Tag Archives: Hillicon

Amazon union vote count to start for Alabama warehouse

The contentious unionization vote at Amazon’s Alabama warehouse is pushing forward with ballots set to be tabulated starting this week. Fallout from what has become known as the SolarWinds breach continued with news of hackers reportedly breaching email accounts of top Department of Homeland Security officials. Meanwhile, a former Google executive on Monday launched a new tech coalition backed by some of the top companies in the industry amid mounting scrutiny from Washington.

TALLY THEM UP: Ballots will start being counted this week in the unionization vote at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., marking a critical step in one of the most significant union elections of the last decade.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will start tabulating the ballots cast by more than 5,800 workers from the warehouse on Tuesday, but the final vote tally may take a week or more to be tabulated and any party is allowed to file objections within five days of the vote count which may delay the issuance of a final tally of ballots.

Amazon has largely fended off unionization challenges in the U.S., but the battle in Bessemer — which has garnered a spotlight in Washington since ballots went out in early February — could lead to the first Amazon union in the U.S.

Amid the unionization push, Amazon has publicly defended its working conditions. Much of the company’s messaging has centered on the $ 15 wage it has offered workers since 2018, which is above the federal minimum wage.

“Our employees know the truth — starting wages of $ 15 or more, health care from day one, and a safe and inclusive workplace. We encouraged all of our employees to vote and hope they did so,” Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener said in a statement.

Read more about union vote count[5]

MORE BAD CYBER NEWS: Hackers involved in what has become known as the SolarWinds breach accessed email accounts of top officials at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) along with other personal information of senior federal officials, The Associated Press reported Monday.

ADVERTISEMENT

According to the AP, former acting DHS Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfBiden should improve on Obama’s effort to protect unaccompanied children Juan Williams: GOP underplays white racist terrorism Sunday shows preview: 2024 hopefuls gather at CPAC; House passes coronavirus relief; vaccine effort continues MORE[8][9][10][11][12]‘s email account was breached as part of the wide-reaching effort by suspected Russian hackers, along with the email accounts of DHS employees responsible for carrying out cybersecurity activities. [6][7]

The incident, which is one of the largest cybersecurity breaches in U.S. history, also reportedly allowed the hackers to access the private schedules of former Energy Secretary Dan Brouilette and other senior officials at the agency. A spokesperson for the Department of Energy told The Hill the agency “has found no evidence the network that maintains senior officials’ schedules was compromised.”

A spokesperson for DHS did not directly confirm the extent of the breach Monday, but told The Hill in a statement that “a small number of employees’ accounts were targeted.”

The Biden administration has been quick to emphasize the importance of cybersecurity. Emily Horne, spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council, said in a statement provided to The Hill on Monday that “cybersecurity is a top priority for the Biden administration.”

Read more here. [13]

TECH’S NEW COALITION: A former Google executive is launching a new tech coalition that brings together some of the nation’s top companies amid increased regulatory scrutiny in Washington.

The new group called Chamber of Progress includes tech giants such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Buer and Grubhub. It was launched by Google’s former public policy head Adam Kovacevich.

“It’s pretty clear that the tech industry’s political honeymoon is over — and there are some big questions for policymakers about how do you make sure that all Americans benefit from high tech advancements and how do we make sure the tech industry operates fairly and responsibly,” Kovacevich told The Hill. “Another way of putting that is, will tech’s future be as progressive as its past? That’s the big question that our organization will be focused on.”

Kovacevich described the industry coalition as “center-left.”

“What it means is that we care about progressive goals, and we’re not reflexively anti-business,” he said.

Read more about the coalition. [14]

UNDERSEA INVESTMENT: Facebook and Google are investing in new undersea internet cables that will run between California and Southeast Asia in an effort to boost internet speed and reliability, the companies announced Monday.

Facebook said it will invest in two new subsea cables, Echo and Bifrost, and Google said it will be investing in Echo. The projects are subject to regulatory approvals.[15][16]

Echo and Bifrost will connect Singapore, Indonesia and North America.

ADVERTISEMENT

The two companies touted the projects as helping to bring reliable internet access around the world.

Read more here[17]

Lighter click: Maybe in another two[18]

An op-ed to chew on: To build lasting digital equity, look to communities [19]

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

‘Vaccine passports’ are on the way, but developing them won’t be easy (The Washington Post / Dan Diamond, Lena H. Sun and Isaac Stanley-Becker) [20]

ADVERTISEMENT

Former prisoners struggle to re-enter society. What happens when society moves online? (NBC / Alexandra Marquez) [21]

Why This Teen Walked Away From Millions of TikTok Followers (Motherboard / Samantha Cole) [22]

Big Tech defenders dominate the country’s top group of antitrust lawyers (Protocol / Emily Birnbaum) [23]

Australia investigates reported hacks aimed at Parliament, media (CyberScoop / Shannon Vavra)[24]

Welcome to Hillicon Valley, The Hill’s newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. If you don’t already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter by clicking HERE. [1]

Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.[2][3][4]

[email protected] (Rebecca Klar,Maggie Miller and Chris Mills Rodrigo)

Parler claims it alerted FBI to threats before Capitol riot

Social media platform Parler revealed that it flagged concerning material for the FBI ahead of the January 6 U.S. Capitol riot. Meanwhile, a leading senator expressed serious concerns around Facebook’s handling of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation on both Facebook and Instagram, and new data shows schools are increasingly moving back into in-person learning.

