OVERNIGHT TECH: State regulators warn of cyber threats

THE LEAD: An association of state utility regulators warned in a paper on Monday that the electrical grid could be vulnerable to cyberattacks.

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners urged state regulators to work with electrical companies to ensure that their computer systems are secure from attacks.


“It may fall to regulators to ask questions of utilities to determine if there are [cybersecurity] gaps and facilitate action,” the group said. “This may be the key role for commissions in cybersecurity. Commissioners do not need to become cyber industry authorities or enforcers, but asking a utility a question may motivate the development of a well-founded answer.”

The paper did not take a position on cybersecurity legislation that is currently pending in Congress.

The White House has endorsed a bill from Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsProgressive Jewish group endorses Biden Poll: Gideon leads Collins by 8 points in Maine Senate race The Hill's 12:30 Report - Speculation over Biden's running mate announcement MORE (R-Maine) that would require critical infrastructure, such as electrical grids, to meet minimum cybersecurity standards. But many Republicans oppose the legislation, warning it would impose unnecessary burdens on businesses.

In April, the House passed its own bill, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which would encourage companies to share cyber threat information but would not set security requirements.

Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Democrats seek to exploit Trump-GOP tensions in COVID-19 talks Liability shield fight threatens to blow up relief talks MORE (D-R.I.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) are circulating a compromise proposal that would pressure, but not force, critical infrastructure companies to better protect their computer systems.

Apple dumps Google Maps: Apple revealed a new version of its mobile operating system on Monday that includes its own map feature.

The map software will replace Google Maps on Apple's popular iPhone and iPad. The feature will include 3-D maps created from aerial photographs.

The move, which was long expected, is another sign of the intense rivalry between Apple and Google, especially when it comes to mobile devices. The late Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously promised a "thermonuclear war" with Google, claiming the company copied smartphone technology.

But as Apple grows further apart from Google, it is growing closer to Google's rival in social networking, Facebook. Apple announced that it will more thoroughly integrate Facebook into its new mobile operating system. 

Senate panel to consider FCC funding: The Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government will mark up legislation on Tuesday that includes next year's funding for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission.

A markup in the House last week of counterpart funding legislation exploded into a fight over an FCC rule that would require television broadcasters to post data online about political ad buys. Republicans included a provision in the bill to strip the FCC of the authority to enforce the regulation, which the agency adopted in April.

Democrats accused Republicans of trying to keep the public in the dark about the spending of outside "fat cats" in elections, but Republicans said the rule unfairly burdens television stations.

Online shows to display content ratings: The major broadcast television stations committed on Monday to expand the content rating system to the online versions of their shows.

The move is meant to help parents decide if the shows are appropriate for their children.

ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, Telemundo, Telefutura and Univision agreed to begin displaying the rating information on their websites by December.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski applauded the announcement.

“With our rapidly changing media marketplace, it is vital parents have tools to help them make informed choices,” he said in a statement.

Rep. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyNew poll shows Markey with wide lead over Kennedy in Massachusetts Sens. Markey, Cruz clash over coronavirus relief: 'It's not a goddamn joke Ted' Sanders offers bill to tax billionaires' wealth gains during pandemic MORE (D-Mass.) noted that many children now watch TV on mobile devices.

"Mobility has dramatically expanded the range of venues for watching TV, but it has not changed the values that led to creation of the ratings system: parents still want tools to keep adult material away from their children," he said in a statement. "The extension of the use of parental guidelines to web-based content reflects this reality, and I commend the networks for offering parents the tools to exercise viewing choices.”

But the Parents Television Council said the rating system is a "facade" that does little to inform parents about a show's content.

"In fact, in today’s statement, it is made clear that each network will have its own system, which will no doubt promote even more inconsistency and inhibit reliance by the very parents who need the technology,"  PTC President Tim Winter said in a statement.


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