In today’s Bulldog wrapup of technology and life science news:
- GlaxoSmithKline is funding three more startups at an incubator in San Diego
- Congress looking into huge federal data breach
- Is HealthCare.gov data at risk?
- Facial recognition standards talks hit a roadblock
- An added position for the head of the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster
- GSK provides funding for 3 more startups
Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline is providing funding for three more biotech and drug startups at the Avalon Ventures incubator in San Diego. Three startups had been selected and funded previously in the two-year-old Avalon-GSK partnership.
Each of the three firms gets as much as $10 million in funding. GSK and Avalon also will provide R&D support.
- Adrenergics, developing therapeutics for dilated cardiomyopathy
- CadheRx Therapeutics developing therapeutic antibodies for oncology
- Calporta Therapeutics developing treatments for diseases associated with dysregulated lysosomal function
Funded previously were: Sitari Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Silarus Therapeutics, Inc. and Thyritope Biosciences, Inc.
- Cybertheft of personnel info rips hole in espionage defenses
By exposing the names and addresses of foreign relatives, the cybertheft of private information on U.S. security clearance holders by hackers linked to China will complicate the deployment and promotion of American intelligence professionals with special language skills and diverse backgrounds, current and former U.S. officials say.
Officials fear that China will seek to gain leverage over Americans with access to secrets by pressuring their overseas relatives, particularly if they happen to be living in China or another authoritarian country. Over the last decade, U.S. intelligence agencies have sought to hire more people of Asian and Middle Eastern descent, some of whom have relatives living overseas. The compromise of their personal data is likely to place additional burdens on employees who already face onerous security scrutiny.
China denies involvement in the cyberattack that is being called the most damaging national security loss in more than a decade.
The potential for new avenues of espionage against the U.S. is among the most obvious repercussions of the pair of data breaches by hackers who are believed to have stolenpersonnel data on millions of current and former federal employees and contractors.
Officials from the Department of Homeland Security, which is in charge of defending civilian government networks from cyberattacks, and the Office of PersonnelManagement, which failed to protect its sensitive personnel information from hackers, are slated to discuss the loss Tuesday in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
- Vast data warehouse raises HealthCare.gov privacy concerns
A government data warehouse that stores personal information on millions of HealthCare.gov customers is raising privacy concerns at a time when major breaches have become distressingly common.
A government privacy assessment dated Jan. 15 says data “is maintained indefinitely at this time,” but the administration said Monday no final time frame has been decided, and the National Archives has recommended a 10-year retention period.
Known as MIDAS, the system is described on a federal website as the “perpetual central repository” for information collected under President Barack Obama’s health care law.
The information stored includes names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, addresses, phone numbers, passport numbers, employment status and financial accounts.
The vast scope of the information — and the lack of a final plan for destroying old records nearly four years after the system was commissioned — have raised concernsabout privacy and the government’s judgment on technology.
“A basic privacy principle is that you don’t retain data any longer than you have to,” said Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
“Even 10 years feels long to me,” Tien said.
- Push for facial recognition privacy standards hits roadblock
Retailers have the ability to scan your face digitally, and use that identification to offer you special prices or even recognize you as a prior shoplifter. But should they use it? Should they get your permission first?
Privacy advocates announced Tuesday they have walked away from a government-run effort with industry intended to answer these questions. The idea behind the negotiations was to hash out voluntary protocols for facial recognition technology in a way that doesn’t hurt consumers. The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, or NTIA, was acting as mediator.
The two sides had been meeting for 16 months, including last week, until the nine major privacy groups said they had hit a dead end and that “people deserve more protection than they are likely to get in this forum.”
“At a base minimum, people should be able to walk down a public street without fear that companies they’ve never heard of are tracking their every movement — and identifying them by name — using facial recognition technology,” the groups said. “Unfortunately, we have been unable to obtain agreement even with that basic, specific premise.”
Industry groups said they still believe consensus could be found on issues like transparency, notification and data security.
- Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster executive named to Smart Cities Council
Lee Anne Nance, managing director of the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster, recently was named to the Smart Cities Council Advisory Board, which includes more than 50 independent organizations.
“Smart cities are not only a great commercial opportunity but also an important way to help the world’s cities achieve livability, workability and sustainability,” Council Chairman Jesse Berst said. “We know that cleantech innovation is central to accomplishing those goals. We are very grateful to have [Nance’s] expertise on the team.”