PARLER WRINKLE: Parler flagged material posted on its platform to the FBI in the run-up to the violent insurrection at the Capitol in January, the conservative social media network claimed in a letter to a lawmaker.

In the letter dated Thursday to House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyPelosi, White House recognize Equal Pay Day Robinhood confidentially files for IPO Political fireworks fuel DC statehood hearing MORE[6][7][8][9][10][5] (D-N.Y.), lawyers for the platform said that the company referred violent content to the agency more than 50 times.

The lawyers noted that some of those flagged posts included threats specific to the Capitol, where five people died during an attempt to stop Congress from verifying President BidenJoe BidenThe Hill’s Morning Report – Biden shifts on filibuster GOP looks to squeeze Biden, Democrats on border Sanders creates new headache for Biden on taxes MORE[12][13][14][15][16][11]’s Electoral College win.

“Far from being the far-right instigator and rogue company that Big Tech has portrayed Parler to be, the facts conclusively demonstrate that Parler has been a responsible and law-abiding company focused on ensuring that only free and lawful speech exists on its platform,” the lawyers wrote.

The letter includes a screenshot of what appears to be an email correspondence between Parler and the FBI.

A spokesperson for the FBI declined to comment.

Parler, which has pitched itself as a free speech alternative platform to Facebook and Twitter, has been criticized for being rife with content about storming Congress before Jan. 6.

ADVERTISEMENT

Shortly after the attack, it was blocked from the Apple and Google app stores and subsequently dropped by Amazon Web Services, functionally taking the service offline.

The platform announced last month that it would be relaunching.

Read more.[17]

MISINFORMATION CONCERNS ABOUND: Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner[18] (D-Va.) on Friday pressed Facebook to do more to combat the spread of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation on both its platform and Instagram.

In a letter[19] to Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergThe Hill’s Morning Report – Biden shifts on filibuster Hillicon Valley: Another Big Tech hearing | Cyber Command flexes operations | Trump’s social media site in the works Lawmakers vent frustration in first hearing with tech CEOs since Capitol riot MORE[21][22][23][24][25][20], Warner detailed his concerns that the social media giant is not doing enough to get a handle on the increasing tide of misleading information around the safety of the vaccines.

“Anti-vaccination groups and other health conspiracy groups have long utilized – and been enabled by – Facebook’s platforms to disseminate misinformation,” Warner wrote. “Studies show a rapid increase in the spread of health misinformation online since the start of the pandemic.”

The letter was sent the day after Zuckerberg testified[26] before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the topic of misinformation on Facebook, particularly around COVID-19 and the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot.

Zuckerberg detailed Facebook’s efforts to combat coronavirus vaccine misinformation on both Facebook and Instagram in his prepared testimony, noting that “we have made fighting misinformation and providing people with authoritative information a priority for the company.”

Read more about Warner’s concerns here. [27]

SCHOOL’S BACK (SORT OF): About a third of school districts across the nation have resumed in-person learning, while just 1 in 10 school districts continue teaching students entirely remotely, according to a new tracker launched to measure the way local schools adapt to the coronavirus pandemic.

The data shows that school districts across the South are the most likely to have sent children back to school already, while California has the highest concentration of districts that remain remote.

But the lack of a clear national strategy for reopening schools, a problem that is only beginning to be addressed as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention roll out new recommendations for distancing, air circulation and sanitation requirements, has kept most school districts in some kind of hybrid learning environment.

The data, maintained by Return to Learn, a joint project of the American Enterprise Institute and the College Crisis Initiative at Davidson College, shows 54 percent of school districts still operating school in some kind of hybrid model, in which kids attend class in person some days and virtually on others.[28]

ADVERTISEMENT

Read more about the move back to in-person learning.[29]

ANTITRUST OFFICIAL INCOMING: President Biden’s team is reportedly vetting a lawyer who served as the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) general counsel under former President Obama for a top antitrust post. [30]

According to Politico, which cited two sources familiar with the matter, Jonathan Sallet, who played a key role in formulating the FCC’s net neutrality rules, has been in talks for several weeks now for a top role to work on Biden’s competition policy. [31]

One potential position Sallet could take on is leading the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, where Sallet served as deputy assistant attorney general for litigation from 2016 to 2017.

Read more here. [32]

ADVERTISEMENT

Lighter click: Please stop backseat steering![33]

An op-ed to chew on: The cybersecurity problem we should really worry about [34]

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

Hackers target German lawmakers in an election year (CyberScoop / Sean Lyngaas)[35]

The Hidden Hand Of Facial Recognition In The Capitol Insurrection Manhunt (HuffPost / Ryan J. Reilly and Jesselyn Cook)[36]

How Intel got blindsided by China’s culture wars (Protocol / Shen Lu) [37]

Why Microsoft wants Discord (The Verge / Tom Warren)[38]

