This Week in Washington IP: FTC Oversight, More Big Tech Antitrust Issues, and Promoting Cybersecurity During the Election Cycle

By IPWatchdog
August 4, 2020

Washington IPThis week in Washington IP events, Congressional hearings on technology and innovation take place through Wednesday, while the House Government Operations Subcommittee kicked the week off Monday afternoon with a look at the most recent round of government agency IT acquisition scores under FITARA. At noon on Tuesday, the House Cybersecurity Subcommittee discusses cybersecurity issues related to the 2020 elections. Over in the Senate, committee hearings will focus on cybersecurity recommendations from the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, cybersecurity in the energy sector, as well as oversight of the Federal Trade Commission. Elsewhere, the Aspen Institute explores innovations in carbon removal and democratic participation, while New America closes the week out with a conversation on racial equity in technological platforms.

Monday, August 3

House Subcommittee on Government Operations

Hybrid Hearing on FITARA 10.0

At 2:00 PM on Monday in 2154 Rayburn House Office Building.

This was the 10th biannual hearing held by the House Government Operations Subcommittee to assess the implementation of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), a 2014 law passed to overhaul aging IT systems across federal agencies. According to a transcript of a July 20 hearing of the subcommittee, this hearing marked the first time since the passage of FITARA that no federal agency scored a D or F on the IT acquisition strategy scorecard. The first witness panel for the hearing included Clare Martorana, Chief Information Officer, Office of Personnel Management; Jason Gray, Chief Information Officer, Department of Education; Maria A. Roat, Deputy Federal Chief Information Officer, Office of Management and Budget; and Carol Harris, Director, IT Management Issues, Government Accountability Office. The second panel included David Powner, Director of Strategic Engagement and Partnerships, The MITRE Corporation; LaVerne Council, CEO, Emerald One, LLC; and Richard Spires, Principal, Richard A. Spires Consulting.


Tuesday, August 4

House Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, & Innovation

Secure, Safe, and Auditable: Protecting the Integrity of the 2020 Elections 

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

Cybersecurity in voting systems is a major topic of concern every election season but especially so during presidential elections. In recent weeks, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been facilitating contact between cybersecurity experts and local election officials along with providing other resources to promote security in voting systems. The witness panel for this hearing will include David Levine, Elections Integrity Fellow, Alliance for Securing Democracy, German Marshall Fund of the United States; Sylvia Albert, Director of Voting and Elections, Common Cause; Amber McReynolds, CEO, National Vote at Home Institute; and John Gilligan, President and CEO, Center for Internet Security, Inc.

Senate Committee on Armed Services 

Findings and Recommendations of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission

At 2:30 PM on Tuesday in 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

The Cyberspace Solarium Commission released its report on the state of cybersecurity strategy implementation including 75 recommendations on promoting cyber deterrence in the U.S., many of which have been included in amendments to bills that have been passed by Congress this summer. In early June, the commission also released a white paper on cybersecurity lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. The witness panel for this hearing will include Senator Angus S. King, Jr. (I-ME), Co-Chair, Cyberspace Solarium Commission; Representative Michael J. Gallagher (R-WI), Co-Chair, Cyberspace Solarium Commission; and Brigadier General John C. Inglis, ANG (Ret.), Commissioner, Cyberspace Solarium Commission.

The Brookings Institution

Breaking Up Big Tech: Should Congress Do It?

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

Increased antitrust regulation of major tech firms like Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon has been a field of political debate that has become increasingly bipartisan in recent years. This event will explore whether these companies wield monopoly power and whether government action must be taken in order to protect the public interest. The event will feature a discussion with a panel include Kara Swisher, Co-Founder and Editor-at-Large, Recode, and Columnist, The New York Times; Tom Wheeler, Visiting Fellow, Governance Studies, Center for Technology Innovation; Oliver Darcy, Senior Media Reporter, CNN; and moderated by Dipayan Ghosh, Co-Director, Digital Platforms & Democracy Project, Harvard Kennedy School, and Faculty Member, Harvard Law School.

Wednesday, August 5 

The Aspen Institute 

Aspen Tech Policy Hub Demo Day – Improving Democracy Through Technology

At 9:00 AM on Wednesday, online video webinar.

