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California's new privacy regulator finds its boss

Ashkan Soltani, a former chief technologist at the Federal Trade Commission, will lead the new California Privacy Protection Agency, officials announced yesterday. The agency, which was created last year by a ballot referendum, is meant to enforce the 2018 California Consumer Privacy Act, the landmark legislation that set broad rules about how companies collect and use internet users’ personal data. Soltani served as the FTC’s top technologist from 2014 to 2015 and served a brief stint as a senior adviser to former Federal CTO Megan Smith during the final year of the Obama administration. He previously contributed to the Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the National Security Agency’s global surveillance programs. Benjamin Freed reports.

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Microsoft to give Chicagoans digital lessons

Microsoft will provide free digital-skills training courses for at least 300,000 Chicagoans through a new economic development program announced on Friday. The new program, called “Accelerate Chicago,” is designed to boost the employability of residents who either lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic or those with few digital skills, and will provide “cross-training” for residents trying to switch career paths, according to the company. Microsoft has run similar programs in New York, Atlanta, Houston and Louisville, Kentucky. Ryan Johnston has more.

Infrastructure security gets more focus

John Katko, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee introduced legislation this morning directing CISA to identify U.S. digital infrastructure that, if attacked, would severely debilitate national security, economic security or public safety. It’s an attempt, Katko said, to identify which of the 16 sectors currently labeled as critical infrastructure are truly essential. CyberScoop's Tim Starks reports that the proposal is another response to recent cyber incidents that disrupted key U.S. infrastructure, such as the Colonial Pipeline hack that sparked panic-buying of gasoline. Read more on CyberScoop.

Low-code development catches on with CIOs

Low-code and no-code software development, which allows people to build applications by configuring graphical widgets and data fields instead of sifting through obtuse programming languages, has become broadly popular among state IT agencies, NASCIO said last week. A preview of the group's annual survey found that low-code and no-code development was a crucial tool as states ramped up their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that CIOs believe it will be one of the most impactful technologies in the coming years. Read more from Ben.

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