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Blog Category: National Telecommunications and Information Administration

Protecting Our Electronic Main Street

Cybersecurity and the Electronic Main Street

Guest blog post by Ari Schwartz, Internet Policy Adviser at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and member of the Internet Policy Task Force at the Department of Commerce.

As we all know, the Internet has led to incredible commercial growth and an unprecedented means for self-expression and innovation.  Some industry analysts now estimate that the Internet now carries some $10 trillion in online transactions annually.

However, each time a new technology dramatically expands the boundaries of commerce, there are dishonest, dangerous people who try to disrupt and exploit the new pathways for their own gain. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that as the Web, e-mail, and e-commerce have become the electronic version of Main Street, hackers, spammers, and cybercriminals have emerged as major threats to its welfare. An estimated 67,000 new malicious viruses, worms, spyware and other threats are released every day. 

To paraphrase Willy Sutton: It’s where the money. . . and the information is.

A new Commerce Department report issued today calls for a public-private partnership and voluntary codes of conduct to help strengthen the cybersecurity of companies that increasingly rely on the Internet to do business, but are not part of the critical infrastructure sector as defined by the administration’s recent cybersecurity legislative proposal.  Issued by the department’s Internet Policy Task Force, the report targets what it calls the Internet and Information Innovation Sector or the I3S.  These are businesses that range from Mom and Pop manufacturers or startups that sell most of their products and services online to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to cloud computing firms that provide anytime, anywhere access to applications and personal or public data.

Partnership with NTIA Bolsters Libraries' Leading Role in Digital Literacy, Workforce Development

Emily Sheketoff, Executive Director, American Library Association Washington Office

Guest blog post by Emily Sheketoff, Executive Director, American Library Association Washington Office

Research confirms that digital opportunity depends not only on access to computers and broadband, but the competencies necessary to successfully navigate the online world and be more competitive in the 21st century. America’s libraries are on the forefront of connecting learners of all ages with formal and informal digital literacy skills training, as well as access to a wide range of technology resources.

For these reasons, the American Library Association is pleased to collaborate with the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration to support DigitalLiteracy.gov. This new portal is an important first step in collecting and sharing class materials, research, and online learning tools. We look forward to greatly expanding the content available as librarians, educators and other practitioners engage with the website.

From their inception, libraries of all kinds have had the development, promotion, and advancement of literacy at the core of their mission.  Now libraries combine trained staff, technology infrastructure and robust electronic collections to meet diverse needs that continue to change and grow. School librarians teach the skills necessary to find and evaluate web resources, and they support use of online collaborative tools that help ensure our students leave school ready for higher education and the 21st century workforce. Information literacy is now considered by several accreditation associations as a key outcome for college students.

Building Opportunities for Latino Businesses

Anna Gomez Addresses the Latin Tech-Net Initiative

Guest blog post by Anna Gomez, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

On Tuesday, I joined a group of Hispanic community development leaders in San Francisco to launch the Latino Tech-Net Initiative, a Recovery Act project spearheaded by the Mission Economic Development Agency, or MEDA, which is equipping 17 computer centers in 11 cities across the country with equipment, software, and training to help Latino entrepreneurs and small businesses build online skills, spur local economic development, and support job creation in their communities.

The “digital divide” remains a serious issue for the Latino community, and MEDA is on the front lines of addressing this problem. Data from NTIA’s Digital Nation report show that the broadband adoption rate among Hispanic households is only 56.9 percent - more than ten percent lower than the overall national rate. In fact, even after adjusting for socioeconomic characteristics like income and education, Latino households significantly lag White households in broadband adoption.

Through Recovery Act projects like Latino Tech-Net, we are working to bridge the technology gap among economically vulnerable populations such as minorities, low-income communities, people with disabilities and seniors. We know there is no simple ‘one size fits all’ solution to closing the digital divide and that a combination of targeted approaches makes sense.

Digital Literacy Initiative Aims to Help Americans Build Online Skills

Guest blog post by Anneesh Chopra, White House Chief Technology Officer, and Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information at the Department of Commerce

Today, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke launched DigitalLiteracy.gov, a new online portal to help Americans find jobs and obtain the 21st century skills being sought by today’s employers.

The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) developed DigitalLiteracy.gov in partnership with nine Federal agencies, with the goal of creating an online hub for librarians, educators, and other digital literacy practitioners to share content and best practices. Through DigitalLiteracy.gov, NTIA is making available to all Americans the methods for improving broadband adoption that are being developed by Recovery Act projects.

Secretary Locke Announces Digital Literacy Initiative

Secretary Locke Announces DigitalLiteracy.Gov

Locke visits Recovery Act-funded public computer center in Baltimore, unveils new website to improve computer and Internet skills in America

At a public computing center in Baltimore, Md., today, Secretary Gary Locke announced a digital literacy initiative that works to expand economic and educational opportunities in America. Locke was joined by U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) and Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) to unveil www.DigitalLiteracy.gov, a new website that provides libraries, community colleges, schools and workforce training centers with a variety of resources and tools for teaching computer and Internet skills, which are increasingly important to success in today’s global economy.

Prior to the unveiling, Locke and the senators toured a computer lab and saw first-hand how people in the Baltimore community are using this new website to find free training resources on a range of digital literacy topics at various skill levels, including assistance in searching for and applying to jobs online.

