Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, Microsoft on the issues

In this edition of The Week in Tech Policy, we have stories on cybersecurity, college affordability and STEM education and the H-1B visa program.

Bipartisan Policy Center: Improved information sharing on cyberthreats needed. In a report issued on July 19, the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Cybersecurity Task Force called for Congress to “pass legislation that encourages industry to share information about cyber threats spotted on their computer networks with the government,” Hillicon Valley reported late last week. “The task force notes that privacy rights should be respected and Congress should be able to find a middle ground on the various privacy safeguards baked into each bill. The report lists the type of information that should be shared with the government, including malware threat signatures, malicious IP addresses and details about a cyber incident,” Hillicon Valley reported. The release of the report comes at a time when both Democrats and Republicans have fielded competing visions and bills related to cybersecurity.

FCC’s newest member: We need an innovation office. Ajit Pai, the newest member of the Federal Communications Commission, has called for the creation of a new commission unit known as the Office of Entrepreneurial Innovation. According to the National Journal, the office would be charged with enforcing “an obscure provision of the Communications Act that requires the FCC to rule on the public benefit of new technologies or services proposed to the commission.” In a recent interview with the National Journal, Pai suggested that such an office “might have shortened the five-year process that led to the approval of dedicated national spectrum for wireless medical devices.”

College affordability. Here are three piece of research that address a topic of significant importance to the technology sector – college affordability. The Institute for Higher Education Policy recently published a brief that addresses the issue of college affordability, according to this July 12 post on the University of Washington’s Office of Planning & Budgeting OPBlog. Also on July 12, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published a report summarizing enrollment, price of attendance, and completions data submitted by all Title IV institutions to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) in fall 2011, the OPBlog reported. Finally, the League of Education Voters Blog published this July 16 post featuring an infographic that illustrates the findings of a study focused on how Americans today are paying for college.

The Obama Administration announces new STEM effort. The White House Blog reported on July 18 that the Obama Administration plans to launch a national Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Master Teacher Corps. “The STEM Master Teacher Corps will begin in 50 locations across the country, each with 50 exceptional STEM educators. Over the next four years the Corps will expand to include 10,000 of the best STEM teachers in the nation. In joining the STEM Master Teachers Corps, these educators will make a commitment to champion the cause of STEM education in their respective communities, and will receive additional resources to mentor math and science teachers, inspire students, and help their communities grow,” the blog reports. Fred Humphries, vice president of U.S. government affairs at Microsoft, had this to say on the new STEM program: “We applaud the President’s plan to provide more resources to STEM education and help address the critical need for developing and maintaining a strong pipeline of STEM talent. Our country must take a more aggressive approach to preparing American students to compete in a 21st century economy. Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction.”

FBI expands anti-piracy warning seal availability. In 2003, the FBI tapped five industry associations to participate in an anti-piracy pilot program: the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, the Software & Information Industry Association, the Business Software Alliance, and the Entertainment Software Association. Now, PCMag.com reports, the FBI has moved to allow the general public to access the image, based on particular rules set by the FBI. PCMag writer Stephanie Mlot writes, “The seal is available for use on copyrighted works only, as opposed to other types of intellectual property, the Bureau stated in the Federal Register. The seal is intended to be used on works protected under federal criminal statutes prohibiting piracy of copyrighted material.”

High skilled immigration back in the spotlight. With the annual H1B visa cap being reached recently the Brookings Institution recently looked at the issue. Bill Kamela, Microsoft’s senior director of education and workforce, participated in a July 18 Brookings Institution panel focused on H-1B visa workers, making the point that it’s critical that the U.S. take the necessary steps to hire and retain talented and qualified workers with wages rising in China and India. You can watch video of Bill making his comments here.

Thank you for reading The Week in Tech Policy. Come back to Microsoft on the Issues next Monday at 6 a.m. for the latest roundup of tech policy news.