Facebook is still under fire for its failure to safeguard user information from unethical practices of third-party app developers.

 

What happened?

Mark Zuckerberg tesimony congress - Washington Post

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in the U.S. Congress on April 10, 2018. Screenshot from Washington Post.

 

In a nutshell, Facebook had knowingly allowed a third-party developer to improperly collect information and exploit the data of 87 million users to sway voter opinion on political campaigns without their permission.

 

Academic researcher Aleksandr Kogan built a third-party app called thisismydigitallife in 2014 for the sole purpose of collecting data from millions of users through personality quizzes. This was done under the guise that the harvested information would be used for academic purposes. Thisismydigitallife went viral and its users inadvertently gave the API permission to access their profiles, as well as their friends’ information. (At the time, Facebook rules allowed third-party apps to do this. However, the company put a stop to collecting friends’ information the same year.)

 

Kogan later shared this private information to Cambridge Analytica which mined the people’s data to create user psychography profiles and used it for electionioneering purposes such as Britain’s Brexit campaign and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.

 

How does this affect you?

Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook’s Hard Questions Blog, March 21, 2018 https://newsroom.fb.com/

 

Facebook had notified users who’s data may have been shared when they used the thisismydigitallife app. In case you missed the notification, read NPR’s: How to Check If Your Facebook Data Was Used By Cambridge Analytica and click here to check your status. You must be logged onto your Facebook profile to see results.

 

To see which State of Hawaii government agencies currently use Facebook and other social media platforms to engage constituents, visit this helpful link.

9th Annual STEM Conference group shot. Photo courtesy of Maui Economic Development Board.

 

Transform Hawaii Government proudly supported the 9th Annual Hawaii STEM Conference — Hawaii’s largest Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) event for students. The event was presented by STEMworks™ earlier this month.

 

More than 1,000 students, teachers, and innovators gathered for the two-day regional conference at Oahu’s Hawaii Convention Center on April 10 and 11, 2018.

 

“The Hawaii STEM Conference is more than just a high-tech conference for awesome nerds and geeks,” said Leinaala Kealoha, a teacher at Kauai High School. “I was enlightened to the paradigm shift necessary for our youth to thrive in this ever-changing society; moreover, regardless of their career path, both students and teachers can gain valuable and indispensable skills by indulging in STEM. It’s not just an elective or hobby, it’s a way of life.”

 

The annual STEM conference was put together by STEMworks™, a program of the Maui Economic Development Board’s (MEDB) Women in Technology initiative. STEMworks™ is a service-learning initiative dedicated to bolster interest and motivate K-12 students and underrepresented groups in pursuing STEM careers.

 

“THG gladly supports the mission of the conference in making STEM education into an enjoyable, practical, and fun endeavor. Hawaii’s government IT transformation depends on what we can do today to streamline backend operations for better services. Securing our state government’s technological future also depends on nurturing the interest of youth in tech so they can leverage opportunities to stay in the islands when they enter the workforce” said Christine Sakuda, executive director of Transform Hawaii Government.

 

The 9th Annual STEM Conference focused on engaging students from across the state and building their tech skills, invigorating interest in the field via hands-on activities, and in connecting with industry professionals.

 

Photo courtesy of Maui Economic Development Board.

Students create technology by building a Piper Computer. Pictured left to right: Shairene Bayle (Maui Waena Intermediate, 6th grade), Jacelyn Yun (Maui Waena Intermediate, 6th grade), Seamus Talosa (Farrington High, 11th grade), and Sienna Rocoma (Maui Waena Intermediate, 6th grade). Photo courtesy of Maui Economic Development Board.

Split between two days, the conference featured a robust agenda of more than 61 hands-on student workshops, multiple software competitions, a formal awards banquet recognizing STEM service learning projects, a 5X5 speed networking session with industry professionals, as well as 25 professional development sessions for teachers.

 

“It’s always rewarding to see and hear how this conference has touched lives by empowering our youth. Whether they choose to pursue a STEM career or another field, experiences during this conference will encourage them to be self-directed learners, to be resilient, to stay current and be adaptive to change. Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to all those who made this event possible – our event’s sponsors, industrial professionals, participating students and teachers, volunteers and our dedicated MEDB staff,” said Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO.

 

In addition to Transform Hawaii Government, the 9th Annual Hawaii Stem Conference was sponsored by Creative Industries Hawaii/DBEDT, Kaiser Permanente, Bank of Hawaii Foundation – Mike Lyons Maui Community Award, Microsoft, Verizon, Hawaii Energy/Blue Planet Foundation, Hawaiian Electric Company, SketchUp, Hawaii Geographic Information Coordinating Council, Hawaii Association of Independent Schools, Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation, USS Bowfin Submarine/Pacific Fleet Submarine Memorial Association, Sempra Renewables and Engie.

