July 22 2022

This Week in Washington 

The Hill House panel advances landmark federal data privacy bill
The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted to advance federal data privacy legislation on a 53-2 vote, but regardless of whether it can clear the House, its prospects are dim in the Senate as Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) does not support the bill. California Democratic Reps. Anna Eshoo and Nanette Diaz Barragán both voted against the bill in committee over fears it could undermine California’s state-level privacy law, while Cantwell has previously criticized the legislation for delaying consumers’ ability to sue over violations.

Protocol White House summit to tackle cybersecurity talent gap
The Biden administration is calling the shortage of cybersecurity talent a “national security challenge” ahead of a summit at the White House Tuesday focused on accelerating progress on the issue. In a news release Monday, the White House cited estimates that there are 700,000 cybersecurity jobs currently open in the U.S. alone. Tuesday’s National Cyber Workforce and Education Summit is expected to include participation from a number of top Biden administration officials, as well as executives from the private sector and “thought leaders” in academia and the cybersecurity community.

Nextgov CISA Builds Out Effort to Influence Global Policy
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is opening an office in London this month to collaborate with UK officials and those of other US federal agencies, the agency said Monday. The office will focus on “advancing operational cooperation; building partner capacity; strengthening collaboration through stakeholder engagement and outreach; and shaping the global policy ecosystem,” reads a press release, noting it will “serve as a model as CISA matures its international mission to drive down cybersecurity risks.” CISA said the first UK Attaché will be Julie Johnson, a former State Department staffer who was previously working as a regional protective security advisor for CISA in New York, where she participated in federal interagency working groups.

Reuters U.S. senator seeks passage of Big Tech antitrust bill as time runs short
A U.S. congressional leader on antitrust, Senator Amy Klobuchar, on Tuesday called for Congress to pass a bill to rein in Big Tech, as prospects of it becoming law seemed to be dimming. Supporters have been pressing Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to schedule a vote on the bill that would ban self-preferencing by Big Tech platforms. Klobuchar, a lead sponsor along with Republican Chuck Grassley, has said she has the 60 votes required to pass the measure. She is expected to give a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday evening on the Big Tech antitrust bill and related matters. Schumer said Tuesday his emphasis was on a bill to boost chip manufacturing, and on judicial confirmations.

CNN Politics White House touts 1 million affordable broadband program sign-ups
Vice President Kamala Harris is set to announce Thursday that 1 million American households have signed up for broadband internet credits through the Affordable Connectivity Program — a provision of the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed last year — since the introduction of GetInternet.gov in May. White House officials are calling it an important milestone and a concrete example of the administration’s efforts to lower costs for Americans amid high inflation.

Nextgov A Look At Tech Amendments In The 2023 House NDAA
The House passed its version of the annual national defense authorization bill 329-101 late Thursday with several new tech amendments packed into the massive policy legislation. The bill, which boasted several hundred amendments, has provisions that touch on cyber education, spectrum, and satellites. The 2023 National Defense Authorization Act received several hundred amendments spanning topic areas from making sure only American-grown flowers are on display at the White House to giving the mayor of the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., control of the district’s National Guard. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said during floor remarks.

Roll Call ‘Chips-plus’ bill passage could slip to next week in Senate
Republican senators said Wednesday they’re expecting final passage of a trimmed-down semiconductor manufacturing and science-focused economic competitiveness package will slip to next week. Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., said he believes some opponents of the bill, including several dozen Republicans, will want to drag out votes and “let the clock run.” He said he hasn’t heard of any discussions to speed up the process, which would likely involve getting unanimous consent on a time agreement to allow some amendment votes.

CyberScoop The growth in targeted, sophisticated cyberattacks troubles top FBI cyber official
The FBI is deeply worried that cybercriminals and nation-state adversaries are developing more precision in their attacks and taking advantage of innovations in artificial intelligence that will compound the digital threat in the years to come, FBI Assistant Director for Cyber Bryan Vorndran said Wednesday. “When we think about software as a service or even supply chain attacks, what happens when the adversary understands that there is perhaps one software factory that services the entire community,” said Vorndran, who oversees 1,000 FBI agents focused on cybercrimes nationwide, during a speech Wednesday at a Fordham University cybersecurity conference.

Article Summary

StateScoop States may need extension on cyber grants, NASCIO director says
As the wait continues for the Department of Homeland Security to publish guidance on the cybersecurity grants contained in last year’s infrastructure law, National Association of State Chief Information Officers Executive Director Doug Robinson said Thursday that state governments will likely need an extension to take advantage of the first year of the four-year, $1 billion program. Near the end of an hourlong discussion on recent trends in state and local IT, Robinson and Alan Shark, director of CompTIA’s Public Technology Institute, noted that the Sept. 30 end of the federal fiscal year is looming, even as their members wait for a planning document known as a notice of funding opportunity.

Washington Post Hacks of genetic firms pose risk to patients, experts say
It’s not just schools, local governments and major private-sector firms like Colonial Pipeline getting hacked. Hackers have also hit genetic and fertility clinics, which have troves of sensitive information. Since the beginning of last year, more than a dozen medical labs, genetic testing companies and fertility firms have disclosed breaches affecting more than 3.5 million people, according to a Cybersecurity 202 review of data breach disclosures to states and the Department of Health and Human Services. The hacks raise questions about what can happen when genetic information falls into the wrong hands, and it’s not clear what measures the firms adopted to protect the data and what the data consists of.

USA Today A devastating trend: Local newspapers are shrinking or disappearing. Congress must act.
Nearly half of all U.S. counties have only one newspaper, reports the News Media Alliance, which advocates for the media industry. Since 2005, according to a new report from Northwestern University, “the country has lost more than a fourth of its newspapers (2,500) and is on track to lose a third by 2025.” The pandemic, which devastated so much, was not kind to the industry, leading to job losses and the closure of local media outlets, according to Columbia Journalism Review.

Featured Podcast

WSJ Tech News Briefing

  • Episode on Log4J and Cybersecurity
    A flaw discovered in a widely used piece of software, called Log4J, poses an “endemic” risk, according to a new government panel. In its inaugural report, the Cyber Safety Review Board said that, despite an available patch, the flaw in the software could expose computer systems to hackers for years to come. WSJ reporter Dustin Volz joins host Zoe Thomas to discuss why the risk remains and the goals of the new board behind the warning. (Major Cyber Bug Poses ‘Endemic’ Risk, Despite Patch – July 20, 2022)