fintech

Is the census ready for its online debut?
Census Bureau says it’s prepared for security threats, but watchdogs raise doubts

The prospect of an external attack has driven the Census Bureau to lean on the Department of Homeland Security. Above, workers attend a training session in Houston in February 2016. (Scott Dalton/Houston Census Office)

Next year the federal government will launch its largest public-facing online portal in years, for an undertaking facing risks ranging from foreign cyberattacks to collapsing under its own weight: the 2020 census.

For the first time, the census will rely on online responses, one of a slew of technological upgrades by the Census Bureau that also includes computerized address verification. Those changes have watchdogs worried, despite assurances by the bureau that it will be ready when the census is rolled out in Alaska starting in January. 

Global regulators divide on fintech impact on financial system
New reports highlight inability to reach consensus on best approaches

A new report says regulators of the world’s leading economies need to watch how they oversee cryptoassets and be wary of gaps that could undermine investor protections and anti-money laundering efforts. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images file photo)

Regulators are divided on the potential impact of financial technology on the global financial system and the need for better coordination and oversight.

As leaders prepare to gather for the G-20 meeting in Japan in late June, their finance ministers and central bankers are getting conflicting advice from regulators on the risks and benefits of fintech.

Sen. Josh Hawley: ‘Huawei is not the answer’
Missouri Republican has emerged as a thorn in Big Tech’s side

Using Huawei technologies opens the entire communications chain to spying by the Chinese government, Hawley says. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Since arriving in the Senate in January, Missouri Republican Josh Hawley has emerged as a key player on technology policy and a thorn in the side of large companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon.

We sat down with him to discuss the cybersecurity threat posed by China, whether the government should break up Big Tech, and what he fears most from social media.

Lawmakers fear that the FBI and TSA are misusing facial recognition tech
Law enforcement and national security agencies implementing new technology ‘without any real guard rails,’ top Democrat warns

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer instructs an international traveler to look into a camera as he uses facial recognition technology to screen a traveler entering the United States on February 27, 2018 at Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida. Both Democrats and Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform grilled leaders of the FBI and Transportation Security Administration on Tuesday about whether they are running afoul of privacy and transparency laws in their use of facial recognition software. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Both Democrats and Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform grilled leaders of the FBI and Transportation Security Administration on Tuesday about how their use of facial recognition software conflicts with transparency and privacy laws.

“This technology is evolving extremely rapidly without any real guard rails,” Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings warned in his opening statement at Tuesday’s hearing, the panel’s second in less than a month on facial recognition. “Whether we are talking about commercial use or government use, there are real concerns about the risks that this technology poses to our civil rights and liberties and our right to privacy.”

Government and health care sectors had most breaches in 2018

Topping the data breach list last year was the government, including federal, state and local computer systems. Government breaches take, on average, 2.5 times longer to detect than in the private sector, a new report from Verizon found. (iStock)

Government computer systems — federal, state and local — suffered the most data breaches last year, driven most likely by foreign adversaries conducting espionage operations, according to Verizon’s latest annual report on cyberattacks.

In the private sector, health care, financial services and small-to-midsized accounting, tax and law firms suffered the largest number of breaches, according to the 12th edition of Verizon’s annual Data Breach Investigations Report, released last month.

Regulators confront technology that may upend securities trade
Distributed ledgers may remove the need for intermediaries such as stock exchanges.

Distributed ledger technology, including the blockchain system that backs bitcoin, could remove the need for such intermediaries as stock exchanges, regulators and experts say. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images file photo)

New technology could change the way the securities industry has worked for decades by removing the need for trusted central parties such as stock exchanges.

The potentially disruptive technology is known as the distributed ledger, a decentralized database run by its users rather than a single authority. Current and former financial regulators, academics and trading industry experts said during a recent financial technology panel that these ledgers, which in theory can’t be changed, may remove the need for such intermediaries as stock exchanges.

It’s not just the citizenship question. 2020 census faces other woes
From cybersecurity concerns to untested methods, last-minute hurdles remain

The 2020 census is not the first to face last-minute challenges. Problems with handheld electronics during the 2010 census required the bureau to reintroduce paper enumeration. (Mario Tama/Getty Images file photo)

A project meant to be a decade in preparation, the 2020 census, still faces a number of uncertainties, which experts warn could lead to an inaccurate count with potentially large impacts on federal spending and congressional maps.

Though a pending Supreme Court decision over a citizenship question has dominated much of the conversation surrounding the census, other hurdles include the Census Bureau’s overall funding, cybersecurity concerns and untested methods.

Mueller departs with warning: Don’t forget Russia’s election meddling
Congress has been divided over how to address weaknesses in U.S. election system

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III reminded Americans on Wednesday that “there were multiple, systematic efforts” by Russia to interfere in U.S. elections. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who stepped down from his position Wednesday, had a stark warning for Americans: pay attention to what Russia did to interfere in U.S. elections.

Most of the political wrangling and fallout over Mueller’s report has focused on whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice — the report, and Mueller on Wednesday, specifically said he did not exonerate the president on that score — and whether Congress should begin impeachment proceedings. Mueller himself pointed to an aspect of his office’s findings that hasn’t been challenged by either political party.

Report to Congress ponders a future of cryptocurrency over cash
Migration away from cash transactions leaves an opening for digital currencies

A man purchases bitcoin from a bitcoin ATM in Boston in 2014. The use of cryptocurrencies to make payments in the U.S. is still “quite rare relative to cash and traditional systems,” a new CRS report says. (Darren McCollester/Getty Images file photo)

Congress may be beginning to contemplate a country where cryptocurrency — not cash — is the coin of the realm.

The Congressional Research Service examined the decline in cash usage in the United States and the potential rise of alternative payment systems, including bitcoin or other digital assets, in the purchase of goods and services.

Adios, La Loma: Requiem for a Senate-side institution
Mitch McConnell calls it ‘the shutdown we all oppose!!’

La Loma, a popular Mexican restaurant at 316 Massachusetts Avenue NE, has closed. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Whether it was the convenient location a short walk from the Capitol, the bustling street-side patio or the tanker-sized margaritas, La Loma carved out a place in the life of Capitol Hill. And just like that, its 21-year Senate-side run on Massachusetts Avenue Northeast was over. 

If any place proved the real estate maxim of location, location, location, it was La Loma. Southwestern natives grumbled about the quality and execution of the fare, but it didn’t matter. Even the rain or cold wasn’t enough sometimes to keep people away from the patio, festooned with its green awning and multihued umbrellas, particularly during happy hour. And when the sun was out, it made for a mad dash to lunch, particularly on the Senate’s semi-workdays, Monday and Friday — and especially during recess.