References

  1. ^ HERE.  (www.email.thehill.com)
  2. ^ @magmill95 (twitter.com)
  3. ^ @chrisismills (twitter.com)
  4. ^ @rebeccaklar_ (twitter.com)
  5. ^ Carolyn Maloney (thehill.com)
  6. ^ Carolyn Maloney (thehill.com)
  7. ^ Pelosi, White House recognize Equal Pay Day (thehill.com)
  8. ^ Robinhood confidentially files for IPO (thehill.com)
  9. ^ Political fireworks fuel DC statehood hearing (thehill.com)
  10. ^ MORE (thehill.com)
  11. ^ President Biden (thehill.com)
  12. ^ Joe Biden (thehill.com)
  13. ^ The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden shifts on filibuster (thehill.com)
  14. ^ GOP looks to squeeze Biden, Democrats on border (thehill.com)
  15. ^ Sanders creates new headache for Biden on taxes (thehill.com)
  16. ^ MORE (thehill.com)
  17. ^ Read more. (thehill.com)
  18. ^ Mark Warner (thehill.com)
  19. ^ letter (www.warner.senate.gov)
  20. ^ Mark Zuckerberg (thehill.com)
  21. ^ Mark Elliot Zuckerberg (thehill.com)
  22. ^ The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden shifts on filibuster (thehill.com)
  23. ^ Hillicon Valley: Another Big Tech hearing | Cyber Command flexes operations | Trump’s social media site in the works (thehill.com)
  24. ^ Lawmakers vent frustration in first hearing with tech CEOs since Capitol riot (thehill.com)
  25. ^ MORE (thehill.com)
  26. ^ testified (thehill.com)
  27. ^ Read more about Warner’s concerns here.  (thehill.com)
  28. ^ maintained by Return to Learn (www.returntolearntracker.net)
  29. ^ Read more about the move back to in-person learning. (thehill.com)
  30. ^ President Biden (thehill.com)
  31. ^ Politico (www.politico.com)
  32. ^ Read more here.  (thehill.com)
  33. ^ Please stop backseat steering! (twitter.com)
  34. ^ The cybersecurity problem we should really worry about  (thehill.com)
  35. ^ target German lawmakers (www.cyberscoop.com)
  36. ^ Hidden Hand (www.huffpost.com)
  37. ^ blindsided (www.protocol.com)
  38. ^ Microsoft wants (www.theverge.com)

Welcome to Hillicon Valley, The Hill’s newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. If you don’t already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter by clicking HERE. [1]

Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.[2][3][4]

[email protected] (Maggie Miller,Chris Mills Rodrigo and Rebecca Klar)

Hillicon Valley Another Big Tech hearing

The CEOs of major social media platforms returned for another grilling by Congress Thursday that ended up looking a lot like the last few — although Jack Dorsey apparently Zoomed in from his kitchen[5]. Meanwhile, the nation’s top military cybersecurity leader detailed measures taken to secure the 2020 elections against foreign interference, former President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Hill’s Morning Report – Biden tasks Harris on border; news conference today Democrats face questions over agenda Democrats divided on gun control strategy MORE[7][8][9][10][11][6] is reportedly in talks to create his own social media network, and lawmakers zeroed in on grid security.

ADVERTISEMENT

HEARINGS ALL THE WAY DOWN: The CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter on Thursday faced a congressional grilling over their platforms’ roles in the organization of January’s Capitol insurrection, but managed to give very few direct answers.

Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: House lawmakers fired up for hearing with tech CEOs | Zuckerberg proposes conditional Section 230 reforms | Lawmakers reintroduce bill to secure internet-connected devices Facebook’s Zuckerberg proposes conditional Section 230 reforms The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden leans heavily into gun control MORE[13][14][15][16][17][12], Sundar Pichai and Jack Dorsey dodged and deflected a broad range of questions over the course of the five-and-a-half hour long hearing before two House Energy and Commerce subcommittees ostensibly focused on misinformation that ended up veering away from that topic for long segments.

Notable: The hearing was the first featuring the executives after the deadly insurrection at the Capitol, which was largely organized on social media.

Near the beginning of the hearing, Rep. Mike DoyleMichael (Mike) F. DoyleHouse lawmakers fired up for hearing with tech CEOs Lawmakers press federal agencies on scope of SolarWinds attack House Democrats press Facebook on role as a ‘breeding ground for polarization’ MORE[19][20][21][22][23][18] (D-Penn.) asked the CEOs whether they felt some responsibility for the attack after misinformation about the results of the presidential election and the #StopTheSteal movement proliferated on their platforms.

Zuckerberg declined to answer the question and was cut off, Pichai said his company “worked hard” around the election but also declined to provide a direct response, and Dorsey said yes before noting that the “broader ecosystem” should be taken into account.

Like many of the Big Tech hearings before it, Thursday’s event offered lawmakers a platform to raise several targeted concerns and yielded some important answers for the CEOs, but did not offer a clear path forward on legislation.

Read more.[24]

ADVERTISEMENT

CYBER COMMAND IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The nation’s top military cybersecurity leader said Thursday that U.S. Cyber Command conducted dozens of operations ahead of the 2020 elections aimed at securing voting against foreign interference.

“USCYBERCOM conducted more than two dozen operations to get ahead of foreign threats before they interfered with or influenced our elections in 2020,” Gen. Paul Nakasone, the commander of U.S. Cyber Command and the director of the National Security Agency (NSA), testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Degree of confidence: Nakasone testified later in the hearing that U.S. Cyber Command did “11 hunt forward operations in nine different countries for the security of the 2020 election,” adding that: “We know a lot of what our adversaries are doing when it comes to interference and influence of elections.”

Beyond elections, Nakasone on Thursday also highlighted the need for both Congress and the military to learn lessons from recent massive cyber espionage incidents carried out by Russia and China over the past year against the United States.

Read more about Nakasone’s comments here.[25]

NEW TRUMP SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORK: Former President Trump is reportedly in talks with multiple apps to partner with them in order to create his own social media network.

