Lucas Ropek

Staff Writer


Lucas Ropek is a staff writer for Government Technology. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and writer in Massachusetts and New York. He received his Bachelor's degree in English from Kenyon College in Ohio. He lives in Northern California.

September 20, 2019

How Louisiana Responded to Its Recent Ransomware Attacks

Through quick response and an existing cyberthreat response system, the state managed to stave off what could have been a much more disastrous attack that would have affected twice as many communities.

September 18, 2019

L.A., IBM Launch Threat Intelligence Platform for Businesses

The first publicly available platform of its kind in the U.S., it's aimed at offering small and mid-sized businesses cyberthreat tracking capabilities and trend analysis that otherwise wouldn't be accessible.

September 17, 2019

Is Industry Ready for the California Consumer Privacy Act?

The business community's push for changes to the California Consumer Privacy Act were mostly rebutted throughout 2019's legislative session, leaving many in the private sector anxious about the future.

September 12, 2019

Police Facial Recognition Ban Clears California Senate

Under the proposed law, police would be barred from equipping their body cameras with facial recognition software for a period of three years. Questions about the accuracy of the technology and privacy are central issues.

September 10, 2019

Baltimore CIO, Who Managed Ransomware Response, on Leave

The duration of Johnson's leave is not clear, but a city official says deputy IT chief Todd Carter will be stepping in to manage day-to-day operations. Johnson faced criticism for his response to the May cyberattack.

August 30, 2019

USC Launches New Neighborhood Crime Data Initiative

The University of Southern California’s new data project will show how neighborhood crime in Los Angeles intersects with other policy areas like homelessness and housing, education, economic development, and jobs.

August 28, 2019

How Texas Cities Are Handling Recent Ransomware Attacks

Together with federal authorities and other partners, the state government has stepped in to help municipalities ailing from the large, coordinated attack that left town data locked up by malware.

August 19, 2019

Texas Towns Slammed in 'Coordinated' Ransomware Attack

The widespread cyberattack came at the end of last week, plunging the state into response and recovery mode. At least 23 cities and towns are working with state and federal authorities to mitigate the damage.

August 16, 2019

Facebook’s Facial Recognition Feature Could Cost It Billions

A 2015 lawsuit alleges the company’s tagging feature violated Illinois biometric privacy laws when applied to residents’ photos without permission. Now, an opinion out of a federal appeals court is moving the case forward.

August 14, 2019

Social Engineering Attack Nets $1.7M in Government Funds

Believing it was working with a trusted contractor to change banking information, Cabarrus County, N.C., paid scammers $2.5 million. The incident highlights yet another way cyberthieves are targeting government.

August 13, 2019

California Could Ban Facial Recognition in Police Body Cams

New legislation in the state comes amidst a nationwide backlash against facial recognition technology, which has in recent weeks been criticized by privacy advocates at both the city and state levels.

August 12, 2019

Why School Systems? The Rise of Ransomware in Public Schools

Due to their wealth of data and limited budget for cybersecurity staff and training, schools have drawn the eye of hackers. Experts recommend backing up data and investing in cybersecurity training and preparedness.

August 8, 2019

Hackers Vandalize Minnesota Government Websites

Internet vandals targeted two webpages under the Department of Human Services with an anti-government message. Officials say it does not appear that any sensitive information was accessed in the incident.

August 5, 2019

Oregon Experiencing Widespread Connectivity Issues

A problem with “some network infrastructure hardware” has been affecting state agencies since Friday morning. The intermittent connectivity issues are impacting access to state websites and call centers.

August 2, 2019

Amazon's Ring Video Camera Alarms Privacy Advocates

The new home security IoT product, which has seen widespread use by law enforcement agencies across the country, allows police to view home surveillance footage to assist with their investigations.

July 30, 2019

Election Security Needs Increased Federal Investment

A report published by the Brennan Center warns that states and localities are ill equipped to defend themselves against the sophisticated, well-resourced intelligence agencies of foreign governments.

July 29, 2019

Georgia Public Safety Agency Hit with Ransomware Attack

The attack, which was discovered late last week, is the latest in a string of cyberincidents targeting government agencies of all sizes. State officials say they are working to get systems back to normal.

July 25, 2019

Louisiana Declares State Emergency After Malware Attack

The malware attacks, which were directed at school systems, affected phones and computers in at least three different communities, and the threat is still active, according to the Governor's Office.

July 24, 2019

New York Commission to Study Artificial Intelligence, Robots

The newly codified group will investigate how automation, artificial intelligence and other emergent technologies could be regulated, while at the same time examining how the technologies could benefit economic growth.

July 23, 2019

Flurry of California Bills Seek to Modify State's Privacy Law

A bevy of legislation has been introduced in recent months that seeks to augment and change California's privacy law, but how much of it will pass remains to be seen.

July 19, 2019

Virginia Pilots Weapon-Detection System at State Capitol

The new technology, which can scan crowds and uses artificial intelligence to identify hidden weapons, is going to be beta tested in multiple places across the country, including the Virginia State Capitol Complex.

