US Broadband in 2021; Policies Promoting Infrastructure, Competition, National Security and Universal Access

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During his presidential campaign, President Biden committed “to build back better in rural America” by “expand[ing] broadband, or wireless broadband via 5G, to every American.” Last month, President Biden renewed his focus on “universal broadband” through the announcement of a bipartisan agreement for a large infrastructure bill that highlights broadband connectivity. Between setting the goal and realizing congressional appropriations to implement his “Build Back Better” initiative, federal (and in some situations, state) regulators have also confronted several important broadband infrastructure issues this year as they balance an understandable desire for competition and choice among broadband networks and service offerings against the practical challenges and economic realities of broadband deployment. What progress has the Biden Administration made so far?

Broadband is more important now than ever. According to a 2021 report by Parks Associates, 41% of US broadband households have been working or attending schools remotely, with the COVID-19 pandemic having driven approximately 7.2% of those households to upgrade their broadband network last year. Terabytes of data are communicated and shared every second through broadband Internet platforms – the most ubiquitous means of communication and connection.

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The U.S. in the AI Era: the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Releases Report Detailing Policy Recommendations

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On March 1, 2021, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) released its 700-page Final Report (the “Report”), which presents NSCAI’s recommendations for “winning the AI era” (The Report can be accessed here). This Report issues an urgent warning to President Biden and Congress: if the United States fails to significantly accelerate its understanding and use of AI technology, it will face unprecedented threats to its national security and economic stability. Specifically, the Report cautions that the United States “is not organizing or investing to win the technology competition against a committed competitor, nor is it prepared to defend against AI-enabled threats and rapidly adopt AI applications for national security purposes.”

In the Final Report, NSCAI makes a number of detailed policy recommendations “to advance the development of AI, machine learning, and associated technologies to comprehensively address the national security and defense needs of the United States.” The Report, its findings and recommendations all signal deep concern that the U.S. has underinvested in AI and must play catch-up in order to safeguard its future.

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Faegre Drinker on Law and Technology Podcast: The Internet of Things

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In the latest episode of the Faegre Drinker on Law and Technology Podcast, Faegre Drinker Counsel Jason G. Weiss and Partner Laura Phillips discuss the growth and evolution of the Internet of Things (IoT). In particular, they dive into the countless devices and use cases that make up the IoT universe, the regulatory issues that accompany commercial applications of IoT technology in the U.S., and the challenges of navigating the patchwork, ad hoc policies and regulations that currently govern this emerging space.

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Here Come the Proposed CCPA Regulations We’ve All Been Waiting For

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After a long wait, the California Attorney General’s (AG) office held a news conference on October 10, 2019, and published proposed regulations implementing the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Companies gearing up for CCPA’s January 1, 2020, effective date should quickly review and assess the proposed regulations’ potential effects on their operations and consider attending upcoming public hearings or submitting public comments by December 6, 2019.

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The FCC’s “Restoration of Internet Freedom Order” Largely Survives on Appeal; But Net Neutrality is Not Dead Yet

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On October 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit released a long awaited decision in Mozilla Corporation v. FCC that largely upheld most aspects of the Federal Communications Commission’s 2018 “Restoring Internet Freedom Order”  While FCC Chairman Pai quickly claimed victory, the nearly 200 page decision was in several areas quite critical of the FCC’s process, as well as the agency’s reasoning or the lack of discussion or support in the record for several of the Order’s determinations. Although these defects were not sufficient for the Court to reverse the Order on review, the Court nevertheless agreed with petitioners on several issues, discussed below, and remanded them to the agency for additional consideration.

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NIST Unveils IoT Baseline of Core Cybersecurity Features for Comment

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In a release aptly labeled “A Starting Point for IoT Device Manufacturers” the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an arm of the Department of Commerce, recently added to the discussion with the publication. NIST sought to provide IoT device manufacturers a better understanding of appropriate cybersecurity features for the vast and constantly proliferating range of IoT devices. NIST’s fundamental purpose is to improve the securitibility of IoT devices and to identify, in general terms, the features that can be designed so that customers can better use them to manage cybersecurity risk profiles.

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