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Cybersecurity Pilot Program Proposed by FCC

On July 12, 2023, Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced a proposal for a three year, $200 million pilot program to support cybersecurity for K-12 schools and public libraries. Speaking to The School Superintendents Association, Rosenworcel acknowledged “the rise in malicious ransomware attacks that harm our students” and expressed that “now is the time to take action.”

If adopted, the proposal would open a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to seek comment on how a pilot program should be structured “to support cybersecurity and advanced firewall-related services for eligible K-12 schools and libraries.” Notably, the proposal seeks to “establish the pilot program within the Universal Service Fund, but separate from the E-Rate program, to ensure gains in enhanced cybersecurity don’t come at a cost of undermining E-Rate’s success in promoting digital equity.”

The cybersecurity pilot would be the third phase of Rosenworcel’s “Learn Without Limits” program aimed at modernizing the E-rate program. The first phase of the program would allow E-rate support for Wi-Fi access on school buses, and the second phase would provide E-rate funding for Wi-Fi hotspots to be circulated as assets by public library systems.

The FCC press release announcing the pilot program may be viewed here.

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