July 16, 2019

NASCIO Endorses Federal Cybersecurity Collaboration Bill

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers has shown support for the new U.S. Senate bill that would increase collaboration between federal and state and local governments on security and defense.

July 15, 2019

NY’s Data Privacy Bill Failed; Is There Hope Next Session?

The New York Privacy Act was hailed by many as a bigger, badder version of California’s recent Consumer Privacy Act, but a lack of support and a substantial lobbying effort stopped it in its tracks.

July 10, 2019

Rhode Island Governor Cuts CISO Position from Cabinet

The controversial decision to eliminate the state's chief information security officer has inspired criticism, though state officials have promised a continued commitment to cybersecurity efforts.

July 8, 2019

Maryland Grapples with Exposure of 78K Personal Records

Two databases used by the state’s Department of Labor may have been accessed by unauthorized users, potentially exposing the names, Social Security numbers, addresses and personal information of thousands.

July 1, 2019

Florida Names Deputy CIO Amid IT Agency Reorganization

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature turned the Agency for State Technology into the Division of State Technologies, placing it under the Department of Management Services. Now, leadership is being named.

June 27, 2019

Florida Governor Signs Bill Reorganizing State IT Functions

In an expected turn of events, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation to roll the Agency for State Technology into the Department of Management Services. The new iteration will be called the Division of State Technologies.

June 24, 2019

New York Legislature Strengthens Data Breach Policies

The new legislation, known as the SHIELD Act, would broaden the scope of what counts as data, expand the rights of consumers in the event of a breach, and increase penalties for culpable companies.

June 21, 2019

Global IoT Partnership Helping to Secure Arizona Town

Florence, Ariz., and India-based Subex are partnering on an Internet of Things initiative to advance end-to-end cybersecurity, while at the same time teaching residents about how they can secure their own technology.

June 18, 2019

Maryland Moves to Standardize, Centralize Cyberdefenses

The Office of Security Management was created Tuesday through executive order. State CISO John Evans will lead the new office within the Department of Information Technology and oversee consolidation of cyberdefenses.

June 17, 2019

Over a Month On, Baltimore Still Grappling with Hack Fallout

The city has been slowly getting its operations and systems back online after a cyberattack in early May, but debate over the administrative response to the attack is still causing controversy.

June 14, 2019

Assessing the Evolving Risks to State, Local Election Systems

A new report from a Stanford University research group looks to prescribe defense solutions for state and local governments in the event of potential manipulation attempts by foreign powers.

June 12, 2019

Can VR Change How Police Respond to Mental Health Crises?

Axon, known for its body cameras and TASER products, is branching into the emergent technology arena in the hopes it will change the dynamics between officers and those experiencing a mental health crisis.

June 6, 2019

STiR Talks 2019 Successes, Next Round of Gov Tech Partnerships

The program, which has consistently created public-private partnerships to develop tech-oriented solutions to government hurdles, announced some of its latest partnership results this week.

June 5, 2019

DHS Sees Opportunity in Social Media, Rights Groups See Risks

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has made it a priority to collect and analyze the social media data of thousands of people, but the reasoning behind these efforts is not always straightforward.

May 24, 2019

Bid to Halt Amazon Rekognition Sales to Government Agencies Fails

An attempt to limit sales of the controversial surveillance technology on the part of civil rights activists did not get far. They fear the technology could be used to unfairly target minorities, people of color and women.

May 22, 2019

Colorado Governor Announces First-Ever Blockchain Architect

Thaddeus 'Thad' Batt, a 20-year veteran of IT, will serve in the new role, which will operate out of the Governor’s Office of Information Technology (OIT).

May 22, 2019

Pew to Launch Broadband Access and State Policy Explorer

The research group will soon release its findings about where the largest connectivity gaps are in the U.S., as well as the state policies and practices being implemented to correct Internet disparities.

May 20, 2019

Iowa Secures Elections with Extensive Cybersecurity Efforts

For the past three years, the state has stepped up its training, outreach and coordination to protect county election systems, with the Office of the Chief Information Officer playing a key role.

May 17, 2019

Aggressive Initiative to Shore Up Cybersecurity in Arkansas

A new bill signed into law by the governor will create an extensive infrastructure for combating bad actors.

May 15, 2019

San Francisco Supervisors Ban Facial Recognition Technology

Following extensive input from law enforcement and civil liberties groups, lawmakers voted this week to put a moratorium on municipal use of the technology. San Francisco is the first in the country to make such a move.

May 10, 2019

Major Reorganization of Florida IT Agencies Imminent

A bill passed by the Legislature and expected to be signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis will see the state’s predominant IT agency — the Agency for State Technology — folded into the Department of Management Services.

May 8, 2019

Package of Privacy Bills Advances in California Legislature

A bevy of bills would create additional consumer protections, but key parts of the legislation have shifted or fallen away since originally introduced. They include restrictions on what data voice assistants can store.

May 7, 2019

For Second Time in a Year, Baltimore Hit With Ransomware

Officials have shut down a majority of the city's servers as a precaution, according to a spokesperson for the mayor's office. Meanwhile, core services like fire, police and emergency medical services remain operational.

