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Rural broadband, data protection on agenda for new White House tech office
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

Increasing access to broadband connectivity will be among the top priorities for members of the newly appointed White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), who face an aggressive agenda as the Biden Administration works to bridge the United State’s digital divide.

Leading this new department is Dr. Eric Lander, the now-former president and founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, who will also act as the first Cabinet-level Presidential Science Advisor. Joining him is Dr. Alondra Nelson, formerly president of the Social Science Research Council, who has taken over as the OSTP’s deputy director for science and society.

Both Lander and Nelson have made clear that increasing equitable access to connectivity is an essential pillar of the administration’s larger mission to repair inequities that have only deepened as converging social, political, and environmental crises shape Biden’s agenda.

“As a Black woman researcher, I am keenly aware of those who are missing from these rooms,” Nelson said during a press event on January 15.

Universal broadband was a key component of the Biden campaign’s plan to stem challenges that may predate the COVID-19 pandemic but only got worse over the course of the past year, including a “lack of access to health care, unreliable broadband, and the chronic underfunding of public schools.”

With the new administration now in office, the OSTP can begin executing on the campaign’s plan to deliver “universal, reliable, affordable, and high-speed internet” coast-to-coast for workers to “do their jobs,” pledging to leverage 5G to expand access to every American.

Big investments into rural broadband

Underscoring all of this is more than $20 billion in projected investments into new and existing programs, including tripling contributions to the Community Connect broadband grant program and reforming the Lifeline program to expand subsidies to low-income Americans. But to accomplish all of the administration’s tech goals, it’ll also require real boots on the ground building out the physical broadband infrastructure to one day deliver the access and efficacy of other critical services.

Along with expanding infrastructure to rural communities, the administration has recently expressed interest in enhancing the federal E-Rate program to help schools and libraries provide Internet access.

Will the U.S. adopt its own version of GDPR?

Another hot topic that will surely be debated in the early months of the administration is data protection, ownership and security, especially in the wake of recent high-profile security incidents that have highlighted the need for greater scrutiny and stronger policies in the private sector and at the government level.

The campaign has already promised “to launch the most ambitious effort ever” to modernize national cyberdefenses, but with more global regulations like GDPR—and even the state of California’s wide-ranging CCPA—making individual data protection a priority, it’s safe to expect members of the senate and house will propose new protections and policies early on in the administration.

The goal of all of this will be to lay the groundwork for a future where workers across industries are more reliant on the network to complete their day-to-day work and stay connected. Laying the infrastructure is essential groundwork that will allow businesses to expand their footprint, support enterprise decentralization, and grant users greater access to digital workflows going forward.

This will require enterprise IT teams to be sure they are leveraging monitoring and management solutions that can deliver network visibility across a bevy of network stakeholders—from cloud providers to the WiFi links in a worker’s home.

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Filed Under: industry insights

Tags: network management, network performance monitoring, network monitoring, enterprise IT, enterprise networks, Biden, OSTP, white house, enterprise IT, internet access, rural internet, cybersecurity, data security, data protection, digital divide, rural broadband, broadband, enterprise IT

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