Hillicon Valley: Trump stuns lawmakers with push to help Chinese company | Facebook suspends 200 apps over data practices | Dems want answers on Cohen payments | Senate net neutrality vote coming Wednesday

Hillicon Valley: Trump stuns lawmakers with push to help Chinese company | Facebook suspends 200 apps over data practices | Dems want answers on Cohen payments | Senate net neutrality vote coming Wednesday
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The Cyber and Tech overnights have joined forces to give you Hillicon Valley, The Hill's new comprehensive newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley.

Welcome! Follow the cyber team, Morgan Chalfant (@mchalfant16) and Olivia Beavers (@olivia_beavers), and the tech team, Ali Breland (@alibreland) and Harper Neidig (@hneidig), on Twitter. Contact us with scoops, tips, comments, and breakdowns of why the Warriors can't stop James Harden and the Rockets. 

Happy Monday!

 

TRUMP STUNS WASHINGTON: President TrumpDonald John TrumpArizona GOP Senate candidate defends bus tour with far-right activist Alyssa Milano protests Kavanaugh in 'Handmaid's Tale' costume Bomb in deadly Yemen school bus attack was manufactured by US firm: report MORE's abrupt decision to offer a potential lifeline to Chinese phone maker ZTE is sending shockwaves through Washington, sparking criticism from lawmakers who have pushed for tighter restrictions on Chinese telecommunications companies.

Trump stunned Republicans and Democrats on Sunday when he tweeted that he had ordered federal officials to get Chinese phonemaker ZTE "back into business, fast" after the company shuttered its operations due to U.S. penalties.

"Too many jobs in China lost," Trump wrote.

The sentiment was a far cry from the hard line the president has drawn on China since the start of his administration, with his officials accusing Beijing of unfair trade practices and intellectual property theft.

Republicans on Capitol Hill, who had been pressing for further restrictions on Chinese telecommunications companies in the U.S. market, pushed the administration to hold the line it had previously taken against ZTE.

Lawmakers are not happy: "Problem with ZTE isn't jobs & trade, it's national security & espionage," Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP looks to injure Nelson over Russia comments Rubio’s pro-family, conservative family leave policy promotes stability Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries MORE (R-Fla.) tweeted on Monday. "We are crazy to allow them to operate in U.S. without tighter restrictions."

"One of the few areas where the president and I agreed, and I was vocally supportive, was his approach towards China," Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTo make the House of Representatives work again, make it bigger Reforms can stop members of Congress from using their public office for private gain Election Countdown: GOP worries House majority endangered by top of ticket | Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries | Parties fight for Puerto Rican vote in Florida | GOP lawmakers plan 'Freedom Tour' MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. "But even here he is backing off, and his policy is now designed to achieve one goal: make China great again."

"Our intelligence agencies have warned that ZTE technology and phones pose a major cyber security threat. You should care more about our national security than Chinese jobs," said the House Intelligence Committee's top Democrat, Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffInternet security leader: Hackers are 'trying to undermine very process of democracy' Republicans and Democrats alike face troubling signals from voters Schiff blasts GOP for Russia probe conduct: 'That's how you obstruct an investigation, not how you conduct one' MORE.

Background: Trump's stated desire to help ZTE comes less than one month after his Commerce Department barred American firms from selling components to the Chinese phonemaker. The administration said ZTE violated sanctions on Iran by selling equipment to the country.

ZTE is fighting the ban, which, if it stands, promises to cripple the company's operations. The company has already halted production in reaction to the penalties.

ZTE's side: The Chinese company maintains that it operates in accordance with U.S. law in response to charges that it works with Beijing to spy on Americans.

Read more here.

 

Data privacy is taking center stage today.

 

FACEBOOK SUSPENDS 200 APPS: Facebook has suspended about 200 apps in its review of data abuse following the scandal over British research firm Cambridge Analytica, the tech giant said Monday.

The apps will stay suspended pending an investigation into whether they violated Facebook's data collection policies. Ime Archibong, Facebook's vice president of product partnerships, said in a post that the 200 suspensions come after the company reviewed thousands of apps with access to Facebook user data. The search though isn't over yet.

"There is a lot more work to be done to find all the apps that may have misused people's Facebook data -- and it will take time," Archibong said.

The announcement follows Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's promise earlier this year that his company would conduct an audit of every app with access to large amounts of Facebook user data. Zuckerberg's commitment was made in response to blowback Facebook received over revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a British research firm that worked on the Trump campaign, harvested data from 87 million Facebook users in violation of Facebook's terms of use. To read more of our coverage, click here.

 

MORE FACEBOOK... A popular personality quiz app left more than 3 million Facebook users' private information exposed on a vulnerable website for four years, according to an investigation by New Scientist.

