Former Government Officials Demand to Know Cybersecurity Efforts for 2020 Census

Several ex-government cyber and technology officials are demanding from the Census Bureau to publicly share their cybersecurity plan for the 2020 Census. This comes shortly after Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russians for the 2016 hack into the Democratic National Committee.

According to The Hill, in a letter Monday, coordinated by Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, the former officials asked Ron Jarmin, acting director of the Census Bureau, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to share the technical protocols and systems the bureau will use to ensure the security of data obtained electronically in the 2020 Census.

The 2020 Census will be the first time where most of the responses will be filled out electronically online.

“At a minimum, and as an alternative if deemed preferable, we urge Commerce Department and Census Bureau leadership to retain a reputable outside cybersecurity firm to conduct an end-to-end audit of current plans for data protection associated with the 2020 Census and, in turn, to have such a firm either confirm (ideally publicly) the adequacy of existing cybersecurity protocols and procedures or assist in addressing any gaps or vulnerabilities identified,” was written in the document which was signed by Dipayan Ghosh, former senior advisor on technology policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Christopher Painter, former coordinator for cyber issues at the State Department.

“We urge the leadership of the Bureau and of the Department of Commerce to share publicly their plans for protecting information vital to the future of American voting but also tempting for adversaries that seek to harm our country and its foundational democratic processes,” they wrote in the letter. “Such transparency and leadership would boost public confidence and also allow cybersecurity experts outside the government to offer assistance in addressing any concerns that they might identify.”

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