Week ahead: Tech giants to testify publicly on Russian interference

Week ahead: Tech giants to testify publicly on Russian interference
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Executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google will appear publicly before the House and Senate as lawmakers press forward with their investigations into Russian election interference.

Tech companies have attracted increased scrutiny since Facebook revealed in September that it unknowingly sold $100,000 in political ads to a Russia-linked company in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

The revelation created a stir on Capitol Hill, triggering bipartisan legislation that would establish ad disclosure requirements for social media platforms in an effort to boost transparency and curb foreign influence in future elections.

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Representatives from Facebook and Twitter have already met behind closed doors with congressional investigators probing Russian interference.

But on Wednesday, executives from both companies, as well as Google, will appear publicly in back-to-back sessions before lawmakers on the Senate and House Intelligence Committees.

The marathon grilling session is the first time in several weeks that either committee has stepped out to hold a public hearing on the investigation. Most of the recent interviews have taken place behind closed doors.

Meanwhile, the House Intelligence Committee is also expected to release soon the 3,000 Russia-linked ads that Facebook turned over under pressure earlier this month.

The topic is sure to come up at a related hearing on Tuesday, when lawmakers on a Senate Judiciary subcommittee meet to discuss extremist content and Russian disinformation online. The committee will also hear from Google, Facebook and Twitter's top lawyers.

The House Homeland Security Committee is also gearing up to spotlight cybersecurity at a field hearing in San Pedro, Calif., on Monday afternoon.

The meeting will focus on the U.S. government's efforts to mitigate physical security risks as well as guard against cyberattacks at American ports.

The event is timely, given the recent passage of legislation in the House that would bolster the Department of Homeland Security's efforts to protect against cyber threats to U.S. ports.

The bill, a version of which cleared the House in a previous Congress, was introduced by Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) after the "notPetya" malware outbreak halted some operations at the Port of Los Angeles in June.

House lawmakers will also continue to delve into the challenge of protecting consumers' financial data, a topic that has become a high priority on Capitol Hill in the wake of the massive Equifax data breach.

A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee will hold a hearing on securing consumer credit data on Wednesday, hours before a House Financial Services subcommittee hearing on data security.

 

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