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Washington state privacy act goes down again

For the second straight year, the Washington state legislature has failed to approve privacy legislation that would give the state’s residents some of the strongest protections in the country. Although lawmakers in both houses of the state legislature passed versions of the bill to protect consumers’ personal information, they failed to agree on key provisions, particularly whether the law’s enforcement should be left to the state attorney general’s office or individuals. The Senate version would have held Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office solely responsible for enforcing violations of the bill, which sought to inform residents of which companies held their data and granted rights for the removal or transfer of that information. But the House's version would have given individuals the right to sue companies for violations under the Washington Consumer Protection Act. While Ferguson himself said he alone could not enforce the bill, lawmakers could not reconcile their differences before the legislative session ended. Colin Wood reports.

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Ransomware in the time of coronavirus

A public-health agency in central Illinois has had to retreat to social media to update residents about the ongoing spread of the new coronavirus after a ransomware attack disabled its main website and briefly cut off employees from medical files. Workers at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District discovered Tuesday that they were victims of a cyberattack, which was confirmed as ransomware the following day. While the website has been disabled, the agency’s email accounts, environmental health records and patient records were not impacted, having been moved to a cloud-based backup storage system. But the attack, caused by a newer form of ransomware known as NetWalker, has forced the agency to post its updates about the coronavirus pandemic — which has infected 25 people in Illinois, mostly around Chicago — on Facebook and a temporary website. “The public needs to know it’s being taken care of, and we’re still functioning,” the agency's director, Julie Pryde, told a local newspaper. Benjamin Freed has more.

EAC hires cybersecurity expert to help states

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the federal body charged with overseeing the funds that states have used to upgrade and secure their voting systems, announced Thursday that it's hired Joshua Franklin, a former engineer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, to a top cybersecurity position, CyberScoop reports. In his new role, Franklin is expected to protect EAC networks from hacking threats and support the commission’s cybersecurity work with state and local election officials. “Josh has the rare combination of having worked at the state level, experience with hands on testing, and cybersecurity expertise,” said Matt Masterson, a Department of Homeland Security election security official. Sean Lyngaas reports for CyberScoop.

Prisons seek tools, guidance for coronavirus response

The widespread disruption caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak appears to have few boundaries, as prison authorities now scramble for ways to screen and monitor their inmate populations. The Texas Commission on Jail Standards issued an advisory to correctional facilities earlier this month, urging them to “take all precautions,” and provided links to several online resources providing additional information on the new virus and the COVID-19 disease it causes. Now prison administrators, unsure of what precautions they're supposed to take or how to carry them out, are turning to new software modules to help track inmates' health records. Colin has more.

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