Banking, Broadband, & Big Tech

Hello and welcome back to Citizen Tech, InformationWeek’s Monthly policy report. This month we’re looking to report on bank cyber incidents, semiconductor chip shortages, the EU’s battle with big tech companies, President Biden’s broadband plans, and more.

Banks must report cyber incidents

On November 18, the FDIC announced a new rule for reporting cyber incidents to banks. Beginning May 1, 2022, a financial institution will have 36 hours to notify its primary federal regulator of any major cybersecurity incident, and to notify customers as soon as possible of any outage lasting four hours or more.

The rule covers all banking jobs and services, as defined by the Banking Services Corporation Act. It is likely to include fintech companies.

Every discussion of cybersecurity regulation in the United States seems to find its way back into notification protocols – most of which do not exist. The FDIC announcement is an important step toward creating a coherent reporting framework across the industry.

However, expect resistance from companies. The FDIC announcement acknowledges that the 36-hour rule has been controversial, with many banks arguing it was too narrow a window to identify the problem and respond.

Biden floats, Bungles Broadband

After months of wrangling and promises, President Biden’s Infrastructure and Jobs Investment Act has been passed into law, with significant significance for the tech sector.

NextGov indicated that a whopping $42.45 billion will go to the Broadband Copyright Access and Publishing Program, with each state receiving $100 million. The plan aims to provide broadband access to underserved parts of the United States, particularly rural areas. Nearly $6 billion will be allocated to similar programs.

All of this sounds like welcome news, but Politico is quick to disagree, saying the bill makes a dog breakfast meaningfully bridges the digital divide. Wrong maps: The Federal Communications Commission and state governments cannot reliably identify broadband dead sites. One regulator claimed that the federal estimate of broadband availability has stalled at an incredible 80% in one rural county in Mississippi.

According to Pew Research data released in August, rural Americans tend to lag behind their compatriots in their city by about 8% to 10% in key technology indicators. So while 89% of Americans in urban areas own a smartphone, only 80% of rural Americans own a smartphone. Home broadband is 72% in the countryside, but the numbers in urban and suburban areas aren’t much better: seventy-seven percent and 79 percent, respectively. (There is also a racial divide: only 65% ​​of Hispanic adults have a home broadband.)

Those low numbers are a serious weakness, as the shift to remote work and school online last year made clear.

More chips for everyone

Anyone who thinks technology has conquered geography has finally learned their lesson. With ships and trucks out of the way, Chinese semiconductors on which industries like electric cars depend are becoming scarce.

Both the Biden administration and the European Commission made efforts this month to boost domestic chip production. US lawmakers made significant progress this month toward passing the CHIPS Act, which would spur US semiconductor manufacturing. The Senate bill would give $52 billion for semiconductor production alone.

The Biden administration, as Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, encouraged the drive to wean American industry off foreign chips, as did a group of nine bipartisan governors. Among these notable governors is Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer, a reminder that the future of the auto industry is electric and dependent on a steady supply of semiconductors.

“We are at an inflection point and we have to make decisions,” Raimondo told reporters before his appearance at the Detroit Economic Club (via The Detroit News), “If we are serious about reclaiming American leadership in the global economy, we have to start by rebuilding our semiconductor industry so that we can meet the requirements of this moment “.

Meanwhile, in Brussels, the Van Der Leyen commission is considering its own CHIPS law to raise European chip production from 10% to 20% of global supply. Long-time competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager announced this month that the commission would not shy away from pumping money into chip production in Europe, Reuters reports.

Of course there are objections to this, and of course the objections are divided on geographical grounds. French President Emmanuel Macron (who directs Canal de Gaulle) urged more generous subsidies from Brussels, while Dutch and Irish lawmakers wiggled their fingers at any potential antitrust violation.

“Each semiconductor supply case will be evaluated rigorously on the merits of each, to ensure that the project has a European nature and certainly avoids a support race within and outside the union,” Vestager said.