Axios, citing multiple sources familiar with the situation, reported Wednesday that FreeSpace, a new social media platform, is one of the top contenders for Trump and his social media adviser Dan Scavino.[26]

The pitch: The platform wants its users to share content that will “add value to their lives and model healthy habits for others to duplicate,” according to its website.[27]

“The FreeSpace Actions are backed by science to positively reinforce good habits & make the world a better place,” FreeSpace’s platform says.

Read more here. [28]

PROTECT THE GRID: Bipartisan leaders of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday urged Energy Secretary Jennifer GranholmJennifer GranholmSenate confirms David Turk as deputy Energy secretary Energy Department awards million for automated vehicle development OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Republicans put procedural delay on Haaland’s nomination | Interior Department announces next steps in review of oil and gas lease moratorium | Judge approves .5B Daimler settlement in diesel emissions probe MORE[30][31][32][33][34][29] to prioritize cybersecurity and maintain leadership for the agency’s key cybersecurity office in the face of growing threats to the power grid.

ADVERTISEMENT

Committee Chairman Joe ManchinJoe ManchinThe Hill’s Morning Report – Biden tasks Harris on border; news conference today Democrats face questions over agenda Democrats divided on gun control strategy MORE[36][37][38][39][40][35] (D-W.Va.), ranking member John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoOvernight Energy: Senate confirms David Turk as deputy Energy secretary | 14 states sue Biden administration over leasing pause for public lands drilling | Regulator knocks Texas for failing to winterize power equipment Senate confirms David Turk as deputy Energy secretary OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Obama marine monument designation | Interior reverses course on tribal ownership of portion of Missouri river | White House climate adviser meets with oil and gas companies MORE[42][43][44][45][46][41] (R-Wy.) and almost a dozen other bipartisan members of the committee sent a letter to Granholm stressing the importance of the Energy’s Department Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER).[47]

Their big ask: The senators asked Granholm to maintain CESER as well as its leadership by an assistant secretary in order to defend the electric grid against mounting cyber threats posing a threat to national security.

“The reliability and resilience of the electric grid is critical to the economic and national security of the United States,” the senators wrote. “Top officials within the intelligence, defense, and power communities have warned that the United States remains vulnerable to cyberattacks that could result in catastrophic damage to public health and safety, economic security, and national security.”

Read more about the senators’ concerns here. [48]

CONCERNS FROM ACROSS THE POND: Regulators in the United Kingdom announced Thursday that Facebook’s acquisition of animated image search engine Giphy raises competition concerns.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) had first announced that it would be looking into the move in July.

ADVERTISEMENT

In a statement Thursday, the regulatory agency said that Giphy had previously competed with Facebook in digital advertising via paid brand partnerships.

The CMA said that if the merger remains in place, Giphy may have “less incentive” to expand its digital marketing, thus lessening competition in that market.

Read more about the acquisition here.[49]

Lighter click: She’s a star[50]

An op-ed to chew on: Don’t blame Big Tech for misinformation online[51]

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

Exclusive: Software vendors would have to disclose breaches to US government users under planned Biden executive order (Reuters / Christopher Bing, Nandita Bose, and Joseph Menn)[52]

Anyone with an iPhone can now make deepfakes. We aren’t ready for what happens next (The Washington Post / Geoffrey Fowler) [53]

Credit card hacking forum gets hacked, exposing 300,000 hackers’ accounts (Vice Motherboard / Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai)[54]

[email protected] (Chris Mills Rodrigo,Maggie Miller and Rebecca Klar)

Hillicon Valley: House lawmakers fired up for hearing with tech CEOs

Today: The CEOs of major social media platforms are gearing up to testify before a House committee tomorrow on misinformation around COVID-19 and the recent Capitol riot. Meanwhile, a group of 12 state attorneys general are pressuring Facebook and Twitter to tackle COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, and two lawmakers reintroduced legislation aimed at making internet-connected devices safer for the consumer.

ADVERTISEMENT

TECH HEARING TIME AGAIN: The CEOs of the country’s biggest social media platforms will testify Thursday before a Congress eager to press them on their roles spreading misinformation related to coronavirus and the lead-up to the deadly insurrection at the Capitol in January.

Facebook’s Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergThe Hill’s Morning Report – Biden leans heavily into gun control House lawmakers fired up for hearing with tech CEOs Facebook rolls out physical keys to guard against hacking mobile accounts MORE[6][7][8][9][10][5], Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Google’s Sundar Pichai will appear remotely in front of two House Energy and Commerce subcommittees set to take a markedly different tone from previous hearings.

“We are done with conversation,” Rep. Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyProgressives up pressure on Biden to back COVID vaccine patent waiver House lawmakers fired up for hearing with tech CEOs Lawmakers press federal agencies on scope of SolarWinds attack MORE[12][13][14][15][16][11] (D-Ill.), chairwoman of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, said at an event Monday. “We are now moving ahead with regulation and legislation, and that is inevitable. We want them to understand how seriously they better take this.”

What to expect: The hearing will likely focus on the part the massive platforms play in spreading potentially dangerous misinformation — ranging from election result conspiracies to lies about the coronavirus vaccine — and a suite of proposed and forthcoming legislative fixes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives platforms liability protection from content posted by third parties and allows them to safely moderate.

All three companies have highlighted their work on content moderation and new policies recently, hinting at how they will approach the hearing.

Read more.[17]

HERE’S WHAT THE CEOS WILL SAY: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to propose a reform to legal liability protections for tech firms during congressional testimony on Thursday.

ADVERTISEMENT

In prepared remarks released Wednesday, Zuckerberg argues that the immunity granted by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act for third-party posts should be conditioned on platforms adhering to best practices for removing unlawful content.

