technology

Hackers eye the factory floor
Manufacturers are turning to internet-connected devices. That’s bringing new risks

Manufacturers of consumer goods, including car makers and those that make dishwashers, refrigerators and washing machines, are adopting internet-connected devices on shop floors.(Bill Pugliano/Getty Images file photo)

Factories across the world are increasingly switching to internet-connected sensors, monitors and other devices to operate and supervise their manufacturing operations more intensely. But the proliferation of such equipment is posing new cybersecurity risks.

Shop floor devices such as programmable logic controllers, remote terminal units and human-machine interface equipment have been in use for nearly half a century, said Sean Peasley, a partner at Deloitte who specializes in internet of things and cybersecurity.

Banks seek Congress’ help to block fintech path to ‘industrial’ charters
Industry group expects efforts to have bipartisan support on Hill

A bank industry group accuses financial technology firms like payment processor Square Inc. of trying to exploit a banking law loophole. (Courtesy Shutterstock)

A bank industry group is lobbying Congress to block financial technology firms, such as online lender Social Finance Inc. and payment processor Square Inc., from obtaining an obscure form of a state bank charter that would let them operate nationally with little federal supervision.

The Independent Community Bankers of America last week distributed a policy paper around Washington calling for an immediate moratorium on providing federal deposit insurance to industrial loan companies, or ILCs, which are chartered by only a few states — most notably Utah.

These lawmakers want to know when the Senate gets hacked
The bipartisan duo of Sens. Wyden and Cotton called for more disclosure of Senate cyber attacks

Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., called on Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger to reveal cyber attacks against the Senate. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A bipartisan Senate duo wants to know about any successful hacks of Senate devices and networks.

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton wrote to Senate Sargent of Arms Michael Stenger calling for an annual report on when Senate computers and smartphones have been compromised, and when hackers have otherwise gained access to sensitive Senate data.

Trump is leaving infrastructure details to lawmakers. That has stymied them before
‘Few Republicans will go down this road,’ expert says of WH proposal in budget plan

President Donald Trump delivers a speech on June 7, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio about transportation and infrastructure projects. Despite it being a major 2016 campaign promise, he has been unable to get anything on the topic moving on Capitol Hill. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Donald Trump has talked about the “necessity” of a massive infrastructure overhaul since he became a presidential candidate in 2015, but his latest budget plan offers Congress the kind of vague proposal that has left them confused and stymied before.

The administration is asking lawmakers for $200 billion as an initial payment toward the president’s goal — up to $1.5 trillion from $1 trillion — for a sweeping project to upgrade the country’s roads, airports, bridges, tunnels, seaports and broadband networks. But senior officials say they won’t lay out a plan for which projects in which states Trump would like to see receive any of those dollars.

Fintech industry pursues clarity on ‘token’ regulation
Advocates are finding a sympathetic ear in Congress

Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, is planning to reintroduce with Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., legislation that would further define the term “digital token.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Financial technology advocates are seeking an answer from regulators on when things like digital tokens should be deemed to be securities, and they’re gaining a sympathetic ear in Congress.

Further clarity from regulators would encourage more U.S. growth in digital assets, the advocates say.

Data privacy bill faces long odds as states, EU move ahead
Most tech companies agree laws on how to collect and use consumer data are essential, but the specifics are still being debated

Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., right, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., are seen in the basement of the Capitol before the Senate policy luncheons on Sept. 25, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers want to pass a federal data privacy bill before 2020 to put Washington on par with Europe and ahead of several U.S. states. But those efforts could be delayed because of differences between technology companies and Congress over how powerful the law should be and how it should be structured.

A delay in enacting a uniform federal law could leave technology giants and startup app makers trying to meet a latticework of standards set by multiple regulations passed by many states as well as a growing international set of rules being modeled after the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. Companies also could be liable for fines and face consumer lawsuits allowed by state laws.

The conservative House Freedom Caucus is launching a podcast series
Rep. Jody Hice, former conservative talk show host, will sit down to discuss policy and politics with HFC newsmakers

Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., will host a weekly podcast for the House Freedom Caucus. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The conservative House Freedom Caucus is launching a podcast series, marking the first time an organized group in Congress will host its own show.

Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, a former conservative talk radio host and the Freedom Caucus’ communications chairman, will sit down weekly with other members of the caucus, senators and grassroots leaders.

Frequent cryptocurrency theft gives rise to new area of insurance
But crypto-insurance is so new, many regulators aren’t sure how to treat it

The D Las Vegas advertises in January 2014 that it now accepts bitcoin. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images file photo)

Hackers stole $1.7 billion worth of cryptocurrency last year, a massive rate of theft and a big hit to the financial technology’s reputation.

A rising industry could mitigate the problem: crypto-insurance, which offers the promise that big financial firms will feel secure enough to take wider stakes in financial products based on bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

How the National Archives helped ‘Apollo 11’ get a fresh look
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 59

"Apollo 11" director Todd Douglas Miller, right, discusses his documentary about the iconic moon landing with Political Theater Podcast host Jason Dick. (Nathan Ouellette/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Commerce chairman eyes data privacy bill this year
Sen. Roger Wicker hopes to act decisively on a federal privacy bill to avoid a patchwork of state legislation

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman Roger Wicker. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman Roger Wicker is aiming to have a federal data privacy bill written and passed by Congress this year as technology companies, privacy advocates and civil rights groups press lawmakers to act decisively to avoid a patchwork of state legislation.

“It would be nice to have it on the president’s desk this year,” the Mississippi Republican told reporters Wednesday after leading a hearing on how Congress should approach a federal data privacy bill. Wicker said the bill that emerges from the discussions is likely to be a “good strong bill” that will garner bipartisan support and also avoid a 50-state grab bag of laws.