The Week in Tech Policy: Oct. 8th Edition – The Debate on Cybersecurity, Warrantless Mobile Device Tracking & More

In this edition of The Week in Tech Policy, we have stories on the continuing debates around cybersecurity, warrantless tracking of Americans’ mobile devices and more.

Debate on cybersecurity continues. Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, says that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should lead any effort to facilitate the transfer of threat information between American companies and government agencies, according to this report in Hillicon Valley. However, Senate Republicans say a recent congressional report on DHS indicates that the agency lacks the skills and resources to take a lead role in protecting the nation’s computer systems

FCC begins process for freeing up more wireless spectrum. CNET’s Politics and Law Blog reports that the FCC has started what could be a long process for “reclaiming broadcast TV spectrum for wireless use.” The process will have three parts: a reverse auction whereby broadcaster sell their spectrum back to the federal government; re-allocation of remaining television spectrum that will free up big blocks of bandwidth for use by wireless carriers; an auction whereby wireless carriers then bid on available spectrum. At the same time, the FCC is also considering reintroducing spectrum caps – regulations that impose limits on how much spectrum any one wireless provider can own at any one time. contributor Hal Singer, Managing Director and Principal at Navigant Economics, offers this perspective on spectrum caps.

U.S. Justice Department: Warrantless tracking of Americans’ cell phones is legal. Whether law enforcement official must obtain a warrant from a judge to track the movements of Americans’ mobile devices is a topic that’s gotten a great deal of attention lately. Recently, a bill was introduced in the California legislature that would have required police to obtain a warrant, but the bill was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown. Also, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, introduced a bill that would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant from a judge. Now, CNET reports, “Federal prosecutors are planning to argue that they should be able to obtain stored records revealing the minute-by-minute movements of mobile users over a 60-day period — in this case, T-Mobile and MetroPCS customers — without having to ask a judge to approve a warrant first.”

Creating the next generation of tech talent. In a Sept. 30 story, New York Times reporter Nick Wingfield highlighted the challenges of fostering the next generation of skilled workers. The challenge, as Microsoft see it, is this: At a time when five of the top ten fastest growing jobs will be in a computer-related field and two of the top three top bachelors’ salaries are in computer science and engineering, it’s concerning that only 0.6 percent of the nation’s 1.06 million public high school teachers have “Computer and Information Sciences” as their primary teaching assignment. There currently are just over 42,000 high schools in the United States but only 2,100 of them were certified to teach the Advanced Placement computer science course in 2011. The Times story focuses on how Microsoft is trying to help close the gap with its Technology Education and Literacy in Schools, or TEALS program.

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