October 1 2021

This Week in Washington

StateScoop FCC commits $1.2B in emergency funds to connect students
The Federal Communications Commission on Friday announced it’s committed $1.2 billion in an initial funding wave to help students across the U.S. get access to the digital tools they need for learning. The funding package will be used to ensure access to broadband and digital devices for students, school staff and library users in all 50 states and Guam, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

Washington Post Congress is reviving the data privacy debate. Don’t hold your breath for a law.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Lawmakers are preparing to hold a series of hearings on data privacy and security in a bid to revitalize efforts to protect consumer data. Officials say there’s momentum behind the cause — Democrats in both the House and Senate are pushing to give the nation’s top consumer privacy watchdog, the Federal Trade Commission, a major boost in funding and to stand up a bureau to better police data mishaps, breaches and other abuses, even as the push to pass a federal privacy law has languished.

StateScoop House members want K-12 cyber funds in reconciliation
A group of six House Democrats wrote to congressional leaders Monday asking that their legislation funding cybersecurity programs for K-12 schools be included in the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation act that Democrats and President Joe Biden are struggling to pass. In the letter, the members, led by Rep. Doris Matsui of California, argue that the rising rate of ransomware attacks against public schools nationwide should be addressed by the far-ranging budget bill.

Reuters U.S. Republican senators slam release of Huawei’s Meng
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio said on Saturday the release of Huawei’s finance chief raised serious questions about President Joe Biden’s ability to confront the threat posed by the technology giant and the Chinese Communist Party. Rubio, in a text message to Reuters, called on the Biden Administration to brief Congress urgently on the issue. Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou returned to China on Saturday after reaching an agreement with U.S. prosecutors on Friday to end the bank fraud case against her.

The Hill The bipartisan reason Congress should regulate big tech (OPINION)
In Wyoming, privacy is a way of life. We are the smallest state by population, but among the largest in physical size. Privacy is baked into our lifestyles since many in the Cowboy State live miles from their nearest neighbor. The internet has aided our relatively isolated way of life. It has enabled us to more easily keep in touch with relatives, conduct business, and entertain ourselves. But it has not changed that very Wyoming desire for personal privacy. – Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)

Washington Post When the FBI seizes your messages from Big Tech, you may not know it for years
Every year, Facebook, Google and other technology companies receive hundreds of thousands of orders from law enforcement agencies seeking data people stash online: private messages, photos, search histories, calendar items — a potentially rich trove for criminal investigators. Often, those requests are accompanied by secrecy orders, also known as nondisclosure or gag orders, that require the tech companies to keep their customers in the dark, potentially for years.

Article Summary

Fortune Lessons from A.I.’s rare pandemic success
To those who believe A.I. is among the most transformative technologies of the last century, millennium, or even epoch, its role in tackling the pandemic has been a disappointment. Where it matters most—developing diagnostics, vaccines or treatments, or even managing vaccine distribution—A.I.’s impact has been marginal.

CyberScoop Cybercrime is hitting communities of color at higher rates, study finds
Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color (BIPOC) are more likely to suffer from identity theft and financial impact from the fallout, according to survey data collected by internet security company Malwarebytes with the nonprofits Digitunity and the Cybercrime Support Network.

Axios Battleground voters wary of Big Tech power
A majority of voters in battleground districts and states agree Big Tech companies are monopolies with too much power, according to new data shared exclusively with Axios — but those same voters are divided on what Congress should do in response. Lawmakers from both parties in the House have backed a package of proposed new laws to rein in tech firms’ power. When it comes to concerns about Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon, voters polled were much more worried about privacy, data security, and whether the companies pay a fair share of taxes than they were about competition issues.

ZDNet Amazon, Google, Microsoft and other tech giants establish Trusted Cloud Principles

Some of the world’s largest tech giants — Amazon, Google, Microsoft, IBM, Salesforce/Slack, Atlassian, SAP, and Cisco — have joined forces to establish the Trusted Cloud Principles in what they are claiming is their commitment to protecting the rights of their customers. “The Trusted Cloud Principles will help safeguard the interests of organisations and the basic rights of individuals using cloud services so that they can accomplish what they need in a safe and secure way,” the signatories said in a statement.

Washington Post Politicians could exploit Twitter’s new safety tools to silence critics, legal experts warn
The rollouts include a “safety mode” tool that when enabled automatically detects and temporarily blocks accounts hurling insults or other “harmful language” at users to “reduce the burden on people dealing with unwelcome interactions.” The company said Friday it’s also testing a setting that lets users automatically “filter” or “limit” unwanted and harmful replies.

Daily Echo Reaching the audience remains at the heart of local journalism
Reaching the audience remains at the heart of local journalism The face of local journalism has changed – but its heart and core values remain the same. Long gone are the days of hot metal typesetters and sub-editors in regional newspaper offices. The clatter of the typewriter has been replaced by the quiet tap of a laptop keyboard or a mobile phone as reporters embrace innovative digital platforms to reach their target readership.

Tech Podcast of the Week

Tech Policy Podcast

  • Podcast on Data Privacy
    Data privacy is a complex and dynamic policy field. Lydia de la Torre, an inaugural board member of the new California Privacy Protection Agency, and Alan Friel, a partner at Squire Patton Boggs, join the show to help make some sense of it. They discuss the history of privacy policy, the growing influence of European privacy principles, and the new privacy laws we are seeing, or can expect, at the state and federal levels here in the United States. (#288: The State of Data Privacy Law – April 7, 2021)