Hillicon Valley: DHS gets new cyber chief | White House warns lawmakers not to block ZTE deal | White nationalists find home on Google Plus | Comcast outbids Disney for Fox | Anticipation builds for report on FBI Clinton probe

Hillicon Valley: DHS gets new cyber chief  | White House warns lawmakers not to block ZTE deal | White nationalists find home on Google Plus | Comcast outbids Disney for Fox | Anticipation builds for report on FBI Clinton probe
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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. Send us your scoops, tips and hot NBA trade rumors

 

HOMELAND SECURITY CYBER UNIT GETS A LEADER: The Senate confirmed Christopher Krebs in a voice vote Tuesday evening to serve at the helm of Homeland Security's National Protection and Programs Directorate, or NPPD, roughly four months after President TrumpDonald John TrumpConservatives express concern over House GOP immigration bill Poll: McSally holds 14-point lead in Arizona GOP Senate primary Trump defends Nielsen amid criticism over family separations MORE nominated him to the post.

In the role, Krebs will be responsible for overseeing the security of federal civilian networks and spearheading the federal government's efforts to protect critical infrastructure from cyber and physical threats. NPPD is also newly responsible for helping states secure their digital voting systems, in the wake of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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Krebs has been performing the role of undersecretary at NPPD in an acting capacity since last summer, and was officially nominated to the post by Trump in February.

"It's an incredible honor to be confirmed as the Under Secretary; it represents the confidence that the Senate, the President, and the Secretary [Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenTrump administration sending babies, children to 'tender age' shelters in Texas: report Trump defends Nielsen amid criticism over family separations Chanting activists confront DHS secretary during dinner at Mexican restaurant MORE] have in me to do this important job," Krebs said in a statement. "I'm excited to drop the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary title and officially lead the NPPD team in advancing the cybersecurity and resilience of the nation's critical infrastructure."

He said that his top legislative priority will be pressing Congress to pass legislation that would rename and reorganize NPPD -- a bill that has passed the House but recently encountered a hang-up in the Senate.

Krebs' nomination was not particularly controversial -- however, Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Verizon, AT&T call off data partnerships after pressure | Tech speaks out against Trump family separation policy | T-Mobile, Sprint make case for B merger AT&T, Verizon say they'll stop sharing location data with third-party brokers The Memo: Child separation crisis risks ‘Katrina moment’ for Trump MORE (D-Ore.) briefly blocked Krebs' nomination in an effort to press Homeland Security to release more information about threats from devices known colloquially as "Stingrays" – mobile phone surveillance technology that the department recently detected evidence of in the D.C. area.

Homeland Security has since provided the Democratic senator with more information on the activity.

We've got more on Krebs' confirmation here..

 

DHS released a statement early Wednesday from Secretary Nielsen celebrating Krebs' nomination and praising his past experience at Homeland Security and in the private sector. "Please join me in congratulating Under Secretary Krebs and his family," Nielsen said, "I want to thank Chris for his dedication to championing our cybersecurity efforts and strengthening our country's critical infrastructure."

 

SPEAKING OF CYBER NOMINEES ... The White House announced late Tuesday that Trump is nominating Karen Evans, a former top IT official under the Bush administration, to serve as the Assistant Secretary of Energy for Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response. If confirmed, Evans will lead a new office at DOE to tackle energy cyber and security. Evans is currently the national director for the U.S. Cyber Challenge. She also served as the Energy Department's chief information officer and later the Administrator for E-Government and Information Technology under Bush.

 

WHITE HOUSE WARNS CONGRESS OVER ATTEMPT TO BLOCK ZTE DEAL: The White House on Wednesday pushed back on legislative efforts to reverse President Trump's deal with China that eases penalties on Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE, helping to revive the company.

White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley defended the administration's agreement to impose lessened penalties on the company, maintaining that the punishment was "massive" and "historic."

"This will ensure ZTE pays for its violations and gives our government complete oversight of their future activity without undue harm to American suppliers and their workers," Gidley said in a statement.

"The Administration will work with Congress to ensure the final [National Defense Authorization Act] conference report respects the separation of powers," he added.

Last month, Trump made a deal to reduce the Department of Commerce's penalties leveled at ZTE for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran and North Korea. The penalties, which barred ZTE from purchasing U.S. made equipment, had effectively shut the company down.

More on the next stage of the ZTE debate here.

 

COMCAST TOPS DISNEY BID FOR FOX: Comcast is making a $65 billion bid for much of 21st Century Fox's assets, setting up a potential bidding war with Disney over the company's entertainment offerings.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts sent a letter to the Fox board of directors on Wednesday with the offer of $35 per share, 19 percent more than Disney's bid.

The announcement comes just a day after a federal judge approved a similar deal, AT&T's $85 billion merger with Time Warner, over the Trump administration's efforts to block it.

"In light of yesterday's decision in the AT&T/Time Warner case, the limited time prior to your shareholders' meeting, and our strong continued interest, we are pleased to present a new, all-cash proposal that fully addresses the Board's stated concerns with our prior proposal," Roberts wrote in his letter.

Fox's board had rejected a bid from Comcast last year in part due to concerns over regulatory approval.

More on the corporate fight here.

 

ANTICIPATION BUILDS FOR WATCHDOG REPORT ON CLINTON EMAIL PROBE: Conservatives on Capitol Hill are anxiously awaiting the imminent release of a report from the Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general scrutinizing the law enforcement agency's handling of its investigation into Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonLewandowski says 'womp womp' at story of young girl being separated from mother at border Giuliani: FBI asked me about tease of a 'surprise' before election Republicans tear into IG finding on Clinton probe MORE's private email server.