Reuters quoted management consultancy Kearney estimates that a “huge semiconductor plant” could add up to 85 billion euros to European GDP over the next decade.

EU Digital Contract

Expect more and more technical news from the European Union. On November 10, the European Commission announced the adoption of three new campaigns for the Digital Europe programme, worth €2 billion. The largest of these new programs will finance investment in everything from artificial intelligence to cloud and quantum infrastructure, with 1.38 billion euros through the end of 2022. The other two pump money into cybersecurity and a network of “digital innovation hubs.”

The committee’s press release emphasizes that the new data spaces created by these programs will not be bound by borders, and will favor (at least in theory) small and medium-sized businesses and start-ups. Funding for digital skills training is also included.

A fact sheet on the Digital Europe Program is available on the UNHCR website.

The announcement comes, perhaps unsurprisingly, on the heels of the European Parliament’s rebuke of major US tech companies. On November 8, MEPs invited Facebook whistleblower Frances Hogan to Strasbourg as part of deliberations on a proposed digital services law, which would tackle targeted advertising, opaque algorithms, lack of accountability and illegal web content. Cough, cough.

Politico has reviewed the implications of the Digital Services Act, including child protection measures and an attempt to prevent smaller European tech companies from going under.

Make no mistake: the narrative in Brussels and Strasbourg has good guys and bad guys, and bad guys are exclusively American and Chinese (especially TikTok). A shocking POLITICO graphic, drawn from 2020 Nasdaq and World Bank data, shows that they may have something: Apple’s market capitalization is a little bigger than France’s GDP. Facebook is worth more than Holland.

The US, UK and Australia condemn Iran-sponsored cyber attacks

On November 17, the security agencies of the United States (FBI and CISA), the United Kingdom (NCSC), and Australia (ACSC) released a joint advisory report outlining a new Advanced and Persistent Threat (APT), a criminal organization sponsored by the Islamic Republic. Iran.

The advisory claims that this new threat, which includes actors such as Fox Kitten, is responsible for a number of infrastructure attacks in the United States and Australia, including in the public health sector, throughout 2021. They appear to be focusing on known vulnerabilities, vulnerabilities . It shields Microsoft Exchange ProxyShell and Fortinet among others for spreading ransomware.

The consultant cautions that follow-ups could include or include data mining or encryption, as well as (now normal) ransomware.

Cryptography in India: Don’t Expect a War

It’s no secret that cryptocurrencies are making central banks nervous: Bitcoin and the like exist to violate regulation and control. So far, few national governments have dared to ban cryptocurrencies entirely; We’ve had a few years of the Cold War, with the US Securities and Exchange Commission publicly sniping at Terraform Labs, for example, and many governments considering a ban on mixers.

Turkey, which is witnessing its lira in free decline, is heading towards a total ban. Nigeria has attempted a ban, but it is still the second largest bitcoin market in the world. In Russia, the position of the Kremlin is ambiguous, as rumors circulate about CryptoRuble. But China is the only major international power that has succeeded in blocking crypto transactions by its citizens, deadlocked.

Now, India may join them. A new bill, the Cryptocurrency and Official Digital Currency Act, 2021, “seeks to ban all private cryptocurrencies in India, however, allowing some exceptions to enhance the underlying technology and uses of cryptocurrencies.”

According to the BBC, the news caused fairly small waves in the crypto markets: Bitcoin is down 13% in India, and Dogecoin is down 15%. There was no significant drop, especially for the infamous cryptocurrency market.

This suggests that the Indian rebellion may not be as serious as it seems. India’s Financial Express reports several failed bans (see Nigeria) and shrugs its shoulders. The wording of the bill, too, softens the ban a bit. What are “some exceptions” and to whom do they apply?

What to read next:

Global Technology Policy Brief October 2021

The future of privacy: What IT leaders need to know

The U.S.-Iran Cyber ​​Conflict Ignites (from dark reading)


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