Locking Down Data: The Rise of the Chief Privacy Officer

As government collects more citizen data and cyberattacks increase in frequency, states are hiring chief privacy officers to keep data secure. As technology becomes more sophisticated and government collects more personal data, cybersecurity attacks will expose more people’s personal information.

To combat the issues 13 states have hired chief privacy officers (CPOs), including New Jersey. The CPO manages legal risk, ensured compliance with privacy doctrines, and creates standards around data privacy as governments collect more data and share it between agencies.

Nearly all CPOs come from legal backgrounds and operate in the Information Technology department. The role of CPO adds value to the data protection efforts statewide and sends a message that privacy best practices should be considered whenever processing data.

Summarized from govtech.com

Rethink Government With AI

Using artificial intelligence (AI) adds trillions of dollars in value to goods and services each year with Amazon dispatching items to regional hubs in anticipation of purchases and small businesses using AI resources for Google and Facebook to target advertising.

But governments have been slow to apply AI to their policies and services. In theory, AI could be applied to the educational needs of children; to fit healthcare to the genetics and lifestyle of patients; help predict and prevent traffic deaths, street crime, costs of floods, disease outbreaks, and financial crises; all with state-of-the-art modeling.

Influencing progress is the fact that governments have struggled with more simple technologies, witnessed by the web site failure at the launching of the Affordable Care Act in 2013 and similar failures.

Technological innovation is essential for governments to maintain a position of authority in a data intensive world. The core tasks of governments, enforcing regulation, setting employment rights, and ensuring fair elections requires an understanding of data and algorithms.

Government interactions with citizens generate trails of digital data. Among other possibilities, AI can use this data to personalize public services developed and adapted to individual circumstances; enable government to forecast more accurately, predicting trends and events; and stimulate complex systems to experiment with different policy options to spot unintended consequences.

Summarized from nature.com

Can AI help Government Win the Cybersecurity Wars

With state governments receiving hundreds of thousands of cybersecuity alerts daily, a need is created to develop a new plan to fight threats and attacks. Each alert may or may not represent a relevant threat and determining even one suspicious event consumes significant staff time and resources. Government must develop more efficient methods for identifying critical indicators from the multitude of events.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are options for solving this problem. One version of AI maps events to machine learning data models that execute an algorithm built from past samples to classify an event as benign or a threat.

  • AI strengthens cybersecurtity defense by:
  • Scanning large volumes of events from multiple sources
  • Identifying variations from typical network traffic patterns
  • Grouping related security events and notifying security personnel about potential threats
  • Watching IoT (Internet of Things) network entry points

Cybersecurity is full of grey-area challenges but by incorporating deep learning principles with state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms cybersecurity will continue to improve. The perfect AI does not yet exist but it remains an effective security tool.


Summarized from Government Technology

Why Local Governments Aren’t All Aboard the Blockchain Train

Tech Blockchain

Most local governments are not racing to adopt blockchain technology, currently in its early stages of development.

Blockchain functions as a transaction ledger that can only have “blocks” of information added but not altered. Cryptography ties new blocks to preceding blocks in a chain by having hundreds of computers and servers in the network solve the same mathematical proof (mining) in order to validate the transaction.

Reports of people investing in cryptocurrency scams (ex. 51 percent attack) where hackers accumulate 51 percent of a central processing unit power in order to rewrite a transaction history, has raised concerns about blockchain.

Local governments have expressed interest in private blockchains like the IBM Hyperledger because it is a permissioned network where participants agree on the party doing the mining. In addition, local governments have used blockchain with smart contracts where the terms of the agreement are coded into a blockchain and self-executed.

An additional concern is that a single transaction uses as much energy as the average U.S. household uses in a day.

Summarized from nextgov.com


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One year after Atlanta’s ransomware attack, the city says it is transforming its technology

Atlanta suffered one of the highest profile cyberattacks against a U.S, target when the ransomeware virus SamSam wreaked havoc on nearly every part of the city government.

The virus infected financial systems, court systems, customer relationship systems, and service desk systems, resulting in a massive loss of data that needed to be recovered. When logging on to these systems, employees were greeted with an anonymous request for a bitcoin payment amounting to $51,000.

A system audit prior to the attack showed that nearly 100 government servers were running a version of Windows that Microsoft stopped supporting years earlier and as many as 2,000 other vulnerabilities turned up, making Atlanta a prime target.

