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Cybersecurity, Privacy Key Issues for Tech Caucus Co-Chair

Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin discussed likely and potential areas of focus for herself and for the California Legislative Technology and Innovation Caucus, which she helps lead.

Cybersecurity
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This year’s topics of focus aren’t yet certain for the California Legislative Technology and Innovation Caucus, but for an assemblymember who is one of its two co-chairs, priorities in state IT are taking shape.
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Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, told Techwire that last year, leaders provided Tech Caucus members with “a huge list of potential topics,” wanting discussions to be member-driven, “which is why we had such good turnout at all the meetings.” The group went on to hold a summit near Napa and sent a delegation to Washington, D.C., to take up issues with California’s Congressional representatives. This year, Irwin said, there’s “obviously a very big interest” in artificial intelligence; and she hopes members also probe blockchain and cryptocurrency. (Assemblymember Evan Low, D-Campbell, also co-chairs the Caucus.) Among her own gov tech priorities:

  • Cybersecurity remains a key focus. Irwin’s Assembly Bill 581, which stalled last spring in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations, would require “all state agencies” — including the so-called “constitutionals” that aren’t executive branch entities under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s direct authority — “to review and implement specified National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidelines” on areas including “reporting, coordinating, publishing, and receiving information about a security vulnerability relating to information systems and the resolution thereof,” by July 1. The bill, which is still alive, would also require the chief of the state Office of Information Security to review those guidelines and “create, update and publish any appropriate standards or procedures” in state manuals — essentially making the NIST guidelines applicable to those agencies.
  • Watching what happens at the California Privacy Protection Agency (CCPA). Created by voters with the passage in November 2020 of Prop. 24, the California Privacy Rights Act of 2020, the CCPA is still in its early stages. (The act updated its original 2018 version.) The agency, Irwin said, is “finally moving ahead full steam and working on regulations,” but complications could still emerge. “We’re staying in conversations with stakeholders and the agency board to make sure that we have a smooth implementation. Irwin is also co-chair of the Task Force on Cybersecurity at the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the group has created a guide for state legislatures to help shape the creation of their own privacy legislation, and to “try to have some consistency across the country.
    “I think that if we don’t start to see more consistency across the states, there’s going to be a bigger and bigger push to do something at the national level,” Irwin said. Here’s its Legislator Privacy Guide and Glossary of Privacy Terms, and information on state laws related to digital privacy.
  • Preserving the privacy of mobility data. This, too, has been a problematic area for Irwin. Last year, AB 859, which she and Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, D-Berkeley, co-sponsored, would have authorized public agencies — state or local entities that issue permits or regulate “mobility services” operators like e-bike or e-scooter companies — to collect de-identified and aggregated micromobility device data and would have set limits on sharing. The bill languished in Appropriations but Irwin told Techwire “we will continue to work on that issue. ... it’s basically a violation of California privacy by local governments and I find it deeply troubling, and I don’t want the precedent to be set that the Fourth Amendment can be circumvented using transportation planners instead of police officers,” Irwin said.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Techwire.