Strengthening Cybersecurity and an ACP Update

In advance of this week’s RSA IT Security Conference, Microsoft announced an expansion of its Secure Future Initiative (SFI) in response to the evolving threat landscape. In conjunction with the expansion of SFI, CEO Satya Nadella wrote a public letter to the entire company, “prioritizing cybersecurity above all else.” Coverage can be found in Cybersecurity News and MSSP Alert.

Unless Congress acts, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) runs out of funding this month. Thank you to VFI members who have supported sustaining this program! This week, a bipartisan group of Senators proposed an amendment to a must-pass FAA bill that would keep the ACP running – but last night, the amendment failed to make it into the final Senate bill. To learn how your state has benefited from the ACP, visit this ACP Enrollment Fact Sheet.

Thank you for reading!

This Week in Washington 

  • Axios: A highly anticipated international cyber strategy from the State Department sets the tone for the U.S. to become a diplomatic leader in international cybersecurity.  
  • FedScoop: During an artificial intelligence summit in Washington, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said his office was working with a bipartisan group of other senators to release a roadmap for legislation addressing the potential risks and benefits of AI in the coming weeks. 
  • The Verge: The Biden administration will grant about $285 million in funding from the CHIPS for America Program for development and research of “digital twins” in the semiconductor industry, the Commerce Department and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced. Digital twins are advanced software models of hardware, including processors, that allow engineers to test new processors before they’re put into production. 
  • New York Times: A landmark antitrust trial against Google finally concluded after a federal judge heard final arguments, setting the stage for a ruling that could fundamentally shift the tech industry’s power. The government argues Google illegally cemented a monopoly in search by paying Apple and other tech partners billions of dollars to feature the Google search engine in their products.
  • New York Times: TikTok and its Chinese owner, ByteDance, sued the federal government over a new law that would force ByteDance to sell the app or face a ban in the United States. The case may go as far as the Supreme Court, as the suit claims the law violated the First Amendment by effectively removing an app that millions of Americans use to share their views and communicate freely and argued that a divestiture was “simply not possible” within the law’s 270-day timeline.
  • Axios: The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released a plan to alleviate the issues faced by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) working on the National Vulnerability Database.

Article Summary

  • Associated Press: Country music star Randy Travis was hospitalized with viral cardiomyopathy and later suffered a stroke that limited his ability to speak. With the help of AI, he has his voice back. 
  • Yahoo! Finance: Microsoft announced a $3.3 billion investment in AI infrastructure and skilling in Wisconsin. The investment also includes development of a manufacturing-focused AI co-innovation lab at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. 
  • StateScoop: Many state governments are beginning to implement real AI projects more confidently in a dramatic change from six months ago when many entities were just beginning to get their bearings with the emerging technology. 
  • Washington Post: Election workers in Arizona participated in a two-day training exercise involving the kind of AI-generated attacks they may face during the upcoming election cycle. 
  • Democrat & Chronicle: New York state will require ISPs to provide a low-cost internet option for qualifying residents in the state through the Affordable Broadband Act (ABA). This comes on the heels of the end of the federal Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which is set to reduce subsidies at the end of this month. 
  • Associated Press: Democratic officials sent a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking the company to stop allowing ads that claim the 2020 Presidential election was stolen. 
  • CNN: A recent cyberattack disrupted “clinical operations” at Ascension, a major health care nonprofit, forcing the organization to take major steps to minimize the impacts experienced by patients.

Featured Podcast

TED Tech

  • TED Tech
    We don’t have to sacrifice our freedom for the sake of technological progress, says social technologist Divya Siddarth. She shares how a group of people helped retrain one of the world’s most powerful AI models on a constitution they wrote — and offers a vision of technology that aligns with the principles of democracy, rather than conflicting with them. (How AI and democracy can fix each other – April 26, 2024)