“Instead of being granted immunity, platforms should be required to demonstrate that they have systems in place for identifying unlawful content and removing it,” he is set to tell the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Google’s plans: Pichai’s testimony appears to hew to a more cautious approach to Section 230, warning that repealing it could hamper efforts to address misinformation.

Twitter’s input: Dorsey’s prepared remarks focus less on legislative fixes and more on the content and policy decisions that Twitter has made recently to rein in misinformation.

Read more.[18]

STATE AGS ON THEIR CASE: A group of 12 state attorneys general sent a letter to Facebook and Twitter on Wednesday urging them to more aggressively enforce platform policies against coronavirus vaccine misinformation.

Led by Connecticut Attorney General William Tong (D), the group argues that content on the social media sites are increasing vaccine hesitancy, which will “slow economic recovery and, more importantly, ultimately cause even more unnecessary deaths.”

Bad data: The letter points to a report released by the Center for Countering Digital Hate Wednesday that claims that anti-vaccine accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube have more than 59 million followers.

The study also found that the personal accounts and associated organizations of 12 prominent figures account for upward of 60 percent of anti-vaccine content on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.

“Social media is enabling anti-vaxxers to recruit millions of Americans and indoctrinate them with fear and doubt,” Imran Ahmed, CEO of the center, said in a statement on the report’s release. “If Big Tech companies don’t act now, the pandemic will be prolonged, and more lives will be lost.”

Read more.[19]

A ROYAL TECH STORY: Prince HarryPrince Harry Prince Harry joins Aspen Institute commission on misinformation Hillicon Valley: John Matze takes on Parler | Prince Harry heads to Silicon Valley | YouTube leaves up Boulder shooting video Prince Harry to be named chief impact officer at BetterUp MORE[21][22][23][24][25][20] will be joining the Aspen Institute’s six-month commission aimed at tackling misinformation.

ADVERTISEMENT

The institute announced on Wednesday that the Duke of Sussex will be joining the “Commission on Information Disorder.”[26]

The commission will be co-chaired by journalist Katie Couric, former Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) director Christopher Krebs, and Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change.

Read more about the commission here.[27]

NEW (OLD) BILL IN TOWN: Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Obama NOAA leader joins Biden White House in climate role | Study: Climate change could reduce more than 60 countries’ credit ratings | NASA climate official says agency has ‘renewed emphasis’ on practical science applications Ocasio-Cortez, Warren introduce bill to put 0 billion toward electric public transit How to bridge the digital divide without widening partisan divides MORE[29][30][31][32][33][28] (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ted LieuTed W. LieuOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Obama marine monument designation | Interior reverses course on tribal ownership of portion of Missouri river | White House climate adviser meets with oil and gas companies Anger over anti-Asian violence, rhetoric rips through Capitol Lawmakers condemn anti-Asian rhetoric at hearing following shootings MORE[35][36][37][38][39][34] (D-Calif.) on Wednesday again rolled out legislation intended to help secure internet-connected devices and increase consumer confidence in them.

The Cyber Shield Act would create a voluntary cybersecurity certification program for internet-connected devices, also known as Internet of Things (IoT) devices. These include everything from mobile phones to smart kitchen appliances to baby monitors, with more devices in use every year.

Stamp of approval: The bill would also establish an advisory committee made up of cybersecurity experts in government, the private sector and academia to create security benchmarks for internet-connected devices. The benchmarks would enable the devices’ manufacturers to voluntarily label their products to show they have met these standards.

ADVERTISEMENT

Markey and Lieu previously introduced the legislation in both the House and Senate in 2019, but it never got a vote in either chamber. [40]

Read more here. [41]

FACEBOOK TAKES ACTION: Facebook on Wednesday announced that it had taken steps to disrupt efforts of Chinese hacking groups to target and surveil members of the Uyghur community both in China and abroad.

Two senior Facebook officials noted in a blog post that a Chinese hacking group known as “Evil Eye” or “Earth Empusa” had been targeting journalists, activists and dissidents in the global Uyghur community.[42]

The Chinese government has taken increasingly hostile measures against the minority Muslim community, which mostly lives in the Xinjiang province of China.

According to Facebook, the hackers had attempted to install malware viruses on the mobile devices of their targets in order to enable surveillance activities. The hackers used Facebook to send links to malicious websites to the victims, who included those living in the United States, Australia, Turkey, Syria, Kazakhstan, Canada and other countries outside of China.

ADVERTISEMENT

Read more about the hacking efforts here.[43]

MAJOR INVESTMENT: Intel is investing in new chipmaking plants in Arizona as it struggles to keep up with competitors in the high-tech manufacturing field.

The Associated Press reported that the company said at a press conference on Tuesday that it would create two new facilities in Arizona employing about 3,000 people in total.[44]

Intel has reportedly struggled to streamline its microchip manufacturing process in the face of competition and will be eligible for around $ 90 million in tax credits should it follow through with its plans in Arizona. Arizona lawmakers rushed through more funding for tax credits just ahead of the company’s announcement, the AP noted.

Read more here. [45]

NEW WAY TO GET PRESCRIPTIONS: Uber announced on Wednesday that it is expanding its prescription delivery service.

