October 15 2021

This Week in Washington

Next Gov Biden Signs School Cybersecurity Bill
President Joe Biden has signed a bill into law aimed at helping improve cybersecurity at K-12 schools and making them less vulnerable to ransomware attacks. The measure directs the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to study the cyber risks facing elementary and secondary schools and develop recommendations to assist schools in facing those risks.

Axios White House science advisers call for an “AI Bill of Rights”
The Biden administration is exploring a “bill of rights” to govern facial recognition and other potentially harmful uses of artificial intelligence, but the problems AI poses are much bigger than figuring out how to regulate a new technology. There’s no good way to regulate AI’s role in shaping a fair and equitable society without deciding what that society should look like, including how power should be balanced among individuals, corporations and the government.

Bloomberg Law FCC Stuck in ‘Holding Pattern’ Waiting for Biden to Name Chair
The Biden administration’s historic delay in appointing someone to lead the Federal Communications Commission is costing Democrats the ability to proceed on big-ticket policy items, even potential bipartisan ones, former officials said. The commission has been operating without a permanent chair for the longest period in its history. Acting chair Jessica Rosenworcel can only stay on the commission until the end of the current congressional session.

The Hill Lawmakers, security experts call for beefing up cybersecurity
Lawmakers and national security experts said Tuesday that the U.S. needs to take bigger steps at the government level and in the private sector to guard against ransomware attacks. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), speaking at The Hill’s Cybersecurity Summit, said the attacks are “happening each and every day.” “Not only in the private sector but in our government sector, whether it’s state and local governments, our adversaries are never sleeping,” Clarke said.

Washington Post Senate Democrat presses TikTok on its handling of extremist content tied to Jan. 6
Senate Homeland Security Chairman Gary Peters (D-Mich.) on Tuesday pressed video-sharing app TikTok for information about its efforts to curb violent extremist content before and after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, expanding the panel’s probe into how social media may have contributed to the violence. Peters expressed concern over reports that domestic extremists used the platform to “recruit, organize and communicate” in the days leading up to the riot, and that they “continue to spread their messages through content supporting white supremacists, extremists, and terrorist organizations.”

CNN Another Facebook whistleblower says she is willing to testify before Congress
Sophie Zhang, who said she felt like she had “blood on her hands” after working at Facebook, is willing to testify before Congress about her former employer, she told CNN Sunday. She said she had also passed on documentation about the company to a US law enforcement agency. Zhang, who worked as a data scientist at the tech giant for almost three years, wrote a lengthy memo when she was fired by Facebook last year detailing how she believed the company was not doing enough to tackle hate and misinformation — particularly in smaller and developing countries. Zhang said the company told her she was fired because of performance issues.

Reuters Lawmakers: FTC must ensure tech companies uphold youth online privacy
Three U.S. Democratic lawmakers on Friday urged the Federal Trade Commission to ensure technology companies like Facebook, Alphabet’s YouTube and TikTok comply with policy changes aimed protecting young people online. The letter from Senator Ed Markey and Representatives Kathy Castor and Lori Trahan cited recent commitments by the companies amid growing concern by lawmakers about young people online. The FTC, said the letter seen by Reuters, has an “obligation to ensure that powerful technology platforms comply with their public statements and policies on children’s and teen’s privacy.”

Poynter A window of opportunity has at last opened for federal aid to support local journalism
As the $3.5 trillion federal spending bill slowly makes its way through the House and Senate budget reconciliation process, tucked inside is as much as $1 billion to help local journalism. Specifically, lawmakers have picked up on one of three provisions of the proposed Local Journalism Sustainability Act — a payroll tax credit for journalists employed by local newspapers, digital-only sites or broadcast outlets. The government would subsidize half of salaries up to $50,000 the first year and 30% for four subsequent years.

Article Summary

The Verge Microsoft says it mitigated one of the largest DDoS attacks ever recorded
Microsoft says it was able to mitigate a 2.4Tbps Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack in August. The attack targeted an Azure customer in Europe and was 140 percent higher than the highest attack bandwidth volume Microsoft recorded in 2020. It also exceeds the peak traffic volume of 2.3Tbps directed at Amazon Web Services last year, though it was a smaller attack than the 2.54Tbps one Google mitigated in 2017.

Axios Google creates cybersecurity team to help respond to attacks
Google announced Tuesday it has created a new cybersecurity team to help respond to and prevent cyberattacks against governments, critical infrastructure managers and other crucial companies. It said the creation of the team is in response to the recent surge in cyber and ransomware attacks, including the ransomware attempt against the Colonial Pipeline in May and the sprawling SolarWinds breach, which was uncovered in December 2020 but likely existed for months before its discovery.

Wall Street Journal 5G Technology Begins to Expand Beyond Smartphones
The deployment of superfast 5G networks is supposed to usher in a new era for so much more than the smartphone—everything from enhanced virtual-reality videogames to remote heart surgery. That vision has been slow to come into focus, but a first wave of 5G-enabled gadgets is emerging. Among the first uses of 5G to hit the consumer market is the delivery of home broadband internet service for the ultimate cord-cutters: those looking to not just shed their cable-TV bills but abandon Internet access via wires altogether.

News 5 Cleveland NASA Glenn Research Center is using the moon to address Cleveland’s digital divide
For many communities in Cleveland, reliable internet access can be difficult to find. Cleveland’s NASA Glenn Research Center is stepping in to use the moon to solve an earthly problem. A study by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance found that 31% of households in Cleveland had no broadband access. After the study found a deep digital divide between the city and its suburbs, the Greater Cleveland Partnership, an economic development organization, reached out to NASA Glenn for help in examining the technical barriers of reaching digital equality for all residents.

Tech Podcast of the Week

WSJ Tech News Briefing

  • Podcast on CISA and Cyberattack Reporting Legislation
    Some lawmakers want to force companies to report when they have been hacked. But the agency that would be tasked with enforcing those rules supports voluntary standards instead. WSJ Pro Cybersecurity reporter David Uberti joins host Zoe Thomas to discuss why. (Why the U.S. Cyber Agency Doesn’t Want to Be a Regulator – October 13, 2021)