July 17 2020

COVID-19: Industry News & Response

Microsoft on the Issues Online civility improved in APAC during COVID-19, declined in Latin America, Microsoft study
Teens and adults in the Asia-Pacific region reported an uptick in online civility and more respectful digital interactions during the COVID-19 global pandemic, results from a new Microsoft research study show. Meanwhile, respondents in Latin America said online civility worsened, punctuated by an increase in the spread of false or misleading information.

Brownfield AG News COVID-19 and its impact on rural broadband healthcare
Rural broadband and healthcare providers continue to face challenges because of the coronavirus pandemic. Catherine Moyer, CEO of Kansas-based Pioneer Communications, says many schools and businesses moved online in a short amount of time and broadband providers had to adjust to meet the needs of the community.


The Hill Pompeo says he is ‘confident’ other countries will meddle in 2020 elections
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday expressed confidence that other countries, including potentially Russia and China, would attempt to interfere in the 2020 U.S. elections. Pompeo made the remarks in response to a question from The Hill’s editor-in-chief, Bob Cusack, on whether Russia was interfering in the election process this year, four years after Russian agents launched a sweeping interference campaign during the lead-up to the 2016 elections.

StateScoop Internet advocates ‘cautiously optimistic’ about Biden broadband plans
The recommendations listed by the the Biden-Sanders economic policy task force aren’t as detailed, but the group committed to restoring the Federal Communications Commission’s oversight authority to penalize broadband providers that violate net neutrality principles like throttling internet connections or blocking certain websites, an Obama-era rule that was overturned by the Trump administration.

The Washington Post The Cybersecurity 202: DNC’s email voting plan limits hacking risk but can’t eliminate it
The Democratic National Committee’s virtual convention next month will mark a major test for whether Internet-based voting can be done safely and securely. The DNC, which is moving its convention online because of the coronavirus pandemic, released a plan Friday for delegates to vote by email for the Democratic presidential nominee and planks in the party’s platform.

CNN DNC and RNC warn campaigns about using TikTok
The Democratic and Republican national committees warned their staffs about using the Chinese-owned app TikTok. The Democratic National Committee warned Democratic campaigns, committees and state parties Friday to take additional security precautions when using TikTok.


The New York Times E.U. Court Strikes Down Trans-Atlantic Data Transfer Pact
Europe’s top court on Thursday struck down a trans-Atlantic agreement that allows scores of companies to move data between the European Union and the United States, causing uncertainty for businesses who rely on moving digital information seamlessly around the world.

FedScoop New software factory is ‘by soldiers, for soldiers,’ Army says
Following the example of other branches of the military, the Army is launching a software factory to host soldiers and civilian coders who will apply their skills to a range of national security problems. The idea is to keep end-user soldiers in the development loop and have an agile workflow.

Nextgov Congressman Plans to Propose Cyber Director Amendment to NDAA
The push to create a post within the White House with budgetary and policy authority to coordinate cybersecurity across the government is alive and well. Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., expects to offer additional amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act when it comes to the floor Monday. Langevin is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s panel on intelligence and emerging threats and capabilities.

Reuters White House names Kratsios as Pentagon acting tech chief
The Pentagon confirmed on Monday that U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios is being tapped to serve as the acting Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering overseeing the U.S. military’s massive R&D efforts. Kratsios, who is President Donald Trump’s top technology policy advisor, will also serve as the acting Pentagon chief technology officer. Reuters reported the planned move earlier on Monday.


The Associated Press Mississippi to receive $16M to expand broadband access
Mississippi is receiving more than $16 million in federal coronavirus relief money to provide broadband access to rural parts of the state, officials announced Tuesday. The program will provide high-speed broadband internet access to more than 2,000 people, 331 farms, 32 businesses, a post office and six fire stations in Yalobusha, Tallahatchie, Panola, Grenada and Quitman counties, United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced Tuesday during a virtual press conference.

Light Reading Land O’Lakes Inc. and Microsoft partner for IoT in agriculture
Land O’Lakes Inc. and Microsoft Corp. announced a multiyear strategic alliance to pioneer new innovations in agriculture and enhance the supply chain, expand sustainability practices for farmers and the food system, and close the rural broadband gap.

CNBC Tech deals plow ahead despite the coronavirus and intense antitrust scrutiny
Splashy tech deal announcements have raised the same question as that about the stock market’s continued rise: aren’t we still in the middle of a pandemic? Over the past few months, tech companies have continued to consolidate and invest, even while under the microscope of antitrust authorities.

The Hill To promote inclusion, we need better access to capital and the digital world
As a society, we need to solve the problem of economic under-inclusion. It is unacceptable and intolerable that for too long, too many people have had to confront unequal and unfair obstacles to their full participation in the economy. This disadvantages individuals, households and communities and constrains our country’s ability to achieve its full potential.

Vox Many technologies needed to solve the climate crisis are nowhere near ready
Global warming can often feel overwhelming, given its political, social, and economic complexities. From a purely engineering perspective, though, it is surprisingly simple. There is a clear goal and a bounded set of technological tools to achieve it — just the kind of problem engineers like to solve.


The Brookings Institution

  • Blog on Election Security and COVID-19
    More than four months have passed since the coronavirus hit the United States, changing almost every aspect of how we live. As we write, the virus shows no sign of slowing down, as hot spots move from the northeast to the south and southwest. Public health experts believe that a variety of conditions could induce a second wave of COVID-19 cases—just in time for the November election. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, our democracy faced—and continues to face—serious challenges when it comes to voting, such as voter suppression, non-voting, and lack of trust in institutions. During this year’s primaries many of these problems have surfaced again and the pandemic has only exacerbated them. The pandemic will also speed up changes that were already in the making—changes that will pose huge challenges to those who administer elections. With a consequential national election just four months away and important primary elections before then, our voting systems must be pandemic-proof to ensure our confidence in the electoral process. (FixGov – Are American elections pandemic-proof? A state-by-state scorecard, July 14, 2020)
  • Blog on Privacy Legislation and Civil Rights
    Concerns that personal information might be used in ways that perpetuate or exacerbate bias have become more prominent as predictive analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence magnify the power to use personal information in granular ways. As a White House task force concluded in 2014, while data can be used for good, it “can also be used in ways that perpetuate social harms or render outcomes that have inequitable impacts, even when discrimination is not intended.” In the contexts of policing and criminal justice, this concern intensifies. The death of George Floyd is only one of the most recent examples of the disproportionate impact of systemic discrimination on the lives of disadvantaged people, especially Black Americans. This concern also applies to more subtle impacts in the commercial arena where hidden proxies can operate to reduce opportunities for Black Americans and other disadvantaged populations. In a stark example, Latanya Sweeney, a Harvard professor and former Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chief technology officer, demonstrated that online searches using names associated with African Americans were more likely to generate advertisements relating to arrest records and less favorable credit cards. (TechTank – Federal privacy legislation should protect civil rights, July 16, 2020)

Note: Voices for Innovation regularly shares a range of opinion articles and press releases from organizations in and publications covering tech policy. These pieces are meant to educate our audience, not to endorse specific platforms or bills.