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Capitol Notebook: Bill would create Iowa cybersecurity unit | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware


The Iowa Capitol dome is illuminated by the sunset Feb. 16, 2017, in Des Moines. (The Gazette)

Iowa lawmakers advanced a bill Thursday that would create a cybersecurity unit within the Iowa Office of the Chief Information Officer.

The bill, House Study Bill 15, would create a unit that monitors cybersecurity incidents affecting the state, local governments, schools and other government entities. The unit would give an annual report to the Legislature on statewide cybersecurity incidents in the past year.

The bill requires that government entities report certain cybersecurity incidents within 10 days of being discovered. The report would include the date of the incident, the date it was discovered, what data was accessed or obtained, a list of agencies that will be notified, and “additional information to the extent available.”

A three-member subcommittee unanimously advanced the bill.

Lobbyists representing cities, public utilities and other public entities were concerned that the bill could limit their ability to react to a cyberattack, require reporting of confidential information and create duplicitous reporting requirements.

Doug Struyk, a lobbyist for the city of Des Moines, said he wasn’t opposed to the creation of the unit but thought the bill gives the unit too broad authority over a government body’s response to a cybersecurity breach.

Rep. Barb Kniff McCulla, R-Pella, the subcommittee’s chair, said those issues need to be addressed as the bill moves forward. It will have to pass a vote in the House Economic Growth and Technology Committee before being eligible for a vote on the House floor.

Using ‘movie prop money’ would be felony

An Iowa House Committee unanimously advanced a bill that would make it a felony to use fake “movie prop money” to buy goods and services in Iowa.

Rep. Megan Jones, R-Sioux Rapids, introduced the bill after being contacted by a business owner in northwest Iowa who was “swindled” when an employee mistakenly accepted the fake money for a large purchase. Jones said bundles of fake $100 bills used for stage and screen sell on Amazon for as little as $7.

Sheldon and Burlington police departments in recent years also have warned retailers of fake movie-prop money circulating in their communities.

The bills look authentic, but read “For motion picture use only” on the front and say “copy” on the front and back.

The Iowa Court of Appeals in 2018 vacated the sentence of a Black Hawk County man convicted of forgery for purchasing a cellphone using a fake $100 bill that was used as a prop in a movie. The court ruled while similar enough to pass as U.S. currency at a distance or without inspection, the bill did not purport to be legal tender, with the bill stating numerous times on its face that it is for “motion picture use only” and is not legal.

Making or using counterfeit bills that have no markings indicating they are fake is a federal crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Jones, though, argued passing off fake money as real currency still is a crime, and that the bill is needed to “give (prosecutors) the tools so they can prosecute for it.”

The bill defines “movie prop money” as fake bills used by filmmakers, directors or photographers in theatrical productions or in print media.

Someone who uses “movie prop money” to buy goods or services could be charged with a simple misdemeanor up to a Class C felony, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, depending on the value of property or services fraudulently obtained.

Child safety seats

Children would be required to ride in safety seats longer under legislation that advanced in the Senate.

Under current state law, children are required to ride in a rear-facing car seat for up to one year while weighing less than 20 pounds, and up to the age of 6 in a safety seat.

The legislation, proposed by the state public safety department, would require children to ride in a rear-facing car seat up to 2 years of age, and up to the age of 8 in a safety seat.

All three senators signed off on Senate Study Bill 1026 at the end of a subcommittee hearing. It is now eligible for consideration by the full Senate transportation committee.

HHS launches fentanyl awareness campaign

The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services announced the launch of a messaging campaign aimed at educating parents and young Iowans about the dangers of counterfeit pills and fentanyl.

The television and digital ad campaign warns young Iowans are experimenting with counterfeit pills that contain deadly levels of fentanyl, believing they will help them feel better, study more effectively or reduce social anxiety.

Drug cartels make counterfeit pills with fentanyl because it’s cheap, highly addictive and encourages repeat business, according to HHS.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s 50 times stronger than heroin, making only 2 milligrams of fentanyl enough to be deadly, according to state health officials.

The campaign features Deric and Kathy Kidd of central Iowa, whose 17-year-old son, Sebastian, died in 2021 due to counterfeit pills.

Gov. Kim Reynolds, in a statement, said the new campaign is part of a comprehensive approach that also includes new legislation to enact stricter penalties and enhanced sentencing to hold drug manufacturers and dealers accountable.

HHS also developed a conversation guide for parents available for downloaded from the Your Life Iowa website.

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