A spate of recent press reports suggesting that the document will be critical of top DOJ brass has raised expectations among some of President Trump's most ardent defenders that it will provide fuel for an ongoing broadside against the department.

Congress will likely not see the document until shortly before it is made public on Thursday, with its official conclusions remaining the subject of intense speculation until then.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz will almost immediately have to face Congress to defend his conclusions, with the inspector general scheduled to appear in a pair of back-to-back hearings early next week.

More from our national security reporter Katie Bo Williams here. 

 

VOTE DELAYED ON 'CYBER SAFETY' BILL: A key Senate panel has delayed a vote on legislation that would open up companies that produce cybersecurity technologies to liability protections in the event the products fail to prevent certain digital attacks.  

The bill offered by Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesGOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border Hillicon Valley: DHS gets new cyber chief | White House warns lawmakers not to block ZTE deal | White nationalists find home on Google Plus | Comcast outbids Disney for Fox | Anticipation builds for report on FBI Clinton probe McConnell will ask Cornyn to stay on GOP leadership team MORE (R-Mont.) would update a 2002 law, the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act, designed to incentivize private sector companies to develop anti-terrorism technologies by reducing the threat of litigation in the event those technologies fail when deployed. Under the bill, cybersecurity technologies would be added to those that qualify for protection under systems of risk and litigation management established by the 2002 provision.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee was scheduled to consider the bill at a business meeting on Wednesday, but never did. Chairman Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSenate probes FBI's heavy-handed use of redactions to obstruct congressional investigators Hillicon Valley: DHS gets new cyber chief | White House warns lawmakers not to block ZTE deal | White nationalists find home on Google Plus | Comcast outbids Disney for Fox | Anticipation builds for report on FBI Clinton probe Graham jokes about Corker: GOP would have to be organized to be a cult MORE (R-Wis.) indicated that concerns about the bill being overbroad resulted in the delay.

"We are still trying to work through different issues, there are some concerns in terms of how broad that is and what the language is, we are going to continue to work with Sen. Daines," Johnson said following the hearing, according to a committee aide.

 

NEO-NAZIS ON GOOGLE PLUS: White nationalist and neo-Nazi trolls have found a home on Google's social media platform, Google Plus.

Many groups espousing racist rhetoric and hate speech were kicked off Facebook and Twitter after violence erupted at the "Unite the Right" rally last summer in Charlottesville, Va., where a woman was killed by a car that was driven into a crowd of protesters.

While such voices have been kicked off Facebook and Twitter, they have not been purged from Google Plus.

Groups openly posting explicitly racist and anti-Semitic content have established dozens of Google Plus communities, the equivalent of Facebook groups. The communities have follower counts that range from the hundreds to the thousands.

We've been here before: Neo-Nazis on Google Plus isn't an outlier for the platform. As we've reported before, pro-ISIS groups have also found a home on Google Plus. Google's minimal intervention with both communities suggest that the company is doing little to proactively prevent hateful groups' presence on their platforms.

As does claims from groups that Google ignored them when they reported such communities.

 

YOU RAISE ME UP: Bitcoin's massive price run-up late last year may have been the result of a price manipulation campaign, according to a new study released on Wednesday.

The paper by John Griffin, a finance professor at the University of Texas who has researched fraud in other markets, and graduate student Amin Shams, found that the virtual coin Tether was likely used to prop up Bitcoin prices late last year.

"By mapping the blockchains of Bitcoin and Tether, we are able to establish that entities associated with the Bitfinex exchange use Tether to purchase Bitcoin when prices are falling. Such price supporting activities are successful, as Bitcoin prices rise following the periods of intervention," they wrote.

 

TOYOTA INVESTS IN ASIA RIDE-HAILING SERVICE: Toyota on Wednesday announced a $1 billion investment in the Southeast Asian ride-hailing company Grab.

Toyota said the investment is meant to enhance the collaboration between the two companies. Grab will now place an executive for Toyota on its board.

"This strong partnership will enable us to become the one-stop mobility platform in Southeast Asia. We look forward to executing the same vision of the future," Grab CEO Anthony Tan said in a statement.

 

FACEBOOK GIVES STATE-BY-STATE BREAKDOWN OF DATA SCANDAL: Facebook published a state-by-state breakdown of users whose information was likely obtained by Cambridge Analytica.

The state data, which was published in a post updated in May and first noticed by Business Insider on Wednesday, shows the number of users affected by Cambridge Analytica broken down by state.

The states affected most are generally the most populous. A higher proportion of some states were affected than others though.

Southern and states and those close by, including Kentucky, Mississippi and West Virginia, had some of the largest percentages of their population who were affected by the scandal, according to the data.

 

A LIGHTER TWITTER CLICK: If this becomes millennials' way of getting engaged... then romance is dead.

 

LONG READ OF THE DAY: The New Yorker looks back into America's history and relationship with privacy and why we appear to care so much about it.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW:

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is holding a hearing on understanding the digital advertising ecosystem at 10:15 a.m.

The Brookings Institution is holding a forum on cybersecurity in Asia at 10 a.m.

The Justice Department inspector general is expected to release a report on the FBI's Clinton email probe.

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

A U.S. counterintelligence official is warning Americans about potential hacking at the World Cup. (Reuters)

Dixons Carphone breach exposes sensitive data of millions of European customers. (Gizmodo)

Google will open an AI center in Ghana (Venture Beat)

Twitter is trying to integrate its features to make it easier to find live updates about events happening in real time. (BuzzFeed)

China's surveillance will soon track cars (Wall Street Journal)

How right-wing Twitter tries to play the media. (The Outline)