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January 29, 2015

Posts in "Security"

January 27, 2015

FTC Releases Staff Recommendations on the Internet of Things

A Federal Trade Commission staff report released Tuesday on connected devices known as the Internet of Things says legislation specific to this area of technology is “premature,” but reiterates recommendations for broader legislation on data security and privacy.

From the report:

Commission staff agrees with those commenters who stated that there is great potential for innovation in this area and that IoT-specific legislation at this stage would be premature. Staff also agrees that development of self-regulatory programs designed for particular industries would be helpful as a means to encourage the adoption of privacy-and security-sensitive practices.

However, in light of the ongoing threats to data security and the risk that emerging IoT technologies might amplify these threats, staff reiterates the Commission’s previous recommendations for Congress to enact strong, flexible, and technology-neutral federal legislation to strengthen its existing data security enforcement tools and to provide notification to consumers when there is a security breach.

The report goes on to state that the “pervasiveness of information collection and use” made possible by the Internet of Things “reinforces the need for baseline privacy standards, which the Commission previously recommended in its 2012 privacy report.”

“Commission staff thus again recommends that Congress enact broad-based (as opposed to IoT-specific) privacy legislation,” the report states. “Such legislation should be flexible and technology-neutral, while also providing clear rules of the road for companies about such issues as how to provide choice to consumers about data collection and use practices.”

The report notes that Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen disagrees with this portion of the recommendations, because she “questions what harms baseline privacy legislation would reach that the FTC’s existing authority cannot.”

Much of the report focuses on staff recommendations for best practices for companies on security, data minimization and notice and choice.

January 26, 2015

The Week Ahead: State of the Net, Data Breach Hearing & FCC Open Meeting

The State of the Net Conference, a House hearing regarding data breach legislation and the Federal Communications Commission’s January open meeting are on tap for this week.


The Federal Communications Commission hosts a “Small Business & Emerging Technologies Conference and Tech Fair.”

A subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee holds a hearing titled “What are the Elements of Sound Data Breach Legislation?”

A subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee holds a cybersecurity hearing.

The Internet Education Foundation hosts its annual State of the Net Conference.


The American Enterprise Institute’s Center for Internet, Communications and Technology Policy hosts an event on tech policy issues in 2015.

The Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy hosts a panel discussion on media mergers and independent programmers.

A subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee holds a hearing on supercomputing.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee holds a hearing titled “Protecting America from Cyber Attacks: The Importance of Information Sharing.”


The Center for Democracy and Technology holds an event titled “Always On: The Digital Patient.”

The Federal Communications Commission holds its January open meeting.

George Mason University School of Law’s Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property co-hosts a discussion on patents and startups.

January 23, 2015

Quote of the Day: Obama and Cybersecurity

Thursday’s livestream of YouTube stars interviewing President Barack Obama wasn’t focused on tech policy, with questions ranging from marijuana policy to bullying. But the YouTubers did ask a couple questions dealing with the Sony hack and Chinese Internet censorship.

In case you missed it, among Obama’s response to a question regarding the Sony hack: “In fact the hacking against Sony  – which we believe was done by North Korea – it wasn’t even that sophisticated. But it just goes to show how vulnerable we are.”


January 21, 2015

Obama’s Tech Talk in SOTU

President Barack Obama’s call for lawmakers to pass legislation to address “cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information” in his State of the Union address wasn’t a surprise given his announcements last week in advance of Tuesday night’s speech, but he also mentioned net neutrality, surveillance and space in his speech. Below are some of his science and tech-related mentions:

  • “I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world.”
  • “21st century businesses need 21st century infrastructure — modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest internet.”
  • “No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids. We are making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyber threats, just as we have done to combat terrorism. And tonight, I urge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information.”
  • “So while some have moved on from the debates over our surveillance programs, I haven’t. As promised, our intelligence agencies have worked hard, with the recommendations of privacy advocates, to increase transparency and build more safeguards against potential abuse. And next month, we’ll issue a report on how we’re keeping our promise to keep our country safe while strengthening privacy.”
  • “I want Americans to win the race for the kinds of discoveries that unleash new jobs — converting sunlight into liquid fuel; creating revolutionary prosthetics, so that a veteran who gave his arms for his country can play catch with his kid; pushing out into the Solar System not just to visit, but to stay. Last month, we launched a new spacecraft as part of a re-energized space program that will send American astronauts to Mars. In two months, to prepare us for those missions, Scott Kelly will begin a year-long stay in space. Good luck, Captain — and make sure to Instagram it.”

January 20, 2015

The Week Ahead: Net Neutrality, Cybersecurity and Patents

The State of the Union and congressional hearings on net neutrality are on tap this week, as well as a number of other events on cybersecurity, patents and more.



  • The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s deputy director, and Obama’s nominee to head the patent office, Michelle K. Lee, is slated to talk at The Brookings Institution.

January 16, 2015

Weekly Wrapup: Net Neutrality, Obama and Space Debris

Get ready for a double feature of net neutrality hearings from the House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over telecom next week. This week, the GOP chairmen the House Energy and Commerce and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee laid out a net neutrality proposal in a Reuters op-ed and released legislative text as well.