May 6, 2019

Michigan Selects Longtime IT Veteran Jack Harris as New CTO

Harris, who has worked within the Office of the Chief Technology Officer for many years, and held the position in an interim capacity since August last year, will now serve at its permanent leader.

May 2, 2019

California Proposal Would Curb Smart Speaker Snooping

A bill being considered in the state Legislature would penalize companies that used Internet of Things devices to eavesdrop on consumers without their permission.

April 30, 2019

Handful of States Begin Legislating "Deepfake" Videos

According to some, the new AI-powered videos have the power to confuse and mislead voters, potentially compromising election integrity. But there isn't much in the way of legislation at the state level to address them.

April 29, 2019

California Bill Would Stop Data Throttling During Emergencies

The new legislation stemmed from an outcry last year over Verizon's cutback in Internet service to firefighters battling one of the state's largest wildfires. The company apologized, but opposes the bill.

April 24, 2019

Self-Driving Cars Get the Greenlight Under New Utah Law

The new legislation allows computer systems in autonomous vehicles to be considered drivers and opens up the opportunity for AVs to take to public roads.

April 23, 2019

Microsoft Exec John Paul Farmer Named as NYC CTO

Mayor Bill de Blasio has selected the former Microsoft technology and civic innovation director as the city's next chief technology officer, the city announced April 23.

April 19, 2019

Why Did Washington State's Privacy Legislation Collapse?

The bill would have been the second of its kind in the nation, but the gap between the version supported by the tech industry, and the more stringent version favored by privacy groups, proved too big to close.

April 18, 2019

Will San Francisco Ban Facial Recognition Technology?

A proposed ordinance would prohibit any municipal use of the software, a move that civil rights groups support, but is opposed by law enforcement organizations and some industry groups.

April 16, 2019

Los Angeles County Locates Missing Seniors With Technology

The county hopes to reduce the number of lost or missing seniors with the aid of special bracelets worn by individuals that can be tracked by radio technology. Initial results look promising.

April 11, 2019

Avoidable Outage Continues to Plague NYC Wireless Network

A planned reset of the global GPS system last weekend disrupted some city services. But officials say no critical systems were impacted and that the NYCWiN network will be fully restored within a few days.

April 11, 2019

Florida’s First GIO Returns to the Private Sector

Ekaterina Fitos, who was named as the state’s first geographic information officer in December 2017 before transferring to another agency, has left state service to join a civil engineering firm.

March 25, 2019

Kamala Harris Proposes State and Local Digital Service Teams

The Democratic senator wants state and local government to get smarter about how it uses technology, following in the footsteps of relatively recent federal outfits such as the U.S. Digital Service.

March 22, 2019

Funding Alone May Not Save Minnesota’s Troubled Licensing System

A recent influx of funding was meant to fix the state’s struggling Licensing and Registration System. Now, lawmakers are grappling with whether to pull the plug and start from scratch.

March 13, 2019

Company Pushes Controversial Contractor-Monitoring Legislation

Legislation being lobbied for by tech company TransparentBusiness would mandate contractor monitoring to ensure work/time verification. Critics contend it would cause unnecessary security risks to government data.

March 8, 2019

Maine Names Longtime University IT Leader as New State CIO

After Maine elected a new governor in November, longtime IT leader Jim Smith stepped down as CIO. Now the state has a new CIO in Fred Brittain, who spent more than two decades with the University of Maine system.

March 5, 2019

Connecticut Governor Wants Big Investment in Technology

Ned Lamont has put forward several initiatives that would make the state more digital, smarter and more responsive to residents. The effort could also reduce state costs by 75 percent in certain areas.

March 1, 2019

San Diego, USMC Partner on Regional Smart City Initiatives

The California city and the U.S. Marine Corps will work together on a number of projects designed to enhance security and services for residents.

February 26, 2019

California IT Leaders Share Strategies, Lessons Learned

During the 2019 California Public Sector CIO Academy in Sacramento, technology leaders gathered to discuss the future and how best to transform citizen-facing services.

February 26, 2019

Florida Legislature Seeks Answers to Blockchain's Potential

New legislation would create a working group to assess the technology's potential applications and possibly recommend policies and state investments to help make Florida a leader in blockchain technology.

February 20, 2019

Hawaii IT Bills Would Create CDO, Unify Data Management

A new series of bills would create a position for a chief data officer, as well as an associated task force to help develop, manage and implement state data policies.

February 19, 2019

Newark, N.J., Names Former State CIO Emanuel as IT Chief

Steve Emanuel, who formerly served as the CIO for the state of New Jersey, now returns to the public sector to helm operations for the state's largest city. Emanuel has decades of public and private IT experience.

February 14, 2019

Police Hope Software Can Help Avoid 'Losing' Sex Offenders

Continually improving information sharing, mapping and content management systems have allowed law enforcement agencies across the country to keep better watch of some of society's most dangerous criminals.

February 11, 2019

N.D. Cybersecurity Bill Seeks Unified Approach, Centralized IT

A bill newly passed in the North Dakota state Senate would overhaul the state's cybersecurity strategy, emphasizing unity and greater centralization.

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