Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

David Talbot

A View from David Talbot

Bandwidth and Botnets: Communications Policy Challenges for Obama

The FCC is Devising Spectrum Auctions, and Obama May Issue a Cybersecurity Executive Order

  • November 9, 2012

TV broadcasters and the military have lots of prime spectrum, and the battle over how any of it gets redistributed to wireless companies to feed the data demands of smartphone and tablet owners will be a key part of the communications policy landscape in the second term of the Obama administration. 

So too is the possibility that President Obama will sign an executive order for his agencies to make sure the sectors they regulate–especially energy and communications companies–are better protected against cyber threats, including potentially disastrous attacks by botnets, or gangs of remotely controlled infected computers.

On the first point, the U.S. Federal Communications Commision has started designing new auctions that would compensate broadcasters that are willing to hand over their licenses, but broadcasters are reluctant to hand any spectrum over. The New York Times today blogged on this topic, and also the lawsuits the commission faces over its requirements that carriers support roaming and treat everybody’s bits equally – a concept known as “net neutrality.”

On the cyberthreat landscape, I spoke yesterday with Melissa Hathaway, who served briefly as the White House cyberczar at the beginning of Obama’s first term and is now a consultant.  She says that in recent years some 80 bills in some way touched on cybersecurity, but none became law.  Two months ago, reports surfaced that Obama would issue an executive order aimed at strengthening cyber protections of critical infrastructure.  A draft leaked out; it highlighted the need to protect the energy and communications sectors and talked vaguely about creating an “information exchange framework” so that private companies and government agencies could learn about emerging threats more rapidly. It’s not clear what’s being considered today, but Hathaway predicted President Obama would sign an executive order before the year is out.

If any order translates into new regulations, it could mean new headaches for all sectors that have to deal both with increasing cyber threats and with increasing efforts by policymakers to somehow stay on top of those threats.

The latest Insider Conversation is live! Listen to the story behind the story.

Subscribe today
Already a Premium subscriber? Log in.
Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

    Bimonthly digital/PDF edition

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special interest publications

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.