Facebook users were encouraged to share personal and intimate details, like the results of a psychological test, with the app myPersonality. Academics working at the University of Cambridge then transferred the information to a website with "insufficient security provisions" where it remained for four years, according to the Monday report.

During this time, outside parties could reportedly access this personal data with relative ease. Those who had access to the data would've been able to view 3.1 million users' app scores that reveal personal characteristics about a particular individual, like their conscientiousness, agreeableness and neuroticism, according to the report. Additionally, the app had collected data from "22 million status updates from over 150,000 users, alongside details such as age, gender and relationship status from 4.3 million people."

To view the myPersonality data, one would have only needed to register as "a collaborator" on the project. More than 280 people from roughly 150 institutions signed up as collaborators. The credentials to the website were also floating around on the internet, where "anyone who wanted access to the data set could have found the key to download it in less than a minute," the investigation found.

Facebook suspended myPersonality from its platform last month, saying the app is under investigation for possibly violating its policies. To read more of our piece, click here.

 

DEMS WANT FTC TO INVESTIGATE GOOGLE'S DATA COLLECTION PRACTICES: Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyTo make the House of Representatives work again, make it bigger Dems urge tech companies to remove 3D-gun blueprints Make the moon a refueling station — then head to Mars MORE (D-Mass.) asked Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joseph Simons to investigate whether Google has deceptively collected location data on Android users, even when such services are disabled.

"Most consumers do not understand the level, granularity, and reach of Google's data collection, and there are serious questions about whether they have provided their informed consent and maintain a reasonable ability to avoid participating in this collection," the senators wrote.

Their letter comes after a Quartz investigation last fall revealed that Google has been collecting location information from Android users. Even when an individual's location service is disabled, Android would gather the addresses of nearby cellular towers and then share this data with Google, a practice it began at the start of 2017, according to the Quartz report.

The report said the inability to turn off the location services in Android poses a risk for individuals who want to conceal their location for security purposes, like law enforcement officials and victims of domestic abuse.

"All that it takes for users to expose themselves to this collection is to once allow an ambiguously described feature, for example when trying to display photos on a map on the Google Photo service, silently enabling the feature across devices with no expiration date," the senators wrote. To read more of our coverage, click here.

 

DEMS' COHEN QUESTIONS: A group of Senate Democrats is demanding answers from AT&T and Novartis after it was revealed the two companies paid large sums of money to President Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBoogeywomen — GOP vilifies big-name female Dems Overnight Health Care: Senate takes up massive HHS spending bill next week | Companies see no sign of drugmakers cutting prices, despite Trump claims | Manchin hits opponent on ObamaCare lawsuit Elizabeth Warren and the new communism MORE (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenGroup files lawsuit to force Georgia to adopt paper ballots Treasury releases proposed rules on major part of Trump tax law Rubio slams Google over plans to unveil censored Chinese search engine MORE (D-Ore.) sent a letter to AT&T on Monday raising questions about whether the $600,000 in payments were appropriate.

"In particular, AT&T had a significant financial interest in key Administration decisions, including whether the Department of Justice would contest the proposed merger with Time Warner, whether the Federal Communications Commission would overturn net neutrality rules, and whether the Administration would push a tax plan that gave huge breaks to corporations like AT&T," the senators wrote to CEO Randall Stephenson.

"Given these ongoing and significant matters, the unusual series of payments by AT&T to the President's personal attorney raise obvious questions about corruption and whether AT&T, Essential Consultants, and the Trump Administration were engaged in a pay-for-play operation." To read more of our coverage, click here.

 

BILLIONAIRE CONTRACTOR TO LEAD WHITE HOUSE INTEL BOARD: In case you missed it, President Trump on Friday announced that Stephen Feinberg, a New York billionaire who owns the giant military contractor DynCorp International, will chair a White House executive board that reviews the effectiveness and legality of foreign intelligence.

Feinberg, in the early months of Trump's presidency, was rumored to be under consideration to lead some kind of broad-based review of the intelligence community, which Trump was then blaming for the departure of his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

But that role never materialized. Now, he will head the so-called President's Intelligence Advisory Board -- a committee made up of nongovernment employees that gets access to a wide swath of intelligence information and acts as an independent monitor on the 17 agencies that make up the intelligence community.

The panel has no legal authority and its influence has risen and fallen depending on the president in question. Former President Carter once disbanded it entirely.

Feinberg, who has no previous experience working in government intelligence, is the first person Trump has appointed to the board. Previous reports had suggested that Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist who backed Trump in the 2016 campaign, was also in the running for the post. Read more here.

 

NET NEUTRALITY REPEAL VOTE: Democrats are increasingly looking to make their support for net neutrality regulations a campaign issue in the midterm elections. On Capitol Hill, the Senate will vote on a measure to restore the Obama-era rules repealed by the GOP-controlled Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday.

