Hillicon Valley — Cyber officials warn about Russian threat
U.S. cyber officials warned not to underestimate Russia’s cyber capability amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, House Republicans ramped up criticism of the Department of Homeland Security’s new Disinformation Governance Board and asked the board’s head to brief a House panel. And in the Senate, Democrats put forward a plan to restore the Federal Trade Commission’s ability to retrieve monetary relief for consumers who are victims of scams.
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Don’t underestimate Russia, official says
U.S. Cyber Command Director Gen. Paul Nakasone on Wednesday challenged the prevailing narrative that Russia hasn’t launched destructive cyberattacks against Ukraine amid its military invasion.
Nakasone said his agency has observed a series of destructive attacks in Ukraine, on top of those that targeted the country’s satellite communications system in March.
“This idea that nothing has happened is not right,” Nakasone said on Wednesday during a summit hosted by Vanderbilt University on modern conflict and emerging threats.
“Over the past couple of weeks, we have had a much better feel for what’s happened in the Ukraine,” he said, adding that his agency has also remained vigilant against the current cyber threats facing the U.S. and its allies.
DHS official asked to testify
Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are asking Nina Jankowicz, head of the new Disinformation Governance Board within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to brief the committee and provide documents and communications about the board, which they characterize as an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth.”
“This Board is un- American, anti-democratic, and a dangerous escalation of the Biden Administration’s embrace of government-endorsed censorship,” 12 of the committee’s Republicans, led by ranking member Jim Jordan (Ohio), wrote in a letter to Jankowicz on Thursday first shared with The Hill.
“In addition, judging from your past statements, Americans can not and should not trust you with your newfound authority to act as the Biden Administration’s arbiter of the truth.”
The GOP members requested that Jankowicz provide by May 19 all documents and communications relating to the creation of the board, its mission and authorities, her appointment as executive director and coordination or interaction between the board and social media companies including Twitter and Facebook.
DEMS MOVE TO RESTORE FTC AUTHORITY
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would regain its ability to obtain monetary relief for victims of illegal scams as part of a new bill introduced by Senate Democrats on Wednesday night.
Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), along with Sens. Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Raphael Warnock (Ga.), introduced the bill that would restore the FTC’s power to return money to consumers under Section 13(B), a provision that was taken away by a Supreme Court decision last year.
“For decades, the FTC used this authority to return billions of dollars owed to consumers and small businesses who were scammed, swindled, deceived, or locked out of competitive marketplaces,” Cantwell said in a statement. “Our bill restores that power so the commission can get back to its work on behalf of victims in securing redress from the bad actors who deceived them.”
The Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to consider the bill at a meeting Wednesday.
BIDEN SIGNS CYBERCRIME DATA COLLECTION BILL
President Biden on Thursday signed into law bipartisan legislation aimed at improving federal law enforcement’s collection of data related to cybercrime.
The legislation, known as the “Better Cybercrime Metrics Act,” passed the Senate by unanimous consent late last year and passed the House at the end of March in a broadly bipartisan 377-48 vote.
The law directs the Justice Department to take a handful of actions designed to improve data collection on cybercrimes, including requiring the department to establish a new category in the National Incident-Based Reporting System specifically for federal, state and local cybercrime reports.
BITS & PIECES
An op-ed to chew on: Elizabeth Warren’s anti-business platform would accelerate the next recession
Lighter click: Phone bill running high
Notable links from around the web:
Small group, big headache: Inside DHS’ messy Disinformation Governance Board launch (Politico / Betsy Woodruff Swan and Daniel Lippman)
‘Buy now, pay later’ is sending the TikTok generation spiraling into debt, popularized by San Francisco tech firms (SFGate / Joshua Bote)
A teen girl sexually exploited on Snapchat takes on American tech (The Washington Post / Drew Harwell)
Pity the Billionaire (Intelligencer / Jacob Silverman)
One more thing: Risky business
Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) in a letter to American multinational financial services company Fidelity Investments Inc. argue that cryptocurrency is too risky an investment for retirement savers’ 401(k) plans.
In the letter sent to Fidelity CEO Abigail Johnson on Wednesday, the two lawmakers note their concerns over the company offering bitcoin as an option for its 401(k) investors and ask how Fidelity is managing conflicts of interest with its own cryptocurrency mining operation.
The letter also mentions bitcoin’s “volatile history,” pointing out that the cryptocurrency has recorded huge drops in value in the stock market and that Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s latest tweets have caused its value to fluctuate.
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