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White House wants to fix state vaccine websites

White House officials said Friday the administration will begin lending the federal government’s technological expertise to state and local governments that are still struggling to develop or maintain websites for making vaccination appointments, which have vexed people across the country. Cori Zarek, the executive director of the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University, said the offer is an example of the White House’s ability to help governments improve their digital services. “People are hungry for help and support,” she told StateScoop. “State and local governments have been asking for this skill and expertise for a very long time.” Benjamin Freed reports.

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Mass. city weighs surveillance tech fight

The decision by lawmakers in Worcester, Massachusetts, last Tuesday to approve local police’s use of software that uses artificial intelligence to direct patrol routes drew quick criticism from local and statewide civil rights groups, which said that the new platform could exacerbate racial biases and privacy concerns that often accompany algorithmic surveillance tools. The software, ShotSpotter Connect, uses data analysis and AI models that tell police where to go to prevent crime before it happens. Civil rights groups said they were disappointed by the purchase, especially as it came after a decision to eliminate facial-recognition technology in city government. Ryan Johnston has details.

School cyberattacks on the rise

The number of publicly disclosed cybersecurity incidents affecting K-12 school systems rose by 18% in 2020 over the previous year, according to a report last week by the K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center and the K12 Security Information Exchange. While ransomware only accounted for 12% of the 408 incidents the groups counted, those attacks became more nefarious, as hackers threatened to (or actually did) dump victims' data on the internet, upped their demands and even caused classes to be canceled. The report also cites a growing pattern of compromises of edtech vendors Ben has more on EdScoop.

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