FCC Broadband Plan Calls For Enhanced Cyber Defenses


Altogether, the 370-page plan outlines strategies in detail for updating U.S. communications infrastructure and ultimately delivering broadband connectivity to 100 million Americans over the next 10 years, as well as providing arguments in favor of the transition that include a move to clean and reduced energy usage, expanded access to jobs and training and greater government efficiencies.

Among other things, the plan gives a boost for the development of cyber security infrastructure, proposing the implementation of online privacy measures and calling for continued cooperation between the FCC and the Department of Homeland Security on public safety issues and initiatives.

"Communications providers have experienced frequent attacks on critical Internet infrastructure," the FCC wrote. "A variety of state and non-state entities has demonstrated the ability to steal, alter or destroy data and to manipulate or control systems designed to ensure the functioning of portions of our critical infrastructure. Additional safeguards may be necessary to protect our nation's commercial communications infrastructure from cyberattack. Such safeguards could promote confidence in the safety and reliability of broadband communications and spur adoption."

As one of its rallying cries, the FCC says that broadband could bolster public safety and homeland security efforts by allowing first responders to better and more quickly send out and receive video and other data used in next generation 911 and emergency alert system.

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Included in the plan is a call to improve public safety with the deployment of a nationwide, interopable public safety mobile broadband network, which comes with an estimated $6.5 billion price tag in capital expenditures over 10 years. Specifically, the plan calls for the FCC and the DHS Office of Cybersecurity and Communications to develop an IP network CIRS aimed at monitoring cyber security and providing immediate responses to cyber attacks, designed to complement the existing Disaster Information Reporting System.

The plan would also enable the FCC to issue a cyber security roadmap, in coordination with the Executive Branch, which would outline a clear strategy for securing critical communications networks and infrastructure within 180 of its release. The plan would require that both the FCC and Executive Branch identify the five most serious cybe rsecurity threats affecting U.S. communications networks, while establishing a two-year plan for the FCC to address them.

Another recommendation is that the FCC create a voluntary cyber security certification program designed to spur voluntary efforts to improve network security. One such initiative includes a voluntary certification system that would encourage Internet and other communications providers to upgrade their cyber security network infrastructure, and suggests that the FCC examine additional voluntary incentives.

Other recommendations call for the FCC to expand its outage reporting requirements to broadband service providers, explore network resilience and preparedness and expand its international participation and outreach.

Additionally, the plan suggests that policy makers make a concerted effort to clarify -- and possibly separate -- the relationship between users and their online profiles to drive user privacy.

Among other things, the plan recommends that any organization collecting personal information would be required to allow consumers to be aware of what information was being collected and give them the option of consenting or declining to such collection, while enabling them to control the disclosure of personal information to any third party at their discretion.