The ride-sharing forum said in a blog post that it is partnering with prescription drug delivery service ScriptDrop, a partnership that would allow pharmacies in 37 states to offer delivery services.[46]

The company plans on expanding the service in “the coming weeks and months”

Read more here. [47]

Lighter click: Go gabby go![48]

An op-ed to chew on: It’s time for a US strategy to combat health-related misinformation and disinformation[49]

[email protected] (Maggie Miller,Chris Mills Rodrigo and Rebecca Klar)

Hillicon Valley: John Matze takes on Parler | Prince Harry heads to Silicon Valley | YouTube leaves up Boulder shooting video

Welcome to Hillicon Valley, The Hill’s newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. If you don’t already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter by clicking HERE. [1]

Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.[2][3][4]

Departed co-founder John Matze is suing the right-wing social media site Parler over his dismissal earlier this year, arguing that GOP megadonor Rebekah Mercer conspired against him. Prince HarryPrince HarryPrince Harry to be named chief impact officer at BetterUp UK royal family considers appointing diversity czar Prince Harry pens personal note in children’s bereavement book: ‘I know how you feel’ MORE[6][7][8][9][10][5] is joining a Sillicon Valley start-up. And YouTube made a controversial call about footage from the Boulder shooting.

ADVERTISEMENT

MATZE v. PARLER: Parler co-founder John Matze has sued the social media platform over his firing earlier this year.

Matze filed suit on Monday in a Nevada state court, according to a copy of the complaint published by The Las Vegas Sun. 

The former Parler CEO accuses co-owner and GOP megadonor Rebekah Mercer of conspiring to dismiss him for “endeavoring to preserve Parler’s commitment to free expression while combatting any misuse by violent extremists and domestic terrorists in the wake of the January 6, 2021 attack at the U.S. Capitol.”

Fox News reported in early February that Matze was dismissed by Mercer, a benefactor to Breitbart News, and Steve BannonStephen (Steve) Kevin BannonDershowitz advising MyPillow CEO’s lawyers in Dominion case Bannon rips Italian court over decision to block populist training center Jason Miller: Trump said Meghan was ‘no good’ MORE[12][13][14][15][16][11], a campaign and White House adviser for former President TrumpDonald TrumpGood luck, Dan Bongino! The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden’s next act: Massive infrastructure plan with tax hikes Conservative group says polling shows Dems’ voting rights bill ‘out of sync with American voters’ MORE[18][19][20][21][22][17].

Internal dispute: The suit alleges that Mercer ignored Matze’s proposals for moderation policies that would have booted extremist content while preserving free speech. Instead, she and now-interim CEO Mark Meckler allegedly sought to turn Parler into a media outlet that would be the “tip of the spear” for conservatism.

After the Jan. 6 riots, Parler was booted from several platforms including Apple and Google’s app stores, as well as Amazon’s web hosting service, over its failing to moderate extremist content on the platform.

ADVERTISEMENT

Read more.[23]

PRINCE OF START-UPS: Prince Harry will be joining the Silicon Valley startup BetterUp as its chief impact officer, the company announced on Tuesday.

BetterUp is a career and life coaching platform.

The Duke of SussexPrince HarryUK royal family considers appointing diversity czar Prince Harry pens personal note in children’s bereavement book: ‘I know how you feel’ UK tabloid paid private investigator K for info on Meghan Markle: report MORE[25][26][27][28][29][24] wrote in a blog post[30] on Tuesday that his goal is to “lift up critical dialogues around mental health, build supportive and compassionate communities, and foster an environment for honest and vulnerable conversations.”

Read more.[31]

YOUTUBE MAKES BOULDER CALL: YouTube says it’s leaving up a live-streamed video of Monday’s shooting in Boulder, Colo., which left ten people dead, including a police officer.

The company said it is adding a warning to the footage, which was captured by a self-described citizen journalist who live-streamed the shooting for three hours.

YouTube’s stance: “Following yesterday’s tragic shooting, bystander videos of the incident were detected by our teams,” YouTube spokesperson Elena Hernandez told The Hill in a statement. “Violent content intended to shock or disgust viewers and hate speech are not allowed on YouTube, and as a result we have removed a number of videos for violating our policies.”

“We do allow certain violent or graphic content with sufficient news or documentary context, and so we’ve applied an age restriction to this particular content. We will continue to monitor this rapidly changing situation,” Hernandez said.

Dean Schiller began livestreaming at around 2:45 p.m. local time on Monday after he heard the first shots at the King Soopers grocery store, Vice News reported. The video was uploaded to the channel ZFG Videography.

Read more.[32]

ADVERTISEMENT

FACEBOOK CHECK: A nonprofit found that 267 Facebook pages and groups spread material glorifying violence ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Avaaz, a group focused on misinformation, said in a report on March 18 that it found “267 pages and groups – in addition to ‘Stop the Steal’ groups – with a combined following of 32 million, spreading violence-glorifying content in the heat of the 2020 election.”

They believe that 118 of those groups had “clear violations” of Facebook’s policies.

Facebook responded to the report saying that of the 118 pages that Avaaz believes clearly violated the social media giant’s policies, only 18 groups actually had clear policy violations.

Read more.[33]

CRYPTO(-IC) WARNING: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Monday warned of the risks associated with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, in part because of their high volatility.

ADVERTISEMENT

“They’re highly volatile, see Bitcoin, and therefore not really useful as a store of value and they’re not backed by anything,” Powell said during a digital panel discussion hosted by the Bank of International Settlements.

Casting doubt: He added that crypto assets are more used for “speculation,” rather than a “means of payment.”

“They’re more of an asset for speculation, so they’re also not particularly in use as a means of payment. It’s more a speculative asset that’s essentially a substitute for gold, rather than for the dollar,” he said.