“In a globalized, 21st ccentury economy, when you don’t have regular access to the high-speed Internet – and the skills to use it – your education, business, and employment opportunities are narrowed,” Locke said. “The tools we are unveiling today will help more Americans gain valuable job skills and augment the Recovery Act investments we are making to expand broadband access and adoption nationwide.”  Press release  |  Fact sheet

Learn more and see how you can enhance your digital literacy at www.DigitalLiteracy.gov.

Commerce's NTIA Showcases Broadband Stimulus Success Story

Deputy Assistant Secretary Gomez Addresses Importance of Broadband

Guest blog post by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information Anna M. Gomez

Earlier this month, I saw firsthand the benefits of our sustainable broadband adoption projects when I attended a graduation ceremony in D.C.  Byte Back, a BTOP grantee partner, held a ceremony for adults who completed computer and jobs-skills training courses. At the graduation, I met students who showed me how these courses are enabling them to cross the digital divide and open doors to new opportunities.

One of the graduating students was a mother who had to seek out her teenage daughter’s help in order to pass the course. Another graduate was a senior who came to the program when her computer broke. She enjoyed the courses so much that she is now a volunteer with the program, helping to teach other seniors valuable computer skills that can help them stay informed and connected. Several others were already finding ways to put their new skills to work and had lined up job opportunities.

Commerce's NTIA Urges Businesses to Prepare to Transition to IPv6, Announces Release of "Readiness Tool"

The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today urged businesses to prepare for the transition to Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), an updated Internet addressing system, with the release of a new "IPv6 Readiness Tool."

All devices that connect to the Internet, such as computers, smartphones, and smart grid technologies, require an Internet Protocol (IP) address.  IPv6 is designed to expand the number of IP addresses available because the current number of Internet Protocol version four (IPv4) addresses will eventually exhaust. While industry action and planning are needed, consumers do not need to take action to prepare for the IPv6 transition.

The new tool, a comprehensive checklist for businesses preparing to deploy and adopt IPv6, was developed by experts from industry and the Internet technical community in response to a call from White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra at an IPv6 workshop hosted by NTIA last September. 

"The IPv6 transition will pave the way for a next-generation Internet," said White House CTO Aneesh Chopra. "I urge all U.S. businesses that depend on the Internet to make the IPv6 transition a priority by starting the planning process now."

The planning tool outlines IPv6 preparedness issues, such as the technical needs associated with deployment. The purpose of the tool is to help business leaders identify readiness issues and to bring these issues to the attention of senior corporate management to ensure successful IPv6 deployment and accelerated innovation.

"The development of this tool demonstrates the value of bringing together stakeholders to address today's pressing Internet issues," said Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling. "The IPv6 transition is critical to the continued growth of the Internet, an engine for facilitating commerce and economic growth. We will continue to highlight the importance of this issue and encourage companies to share best practices to further IPv6 uptake."

The IPv6 readiness tool and further IPv6 resources can be found here.

United States Department of Commerce Plan for Orderly Shutdown Due to Lapse of Congressional Appropriations

This blog post is about an older plan. The United States Department of Commerce Plan for Orderly Shutdown Due to Lapse of Congressional Appropriations at the end of FY 2013 is available here.

The current FY 2011 Continuing Resolution may expire without new budget authority. While it is not anticipated that there will be a lapse in appropriations, the Department must be prepared for a potential lapse in funding that would necessitate a significant reduction in operations.

Prior to a potential lapse in funding, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requires the Department to submit a draft plan for agency operations in the absence of appropriations (a "shutdown plan"). This plan will likely be modified with additional guidance from the Office of Personnel Management and OMB, as the situation develops, and may be changed by the Department, as circumstances warrant.

This plan complies with the guidance provided by the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Justice and the Department of Commerce.

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NTIA Administrator Strickling Addresses Broadband Program Progress

Administrator Stricking on podium
At an event in Washington, D.C. today, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling described the progress of broadband stimulus projects, noting that Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grantees have thus far installed more than 4,000 computers for public use and provided computer training to more than 65,000 people.
“These Recovery Act projects are already providing an essential link to economic and educational opportunities for thousands of Americans,” said Strickling. 

Commerce Department Supports Puerto Rico as part of President’s Interagency Task Force

Guest blog post by Rick Wade, senior adviser to Secretary Locke, deputy chief of staff, and member of the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status

Today the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status submitted a report to President Obama and Congress that provides recommendations for addressing Puerto Rico’s political status and economic climate. The report identifies specific proposals for boosting economic development, building competitive industries, and improving the quality of life for the people of Vieques – a Puerto Rican island-municipality in the northeastern Caribbean.

These recommendations, along with plans for their implementation, follow two public hearings held in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., as well as meetings with island officials and other stakeholders to gather input directly from a broad cross section of voices on the issues of Puerto Rico’s status and economic development.

The report underlines the fact that Puerto Rico’s political status continues to be of great importance to its people. Its economy – like many others – has also faced significant challenges in recent years, driving the need for a greater focus on economic progress in the U.S. territory. Per capita income in Puerto Rico remains at less than one-third of that in the United States, due in part to its low employment rate and persistently low rate of labor force participation.

The U.S. Department of Commerce will be intensely involved in implementing the recommendations of the Task Force’s report. Six of the department’s 12 bureaus will lead projects in support of economic growth in Puerto Rico. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration will help develop an interagency team that works to connect Puerto Ricans to broadband Internet. The International Trade Administration’s U.S. Export Assistance Center in San Juan will help Puerto Rico increase its exports. And the department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis will help Puerto Rico update its methodology for calculating gross domestic product so it aligns with U.S. standards and better captures economic conditions there.