Overnight Cybersecurity

Hillicon Valley — How expanded GOP power will shift cyber agenda

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Experts weigh in on how Congress’ cyber agenda will change next year with the GOP seeing expanded power in the House and Democrats keeping the Senate.

Meanwhile, Amazon is reportedly planning to lay off about 10,000 workers this week, and Elon Musk said Twitter Blue may soon return. 

This is Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Send tips to The Hill’s Rebecca Klar and Ines Kagubare. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

GOP likely to push back against cyber regulations

As one of the few bipartisan issues in Congress, cybersecurity is expected to continue to garner support from both political parties no matter the final outcome of the 2022 midterm elections.

Still, experts predicted that expanded Republicans numbers could mean more GOP lawmakers pushing back against government regulation in the industry.  

Democrats are projected to hold onto a narrow majority in the Senate after
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto won a close race in Nevada Saturday night, but fate of House control has yet to be determined amid some close uncalled races.  

Over the past year, lawmakers have introduced and passed several bipartisan cybersecurity bills, with many focused on protecting critical infrastructure, including in the health and energy sectors

  • Experts said regardless of which party is in control of Congress next year, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle will continue to collaborate and take actions on cybersecurity issues. 
  • “Cybersecurity is a priority for the nation and it’s a bipartisan issue,” said Jamil Jaffer, founder and executive director of the National Security Institute at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School. 
  • “I think everyone wants the country to be well-protected in the cyber domain,” he added. 

However, Jaffer told The Hill last week that if Republicans won majorities in the House or Senate, they would likely push for less government regulation and instead advocate for market incentives designed to encourage the private sector to invest in cybersecurity. 

Read more here.

Layoffs hit Amazon

Amazon is planning to lay off approximately 10,000 people from its workforce this week, following the steps of other major tech companies, according to a report by The New York Times. 

The job cuts will be focused in the company’s technology and corporate departments, which include its retail and human resources divisions and its devices division, which manufactures the popular virtual voice assistant Alexa.  

The company also froze hiring in multiple departments such as its cloud computing and corporate division. The reported layoffs is expected to be the largest in the company’s history.  

The Alexa and Echo devices lost $5 billion in sales in 2018, a source told the Times. The reported layoffs would affect at least three percent of the company’s corporate workforce and less than one percent of its entire global workforce, which is around more than 1.5 million employees. 

Read more here.  

TWITTER BLUE (LIKELY TO) RETURN SOON

Elon Musk said on Saturday that Twitter Blue, which allows users to pay for a subscription that gives them a verified blue check mark, will “probably” return next week after it was taken down amid chaos from accounts impersonating public figures.  

Musk, who serves as CEO, said in a response to another user on Twitter that the service would return by the end of next week.  

  • The subscription has been part of a slew of changes Musk is making to the social media platform after his purchase of the company went through last month.
  • He soon after announced plans to charge users $7.99 per month for Twitter verification, but the paid check mark did not require users to verify their identities. 

Read more here

Hiring up ahead of Section 230 battle

Chamber of Progress hired a new director of legal advocacy with expertise in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act as the tech industry gears up for a year of battles on all fronts over the controversial provision.  

The group, which names Amazon, Google, Meta and Apple among its corporate partners, announced Monday Jess Miers will lead its legal advocacy. Miers was most recently a part of Google’s public policy team.  

Miers is joining Chamber of Progress in the role as the industry group prepares to fight challenges to Section 230, which provides a legal liability shield of tech companies over content posted by third parties, from the right and left — and on the federal and state levels.  

“We’re no longer just fighting a couple of proposals in Congress as to how to change Section 230. We’re fighting 48, 50 proposals, all differing from each other,” Miers told The Hill.  

The patchwork of state laws could make it difficult for providers to comply with contradictory laws in different states, she said.  

  • For example, Texas and Florida passed laws that hinder social media companies’ ability to remove content and users that violate platforms’ rules. Both have been challenged in court and at least one is expected to wind up before the Supreme Court. The Chamber of Progress joined industry and advocacy groups in filing amici briefs to the Supreme Court in May in opposition to the Texas law.  
  • Meanwhile, California passed a social media transparency law earlier this year that seeks to crack down on hate speech by compelling platforms to publicly disclose their policies about hate speech and disinformation. Although California’s law comes at the battle from the opposite force of Republican states, it’s facing similar pushback from the tech industry.  

Miers said she anticipates seeing more states “take on similar approaches as California” and is interested in the ways the Chamber of Progress can mimic and expand on the legal advocacy the group did in Texas and Florida.

MARKEY TO MUSK: ‘FIX YOUR COMPANIES OR CONGRESS WILL’ 

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) clashed with billionaire Elon Musk in an online exchange Sunday, telling the world’s richest man to “fix your companies or Congress will” after Musk mocked the senator’s complaints about Twitter. 

On Friday, Markey sent a letter to Musk asking for more information about how accounts on Twitter are being verified and accusing the social media company’s new owner of allowing the spread of disinformation and “putting profits over people.” 

Markey sent the letter to Musk after his account was copied by a Washington Post reporter testing how easy it was to impersonate notable figures. The fake Markey account, which was set up with the senator’s permission, was later suspended. 

Musk replied Sunday to Markey’s tweet sharing the letter with a mocking jab at the senator. 

“Perhaps it is because your real account sounds like a parody?” Musk wrote. “And why does your [personal profile] have a mask!?” 

Read more here.

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: Is the era of tech bros and techno-libertarianism over? 

Notable links from around the web: 

How North Korea became a mastermind of crypto cyber crime (The Financial Times / Christian Davies and Scott Chipolina)  

TikTok Builds Itself Into an Ads Juggernaut (The New York Times / Kalley Huang, Isabella Simonetti and Tiffany Hsu)  

🚌 Lighter click: It’s magic

ICYMI: Artemis plans forge forward  

NASA announced on Friday that it still plans to launch Artemis I, a moon-orbiting mission, next week despite the landfall of Hurricane Nicole just south of the Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Fla. 

Artemis I, which includes NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, is set to launch early Wednesday morning. 

The agency claimed that it conducted “thorough assessments” of the launch complex following Nicole’s arrival on Thursday as well as “closely inspecting” the spacecraft. 

Read more here.  

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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