Late last year, we raised the prospect that millions of American households could lose their broadband access if Congress lets the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) lapse. Simply put, this would be a huge step backwards for closing our nation’s digital divide.
We’ve started the new year by posting a blog on this issue, “The Clock is Ticking on the Affordable Connectivity Program.” This week, Politico also published an insightful article on the politics of this issue. The ACP has bipartisan support—but Congress still needs to find the will to move forward to extend the program. Please check out our blog—and if you haven’t done so already, take action to share your views about the ACP with your lawmakers.
Thank you for being part of our tech advocacy community for 2024. We’ve rounded up recent tech policy news and a featured podcast below.
This Week in Washington
- The Hill: The Biden administration announced that it will provide $162 million in CHIPS and Science Act funding to Microchip Technology to expand the production of computer chips in the U.S. This funding will aim to as much as triple their semiconductor production by improving a plant in Colorado Springs, CO, and expanding a factory in Gresham, OR.
- StateScoop: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed the Schools and Libraries Cybersecurity Pilot Program, a three-year program that will provide up to $200 million for K-12 schools and libraries and gather information on cybersecurity and advanced firewall services to better protect against cyberattacks.
- CyberScoop: To improve how the bureau combats international crime, the FBI is increasing the number of cyber-focused agents deployed to American embassies abroad. This expansion is part of a broader shift by the FBI and Department of Justice towards a more proactive approach to combating cybercrime operations and infrastructure.
- Nextgov/FCW: The General Service Administration (GSA) released a baseline for government tech accessibility and found that, as a whole, government offices were not compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and failed to meet the minimum standard to provide equal access to people with disabilities. The GSA also announced that Eric Mill, former senior advisor to the federal chief information officer within the Office of Management and Budget, will serve as the executive director of their Technology Transformation Services (TTS), a newly created role to help oversee a range of technology and IT modernization initiatives within the organization.
- The Hill: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has settled with XCast Labs, a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) provider who illegally facilitated hundreds of millions of illegal robocalls as part of organized campaigns to generate telemarketing leads.
- Fierce Telecom: In 2023, the federal government continued to move forward with the implementation of the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, which will distribute $42.5 billion to states for broadband expansion. Project approvals are underway and states have been allocated funding ranging from $107 million to $3.3 billion.
- The Washington Post: A group of state legislators and safety advocates are looking to renew their campaign to import British digital safeguards for minors to the U.S. to better protect them online, but they face an uphill battle after a similar bill out of California faced challenges over First Amendment violations.
- NPR: Various industries have embraced AI to help further their missions, including climate solution companies that have been utilizing emerging technology to detect pollution and wildfires, prevent new wildfires, and get into green tech mining.
- Reuters: Montana announced it will appeal a U.S. judge’s November decision to block the state’s first-of-its-kind ban on TikTok. The ban was initially set to go into effect on January 1 but was blocked over claims that it violates the Constitution and oversteps state power.
- Texas Tribune: Nearly one-third of Texas’ state agencies utilize AI, raising fears that the technology could heighten bias or affect privacy. So, Texas has implemented an advisory council committee that will act as a first step toward oversight of how AI can be deployed.
- Pivotal with Hayete Gallot
When somebody is shopping for a car, they need real-world reviews and practical information about each make and model. But for retailers with tens of thousands of cars for sale at any given time, offering the right content for shoppers to make an informed decision is a continual challenge. Today, CarMax is tackling this fundamental business problem by using AI to empower its content creation teams. This episode of Pivotal features CarMax’s Chief Information and Technology Officer, Shamim Mohammad, who discusses his company’s interesting approach to building new AI solutions on a foundation of solid data governance and a culture of experimentation, which has yielded extraordinary results for customer and employee experiences. (Taking the car-buying experience to the max with AI – January 2, 2023)