May 28 2021

This Week in Washington

The Washington Post DHS to issue first cybersecurity regulations for pipelines after Colonial hack
The Department of Homeland Security is moving to regulate cybersecurity in the pipeline industry for the first time in an effort to prevent a repeat of a major computer attack that crippled nearly half the East Coast’s fuel supply this month — an incident that highlighted the vulnerability of critical infrastructure to online attacks.

The Verge Sen. Ron Wyden pushes to raise standards for stimulus-funded broadband
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is calling on the Treasury Department to fund broadband projects in communities without access to 100Mbps upload and download speeds with the money allocated by the American Rescue Plan earlier this year. In March, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan, directing the Treasury Department to distribute billions of dollars to help state and local governments amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Roll Call Efforts to protect kids online gain bipartisan momentum
Bipartisan momentum is building behind proposals to protect kids when they’re online as lawmakers at both ends of the Capitol push measures to update child privacy laws and hold social media companies liable for content posted on their platforms. Growing support for such measures is part of a notable new trend in Washington, as Democrats and Republicans who spent much of the past four years disagreeing over how to regulate companies such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and TikTok have begun to coalesce around legislative proposals that prioritize children.

NextGov Millennium Challenge, SBA Agree to Apply U.S. Tech to Global Issues
Modern technologies that can help close nation-specific gaps in sectors like energy, sanitation and health are set to be pinpointed, piloted and scaled through a new partnership between the Small Business Administration and Millennium Challenge Corporation. The two aim to collectively advance emerging technologies via their resources and realms—and connect U.S. small business innovators with international markets—under a new memorandum of understanding signed Friday.

Roll Call White House, Republicans remain far apart on infrastructure
The White House on Friday lowered its original $2.2 trillion infrastructure proposal by roughly $500 billion, calling it an effort to attract bipartisan support. Republican lawmakers said the parties remain far apart. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the White House, in its third meeting with GOP senators, “put forward a reasonable counteroffer that reduces the size of the package from $2.25 trillion in additional investment to $1.7 trillion.”

Article Summary

Multichannel News Microsoft Asks FCC To Reverse Broadcast DTS Decision
Microsoft has asked the FCC to reverse its decision, made under then chairman Ajit Pai, to allow broadcaster signals from distributed transmission systems to go “significantly” beyond a station’s current authorized service area as those broadcasters roll out their Next Gen TV broadcast transmission standard. Microsoft told the FCC in its petition that the commission should change course from its “unfortunate misstep” and, instead, adopt an “expedited” waiver policy for stations that want to exceed current signal spillover by more than a small amount.

Protocol The FCC has money for broadband. The hard part? Spreading the word.
It took the U.S. government more than a year to allocate and begin distributing $3.2 billion in emergency funding to help tens of millions of people afford internet access that they arguably need now more than ever. But the real challenge is what comes next: Making sure that money gets to the people who need it most before it all dries up.

NBC News Florida governor signs ban on ‘deplatforming’ by tech companies
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed a law that gives the state the power to penalize social media companies when they ban political candidates, escalating a fight between the tech industry and Republicans such as DeSantis and former President Donald Trump. The law to prohibit “deplatforming” is the first of its kind in the nation and may be a model for other states to follow, even though one tech business group said the law runs counter to the First Amendment.

The Hill Tech giants face rising pressure from shareholder activists
Tech giants are facing increasing pressure from activists to adopt proposals aimed at expanding whistleblower protections, investigating potential civil rights violations and curbing hate speech online. Activist shareholders are pushing for the proposals to be adopted during this week’s annual meetings, the first to be held after a year that included nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol and challenging working conditions for many on-site workers in the tech industry.

The Wall Street Journal High-Profile Hacks Leave Ransomware Gangs With Unwanted Publicity
Ransomware groups may be trying to retreat from the spotlight—and preserve their business models—after high-profile attacks in recent weeks disrupted daily life in two countries and sparked widespread condemnation. Ireland’s public healthcare system’s computer networks remain crippled after hackers from the so-called Conti ring struck early this month, disrupting care throughout the country. Conti handed over a tool last week to help reverse the damage but still threatened to leak stolen data unless a ransom was paid. The move came after the ransomware gang DarkSide claimed it disbanded following its attack on Colonial Pipeline Co. and other hacking groups urged members to move deeper underground.

Forbes Is SpaceX’s Starlink Mega Constellation An Environmental Problem? The FCC Says ‘No’
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has said SpaceX’s Starlink constellation does not require an environmental review, after concerns were raised about its impact on the night sky and the atmosphere. In May 2019, SpaceX began the launch and deployment of its Starlink constellation, a planned group of up to 42,000 satellites in orbit designed to beam the internet to Earth from space. About 1,500 have been launched into orbit so far, half the approximately 3,000 active satellites operated by other organizations.

Think Tank / Tech Trade Association Highlights

Taxpayers Protection Alliance

  • Blog on Internet Price Data
    The last year has taught us that an affordable and reliable internet connection is critical for work and relaxation. It’s a worthy goal of public policy to help facilitate this for as many Americans as possible. What stands in the way of that goal is when politicians are fed unreliable data about the state of the internet market. The Biden administration is convinced that internet access prices in the United States are too high. But, much of the reporting backing this up is based on misleading data from a group called Free Press. Upon even the briefest examination of Free Press’s interpretation of the data, their errors become obvious. (TPA Blog – Free Press Misleads on Internet Prices, May 20, 2021)