 

This year, the State of Hawaii’s four-decade-old mainframe payroll system will transition to a modern payroll software and processes utilizing PeopleSoft. Involving more than 70,000 payments each payroll cycle, the modernization project will provide employees with updated toolsets and training.

According to the Department of Accounting and General Services, the new system will enable payroll and human resources staff to process information using up-to-date technology, resulting in less manual processing. Increased efficiency will provide more time for employees to work on other priority tasks such as analytical activities. When fully implemented, employee self-service capabilities will include:

 

  • Setting up direct deposit distributions
  • Managing federal and state tax withholding allowances
  • Updating payroll mailing addresses and emergency contacts
  • Viewing and printing pay statements and W-2 tax forms

 

“Payroll and human resources staff have been working closely with project staff the last few months to test the system and learn the new processes,” said Chief Information Officer Todd Nacapuy, whose office is assisting DAGS with the modernization effort.

 

The rollout of the system is being scheduled in three phases:

  1. April/May – Department of Human Resources Development and the Department of Accounting and General Services and its attached agency
  2. July/August – Remaining jurisdictions, departments, and agencies statewide except for Department of Education and the University of Hawaii system
  3. October/November – Department of Education and the University of Hawaii system

THG will monitor the progress of the project and keep members apprised. Additional information is available on the project website and will be provided in future editions of THG’s newsletter.

Concurrent resolution demands a State IT Strategic Plan

 

On April 16, Chair Glenn Wakai (right), from the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Tourism, and Technology, receives testimony on HCR 94, from THG Executive Director Christine Sakuda (second from left).

 

After receiving a strong showing of support from Transform Hawaii Government (THG) and other advocates, the Hawaii Legislature has adopted a concurrent resolution requesting the development of an information technology (IT) strategic plan for Hawaii state government. THG’s Board of Directors, Leadership Committee, and coalition members were among those who submitted testimony in support of the resolution.

 

HCR 94 asks the state’s IT Steering Committee to submit the strategic plan, along with recommendations and any necessary supporting legislation, to the Legislature no later than 20 days prior to the convening of next session. Development of the plan provides the opportunity to acknowledge and document progress achieved thus far, as well as chart the course to further improve the delivery of programs and services to citizens, businesses and those working in state government.

 

“Our state’s data remains decentralized and inaccessible, limiting the opportunities for integration and achieving our state goals,” said THG Executive Director Christine Sakuda. “I therefore strongly support this resolution requesting that the IT Steering Committee take an active role in developing the state IT strategic plan, including consideration of model legislation from other states and industry best practices to establish a state data strategy.”

 

As featured in past THG newsletters, while progress has been made since the Legislature established the position of the state Chief Information Officer (CIO), a long-term IT strategic plan has yet to be adopted. With hundreds of millions of dollars invested in modernizing and maintaining the state’s multitude of IT systems each year, such a plan is necessary to:

  • Improve the delivery of programs and services to citizens, businesses and within state government offices;
  • Maximize our state’s potential for greater accountability, efficiency, and transparency in the use of taxpayer dollars;
  • Best secure protected data and critical infrastructure; and
  • Sufficiently empower our state’s workforce to meet the demands of an increasingly technology-dependent workplace.

 

By naming the IT Steering Committee, the resolution recognizes that advising the state chief information officer (CIO) in developing the IT standards and policies, including but not limited to assisting the CIO in developing and implementing the state IT strategic plans, is already within the committee’s statutorily mandated duties.

 

The IT Steering Committee is scheduled to meet in May, when it is anticipated members will determine the next steps to fulfill the Legislature’s request.  As Sakuda is a member of the IT Steering Committee, THG members will be provided first-hand insight into the committee’s progress. Watch for future updates in upcoming editions of THG’s monthly newsletter.

 

Other Priority Legislation

This session, THG launched its Priority Legislation webpage to serve as a resource to coalition members and like-minded individuals who wish to advocate for 2018 legislation that promotes an open, transparent and responsive Hawaii government. The status of measures is updated regularly on the page, and many THG coalition members responded to alert messages with testimony when bills were scheduled for hearings.

 

One such bill is House Bill 2395 SD1, Relating to Electronic Filing, which has been passed by the Legislature and transmitted to the governor. If enacted, HB 2395 will authorize the Hawaii Department of Taxation to require certain taxpayers to file returns electronically, subject to exceptions for reasonable cause as provided by administrative rules. While some business users may be reluctant to go paperless, such progress is inevitable as electronic filing becomes the norm at both the state and federal levels. Strong encouragement to use the new electronic functionality of the new system is critical to maximize positive return on investment and realize the cost-efficiencies associated with filing electronically the state and businesses alike will enjoy over the long-term.

 

Adjournment of the Legislature (a.k.a., “Sine Die”) is Thursday, May 3, 2018. The governor has until July 10 to veto a bill, sign it into law, or allow it become law without his signature.