CHIPS for America Funding, Semiconductor Alert Mechanism, NTIA Seeking Comment on Online Safety

October 4, 2023 – In an effort to strengthen semiconductor supply chains, the Department of Commerce announced Friday a new funding opportunity catering to smaller supply chain projects and businesses to help access CHIPS for America funds. 

The funding opportunity is open to projects having a capital investment below $300 million that involve “construction, expansion, or modernization of commercial facilities in the United States for semiconductor materials and manufacturing equipment,” the department said. 

The investments being made will “strengthen supply chain resilience, advance U.S. technology leadership; and support vibrant U.S. fab clusters with a reliable ecosystem of suppliers,” it added.  

The application process for the new funding will include two phases. The first is submitting a concept plan describing how the proposed project will address core strategic objectives, that include U.S. economic and national security. Following the submission, the Department of Commerce will review the concept plan and welcome standout applicants that demonstrate how they further progress program priorities in order to submit a full application for CHIPS incentives. 

Concept plans will be accepted from December 1, 2023 to February 1, 2024. Applicants will be notified of full application submission dates individually. 

Semiconductor alert mechanism to address supply chain disruptions 

The Department of Commerce on Monday launched an updated Semiconductor Alert Mechanism that was administered by the International Trade Administration this past week.

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing Heather Evans said that the semiconductor alert mechanism “provides a platform to hear directly from industry stakeholders when they are experiencing disruptions.”

The Semiconductor Alert Mechanism aims to help provide industry experts at Commerce early detection of any potential disruptions to the semiconductor supply chain and is a public-private information gathering apparatus to facilitate faster problem solving with the private sector and U.S. trading partners. 

Commerce encourages interested parties to submit any “new, ongoing or potential disruptions to microelectronics and semiconductor manufacturing facilities and their related supply chains around the world.” 

The information gathered by the parties will be utilized to assess any potential disruptions, amplify engagement with foreign trade partners, and alleviate any potential impacts on the semiconductor supply chains globally

NTIA seeking comment on online safety

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced Thursday it is seeking input on optimal methods to protect minor’s mental well-being, privacy, and safety online. 

The NTIA’s request for comment is designed to learn more about the impact social media and online platforms have on minors, existing industry practices, and ways that the private sector, caregivers, and the federal government can counter adverse effects. 

The NTIA is specifically seeking feedback on recognizing any health, safety, and privacy risks as well as the potential advantages social media and online platforms have for minors, any existing practices and technologies being utilized by social media and online platforms that have a significant impact on minors’ health, privacy, and safety, and the guidance or best practices that might enhance the assistance caregivers and companies have in to safeguarding the health, privacy, and safety of minors online.

“The internet offers enormous opportunities to learn and grow, but we cannot ignore the risks that children face online,” said NTIA head Alan Davidson. “Our inquiry will help develop best practices for industry and caregivers to ensure American’s youth can thrive in this digital age.”

Youth in America today are grappling with an unparalleled mental health crisis, with mounting evidence linking social media and other online platforms to this distressing trend.

President Joe Biden has prioritized addressing this mental health crisis, making it a top priority.  

Under the Biden-Harris Administration’s Task Force on Kids Online Health & Safety, NTIA and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration are working to promote the online health, privacy and safety of minors. The initiative requires identifying and mitigating any potential adverse health effects that stem from online platforms.

The responses gathered will contribute towards helping the task force’s efforts in establishing “voluntary guidance, policy recommendations, and a toolkit on safety-, health- and privacy-by-design for industry to apply in developing digital products and services.”  

The task force will also be organizing several roundtable discussions in the forthcoming months to engage with diverse experts and stakeholders.