Aug 4, 2009 | 3
White House acting cyber security czar Melissa Hathaway on Monday became the latest to walk away from a position that (ostensibly, at least) promises to play the primary role in protecting the nation's digital infrastructure. Hathaway told The Wall Street Journal she was leaving the White House after about six months there for "personal reasons," but the paper also made clear that Hathaway (like many of her federal-level cyber security predecessors) was embroiled in a power struggle that she was unlikely to win.
Hathaway, a holdover from the Bush administration, locked horns with President Obama's economic team, the Journal reports, after she said it should consider options for regulating some private-sector entities to ensure they secure their networks. Instead of "spinning her wheels" in the White House, as one Journal source put it, Hathaway decided to "pass the torch."
May 26, 2009
Now that President Obama has named Sonia Sotomayor as his choice for the nation's highest court, he is expected to this week select a "cyber czar" to act as the U.S.'s highest-ranking cyber security official, The Washington Post reports today. The person assuming this newly created position will be responsible for protecting the country's government-run and private computer networks and will likely get a seat on the National Security Council.
Obama announced today that he is folding White House staff focusing on homeland security and counterterrorism into the National Security Council, The Boston Globe reports. The cyber czar will likely report both to the national security adviser and the senior White House economic adviser, a move that would indicate a desire to protect private networks without threatening economic growth, according to the Post, citing anonymous sources.
May 8, 2009 | 1
The White House yesterday announced that it will convene a 10-member independent panel to thoroughly review NASA's plans for human spaceflight. The announcement calls into doubt the agency's current cornerstones for manned missions, including the planned replacement for the soon-to-be-retired space shuttle and the stated goal of returning humans to the moon by 2020.
In a teleconference with reporters today, the panel's chair, former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine, gave few hints as to the future of manned spaceflight in the U.S., saying that his group's mission was simply to "take a fresh look and go where the facts are and basically call it the way we see it."
Apr 20, 2009
President Obama has tapped Aneesh Chopra to be the nation's first-ever chief technology officer. If confirmed as expected by the Senate, Chopra, 37, now Virginia's top technology official, will be tasked with stimulating U.S. tech jobs as well as with using technology to reduce healthcare costs and improve national security.
Before becoming Virginia's tech secretary in 2005, Chopra served as managing director of the Advisory Board Company, a Washington, D.C. health care think tank serving nearly 2,500 hospitals and health systems. At the Advisory Board Company, he led the firm's Financial Leadership Council (established to sell finance strategy services to chief financial officers and finance departments at hospitals and health-care systems) and the Working Council for Health Plan Executives (which sells business strategy services to health-care plans and insurers). Chopra also helped launch of the firm's Compass business intelligence software. He graduated in 1997 with a Masters in public policy from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Apr 14, 2009
If Cuba's government allows it, the country's 11.5 million citizens may soon have greater access to U.S. tech trappings—including high-speed networks and satellite television and radio—thanks to Obama administration plans to ease restrictions that bar U.S. telecom providers from setting up shop there.
President Obama earlier this week directed the secretaries of State, Treasury and Commerce to take the steps required to authorize U.S. telecommunications network providers to cut deals to establish fiber-optic cable and satellite links between the U.S. and Cuba. Such a move has been a no-no since the Kennedy administration imposed stiff restrictions barring Americans from doing business with Cuba. The policy switch would also allow U.S. and Cuban telecoms to pen roaming service agreements—and satellite radio and TV providers in both countries to cut service deals.
Mar 24, 2009 | 5
The new economic stimulus package set aside $11 billion in federal funding for creation of a so-called "smart grid." But it's not clear what this national electricity delivery system will look like, how it will function or who will manage the information required to make the grid intelligent. Local power utilities can install the smart meters in homes that provide data about energy usage and constitute an integral part of the overall smart grid, but it's the cable and telephone companies that have the broadband infrastructure to send this info back to the utilities.
Over the next three years, Progress Energy, a Raleigh, N.C., power company, and the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg plan to equip some 5,000 homes and businesses in west St. Petersburg and St. Pete Beach with special meters, sensors and switches to create one of the U.S.'s largest smart grids, according to Tampa Bay Online. If the $15 million experiment is a success, Progress plans to incorporate smart-grid technology over the next 10 years in its most populated service areas, including Orlando and areas of Pinellas County in addition to St. Petersburg.
Feb 12, 2009 | 3
Senate and House negotiators reportedly stripped out billions of dollars in tax cuts for big telcos, including Verizon Communications, Inc., and AT&T, from the compromise $789-billion stimulus package that were included in the Senate version to spur expansion of broadband coverage into rural areas.
The Senate money measure had called for 10 percent tax credits for companies that increased Internet service in pockets where it exists but is scarce and a 20 percent tax breaks for building new networks in currently unserved parts of the country. The House bill did not contain any plan for tax credits.
Feb 10, 2009
Pres. Obama yesterday ordered a 60-day review of federal government programs designed to protect online info, including tax records, social security numbers, passport info and classified documents.
The president appointed Melissa Hathaway (pdf), who was a senior advisor to the National Intelligence director during the Bush administration, to head the review. Hathaway is tasked with reviewing all existing government cyber security programs and recommending ways to improve them, according to The Washington Post.
Hathaway in October wrote an op-ed piece for McClatchy-Tribune News Service (pdf) in which she called for "stronger international alliances to share the responsibility for securing cyberspace."
Feb 4, 2009 | 2
Just two weeks before a switch to all-digital TV was set to take effect, the House today voted 264 to 158 to delay the move until June 12. This was the second attempt by the Democratic-controlled House to push through the measure, which the Senate easily passed last week (twice) and President Obama has said he will sign into law. Obama and congressional Democrats backed the delay to give some 2.6 million people who still do not have digital TVs time to get $40 vouchers from the feds to subsidize the $50 to $70 cost of converters that will enable them to watch digital programs.
People with digital TVs, who subscribe to digital cable service or have satellite dishes don't have to worry about getting a converter or taking any other steps when the change takes effect. All new televisions sold in the U.S. since March 1, 2007, have been required to have a DTV digital receiver built in.
Jan 27, 2009
Despite a year of warnings that television was going digital, consumers are not ready to make the transition, according to President Barack Obama and telecom officials. So the Democratic-controlled Senate unanimously passed a measure yesterday that would push back the switch from analog to digital TV broadcasts to June 12, giving the 6.5 million U.S. households (according to The Nielsen Company) unable to receive digital TV programming a chance to buy converter boxes. The House is set to approve the legislation today.
Among the reasons for the delay: The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) ran out of $40 coupons it was distributing to offset the $50-to-$70 cost of buying a device to convert traditional analogue TVs to digital. Nearly 2.6 million viewers had to be put on a waiting list for the coupons, the Associated Press reports. People with digital TVs, who subscribe to digital cable service or have satellite dishes don't have to worry about getting a converter or taking any other steps when the change takes effect.
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