FCC Order Aims to Bolster Rural Broadband Access Amid COVID-19 Epidemic

The Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) Wireless Telecommunications Bureau today granted temporary spectrum access to 33 wireless internet services providers serving 330 counties in 29 states, including Maryland, in order to serve rural communities facing increased broadband demands amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary order allows these providers to use the lower 45 megahertz of spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band for 60 days. "Like everyone else, rural Americans are facing an increased need for broadband…

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Howard to Host Virtual Town Hall on Coronavirus, Census, Upcoming Elections

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball will host a Virtual Town Hall on Thursday, March 26th at 6:30 pm to answer questions and concerns from County residents concerning COVID-19 and the local response, the census, and upcoming elections. “I want the Howard County community to know that our government is working tirelessly to keep our public safe and informed,” said Ball. “We’re hosting this town hall to provide updates, clarity, and reassurance to our residents as…

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The True Costs of Password Management

According to research from Forrester, the average cost for a single password reset is bout $70. In a separate report, Forrester stated that large organizations spend close to $1 million per year on password-related support and infrastructure costs. In addition to the time and resources needed to for password-related support, in critical areas such as K-12 education, there is also the security risk of password management. Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report notes that 80% of…

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2020 End of Session Wrap-Up: Information Technology

An overview of MACo’s advocacy on information technology issues in the 2020 General Assembly.  Information technology is a growing area of importance for MACo as county governments rely on computer systems of increasing sophistication for a widening scope of operations — including public safety applications, open government portals, billing functions, and emergency alerts systems used during major natural and man-made emergencies. As county use of information technology evolves, cybersecurity and protection of resident data rise…

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General Assembly Grants Counties Flexibility to Incentivize High Tech Investment

The General Assembly today passed SB 397 - Sales and Use Tax and Personal Property Tax - Exemptions - Data Centers. This bill enables tax incentives to increase Maryland’s competitiveness as a host of data centers by authorizing local governments to reduce or eliminate assessments for their personal property, and providing a sales and use tax exemption for the sale of specified equipment for use at these facilities. The technology sector is driving tremendous demands…

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Bill Improving Broadband Mapping Data Passes Congress

The Broadband Deployment and Technological Availability (DATA) Act passed the United States Senate this week after the House of Representatives made changes earlier this month. This bipartisan legislation will improve the accuracy of federal broadband maps so that electric cooperatives are able to secure funding to bring high-speed internet service to rural communities more easily. The Federal Communications Commission will collect more detailed data from broadband providers and also make it illegal for providers to…

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MACo Supports Bill to Strengthen Cybersecurity Protections for 9-1-1 Centers

MACo Associate Director Kevin Kinnally testified in support of  HB 1024 - Criminal Law - Public Safety - Interference With Agencies and Services - Prohibitions before the House Judiciary Committee. This bill will update state laws to protect against telephone misuse and sophisticated cyber-attacks that pose a significant threat to the security and stability of Maryland’s Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) system. From the MACo Testimony: As Maryland accelerates its move toward NG911, proper safeguards are…

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Data Centers Could Benefit Local Economies, Advance Broadband Access

MACo Executive Director Michael Sanderson testified February 12, 2020 before the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee to support SB 397 - Sales and Use Tax and Personal Property Tax - Exemptions - Data Centers. This bill enables tax incentives to increase Maryland’s competitiveness as a host of data centers by authorizing local governments to reduce or eliminate assessments for their personal property, and providing a sales and use tax exemption for the sale of specified…

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Congressman Introduces Legislation to Help Locals Address Cybersecurity
Congressman C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger
Congressman Introduces Legislation to Help Locals Address Cybersecurity

U.S. Representative and former MACo President C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger introduced legislation with a bipartisan sponsor line that will help local governments address cybersecurity vulnerabilities. This legislation would authorize a new grant program at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to address potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities on local government networks. From Ruppersberger's Press Release: “Hackers are increasingly targeting state and local governments, as we painfully learned in Baltimore last year, where a ransomware attack cost the…

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Help Is on the Way for Broadband Data

Congress is poised to pass sweeping legislation to address the inaccuracies of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) national broadband coverage data. The House and Senate recently passed the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act (S. 822/H.R. 4229). The bipartisan legislation requires wired, fixed wireless, and satellite broadband providers to collect more service availability data and directs the FCC to develop a system for state and local governments to report verified coverage data. Lawmakers…

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