The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced its proposal to create a Schools and Libraries Cybersecurity Pilot Program that would help K-12 schools and libraries protect their broadband networks and data from cyber threats. The pilot program is part of the FCC’s Learn Without Limits initiative, which aims to ensure connectivity and digital equity for online learning.

The pilot program would allocate up to $200 million over three years from the Universal Service Fund (USF) to fund the cybersecurity and advanced firewall services needed by eligible schools and libraries. The pilot program would also collect valuable data on the types and effectiveness of these services, as well as the best practices and challenges in implementing them.

The FCC’s proposal comes in response to the growing number of cyberattacks and ransomware incidents targeting schools and libraries, which disrupt the learning process and compromise sensitive information. Schools and libraries make tempting targets for attackers due to the large amount of personal information they collect, often supervised by under-resourced technology departments. The FCC hopes that this pilot program will help harden the defenses of these institutions and provide useful insights for future policymaking.

The FCC’s proposal is open for public comment until December 13, 2023.