MeriTalk News Briefs: DoD Says No to GPS, Energy Holding Cyber Sim, Senators Search for Answers on Google in China

Welcome to MeriTalk News Briefs, where we bring you all the day’s action that didn’t quite make the headlines. No need to shout about ‘em, but we do feel that they merit talk.

DoD Bans GPS Use in Operational Areas

The Department of Defense (DoD) issued a memo on Friday that prohibits military personnel from using “geolocation features and functionality on both non-government and government-issued devices, applications, and services while in locations designated as operational areas.” The memo, signed by Deputy Secretary Patrick Shanahan, notes that “these geolocation capabilities can expose personal information, locations, routines, and numbers of DoD personnel, and potentially create unintended security consequences and increased risk to the joint force and mission.” In accordance with the memo, DoD CIO Dana Deasy and Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Vice Admiral Joseph Kernan will develop new guidance and training to keep personnel informed.

Energy Department to Hold Cyberattack Simulation

The Energy Department will hold a cyberattack simulation exercise in November. The week-long exercise will take place on Plum Island, a secure island off the coast of New York, and will target the American energy infrastructure. Specifically, the Energy Department is interested in testing how the U.S. power grid would restart following widespread blackouts. The exercise, dubbed Liberty Eclipse, will simulate re-energizing the nation’s power grid while fending off a multi-prong cyberattack against electric, oil, and natural gas infrastructure.

Senators Concerned Over Google’s Activities in China

Using Google’s corporate motto of “Don’t be evil,” a bipartisan group of senators raised concerns with the technology company’s recent activities in China. In a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., raised “grave concerns and critical questions” regarding Google’s reported plan to offer a censored version of its search engine in China. The censored version would prohibit websites and search terms that the Chinese government finds objectionable. “It is a coup for the Chinese government and Communist Party to force Google–the biggest search engine in the world–to comply with their onerous censorship requirements, and sets a worrying precedent for other companies seeking to do business in China without compromising their core values,” the letter says. The senators asked additional questions, including why Google has decided to offer a censored product, whether Google is partnering with a Chinese firm, and if Google is refusing to censor any words that the Chinese government has requested.

Postal Service Awards GDIT $467M Contract

The U.S. Postal Service awarded General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) a $467 million contract for Enterprise Information Technology Program (EITP) Technical Support Services (TSS). The contract includes a base period of three years, with four additional one-year option periods and has an estimated ceiling value of $467 million. Under the contract, GDIT will work on development, deployment and maintenance of next-generation IT services, components, and products. The Postal Service is looking to use technology to improve customer service, performance, and productivity.

GAO Report Dings NNSA Document Management

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report highlighting document management issues at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). GAO found that NNSA, an agency within the Department of Energy (DoE), was not using DoE’s Strategic Integrated Procurement Enterprise System (STRIPES) to manage contract documents, which limited access and spread documents across field offices. GAO recommended that NNSA adopt the STRIPES system in its policy, which the agency agreed to do.

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