The Aspen Tech Policy Hub at the Aspen Institute is a tech policy incubator featuring an in-residence fellowship program in the San Francisco area. This particular demonstration day explores projects by policy hub fellows related to the theme “Improving Democracy Through Technology” with projects focused on identifying dark ads meant to spread election disinformation, automated advocates for scalable legal service provision and facilitating feedback to government officials from underprivileged communities. Presentations of these projects will be offered by policy hub fellows Elizabeth Allendorf, AI Engineer, Northrop Grumman; Matthew Volk, Senior Engineer, Facebook; Jessica Cole, Civic Technologist and Former Head of Innovation and Economic Development, City of Walnut Creek, CA; and Amy Wilson, Former Managing Director, MACH37. Following the presentations will be remarks by California Supreme Court Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar. 

Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources 

Hearing to Examine Efforts to Improve Cybersecurity for the Energy Sector

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in 366 Dirksen.

In early May, President Donald Trump issued an executive order on securing the bulk-power system across the U.S., an order which requires various efforts by energy providers and government officials to mitigate risks associated with cyber attacks which can negatively impact the U.S. economy and national defense. In early July, the U.S. Department of Energy issued a request for information in the Federal Register seeking information pursuant to May’s executive order to identify current practices in the energy industry to reduce supply chain vulnerabilities, especially from Russian and Chinese sources. The witness panel for this hearing will include Alexander Gates, Senior Advisor, Office of Policy for Cybersecurity, Energy Security, & Emergency Response, U.S. Department of Energy; Joseph McClelland, Director, Office of Energy Infrastructure Security, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; Steve Conner, President and CEO, Siemens Energy, Inc.; and Thomas F. O’Brien, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, PJM Interconnection.

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

Oversight of the Federal Trade Commission

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in 253 Russell Senate Office Building.

Following swiftly on the heels of a House Antitrust Subcommittee hearing last week featuring the CEOs of major U.S. tech firms, this Senate hearing to provide oversight of the FTC is likely to focus on the agency’s enforcement of antitrust regulations against the tech ruling class. Advance coverage of this hearing indicates that topics of interest will also likely include the regulation of social media content as well as digital privacy concerns. The witness panel for this hearing will include the Honorable Joe Simons, Chairman, FTC; the Honorable Noah Phillips, Commissioner, FTC; the Honorable Rohit Chopra, Commissioner, FTC; the Honorable Rebecca Slaughter, Commissioner, FTC; and the Honorable Christine Wilson, Commissioner, FTC.

The Aspen Institute 

Innovators in Carbon Removal: A Virtual Exchange of Ideas

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

In late July, a bipartisan coalition of Senators introduced the Carbon Removal, Efficient Agencies, Technology Expertise (CREATE) Act, a bill that would create a comprehensive federal initiative for carbon dioxide removal by establishing a carbon management program with officials from various federal agencies including the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense, as well as the creation of four working groups to enhance existing research projects. This event, the latest in the Aspen Institute’s Innovators in ________: A Virtual Exchange of Ideas series, will feature a discussion on carbon capture and utilization with David Elenowitz, President and Founder, Zero Carbon Partners.

New America

A Conversation on Racial Equity and Technology

At 5:00 PM on Wednesday, online video webinar.

Since its advent about two decades ago, the Internet has been hailed as one of the most democratizing technologies in terms of providing access to information to all, including underprivileged classes who have historically not had access to many useful resources. However, some commentators have pointed out how Internet-based frameworks still work to eliminate opportunities for many members of these underprivileged classes on search engines, social media platforms and more. This event will feature a discussion with a panel including Dr. Charlton McIlwain, Vice Provost, Faculty Engagement and Development, and Director, Public Interest Technology Alliance, New York University; Dr. Michele Claibourn, Director, Research Data Services, Social, Natural, and Engineering Sciences, University of Virginia Library, and Co-Director, Commas Lab; and Saif Y. Ishoof, Vice President for Engagement, Florida International University.

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There are currently 1 Comment comments. Join the discussion.

  1. Pro Say August 4, 2020 10:42 am

    Big Tech?

    When is enough, enough?

    Break. Them. Up.


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