The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) commends FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel for her efforts to strengthen cybersecurity for K-12 schools through Universal Service Fund (USF) support. In comments to the FCC in February 2022, CDT urged the Commission to increase flexible funding under USF to mitigate escalating cybersecurity threats in schools, which minimize valuable learning time and puts students’ privacy and schools’ financial wellbeing at risk. Rosenworcel’s announced proposal for a pilot program would contribute $200 million over three years to enhance cybersecurity protections for eligible K-12 schools and libraries.
As it stands now, neither E-Rate nor the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) – both benefits programs under USF for eligible K-12 schools and libraries – provide sufficient flexibility to meet growing cybersecurity risks due to schools’ increased reliance on technology and remote learning tools. Rosenworcel’s proposed pilot program would take an important step toward solving this problem by allocating funds to address the full scope of cybersecurity protections that schools need to ensure safe and secure learning environments for students.
CDT urges the full Commission to support this proposal so that schools can establish comprehensive cybersecurity programs to meet their needs for technical infrastructure, human capital, and mitigation of the costs of attacks.