This Week in Washington IP: Federal Technology Investments, Advancing Clean and Nuclear Energy R&D, and Former Google CEO Schmidt on Innovation Policy

By IPWatchdog
July 13, 2020

Washington IPThis week in Washington IP news, the Senate remains in recess, but the House of Representatives features several committee hearings on the creation of a National Cyber Director office, the use of technologies for remote voting by House members and accelerating the pathway from basic research to commercialization in energy innovation. Elsewhere, the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation hosts webinars on supporting biopharmaceutical sector innovation and legislative proposals to ban end-to-end encryption, while the Center for Strategic & International Studies explores nuclear energy innovation and hosts a discussion on innovation policy with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt. 

Tuesday, July 14 

New America

Transformation: Building and Reusing Open Source Tools in Government

At 11:30 AM on Tuesday, online video webinar.

Many governmental tech policy commentators have argued for the use of open source software tools across multiple levels of government as a means of improving transparency and increasing the responsiveness of those systems across various tech platforms. This event will begin with remarks on increasing the use of open source software platforms by governments from Cecilia Muñoz, Vice President for Public Interest Technology and Local Initiatives, New America. These remarks will be followed by a discussion on the current state of open source tool use by government with a panel including Brian Behlendorf, Executive Director, Hyperledger; Robin Carnahan, Fellow, Georgetown University, Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation; Laura Kogler, Engineering Director, Code for America; Srijoni Sen, Legal Counsel, MOSIP; and moderated by Tomicah Tillemann, Executive Director of the Digital Impact and Governance Initiative (DIGI) at New America. Following this will be a discussion on the use of open source software during a global crisis with a panel including Mark Lerner, Fellow, DIGI and Public Interest Technology; Angelica Quirarte, Assistant Secretary, California Government Operations Agency; Raylene Yung, Co-Founder and CEO, U.S. Digital Response; and moderated by Hana Schank, Director of Strategy, Public Interest Technology, New America.

Center for Strategic & International Studies 

Innovation in Advanced Nuclear Energy

At 1:00 PM on Tuesday, online video webinar.

In mid-June, the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE0 announced a $65 million investment into 93 advanced nuclear technology projects across 28 states, including $38.6 million to support university-led research programs. This event, the fourth in CSIS’s Energy Innovation Series, will feature a keynote address on the DoE’s priorities on supporting nuclear innovation by Dr. Rita Baranwal, Assistant Secretary, Office of Nuclear Energy, U.S. DoE. Following that address will be a discussion on efforts to support the innovation chain from basic research to commercialization with a panel including Ashley Finan, Director, National Reactor Innovation Center, Idaho National Laboratory; Todd Allen, Chair and Professor, Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences, University of Michigan, and Senior Visiting Fellow, Third Way Energy; and moderated by Jane Nakano, Senior Fellow, Energy Security and Climate Change Program, CSIS.

New America

How Ranking and Recommendation Algorithms Influence How We See the World

At 2:30 PM on Tuesday, online video webinar.

Many consumers browsing Internet platforms will notice that certain advertising and news feed items based on past browsing history will appear as they scroll through these webpage-based platforms. However, many consumers don’t understand the algorithm-based processes used to generate these recommended links and Internet platforms have been less than transparent about how such processes are implemented. This event, the second of a two-part series on promoting fairness and accountability in ranking and recommendation algorithms, features various speakers including Daphne Keller, Director of Platform Regulation, Stanford Cyber Policy Center; Heather West, Head of Americas, Mozilla; Spandi Singh, Policy Analyst, New America’s Open Technology Institute; and Lisa A. Hayes, Director, Tech Policy & Senior Counsel, TikTok. The event is moderated by Lauren Sarkesian, Senior Policy Counsel, New America’s Open Technology Institute.

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation 

The Problem With Banning End-to-End Encryption

At 3:00 PM on Tuesday, online video webinar.

Over the past few decades, a debate has emerged over the use of end-to-end encryption for digital communications. One one side, civil liberty and business advocates have touted the benefits of keeping various forms of communication secure. On the other, law enforcement officials have criticized these technologies for impairing the investigation of crimes. This event will explore current legislative proposals regarding encryption technologies and the potential of “backdoor” access to encrypted data by law enforcement. The event features a discussion with a panel including Riana Pfefferkorn, Associate Director of Surveillance and Cybersecurity, Stanford Center for Internet and Society; Hannah Quay-de la Vallee, Senior Technologist, Center for Democracy & Technology; Neema Singh Guliani, Senior Legislative Counsel, ACLU; and moderated by Stephen Ezell, Vice President, ITIF, and Director, Center for Data Innovation. 

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Wednesday, July 15 

House Committee on Oversight and Reform 

H.R. 7331, the National Cyber Director Act

At 12:00 PM on Wednesday, online video webinar.

Among the many recommendations provided by the Cyberspace Solarium Commission’s report on U.S. cybersecurity concerns in the public and private sectors issued this March includes the establishment of a National Cyber Director position within the Executive Office of the President. This director’s position, which would be established with passage of H.R. 7331, would coordinate cyber response activities across federal agencies and lead federal planning for defensive cyber activities. The first witness panel for this hearing will include the Honorable Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Member of Congress and Commissioner, Cyberspace Solarium Commission; and the Honorable James R. Langevin (D-RI), Member of Congress and Commissioner, Cyberspace Solarium Commission. The second panel will include J. Michael Daniel, President and CEO, Cyber Threat Alliance, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator; Jamil N. Jaffer, Founder and Executive Director, National Security Institute, George Mason University; the Honorable Michael J. Rogers, David Abshire Chair, Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress, and Former Chairman, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; Suzanne Spaulding, Senior Advisor, Homeland Security, Center for Strategic & International Studies, and Commissioner, Cyberspace Solarium Commission; and Amit Yoran, Chairman and CEO, Tenable, and Founding Director, U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team. 

