’t run out of time, first. In Congress, lawmakers face an increasingly tight window ahead of the 2022 midterms to pass sweeping legislation aimed at curbing alleged antitrust abuses by the tech giants, addressing social media harms and giving federal enforcers more tools to police the sector.

FedScoop White House sends NIST leader nomination to Senate
The Biden administration Tuesday resent its nomination for a new head of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to the Senate. Senate lawmakers will again consider the appointment of Laurie Locascio as undersecretary of commerce for standards and technology and director of NIST before voting on her confirmation.

Article Summary

Axios The state tech policy battles that will rage in 2022
States will ramp up the momentum they’ve built in tackling key tech policy priorities through 2022, speeding ahead of any potential federal legislation. As Congress continues to make little tangible progress passing new rules for the tech industry, state legislatures have taken the lead in enacting new tech regulations.

Protocol The ‘original sin’ of broadband buildouts is keeping people offline
The current broadband maps are so inaccurate, Congress has demanded better surveys be in place ahead of the distribution of more than $42 billion included in November’s infrastructure package for broadband deployment in underserved areas. To dole out $288 million that Congress put aside for unserved areas in 2020’s final COVID-19 relief package, however, the government is still largely relying on the current maps. On those, internet-service providers need only attest that they could connect a single home or business in the surrounding census tract — an area of about 4,000 people — for the FCC to label the area covered.

Bloomberg Law 2022 Privacy Legislation Success Viable as Three States Lead Way
2022 is poised to be a busy year for privacy, as California begins rulemaking for its updated consumer privacy statute and dozens of states are expected to reintroduce legislation. Colorado and Virginia both passed consumer privacy legislation in 2021, complicating the compliance patchwork for companies, attorneys say. And while those two states were the only ones to pass such laws in the last year, a handful of others came close to the finish line, making a whirlwind of activity likely for 2022, they say.

Forbes Microsoft Has Become One Of The Most Powerful Forces In Healthcare, With No Signs Of Slowing Down
Earlier this month, Microsoft announced its latest venture in healthcare, adding on to its existing repertoire in this industry. In a groundbreaking statement, the technology and innovation giant announced a partnership with renowned pharmaceutical company CVS Health to “reimagine personalized care and accelerate digital transformation.”

The Markup Why It’s So Hard to Regulate Algorithms
New York City’s was the first legislation in the country aimed at shedding light on how government agencies use artificial intelligence to make decisions about people and policies. At the time, the creation of the task force was heralded as a “watershed” moment that would usher in a new era of oversight. And indeed, in the four years since, a steady stream of reporting about the harms caused by high-stakes algorithms has prompted lawmakers across the country to introduce nearly 40 bills designed to study or regulate government agencies’ use of ADS, according to The Markup’s review of state legislation.

CNET CES 2022: Microsoft, Qualcomm to collaborate on custom augmented-reality chips
Microsoft and Qualcomm plan to jointly develop custom augmented-reality chips that can be used in future lightweight AR glasses, the pair announced at CES on January 4. Microsoft and Qualcomm also announced plans to integrate their AR software, namely Microsoft Mesh and the Snapdragon Spaces XR (Mixed Reality) Developer Platform.

NPR 2022 will be a tense year for Facebook and social apps. Here are 4 reasons why
The tumult began in early January 2021 for social media companies. The attack on the U.S. Capitol led Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to kick off then-President Donald Trump. Throughout the year, they were challenged to stop the spread of baseless claims about the 2020 presidential election, as well as harmful vaccine misinformation. Facebook had to respond to a whistleblower’s revelations, just when it wanted to turn everyone’s attention to the “metaverse.” Twitter’s eccentric CEO abruptly left, handing the company, as well as its ambitions to create a new version of social media, over to a little-known deputy. The Trump administration’s attempt to ban TikTok over national security concerns fizzled, allowing the Chinese-owned app to cement its hold as the defining driver of youth culture.

Axios New era for local journalism
New, independent digital outlets and nonprofits have begun to fill some of the gap left by fading local newspapers. Limited resources and the pandemic have driven many toward providing community news, information and services rather than traditional accountability journalism. “It’s not just about a legal or structural shift, but it also represents a shift in how the mission of journalism is changing,” said Emily Roseman, research director & editor at the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN).

Tech Podcast of the Week

CyberWire Daily

  • Podcast on Cybersecurity in 2022
    Industry experts discuss their cybersecurity predictions for 2022, what trends and attacks will be most prevalent in the year ahead, and how organizations should be preparing for the new year. In this show, we cover what they think the industry might see in 2022 (and some we probably won’t see). (Cybersecurity predictions for 2022 – January 2, 2022)