It's not clear that Democrats will be able to win the 51st supporter they need to ensure passage, but even if they fail they think the public fight will crystallize their image as the party battling to support an open internet. And they see it as creating a public record of Republicans voting against net neutrality, which they plan to use in future campaigns.

"This bill does one simple thing: It gets every member of the Senate on the record for or against net neutrality," Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzGOP leader criticizes Republican senators for not showing up to work Senate takes shot at Trump, passes resolution affirming 'press is not the enemy of the people' Pentagon’s No. 2 official: Trump’s ‘Space Force’ could cost 'billions' MORE (D-Hawaii) said Wednesday. "Republicans are going to regret it from a public policy standpoint and a political standpoint."

Democrats will force a Senate vote on Wednesday on a bill that would save the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) net neutrality rules from repeal. Senate Democrats filed a discharge petition on the bill last week, starting the clock on the long-shot effort to preserve the Obama-era consumer protections.

The legislation, introduced by Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyTo make the House of Representatives work again, make it bigger Dems urge tech companies to remove 3D-gun blueprints Make the moon a refueling station — then head to Mars MORE (D-Mass.), would use authority under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to nullify the FCC's vote in December to roll back the rules. Under the CRA, lawmakers can force a vote in the Senate with just 30 lawmakers on board. The bill currently has 50 backers in the Senate, including every Democrat plus Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsWhite House weighs clawing back State, foreign aid funding The Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) Overnight Defense: Pompeo creates 'action group' for Iran policy | Trump escalates intel feud | Report pegs military parade cost at M MORE (R-Maine). Democrats need one more Republican to cross the aisle for 51-vote majority, but the math might already be on their side...To read more of our coverage, cclick here.

And for more on Wednesday's vote, click here.

 

A LIGHTER TWITTER CLICK: text messaging app to help disconnected students. (Christian Science Monitor)

Best headline of the day goes to The Washington Post"I want my data back, data back, data back: Chili's hit by data breach."

Check out more on the Chili's breach here.

 

ON TAP THIS WEEK:

The industry group Information Technology and Innovation Foundation will host a roundtable on net neutrality legislation on Tuesday at noon.

Net neutrality vote will take place in the Senate on Wednesday

The Senate Intelligence Committee is expected to vote on President Trump's nominee to lead the CIA, Gina Haspel, per our colleague Katie Bo.

The Senate Intelligence Committee will also hold a closed-door hearing on Wednesday about the U.S. intelligence community's report about Russian interference issued last year. The hearing will feature former U.S. intelligence officials, including former NSA director Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersPentagon’s No. 2 official: Trump’s ‘Space Force’ could cost 'billions' Ex-astronaut: Trump's plan for a Space Force 'redundant,' 'wasteful' Pence announces first steps in establishing 'Space Force' MORE and former CIA director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanTrump plays 'quick round of golf' with Rand Paul in New Jersey Comey: 'Truth exists and truth matters' Giuliani labels Brennan ‘one of the biggest frauds in the history of this country’ MORE. Former FBI director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyComey: 'Truth exists and truth matters' Lieu: Giuliani saying 'truth isn’t truth' is another step toward 'authoritarianism' Santorum: Mueller could avoid charges of McCarthyism by investigating DOJ, FBI MORE has been invited, though Politico reports he will not be in attendance.

 

LONGREAD OF THE DAY:

Bloomberg Businessweek peers into how Amazon can use the opportunity of HQ2 to quickly boost its diversity. Lawmakers, including the Congressional Black Caucus, have been hammering the company to do more to improve minority representation.

 

NEW AMAZON DIVERSITY EFFORT:

On a related front, Amazon on Monday said it is implementing its own version of the NFL's "Rooney Rule" -- a measure aimed at increasing diversity among its board of directors. Amazon will now include "women and minority candidates in the pool" when selecting candidates for the board of directors, according to the company's corporate governance guidelines. Read more on that here.

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

A new investigative report shows hackers tried to breach an election database in Knox County, Tenn., on election night. (Huffington Post)

Democratic FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra's first policy memo suggests a tougher approach to companies like Facebook and Google. (FTC)

Rhode Island's secretary of state has some ideas about election security. (Associated Press)

Pentagon contract leads Google employees to resign in protest. (Gizmodo)

IBM pushes for an alternative to European law GDPR in countries looking to regulate data. (IBM)

The Brookings Institute unveiled a list of diverse technology sources for journalists. (Brookings)

Motherboard makes the case against encryption protocol PGP (Motherboard)

Hackers pilfered millions out of Mexican banks. (Reuters)

Security researchers see shift in Iranian cyber activity following Trump's decision to withdraw from nuclear deal. (The New York Times)

Black, Hispanic lawmakers hammer Amazon directors' opposition to diversity rule (The Hill).