Powell also addressed the potential for the Federal Reserve to institute its own central bank digital coin. He said the Fed is “exploring” the issue, but that it is “not in a mode of trying to make a decision at this point.” 

Read more.[34]

OATH KEEPERS AT RISK: The Department of Justice is eyeing charging members of the Oath Keepers militia group with sedition for their alleged role in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, The New York Times reported on Monday.

ADVERTISEMENT

Law enforcement officials briefed on the matter told the Times that authorities have been mulling whether to file sedition charges for weeks, accusing the militia group’s members of conspiring to overthrow the government.

Rare charges: Newly sworn-in Attorney General Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandDuckworth: Atlanta shootings look ‘racially motivated’ Biden condemns anti-Asian violence, ‘ugly poison’ of racism Exclusive: GOP officials offer support for Vanita Gupta MORE[36][37][38][39][40][35] is expected to have the final decision over whether prosecutors would move forward with such charges, which the department has not successfully argued for in more than two decades, the Times noted.

Oath Keepers members Thomas Caldwell, Jessica Watkins and Donovan Crowl have all been indicted on conspiring to obstruct the congressional certification of the Electoral College vote that confirmed President BidenJoe BidenGood luck, Dan Bongino! The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden’s next act: Massive infrastructure plan with tax hikes Conservative group says polling shows Dems’ voting rights bill ‘out of sync with American voters’ MORE[42][43][44][45][46][41]’s election win.

What’s next: Justice Department senior officials have been given evidence on the three charged individuals and have examined whether a sedition charge could be pursued. But prosecutors have not yet provided a formal prosecution memo or a draft of an indictment, one official told the newspaper. 

Read more.[47]

Lighter click: Twitter’s finest[48]

An op-ed to chew on: The cybersecurity problem we should really worry about[49]

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

Amazon Delivery Drivers Forced to Sign ‘Biometric Consent’ Form or Lose Job (Motherboard / Lauren Kaori Gurley)[50]

Tesla’s Autopilot Technology Faces Fresh Scrutiny (New York Times / Neal E. Boudette)[51]

Lina Khan is just the first step toward tougher US tech regulation (The Verge / Makena Kelly)[52]

References

  1. ^ HERE.  (www.email.thehill.com)
  2. ^ @magmill95 (twitter.com)
  3. ^ @chrisismills (twitter.com)
  4. ^ @rebeccaklar_ (twitter.com)
  5. ^ Prince Harry (thehill.com)
  6. ^ Prince Harry (thehill.com)
  7. ^ Prince Harry to be named chief impact officer at BetterUp (thehill.com)
  8. ^ UK royal family considers appointing diversity czar (thehill.com)
  9. ^ Prince Harry pens personal note in children’s bereavement book: ‘I know how you feel’ (thehill.com)
  10. ^ MORE (thehill.com)
  11. ^ Steve Bannon (thehill.com)
  12. ^ Stephen (Steve) Kevin Bannon (thehill.com)
  13. ^ Dershowitz advising MyPillow CEO’s lawyers in Dominion case (thehill.com)
  14. ^ Bannon rips Italian court over decision to block populist training center (thehill.com)
  15. ^ Jason Miller: Trump said Meghan was ‘no good’ (thehill.com)
  16. ^ MORE (thehill.com)
  17. ^ President Trump (thehill.com)
  18. ^ Donald Trump (thehill.com)
  19. ^ Good luck, Dan Bongino! (thehill.com)
  20. ^ The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden’s next act: Massive infrastructure plan with tax hikes (thehill.com)
  21. ^ Conservative group says polling shows Dems’ voting rights bill ‘out of sync with American voters’ (thehill.com)
  22. ^ MORE (thehill.com)
  23. ^ Read more. (thehill.com)
  24. ^ The Duke of Sussex (thehill.com)
  25. ^ Prince Harry (thehill.com)
  26. ^ UK royal family considers appointing diversity czar (thehill.com)
  27. ^ Prince Harry pens personal note in children’s bereavement book: ‘I know how you feel’ (thehill.com)
  28. ^ UK tabloid paid private investigator K for info on Meghan Markle: report (thehill.com)
  29. ^ MORE (thehill.com)
  30. ^ in a blog post (www.betterup.com)
  31. ^ Read more. (thehill.com)
  32. ^ Read more (thehill.com)
  33. ^ Read more. (thehill.com)
  34. ^ Read more. (thehill.com)
  35. ^ Merrick Garland (thehill.com)
  36. ^ Merrick Garland (thehill.com)
  37. ^ Duckworth: Atlanta shootings look ‘racially motivated’ (thehill.com)
  38. ^ Biden condemns anti-Asian violence, ‘ugly poison’ of racism (thehill.com)
  39. ^ Exclusive: GOP officials offer support for Vanita Gupta (thehill.com)
  40. ^ MORE (thehill.com)
  41. ^ President Biden (thehill.com)
  42. ^ Joe Biden (thehill.com)
  43. ^ Good luck, Dan Bongino! (thehill.com)
  44. ^ The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden’s next act: Massive infrastructure plan with tax hikes (thehill.com)
  45. ^ Conservative group says polling shows Dems’ voting rights bill ‘out of sync with American voters’ (thehill.com)
  46. ^ MORE (thehill.com)
  47. ^ Read more. (thehill.com)
  48. ^ Twitter’s finest (twitter.com)
  49. ^ The cybersecurity problem we should really worry about (thehill.com)
  50. ^ ‘Biometric Consent’ Form (www.vice.com)
  51. ^ Autopilot Technology (www.nytimes.com)
  52. ^ just the first step (www.theverge.com)

[email protected] (Chris Mills Rodrigo,Maggie Miller and Rebecca Klar)

Hillicon Valley: Lina Khan to get FTC nomination

Today: President BidenJoe BidenAstraZeneca says COVID-19 vaccine found 79 percent effective in US trial with no safety concerns The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden: Back to the future on immigration, Afghanistan, Iran This week: Senate works to confirm Biden picks ahead of break MORE[6][7][8][9][10][5] announced his intention to fill one of the two open roles on the Federal Trade Commission with prominent antitrust scholar, Lina Khan. And a broad coalition of groups in the technology came together to launch a coalition with its sights set on ending “surveillance advertising.”

