The technology 202: Google is working with Nevada caucus officials to prevent a repeat of Iowa


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The Nevada Democratic Party announced a new plan to track and report the February 22 caucus results after the Iowa debacle caused officials in the next caucus state to abruptly accelerate due to security concerns.

Officials there rely on web-based tools – including a & # 39; caucus calculator & # 39; accessible via a secure Google web form – to perform the complicated math that leads to Democratic presidential candidates getting delegates in the heated nomination battle. They also receive pre-configured iPads purchased by the party to report results, officials announced in a memo presidential campaigns.

The state party consults with professionals at Google to ensure that they use the products in a safe manner, according to a memo shared with The Technology 202. They also said that with each experience they test the caucus calculator with precinct seats level to make sure ensure that it is user-friendly. That could help the party avoid many of the same problems that civil servants had in Iowa, where many provincial chairs struggled to use a new app.


The new strategy came after a quickly devised app made by Shadow, Inc., staggered in the first caucasuses in Iowa. Nevada was planning to use the app, though changed course after the debacle.

"We understand the importance of doing this well and protecting the integrity of Nevadan's voices," Molly Forgey, a spokeswoman for the Nevada Democratic Party, told me. "That is why we quickly made the decision to drop the app and why we worked around the clock to ensure that what happened in Iowa will not happen here. We do not use the app or seller who is responsible for what happened in Iowa. Instead, we've streamlined and simplified the process to make it safe, low-tech, and user-friendly. "


But some election security experts have warned that the hasty transition of the party to a new system before next week's vote left little time for adequate testing and they warn that there may still be problems.

David Becker, the head of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, told me the problems that Nevada faces are mainly administrative non-technical. He said that one of the biggest challenges will be training volunteers who have no experience in running elections in a very short period of time.

"They try, but I think they have a real challenge here and I expect problems (hopefully considerably less serious than Iowa)," he told me. "A caucus like this is prone to problems because of that lack of expertise, regardless of which tools or apps are used."

He said that one way to alleviate problems for the majority of voters would be to concentrate efforts to train caucus organizers in Clark County, as the vast majority of votes are cast there.

There are also persistent concerns about cyber security about the rapid rollout of the calculator by the party, which will be installed on more than 2,000 iPads purchased by the party for every site in the state. My colleague Joseph Marks Previously reported there are major concerns about the iPads probably be connected to the internet, in short time frame to test the procedures and a lack of transparency.

Gregory Miller, chief operating officer of the OSET Institute, a non-profit election technology organization, told Joe that it is "terrifying" that the party is introducing technology so close to the caucus. "This should have been baked a few months ago," he told Joseph.

Nevada Democrats say they have consulted with the Department of Homeland Security and with the Democratic National Committee on best practices. Pressure on the DNC is increasing to ensure that the process runs smoothly, especially as new details are emerging about engagement with Iowa. The DNC has tried to distance itself from the Shadow app, but Yahoo News reported yesterday, a copy of the contract and internal correspondence showed that officials from national parties had extensive oversight over the development of the app.

DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa told Yahoo that the party only wanted access to the app to resolve potential security issues. "We only requested access to the tool to perform security tests," Hinojosa said, contesting the idea that DNC ​​was involved in app development.


BITS: a select group of researchers gained access to internal data about how content is shared on Facebook almost two years after the company first promised access, Jeff Horwitz on the Wall Street Journal reports. The initiative, which was set aside by privacy considerations, could lead to a better understanding of how information, including disinformation, spreads on the social network.

Releasing the data in a way that protected user privacy required substantial research and resources – 20 full-time employees and $ 11 million – Facebook said in a statement.

But the delays came at the expense of some researchers. Social Science One, the project that collaborated with Facebook, lost the support of multiple backers, including the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation after it turned out that the promised data would not come true.

And critics such as the Electronic Privacy Information Center, who claimed in 2018 that the project had violated the company's agreements with regulators, are not satisfied. "We are not satisfied that the concerns in our original letter were addressed," said EPIC President Marc Rotenberg.

Social Science One researchers expect that research from the data can result in the coming months. Facebook said it plans to expand data access.

NIBBLES: The Securities and Exchange Commission is re-examining Tesla, less than a year after CEO Elon Musk resolved a dispute with the agency over his tweets, my colleague Faiz Siddiqui reports. The SEC "has issued a summons to seek information on certain financial data and contracts, including Tesla's regular financing arrangements," the company said yesterday in an annual financial statement.

The disclosure could undermine investor confidence, which recently recovered after Musk made some high-profile mistakes. "Investor confidence has risen on two consecutive quarters of profit and Musk & # 39; s emergence of high-profile legal and regulatory control, although recent disclosure complicates that story," writes Faiz.

Musk's tweets have done SEC investigations twice for allegedly misleading investors, most recently when he tweeted a year ago that Tesla was on pace to produce more vehicles than expected production estimates. The company has not disclosed any details about the reason for the current investigation.

The Ministry of Justice has also asked the company for information about those tweets, the company revealed. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. SEC spokesman Ryan White declined to comment. The Ministry of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating issues, including updates to Tesla's battery management software on its Model S and X vehicles and the Autopilot driver software.

BYTES: Federal prosecutors accused Chinese tech giant Huawei of racketeering and a decades-long conspiracy to steal trade secrets yesterday, my colleague Jeanne Whalen reports.

Prosecutors also accused Huawei of violating US sanctions against Iran. They claim that the company has installed equipment that has assisted the Iranian government in carrying out domestic surveillance. The subsidiary also employed an Iranian citizen, they claim.

The new costs come as the Trump administration's campaign to convince foreign governments not to offer Huawei equipment for struggling with 5G wireless networks. US officials claim they have evidence that Huawei has back doors in its equipment that Beijing could use for espionage.

Huawei strongly denies the new allegations and accusations that it is giving China access to espionage.

"This new indictment is part of the Ministry of Justice's attempt to irrevocably damage the reputation and business of Huawei for reasons related to competition rather than law enforcement," the company said in an email statement.

The new charge escalates a January 2019 case when federal prosecutors accused Huawei and his financial director Meng Wanzhou of bank and bank fraud.


– News from the public sector:


– News from the private sector:

Retailers are replacing scales with video systems that some claim to capture better scanned items and only stop ongoing transactions when needed.

The Wall Street Journal


– Technical news that generates buzz around the web:

A 14 year old in Atlanta created one of the biggest dances on the internet. But nobody really knows that.

The New York Times


– Soon:

  • The Department of Justice will hold a public workshop in Washington, D.C. on February 19, 2020, entitled "Section 230 – Promoting Innovation or Promoting Irresponsibility"
  • The House Communication and Technology Subcommittee will hold a hearing at 2 pm on Thursday, February 20 at Prince George County Central Wellness Center on the importance of rural broadband access.

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