House Committee on the Budget

Software Update Required: COVID-19 Exposes Need for Federal Investments in Technology

At 2:00 PM on Wednesday, online video webinar.

The outdated nature of legacy IT systems still in operation at many federal agencies was already a problem before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the global health emergency and the immediate shift to remote, virtual interactions between people and many government services have put an unforeseen strain on these platforms. Despite the massive $2.2 trillion spending bill enacted within the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, only $500 million has been earmarked in that bill for public health data modernization and only $12 million set aside for digitizing federal employee retirement processing. The witness panel for this hearing will include Teresa Gerton, President and CEO, National Academy of Public Administration; Jennifer Pahlka, Founder, Code for America, and Co-Founder, U.S. Digital Response; Rebecca Dixon, Executive Director, National Employment Law Project.

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation 

Is the EU’s AI Policy Headed in the Right Direction?

At 3:00 PM on Thursday, online video webinar.

This February, the European Commission issued a white paper discussing various aspects of a European approach to artificial intelligence (AI) policy involving cooperation among EU member states, focusing research and innovation efforts, and regulatory frameworks for mitigating risks associated with AI. This event will feature a discussion on the EU’s AI white paper with a panel including Janne Elvelid, Policy Manager EU Affairs, Facebook; Irina Orssich, Senior Officer, DG CONNECT, European Commission; Kees van der Klauw, Coalition Manager, Netherlands AI Coalition; Renaud Vedel, Prefect, Coordinator, National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence, French Ministry of the Economy and Finance; and moderated by Eline Chivot, Senior Policy Advisor, Center for Data Innovation.

Thursday, July 16 

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

The Critical Role of Biopharmaceutical Startups in Driving Life Sciences Innovation

At 12:00 PM on Thursday, online video webinar.

The acute need for life sciences innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need to ensure that U.S. policies are supporting and not hindering life-saving innovations in this sector. This event will feature a discussion with a panel including Sally Allain, Regional Head, JLABS @ Washington, DC; David Beier, Managing Director, Bay City Capital; Trevor R.F. Smith, Director of R&D, Inovio Pharmaceuticals; and moderated by Stephen Ezell, Vice President, Global Innovation Policy, ITIF.

Center for Strategic & International Studies 

Public Private Partnerships: The Foundation for America’s Approach to Standards-Setting

At 2:00 PM on Thursday, online video webinar.

Standards setting, especially in electronic and digital communications, has been crucial for the development of the modern technological economy. The American approach to standards setting has involved input from government agencies but is largely the domain of private organizations. This event, the third in a series of CSIS seminars on standards setting, will feature speakers including Joe Bhatia, President, American National Standards Institute; Dr. Walter Copan, Under Secretary of Commerce and Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology; and Phil Wennblom, Director of Standards Policy, Intel Corporation. The event will be moderated by John J. Hamre, President and CEO, CSIS, and Langone Chair in American Leadership

Friday, July 17 

House Committee on House Administration 

Exploring the Feasibility and Security of Technology to Conduct Remote Voting in the House

At 1:00 PM on Friday, online video webinar.

This May, the House of Representatives approved a rules change which allows members of that house of Congress to vote remotely by proxy for the first time in the history of the House. While the move was widely supported by House Democrats, House Republicans criticized the change to the institutional rules over the potential that such a rules change could concentrate power within that chamber and pose a possible constitutional violation. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

House Subcommittee on Energy 

From Lab to Market: Accelerating Our Progress Toward Economic Recovery and a Clean Energy Future

At 1:30 PM on Friday, online video webinar.

Remarks published in early July by Dr. Faith Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, indicated that a much quicker pace of innovation in the clean energy sector is required if governments setting net-zero carbon emission goals by the year 2050 are to meet those goals. The witness panel for this hearing include Jetta Wong, President, JLW Advising and Former Director, Office of Technology Transitions, U.S. Department of Energy; Jennifer States, Director for Blue Economy, DNV GL and Project Director, Washington Maritime Blue; Farah Benahmed, Climate and Energy Policy Advisor, Third Way; Dr. Emily Reichert, CEO, Greentown Labs; and Dr. Lee Cheatham, Director of Technology Deployment and Outreach, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Center for Strategic & International Studies 

Economy Disrupted: Technology, Data, and Innovation Policy

At 4:00 PM on Friday, online video webinar.

COVID-19 maybe be foremost in our focus when thinking of disruptive forces affecting the global economy but CSIS’s Economy Disrupted series looks at this and many other transformative shifts impacting world productivity. This event, the fourth episode in the series, features a discussion on technology and innovation policy with Eric Schmidt, Former Chairman and CEO, Google, and Co-Founder, Schmidt Futures. The event is hosted by Matthew P. Goodman, Senior Vice President for Economics, CSIS; and Stephanie Segal, Senior Fellow for Economics, CSIS.

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