ADVERTISEMENT

BIG TECH CRITICS GET THEIR PICK: President Biden on Monday announced his intention to nominate influential antitrust scholar Lina Khan to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Khan, a 32-year-old associate professor at Columbia Law School, would be the youngest FTC commissioner if confirmed by the Senate.

She is best known for a paper written while a law student at Yale titled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” which laid out how the e-commerce giant could be violating antitrust law.

More recently, Khan served as an aide to the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee during its investigation into the monopoly power of major digital platforms.

Who’s happy about this: Progressive critics of big tech have been pushing for Khan’s nomination.

“A champion of small businesses, entrepreneurs, and working people, Professor Lina Khan is an extraordinary choice for the Federal Trade Commission,” said Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project.

ADVERTISEMENT

Read more.[11]

NEW COALITION: Thirty-plus privacy, consumer and anti-monopoly groups are coming together to stop big tech platforms from tracking and categorizing individuals for the purpose of narrowly targeting advertising.

The broad coalition, launched Monday, is calling for a ban[12] on the practice they term “surveillance advertising.”

What is “surveillance advertising”? “Behavioral advertising, targeted advertising, what Facebook has tried to describe as personalized advertising, really feels like they’re trying to describe it as if they’re doing us a favor, when in reality they are extracting our data, they’re exploiting us and they’re selling us to advertisers,” said Rishi Bharwani, director of partnerships and policy at Accountable Tech, one of the member groups.

“So we just thought it was a more appropriate term,” he explained to The Hill.

The coalition argues that the data collection and advertising practices of the biggest platforms — specifically Facebook and Google, which are the two dominant players in the digital advertising space — increase the spread of misinformation, hate speech and extremism by incentivizing the companies to try to keep users engaged and online as much as possible.

Read more.[13]

MICROSOFT REOPENING: Microsoft will begin allowing more workers back into its headquarters in Redmond, Wash., the company announced Monday.

Nonessential on-site workers will be given the option to work from the office, from home or a hybrid of both.

Any worker who does choose to go to the office will continue to have to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

The company’s reasoning: “Our goal is to give employees further flexibility, allowing people to work where they feel most productive and comfortable, while also encouraging employees to work from home as the virus and related variants remain concerning,” Microsoft executive vice president Kurt DelBene said in a blog post Monday.

ADVERTISEMENT

The company is describing the latest update in its recommendations as step four on a six-step dial.

Read more.[14]

UNFORTUNATELY, NFT NEWS: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s first post on the social media platform was sold as a non-fungible token for $ 2,915,835.47 on Monday after a two-week open bid.

Dorsey said he would convert the winning bid into bitcoin and donate it to the charity GiveDirectly’s Africa Response.

What’s in the tweet: The tweet, “just setting up my twttr,” was sent March 21, 2006.

The winning bidder is Sina Estavi who, according to his Twitter, is the CEO of a blockchain company called Bridge Oracle.

ADVERTISEMENT

A non-fungible token, more commonly known as an NFT, is a unique kind of digital asset that has skyrocketed in popularity this year.

Read more.[15]

CASE DISMISSED: The Supreme Court on Monday rejected Facebook’s appeal to scale back a $ 15 billion lawsuit that accuses the tech giant of illegally tracking its users’ internet activities.

The lawsuit alleges Facebook violated the Wiretap Act by tracking users’ online activities that utilize features such as the platform’s “like” button without their consent between April 2010 and September 2011.

A blow to Facebook: The justices declined to take up Facebook’s appeal of a lower court ruling allowing the class-action lawsuit against the company to move forward.

Read more.[16]

ADVERTISEMENT

SURPRISE! TIKTOK OK: The source code for Tik Tok and its Chinese counterpart Douyin is no more intrusive than that of other social media apps, a report from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab found.

In the report, released Monday[17], researchers found no evidence that either app collects user data without the permission of its users.

The popular video-sharing app came under legal jeopardy during the Trump administration after the White House moved to ban it, citing national security reasons. However, that ban never went into effect while the company vowed to fight it in court.

Read more.[18]

ICYMI – CYBER CZAR PRESSURE: President Biden is coming under increasing pressure from lawmakers and other officials to nominate a White House cyber czar as the government starts formulating its response to two major foreign cyberattacks.

More than halfway through his first 100 days in office, Biden has yet to name his pick for national cyber director, a Senate-confirmed position that comes with a 75-member staff.

The absence of a leader to coordinate federal policy on cybersecurity is becoming glaring as the administration works to quickly respond to both the Russian SolarWinds hack and the Microsoft Exchange Server vulnerabilities exploited by Chinese hackers.

Read more.[19]

Lighter click: You learn something new every day[20]

An op-ed to chew on: Are space SPAC IPOs a regulator’s dilemma?[21]