Over the last several years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been taking a more active role both in anticipating the need for ever greater communications network security measures necessary to counter threats as well as potentially forging a new role in protecting the integrity of data that flows through the Internet. The latest evidence of this security consciousness is a recent Notice of Inquiry (“Notice”) adopted by the FCC seeking information to better understand the scope of Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) routing system security vulnerabilities, and the means to address them.
On the eve of the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Alan Davidson as the new Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), NTIA published a request for public comments on January 10, 2022, on a range of broadband infrastructure issues, paving the way for Davidson’s reported top priority in his term. The request is the first of a series, which together are to establish three new NTIA programs under the appropriations from the November 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act: the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, the “Middle Mile Infrastructure” Program, and the Digital Equity Inclusion Program.
Following up on a mandatory 2019 request for information issued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to the largest Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the United States, the FTC staff in late October issued a Report titled – A Look at What ISPs Know About You: Examining the Privacy Practices of Six Major Internet Service Providers. Among the agency staff’s general findings on ISP data collection and use practices, the most striking perhaps is the apparent degree of integration among ISPs and advertisers with respect to their data collection and use practices. The report also highlights the tools ISPs offer to customers to either manage or control many types of ISP data collection and use.
The information presented in the Report is aggregated and de-identified and has been supplemented with information gathered from follow-up FTC staff questions and meetings with the ISPs that were the subjects of the FTC information request. The Report’s summary of information on real-world ISP data practices could prove useful as Congress wrestles with the potential for federal privacy legislation and states review the need for legislation.
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.
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.
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.