At a glance.
- Transformer supply chain issues may underlie US bulk power state of emergency.
- US Federal, state, and local public health agencies have a mixed response to contact-tracing automation.
- Contact-tracing apps for border crossings.
- ODNI announces reorganization.
Transformer supply chain issues may underline US bulk power state of emergency.
A US Department of Commerce investigation that shortly followed the issuance of Executive Order 13920, "Securing the United States Bulk-Power System," may offer insight into the state of emergency declared in the Executive Order. JDSupra points to a new Commerce Department Section 232 investigation as one of the first actions taken under the Executive Order. The investigation, announced May 4th, will inquire into "whether laminations for stacked cores for incorporation into transformers, stacked and wound cores for incorporation into transformers, electrical transformers, and transformer regulators are being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security."
Effectively, as Global Trade observes, the investigation will determine whether tariffs on steel will be extended to cover steel used in fabricating transformer cores. "An assured domestic supply of these products enables the United States to respond to large power disruptions affecting civilian populations, critical infrastructure, and U.S. defense industrial production capabilities,” the Commerce Department announcement explains. Mayer Brown explains that "key electrical transformer components" had hitherto been excluded from Section 232 tariffs on steel.
This morning Control Global cited sources who say acceptance testing found hardware backdoors in "a very large bulk transmission transformer from China," and that the apparently compromised equipment is being held for study at a US Government facility. Thus the Department of Commerce will determine whether national security requires tariffs to support a domestic transformer industry. The presence of hardware backdoors in imported equipment, if confirmed, would seem to move the Executive Order away from a move in ongoing Sino-American trade competition and more clearly into the realm of national security.
US Federal, state, and local public health agencies have a mixed response to contact-tracing automation.
In the US, state and Federal public health agencies have been reluctant to adopt too many technological adjuncts to the traditional contact tracing practiced during epidemics. The states, WIRED reports, have shown divergent willingness to automate contact tracing, with Utah being most interested in doing so, but with New York, California, and Massachusetts having turned down offers of automated tools. These decisions seem to be based more on varying judgments of effectiveness than on concerns about privacy or security. Manual ("analogue") approaches are familiar and proven. Automated contact tracing is not.
Contact-tracing apps for border crossings.
The British government is considering requiring people to install two contact-tracing apps before they're permitted to cross the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, the Telegraph reports. One app is the one developed by the UK's NHSX app, the other an app under development in the Republic.
ODNI announces appointment of a cyber executive for the US Intelligence Community.
The US Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Friday announced reorganization plans that include the appointment of a cyber executive to oversee the cyber-focused organizations within the Intelligence Community to “provide a single ODNI focal point for the cyber mission, which will strengthen the IC's cyber posture to better defend U.S. national security interests." The Hill reports that Congressional oversight committees are giving the reorganization a close look.