Tech News for May 27

IBM: Government and Blockchain Sector Should Work Together to Enhance National Security

Cuomo is persuaded that the technology could potentially cause a tectonic shift in the way financial systems are secured and that government, technology companies and industries should work together to advance blockchain technology to enhance national security. The Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity, announced in April, is tasked with making detailed recommendations on actions that can be taken over the next decade to enhance cybersecurity awareness and protections throughout the private sector and at all levels of government, to protect privacy, to ensure public safety and economic and national security, and to empower Americans to take better control of their digital security. Sam Palmisano, former CEO of IBM, is the commission’s vice-chair.

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Salesforce Taps Amazon AWS as Preferred Public Cloud Provider

While Salesforce has already used Amazon Web Services (AWS) for some of its cloud-based needs, it has now confirmed a deal under which it will expand upon that, making AWS its preferred public cloud infrastructure provider going into the future. The deal is valued at around $400 million over the next four years, according to documents recently filed by Salesforce with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. While the 10-Q statement referred only to a “third-party provider,” Fortune reported yesterday that “sources close to both companies” have confirmed that partner is AWS.

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Floating Data Center May Dock in Stockton

Forget the Google barge. Nautilus Data Technologies Inc. of Pleasanton has built the real deal — a barge 235 feet long and 55 feet wide, capable of carrying up to 540 racks of computer servers — and wants to bring its floating data center to the port of Stockton. While the Google barge came to Stockton in March 2014 amid a blitz of media scrutiny and speculation it might be a server farm, which it wasn’t, Nautilus was quietly building its Eli M vessel at Mare Island. And while Google executives said not a peep about selling their barge, which the new owner towed to Seattle in March to be refitted as a standard freight hauler, Nautilus executives announced their plans at Thursday’s meeting of the San Joaquin Partnership.

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Airline Apps Not Subject to California’s Online Privacy Protection Act

A California law requiring online services to post their privacy policies for customers doesn’t apply to an airline’s data-gathering mobile app because federal law tightly restricts state regulation of airlines, a state appeals court ruled Wednesday. The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco said the state law can’t be enforced because the federal Airline Deregulation Act, signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, prohibits states from enforcing any law “related to a price, route or service of an air carrier.” The ruling upholds a judge’s dismissal of a 2012 lawsuit by Attorney General Kamala Harris against Delta Air Lines. The airline’s Fly Delta mobile application, available since October 2010, allows passengers to buy tickets online and stores information the customer provides during the purchase, including name, residence, email address, credit card numbers and frequent-flyer account.

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California mayors ask for governor’s support for highway cameras after shootings

Five mayors in northern California on Thursday asked Governor Jerry Brown in a letter to have surveillance cameras installed on state highways in the area after a string of shootings that have gripped their communities. The request came two days after a man was shot in the leg while traveling eastbound on I-80 in Hercules, California, the 28th such shooting on the state highway system east of San Francisco during the last six months, authorities said. “This is of increasing concern to our elected officials and residents who feel as if our communities are under siege,” said the letter signed by the mayors of Pinole, Richmond and Hercules. The mayors of San Pablo and El Cerrito also signed the letter.

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These Next Generation Government Agencies Are Using Mobile Technology To Save Taxpayers Billions

Three years ago I wrote about how the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) saved taxpayers $500 million by using mobile technologies. I had high expectations for other State Departments of Transportation (DOT) to follow suit, and in some cases, they were met. I say that without sarcasm. However, when you have 49 other State DOTs, plus hundreds of cities and municipalities, you can’t expect for them all to follow Missouri’s lead, but you do expect them to at least try. This is a big, big deal. To better assess whether DOTs have progressed, I worked with Pavia Systems to create and administer an industry survey and the results were surprising. I also asked several DOTs and transportation agencies for their opinion of the results, and while they cited several issues, the data indicated taxpayers should be happy with their progress.

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This Week in Civic Tech: Congress Voices Concern over DATA Act Pilot, Two Startups Help San Francisco

Officials attempting to open federal financial data are encountering obstacles after a pilot program was delayed and Congress and data advocates made allegations of mismanagement. On May 16, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.; Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., and Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del, sent a letter to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shaun Donovan requesting answers about the implementation of a pilot for the Data Transparency and Accountability Act. The law, signed by the president in 2014, is the first national open data law that requires agencies to begin reporting financial expenditures online in a machine-readable format by next year.

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Collaboration Key to Preventing Next Major Cyberattack

A new study from Intel Security points to collaboration as a key factor in preventing or responding to cyber security attacks. Respondents of a survey including 565 security decision makers worldwide shows that enterprises believe they could be 38% to 100% more effective at preparing for cyberattacks and how they would respond to such attacks if the personnel and systems already in place could simply collaborate better. Through collaboration, the survey finds companies could not only improve security effectiveness but also overcome the growing shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals. While better detection and prevention tools remained the top priority among respondents of the survey, collaboration ranked as the third-highest priority on threat management spending.

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What will it take to bring US government 21st century tech?

The United States government runs crucial systems – like the nuclear system – on floppy disks, according to a new report. Given that the federal government spends $80 billion annually on maintaining information technology (IT) systems, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) took a closer look at the systems these funds maintain. GAO found that 75 percent of these funds are designated for maintaining antiquated technology. “Federal legacy IT investments are becoming increasingly obsolete: many use outdated software languages and hardware parts that are unsupported,” GAO writes in a May 2016 report to Congress, published Wednesday. “Agencies reported using several systems that have components that are, in some cases, at least 50 years old. For example, Department of Defense uses 8-inch floppy disks in a legacy system that coordinates the operational functions of the nation’s nuclear forces.”

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