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FCC Meeting Summary – Cybersecurity Pilot Program Approval

On June 6, 2024, the Federal Communications Commission held an Open Commission meeting, voting on a variety of proposed programs, initiatives, and amendments. Second on the FCC’s agenda, but the top priority at this meeting for many E-rate applicants was the establishing a schools and libraries cybersecurity pilot program.

The Wireline Competition Bureau presented a Report and Order detailing the rules, application process, and requirements for the Cybersecurity Program. The FCC Commissioners responded as followed:

Commissioner Brendan Carr – Carr noted at length the importance of and clear need for cybersecurity access for schools and libraries. Despite this, Carr dissented from the proposed program, citing a lack of assurance in the FCC’s legal authority to institute a cybersecurity pilot.

Commissioner Geoffrey Starks – Starks supported the pilot program. Starks stressed that schools are “target-rich environments” for “bad actors” since schools contain many sensitive personal records for their students. Mentioning the E-rate Starks claimed that “the E-rate program is, of course, one of the Commission’s most important successful programs. The connectivity we support must be secure.”

Commissioner Simington – Simington noted that supporting cybersecurity protections was “laudable” but could not support this program due to the lack of the belief in lack of support from the authority cited in the proposed pilot.

Commissioner Gomez – Gomez claims that the cybersecurity, along with other aspects of the digital divide, is an issue of “equity.” Gomez noted that the same care given to securing psychical school buildings applies to matters of cybersecurity, to ensure that “the digital infrastructure is safe and secure, as well. Discussing the importance of the pilot program, Gomez shared that this would allow for the greater exploration of the cybersecurity needs of schools and libraires.

Following these remarks, Chairwoman Rosenworcel gave her comments on the topic of cybersecurity and the pilot program.

Chairwoman Rosenworcel – She noted that schools both large and small face the same cybersecurity threats, which often take weeks and months of recovery, and incur significant additional costs. The Chairwoman noted about the E-rate, “This program is a powerhouse. It’s the reason why schools and libraries across the country have access to high-speed broadband.” In approval of the program, she shared that this program will “make sure gains in enhanced cybersecurity, do not come at the cost of undermining E-rate success, and promoting digital equity and basic connectivity.”

What happens next? Join us for a special webinar June 12th to discuss the pilot program. Sign up here.

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