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The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a subdivision within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is on track to issue an unprecedented security directive this week that will render it mandatory for pipeline company officials to alert federal authorities when cyber incidents occur. A second directive aimed at pipeline companies will become effective sometime after the initial one and will dictate that self-assessments be conducted for known vulnerabilities in their cybersecurity systems.
This comes after the FBI identified Russian ransomware group ‘DarkSide’ as being the culprit in halting Colonial Pipeline’s operations for 11 days, wreaking havoc and gas shortages primarily in the Southeastern United States. Colonial Pipeline was only restored access to their networks after Darkside extorted at least $5 million bitcoin from them, despite federal recommendations that advised against paying cyber-attackers since it may entice them to act again.
Prior to this massive and unanticipated attack on the United State’s pipeline infrastructure, DHS had merely provided unregulated guidance to pipeline companies regarding how to manage threats. Now, they will have to comply by hiring an official to manage cyber elements as well as regularly test controls that are in place to identify loopholes and correct them promptly. In collaboration with the TSA, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is working directly with pipeline companies to help strengthen their defense mechanisms and ensure future incidents are drastically mitigated.
The ransomware attack instilled fear in Americans, including the government agencies who strive to protect them from such incidents, because the fuel shortages that were becoming rampant could have led to severe consequences to airlines, forms of transit, and even oil refineries. Top government officials, including DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and President Biden, accepted the cyberattack as a lesson that cybersecurity must be enforced on a greater level and that available oversight should be utilized to the fullest extent to support the pipeline industry.
More and More States are Looking to Provide Universal Broadband
Some states in America now see broadband internet as a universal right and are fighting to give it to all of their residents. And some of these states are now using the recently-passed American Rescue Plan as a way to do it.
In July of 2021, Virginia governor Ralph Northan announced a major plan that will expand broadband access to all Virginia residents by the year 2024. To make this plan a reality, Northam intends to use $700 million in federal funds set aside by the American Rescue Plan, which was passed at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to assist citizens and states struggling to make ends meet. In total, more than $4 billion was promised to Virginia so Northam’s plan will just use a portion of the total sum.
Virginia isn’t alone in its quest to give all residents broadband access. Others such as Connecticut and the nation’s most-populated state, California, are promising to find ways to fund broadband for all. Connecticut’s plan is more comprehensive than California’s, with a goal of 2027 set in place. There is a good chance that more states will follow the lead created by these states as the demand for universal broadband becomes stronger and the need becomes more apparent.
In 2020, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia crated a report that found one in five Virginia students lacked high-speed internet or a computer at home. Broadband coverage has always been sparse in rural areas, with many residents unable to even pay for the service. The Coronavirus pandemic only highlighted the need for internet access for all citizens, as most were forced to work from home and all students were required to attend classes online. More and more people and politicians are beginning to speak out, stating that broadband access is a right that all Americans are entitled to.
With the 2022 mid-term elections beginning to loom over the American political landscape, the idea of creating broadband access for all Americans is becoming more and more popular, and will likely be a major debate point for politicians seeking office.
Former President Trump Sues Twitter, Facebook, and More
Former president Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that he is suing Twitter, Facebook, Google, and their CEOs Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Sundar Pichai, alleging that the social media juggernauts violated Trump’s First Amendment rights when they all banned him from their services. The 45th president has been barred from using Twitter, Facebook, and Google’s Youtube for months now after a mass of his supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6th.
The suits against these tech giants are requesting that Trump be reinstated on all platforms. Currently, his only chance at returning to any of these sites lies with Facebook, which recently said Trump was banned until at least January 2023, although he may be allowed to return after that.
The suits also demand that the court decide section 230 of the Communications Decency Act be ruled unconstitutional. Trump has long railed against section 230, which prohibits technology companies from being held liable by what users on their platforms post.
“We’re not looking to settle,” Trump told reporters at a press conference in front of his gold club in Bedminster, New Jersey. “We don’t know what’s going to happen but we’re not looking to settle,”
Already there are many analysts saying the lawsuits will likely not be held up in a court of law. The claim that Trump’s First Amendment rights were violated will have a hard time passing muster with a judge because Facebook, Twitter, and Google are all private entities and not government institutions, therefore they are free to make choices related to speech that don’t violate constitutional rights. Still, it is one of Trump’s largest moves against Big Tech, a group he has been fighting since before leaving office. Following his ban from the platforms, Trump’s opinion on the companies only lowered and his drive against them increased.
Immediately after announcing the lawsuits, Trump’s political action committees began sending out fundraising emails asking for money to help fund the lawsuits.
China Aggressively Intercepts Didi’s Rising Shares Days After Major IPO
As a part of China’s efforts to improve monitoring of data controlled by tech giants in their vicinity, an investigation has been initiated against Didi Global Inc. (Didi). Exact details surrounding why Didi needed to be looked at in the first place remains unclear, but China did mention that it is being done to identify and prevent threats. National security, data security, and public interest were cited as the main concerns influencing the investigation.
Didi was founded in 2012, but expanded tremendously in 2018 on an international level, and now conducts business in numerous geographical locations throughout the world. Didi was only one out of 34 companies that China’s State Administration for Market Regulation had sent a warning to about anti-competitive behavior being prohibited.
The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has dictated that Didi is not permitted to enroll new users while the investigative review is active. However, operations are otherwise functioning normally in the 14 countries it serves. Numerous areas were noted by Didi as potentially being in review for violations, including monopoly, unfair and deceptive practices, quality, and legal compliance.
Didi’s shares dropped an astonishing 10% after the investigation against them was announced by China’s cyberspace agency. Didi only started trading in the New York Stock Exchange two days prior to the review becoming effective. A research analyst implied that whether investing in Didi is a good idea or not will depend on the length of the investigation, but that it is too soon to know for sure.
Didi, which is based out of Beijing, pledges to meticulously analyze cybersecurity risks that may apply to their enterprise and to fully cooperate with the governmental oversight currently examining them. This instance of an immediate review by governing authorities regarding technical data regulations is an example of how China is aggressively stepping up their data protection mechanisms.