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Broadband Roundup: Hospitals Developing Telemedicine, House Passes 5G Act, Concerns about EARN IT Act

Adrienne Patton

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Photo of Diabetes Center of Excellence at Wilford Hall Medical Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, using telemedicine in November 2018 by U.S. Air Force

With more than 1,300 cases of the novel coronavirus reported in the United States, hospital chief information officers are frantically trying to use telemedicine tools in the race against the clock, reports Agam Shah for The Wall Street Journal.

These telemedicine tools include “developing digital dashboards to speed triage, and testing and retesting systems expected to allow staff to work remotely,” writes Shah.

However, chief information officers are recognizing the constraints that urgency and the nature of COVID-19 place on the development of these systems. Hospitals recognize that the ideal scenario would be for patients to be tested from home rather than go to a local hospital and risk infected others and where staff may be overburdened.

“Right now we have extremely limited data on the number of patients who are confirmed Covid-19 positive at this point, so we don’t have those tools yet,” said Mount Sinai Deputy Chief Information Officer Bruce Darrow.

House of Representatives voted in favor of 5G measure

The House of Representatives unanimously voted in favor of the Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2020, reports John Eggerton for Multichannel News.

The race for building widespread 5G infrastructure has been a constant topic of discussion in both the House and Senate recently.

Eggerton reports that the “bill directs the President to develop a ‘Secure Next Generation Mobile Communications Strategy,’” which requires collaboration with several agencies including the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Homeland Security.

“It is long past time that the Trump Administration prepare our networks for the 5G future – this bill will force the Administration to do exactly that and ensure federal agencies work together on a comprehensive plan to secure 5G,” said Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J.

Some are seriously concerned about EARN IT Act's impact on encryption

As reported by Broadband Breakfast, the Senate held a hearing yesterday to discuss the EARN IT Act. The measure would incentivize tech companies to actively report “child sexual abuse material” online or endanger their protections under Section 230. However, while the bill has garnered bipartisan support, some are seriously concerned.

“The EARN IT Act doesn't mention encryption directly, though policy experts are concerned that the guidelines established by the proposed legislation would require companies to provide lawful access,” reports Alfred Ng for Cnet.

End-to-end encryption protects users’ information and communication, which the government has looked on unfavorably in past investigations when tech companies have refused to unlock or open users’ encrypted information.

“If the law is passed, tech companies would have to make the choice between weakening their own encryption and endangering all their users, or giving up Section 230 protections and facing a potential flood of lawsuits,” writes Ng.

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