Tech News for February 4

Here’s how marijuana legalization would work in California

California was the first state to allow medical marijuana. Now, two decades later, voters are expected to be asked whether to legalize recreational use of the drug.The legalization measure most likely to qualify for the statewide November ballot is the product of months of negotiations between groups with varying interests, from drug-law reformers, to growers and distributors, to famous financiers and politicians. Here’s a primer.

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Californians let their guards down as El Niño rains drenched state

Whoever thought that, in the middle of California’s historic drought, a little bit of rain could pose a problem? But that was the message Tuesday from the state water resources control board and some environmentalists. Yes, Californians continue to shorten their showers and deny their lawns in this, the fifth year of what is being described as the worst drought in modern times. But in December, they let their guard down as El Niño rain fell in parts of the state, snow accumulated in the mountains and huge waves battered the coast.

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Lawmakers Roast the Education Dept.’s Top Technology Officer Over Ethics and Data Security

Angry lawmakers hammered the Education Department’s chief information officer, Danny A. Harris, at a hearing on Tuesday, accusing him of ethical lapses and failing to secure the agency’s “vulnerable” information systems.

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WSJ CIO Network: DHS to Start Sharing Cybersecurity Threat Indicators With Industry

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will take steps this month to begin automatically sharing cybersecurity threat information with private industry, said Andy Ozment, the agency’s assistant secretary of the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications.

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Data Breach: Blue Shield of California

Blue Shield of California announced that it has experienced a security breach, exposing the personal information of nearly 21,000 customers last year. A letter was sent to its members, explaining that the unauthorized access happened between September and December of 2015, and was the result of the misuse of log-in credentials by certain Blue Shield customer service representatives.

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Governor repeals March deadline that sparked cities to impose marijuana bans

Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday repealed a recently adopted March deadline for cities and counties to pass regulations on medical marijuana cultivation. The March 1 deadline in the California Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act spurred local jurisdictions throughout California to enact legislation limiting or banning medical marijuana cultivation outright for fear of relinquishing their power to do so to the state.

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Ben Carson’s Blueprint for Better US Cybersecurity

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson released a document last week outlining how his administration would deal with challenges to cybersecurity, making him the second candidate from either party to lay out a comprehensive proposal on cyber (the first was Jeb Bush, whose plan we looked at here). Carson argues that the United States’ reliance on the Internet makes cybersecurity an issue of critical national importance, and that a centrally-coordinated response is necessary if the country wishes to secure cyberspace “without stifling the creativity and freedom” it has brought.

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IRS e-filing down, outage could continue today

The Internal Revenue Service has temporarily stopped accepting electronically filed tax returns because a hardware failure has caused major disruptions to a number of tax processing systems, said the agency in a statement posted late Wednesday. The agency said its modernized e-file system and “Where’s My Refund?” tools are currently down, although and several other applications continue to function normally.

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White House highlights 2015 cybersecurity record, teases new policies

The Obama administration achieved several important cybersecurity milestones in 2015 that lay the foundation for this year’s plans, said one of the president’s senior advisors in a Feb. 2 post to the White House blog. In the post, which primarily recapped the White House’s 2015 cybersecurity record, the administration also hinted at upcoming policy announcements.

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Department of Consumer Affairs Names CIO

Jason Piccione recently was promoted to the CIO position at the California Department of Consumer Affairs, where he now also serves as deputy director for the department’s Office of Information Services.

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RFI Released for Water Quality Information Management Solution

The California State Water Resources Control Board this week published a Request for Information (RFI) seeking to identify alternatives for a water quality information management solution that will automate business processes, collect data, and support evaluation of critical operations through reporting applications and analysis tools.

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Shuffle in Jerry Brown’s office: Governor appoints new cabinet secretary

In a high-level and long-anticipated move, Dana Williamson, Gov. Jerry Brown’s cabinet secretary, is leaving the administration, Brown’s office said Tuesday. The governor appointed Keely Bosler, Brown’s chief deputy director for budget, to replace her. Williamson is expected to conduct work for the governor’s political operations from outside the Capitol. Brown’s office said she will open her own firm, Grace Public Affairs.

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