What’s New This Week:
Some (Data) Privacy, Please!
Most of us received the “Presidential Alert” on our phones last week. FEMA wanted to test its new emergency messaging system, but instead ended up creating a lot of confusion and unease. The Integrated Public Alert Warning System, or IPAWS, is designed to inform the public about a major national emergency. Despite the alert’s puzzling name, it didn’t actually come from the president. Still, many are concerned about this type of system and see it as an invasion of personal privacy.
Not surprisingly, there’s already a lawsuit claiming the FEMA alert system is comparable to “hijacking private property for the purpose of planting a Government-controlled loudspeaker in the home and on the person of every American.” One wonders how the plaintiffs must feel about Alexa…
Privacy concerns will never go away as technology penetrates every aspect of our lives and the misuse of consumer data continues on social media. To address some of these issues, the Commerce Department has launched initiatives to create new consumer privacy guidelines for federal agencies and private companies. Agencies are increasingly collecting consumer data and public awareness of privacy issues is growing. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation and California’s new privacy law are also adding to the pressure on the U.S. government.
BGOV’s Chris Cornillie explains the factors driving the Commerce Department’s efforts to overhaul privacy standards in this week’s exclusive story.
In related news, the tech industry is suddenly open to the idea of federal privacy legislation. Could it be post-Cambridge Analytica guilt? Not likely, according to one privacy advocate: Shockingly, it seems that tech companies may not have consumers’ best interests at heart when they embrace regulation. Involving the Trump administration and Congress in their efforts may, in fact, weaken state-level consumer privacy protections. What’s the old saying? Keep your friends close, and your regulators closer.
Finally, as you well know, the U.S. government collects and stores tons of consumer data, yet it has very few data leaders. Chief data officers exist at only six of the 24 departments and major agencies, according to an IBM Center report. At the bureau level, scientific and statistical agencies have CDOs, but most large federal agencies don’t have data leadership.
You can’t argue with that data! More news you can use:
“The intent of this new framework is to increase the effectiveness of privacy protections by enabling conscious, well-considered choices that are made by organizations based on their customer needs that are clearly communicated and understood.”
—Walter Copan, director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology
Strategy & Leadership
Census Nominee Looks to Fill Vacant Role
Steven Dillingham could become the Census Bureau’s first permanent director since John Thompson retired in June 2017. With the 2020 population count coming in less than 18 months, Dillingham will have to tackle pressing IT challenges if confirmed. Read more.
Meet VA’s Sammies Winner
Veterans Affairs digital service leader Marcy Jacobs just received the Service to America Medal for management excellence. But her work is not done yet. Jacobs plans to continue simplifying the online experience for more than 40 million veterans and their families. Read more.
In the Cloud
‘Cloud Smart’ Strategy Explained
The federal cloud services market has grown fivefold since 2010, according to Bloomberg Government. That’s why the Trump administration’s new cloud computing strategy aims to give agencies the tools they need to make informed technology decisions.
NOAA Seeks Cloud Partnerships Insight
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been sharing its data with five of the largest cloud service providers over the last few years. Now the agency wants to get feedback from users as it moves on to the next phase of its open data program. Read more.
Eye on Security
Election Security May Wait Until After Midterms
Legislation that protects voting systems from foreign hackers is gaining support in the Senate. Just don’t expect to see it before the November elections. Some lawmakers believe the anti-hacking measure won’t be necessary for the midterms.
‘Hack the Marine Corps’ Exposes Vulnerabilities
The results are in from the Marine Corps’ recent bug bounty program. Those invited to hack 200 public-facing websites uncovered more than 150 vulnerabilities, which has proven to be an “incredibly valuable experience,” according to the agency. Read more.
DHS Reorganizes Science & Technology Directorate
Homeland Security is dividing the Science & Technology Directorate into four offices, tomake it easier for industry—including startups—to work with the agency. The Directorate no longer has unrestricted time for traditional R&D, an agency official said. Read more.
SSA Nominee Promises IT Improvements
Why is Andrew Saul, President Donald Trump’s top pick to run the Social Security Administration, “scared to death” of legacy IT systems? Saul told lawmakers at his confirmation hearing that he wants to make IT modernization, data sharing, and cybersecurity top priorities. Read more.
Thanks for reading this week’s edition of Bloomberg Government’s Technocrat!