March 5 2021

COVID-19: Industry News & Response

The Wall Street Journal Cyberattacks Cost Hospitals Millions During Covid-19
Hospitals say cyberattacks are complicating their operations and hurting profits, adding to pressure on a $1.2 trillion sector that is under heavy strain from the coronavirus pandemic. Universal Health Services Inc. said a malware attack in late September cost the hospital chain $67 million last year before taxes.

The Verge Twitter will label COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and enforce a strike system
Twitter Inc. will start labeling posts that include misleading information about COVID-19 vaccines by placing text underneath that links to official sources of information like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Twitter may also remove tweets that it determines are particularly dangerous, including those that play into a larger conspiracy about the virus.


Multichannel News Biden COVID Relief Bill Has Potential $17 Billion-Plus for Broadband
The just-passed $1.7 trillion COVID-19 relief bill (H.R. 1319) has, potentially, more than $17 billion in funding that could go to subsidize broadband, including a homeowners assistance fund states can tap to subsidize broadband for low-income residents during the pandemic. That is in addition to the $3.2 billion in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Congress approved last December.

Nextgov Lawmaker to Reintroduce Net Neutrality Legislation Within Weeks
Sen. Ed Markey plans to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to restore net neutrality rules put in place during the Obama administration. With a shift in political dynamics following the 2020 election, lawmakers are renewing their push to police internet service providers under Title II of the Communications Act, and this time, the pandemic emphasizes a powerful point in the debate, the Massachusetts Democrat said.

The Verge Klobuchar calls on Congress to get serious on tech reform
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) plotted out a multi-pronged approach to taking on the power of dominant tech firms like Facebook and Google in a speech for a Verge Live event Monday. In her remarks, Klobuchar called for the passage of legislation addressing issues from competition to data privacy and content moderation. Klobuchar leads the Senate’s top antitrust subcommittee, positioning the Minnesota Democrat as one of the most important legislators in the debate over tech reform.

The Hill DHS Secretary Mayorkas announces new initiative to fight ‘epidemic’ of cyberattacks
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Thursday announced new funding and initiatives to prioritize the nation’s cybersecurity, particularly in order to confront what he described as an “epidemic” of ransomware attacks. Mayorkas announced during a virtual speech that current cybersecurity grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency would be increased by $25 million across the nation and that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was evaluating further cyber grants to help the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) assist state and local governments.

Nextgov CBP Attempts to Mitigate Privacy Risks Created by New Customs App
The Customs and Border Protection agency launched a new app, CBP One, late last year, to streamline public access to various customs services. But the new app creates a number of privacy concerns—as does any government data collection effort. Per congressional mandate for any new federal data collection, CBP issued a privacy impact assessment detailing these issues and the agency’s response and mitigation efforts.

Politico Inside Joe Biden’s decision to dive into the Amazon union drive
Joe Biden’s endorsement of the right of workers at an Amazon facility in Alabama to unionize was the culmination of weeks of private talks with labor organizers and Democratic officials who viewed the standoff as an early test of the president’s commitment to their cause. Unions are hoping the message, delivered by a video over Twitter, is a sign that organized labor will have staying power in the Biden White House and that it fuels support for a broader overhaul of federal labor law and expansion of union rights.


The Washington Post Virginia governor signs nation’s second state consumer privacy bill
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed the state’s comprehensive data privacy legislation into law, making Virginia the second state to implement such rules after California. Virginia’s Consumer Data Protection Act, which has broad support from the tech industry, enables state residents to opt out of data collection and sales, and gives them the ability to access, correct or delete the information that qualifying companies collect about them.

Microsoft Official Blog New nation-state cyberattacks
Today, we’re sharing information about a state-sponsored threat actor identified by the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) that we are calling Hafnium. Hafnium operates from China, and this is the first time we’re discussing its activity. It is a highly skilled and sophisticated actor. Historically, Hafnium primarily targets entities in the United States for the purpose of exfiltrating information from a number of industry sectors, including infectious disease researchers, law firms, higher education institutions, defense contractors, policy think tanks and NGOs.

GeekWire SpaceX aims to expand its Starlink satellite operation to Texas and set up Starbase City
SpaceX is planning to break ground on a “state-of-the-art manufacturing facility” in Austin, Texas, to support a satellite operation that got its start in Redmond, Wash. The company’s billionaire CEO, Elon Musk, set up the Starlink satellite operation in Redmond five years ago. It’s now said to turn out six satellites per day for SpaceX’s broadband internet constellation, which is in the midst of an expanding beta test. More than 1,000 of the satellites have already been deployed in low Earth orbit, and SpaceX continues to launch them in batches of as many as 60 at a time.

The Wall Street Journal Google to Stop Selling Ads Based on Your Specific Web Browsing
Google plans to stop selling ads based on individuals’ browsing across multiple websites, a change that could hasten upheaval in the digital advertising industry. The Alphabet Inc. company said Wednesday that it plans next year to stop using or investing in tracking technologies that uniquely identify web users as they move from site to site across the internet. The decision, coming from the world’s biggest digital-advertising company, could help push the industry away from the use of such individualized tracking, which has come under increasing criticism from privacy advocates and faces scrutiny from regulators.

The Hill Facebook to lift ban on political ads
Facebook will resume allowing political advertising on its platform starting Thursday, ending a freeze that was put in place around the general election. “We put this temporary ban in place after the November 2020 election to avoid confusion or abuse following Election Day,” the company wrote in a blog post Wednesday. Facebook had partially lifted the ban in December to allow advertising for the Georgia Senate run-off elections.

The Washington Post Home-security cameras have become a fruitful resource for law enforcement — and a fatal risk
Police forces across the U.S. made more than 20,000 requests last year for footage captured by Ring’s “video doorbells” and other home-security cameras, underscoring how the rapid growth of inexpensive home surveillance technology has given American law enforcement an unprecedented ability to monitor neighborhood life. The requests reflect the Amazon-owned company’s policy of allowing police and fire departments to request video from camera owners who live near the scene of a crime.


The Brookings Institute

  • Blog on Open Internet Rule
    For 16 years both Republican and Democrat FCCs worked to require that internet service providers (ISPs) deliver non-discriminatory access to their critical networks. These efforts have continually been opposed by the internet companies, including through a series of successful court appeals of the FCC’s decisions. In 2015, the Obama FCC adopted (on a 3-2 vote with all Republicans opposing) an Open Internet Rule (also called net neutrality). It was the first such ruling to be upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals against the challenges of the ISPs. (TechTank – Restoring non-discrimination to the 21st century’s most important networkFebruary 25, 2021)

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