In case you missed them, other Technocrat coverage included posts on space debris, stress and technology and more:

  • The Pew Research Center released a report on stress and technology. Here’s our takeway from the report: if you’re stressed out and you think it’s because of all that texting and tweeting, don’t blame it on frequent use of Internet and social media itself. There is, though, something to be said about social use of technology and knowing about stressful events in others’ lives.
  • Technocrat also had a roundup of a few stories on issues covered in President Barack Obama’s multiple tech-related announcements this week that either give you a sense of stakeholder reaction, the current landscape or another announcement made in one particular state.
  • Among the findings in a recent Government Accountability Office report: the government watchdog contends that there are several reasons why the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s estimate of a minimum three-month potential gap in satellite data could occur sooner and last longer than anticipated. One of those reasons has to do with space debris.

January 15, 2015

Roundup: Data Breach Notification, Cybersecurity and Broadband

President Barack Obama’s announcements this week on data breach protection, privacy, cybersecurity and broadband drew a lot of media coverage, but if you’re looking to catch up, here are a few stories on the themes covered this week that either give you a sense of stakeholder reaction, the current landscape or another announcement made in one particular state.

  • The President’s legislative proposal for a national standard for data breach notification:

Seth Rosenblatt at CNET reports on reaction from outside groups and the current landscape of state laws: “While 47 states have laws requiring companies to at least notify consumers of security breaches involving their personal information, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the similarities often end there.”

  • Obama’s cybersecurity information-sharing proposal:

Steven Norton at The Wall Street Journal reports: “The move is indeed encouraging, CIOs and security experts say, but its success will depend largely on making companies comfortable sharing sensitive information in the first place.” He goes on to write: “Firms tend to agree that sharing is a good thing, but the reasons for not wanting to share are plenty.”

  • Broadband announcements:

Of course, the big news was Obama laying out his opposition to state laws restricting municipal broadband and the White House saying that the administration was sending a letter to the Federal Communications Commission urging the panel to address “barriers inhibiting local communities from responding to the broadband needs of their citizens.”

But Matthew Patane at The Des Moines Register reminds us that another announcement on broadband was made in Iowa as well. He looked at a broadband proposal unveiled on Tuesday by Iowa Governor Terry Brandstad: “Branstad asked the Legislature on Tuesday to approve a $5 million grant program that would provide money to telecommunications firms that build or provide more broadband access to rural areas, schools and under-served communities. A similar attempt last year to increase broadband service failed in the state House.”

He also writes that: “Branstad’s proposal calls for a 100 percent property-tax exemption for any broadband infrastructure put in place on or after July 2014. Similar language in last year’s legislation helped derail it.”

January 13, 2015

McCaul Seeks House Foreign Affairs ‘Cyber Agenda’ Bill

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, leaves the House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, leaves the House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul thinks the U.S. should have a strategy for responding to cyberattacks, and on Tuesday the Texas Republican said he wanted to work on legislation on the House Foreign Affairs panel.

“We don’t know how to respond to these things,” McCaul said at a House Foreign Affairs hearing on U.S. policy towards North Korea. He cited, for example, the massive cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has attributed to North Korea and the recent hack of U.S. CENTCOM’s Twitter and YouTube accounts.

“Proportional response, what does that mean? Act of warfare, what does that mean?” he said.

He said he wanted to work with Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., on a “cyber agenda” on the panel, because it was outside his panel’s jurisdiction, in terms of “what do we do with other countries?”

“Do we have a NATO alliance with cyber when a country has hit the other?” he said. What is the “appropriate response when a nation-state hits our infrastructures,” and when a “terrorist organization hits our military,” he said.

The panel had an opportunity to work on legislation that “could deal with defining what is proportionate response, how other countries should respond with us,” he later said.

How is the U.S. going to response in the event of attacks on companies, departments and our military, he asked?

Royce and Virginia Democrat Gerald E. Connolly, seemed interested, both saying they’d be happy to work with McCaul.

Tim Starks at Five by Five has more on McCaul calling for the development U.S. cyber offense rules on Monday and how it’s an area that’s been given much thought, but hasn’t seen much action.

January 12, 2015

Obama Talks Privacy and Data Breach Notification at FTC

President Barack Obama spoke at the Federal Trade Commission on Monday, where he outlined proposals on data breach notification and student data privacy.

Before talking about those legislative proposals, Obama laid out the groundwork, explaining his broader philosophical idea of the dual benefits and risks of our digital economy:

And in the 21st century, in this dizzying age of technology and innovation, so much of the prosperity that we seek, so many of the jobs that we create, so much of the opportunity that’s available for the next generation depends on our digital economy. It depends on our ability to search and connect and shop and do business and create and discover and learn online, in cyberspace. And as we’ve all been reminded over the past year, including the hack of Sony, this extraordinary interconnection creates enormous opportunities but also creates enormous vulnerabilities for us as a nation, and for our economy and for individual families.

The Week Ahead: Cybersecurity, Communications Law and More

This week, President Barack Obama will announce legislative proposals and executive actions addressing cybersecurity, privacy and identity theft and broadband access, previewing his State of the Union address, according to a White House official this past weekend. Events discussing the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, communications law and digital security are on tap as well this week.


The House Foreign Affairs Committee holds a briefing titled “The North Korean Threat: Nuclear, Missiles and Cyber.” The briefing comes after the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has said North Korea is responsible for the cyberattack.

Heritage Action for America’s Conservative Policy Summit continues on its second day, which will include a session on digital security in 2015.


NetCompetition hosts a panel discussion on modernizing communications law.


The Bipartisan Policy Center hosts a panel discussion on strategic implications of the cyberattack on Sony Pictures.

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