The initial recovery steps were to implement fundamental practices including better password management and greater restrictions on access to sensitive systems. In addition, the city migrated many critical applications to a hybrid cloud service to improve security.

State and local governments need to develop a collaborative action plan ahead of time in order to effectively respond to ransomware and similar cyberattacks.

Summarized from StateScoop

Exploring the Impacts of AI on Public Administration

One of the challenges to implementing artificial intelligence (AI) is trying to understand its impacts on government.

The Artificial Intelligence Working Group, formed in 2018 by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), was tasked with determining the implications of AI on public administration.

NAPA Standing Panel on Technology Leadership’s Working Group on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and the Impact on Public Administration released its findings entitled “AI and Its Impact on Public Administration” (https://napawash.org/studies/academy0studies/ai-and-its-impact-on-public-administration).

The results address the impact of AI on the workforce; the convergence of AI, ethics, and public administration; and how AI and information technologies are being integrated into public administration curricula.

Summarized from governmentciomedia.com

As Local Governments Tap Into Tech, Privacy Becomes A Concern

Local government officials are now using technology to gather information that helps them do their jobs, an issue that opens new doors for innovation. Drones, Bluetooth sensors, license plate readers, and traffic cameras are just a sampling of the available technology.

Advancement in technology can create concerns that should be considered regarding individual’s privacy and security. As drones are used for assessing new properties, making damage assessments, and assuring that development follows construction plans, liability issues arise including the use and storage of photos of people.

Additional concerns relate to the use of mobile parking apps that store personal credit card information and license plate readers that use data from the national crime database. Liability is minimized through adherence to protecting credit card data standards and limited personal information that is provided by the national crime database.

Summarized from staugustine.com

Blockchain Taskforce Bill Passes in New Jersey Senate

The NJ Legislature has passed S-2297, a bill sponsored by Sen. Tom Kean (R-21) and Sen. James Beach (D-6), that launched the” NJ Blockchain Initiative Task Force” to study whether state, county, and municipal governments can benefit from a transition to a blockchain-based system for record keeping and service delivery. Simply stated, blockchain is digital information (the block) stored in a public database (the chain).

According to the legislation, blockchain will allow the state to reduce the prevalence of disparate computer systems, databases, and custom-built software interfaces, reducing costs associated with maintenance and implementation, streamlining the sharing of information, and allowing more regions of the state to participate in electronic government services.

The task force will study opportunities and risks associated with using the technology, different types of blockchains, and different consensus algorithms, projects and use cases currently under development in other states and nations, and how the legislature can modify current state laws to support secure, paperless recordkeeping.

Summarized from BlockTribune.com

U.S. State & Local Government IT Leaders Say Burdensome Regulations Limit Use of Digital Tools Necessary for Protecting Data

U.S. state and local government IT decision makers are limited in their ability to deliver certain online services due to regulations that hinder the use of digital tools needed to protect citizen data.

A survey of 200 state and local IT officials found that two-thirds of the respondents view digital transformation projects as critical for offering citizens a single platform for finding information about public services and applying for benefits and permits. Nearly three out of four said that current statutes, regulations, and standards represent a barrier to doing so.

There is a need to look beyond current requirements so that governments can take advantage of tools to reduce costs, limit risk, and better support agency and citizen needs. It is imperative that state and local agencies recognize the impact that technology has on transforming the way people live and work. More than 80 percent of respondents said that they have, or are planning to have mobile apps to provide access to government agencies.

Summarized from Unisys Corporation/PR Newswire

Tech Companies, States Spar with Government Over Net Neutrality

Tech companies and nearly two dozen states clashed with the government in federal court over the repeal of net neutrality, the Obama-era rules preventing big Internet providers from discriminating against certain technology and services.

Lawyers for the states and the companies argued to restore net neutrality, repealed in December 2017 by the Trump administration.

The net neutrality rules had banned cable, wireless, and other broadband providers from arbitrarily blocking or slowing down websites and apps, the process referred to as “throttling.”

Because the FCC classified the Internet as an information service rather than a telecom service, it was determined that the agency was justified in not addressing misconduct by the large Internet providers. The government lawyers and the large providers like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast argued to keep neutrality repealed, allowing them to continue under current regulations. The FCC requirement of Internet providers to disclose practices and operations is a sufficient safeguard.

Summarized from TheLedger.com