Overnight Cybersecurity

Hillicon Valley — Antitrust bill unites unlikely tech forces

Tech industry groups and civil society organizations alike joined together to urge Congress to keep a journalism antitrust bill out of must-pass defense legislation.  

Meanwhile, we’ll break down how Elon Musk’s vision for so-called free speech platform was put to the test when Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, tweeted an image of a swastika.

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 KagubareSign up here or in the box below.

Tech groups tell Congress to back off journalism bill 

Groups normally at odds over tech policy joined forces Monday to tell Congress to keep a journalism antitrust bill out of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).   

The joint backlash from groups representing tech giants and their critics concerns the Journalism Competition Preservation Act (JCPA), which would allow news outlets to collectively negotiate with dominant tech platforms for compensation to distribute their content.   

Tech industry groups launched ad campaigns Monday ramping up their criticism of the legislation.   

  • NetChoice launched a six-figure digital and TV ad campaign in the Washington, D.C., area against the bill, arguing the bill is part of Democrats’ “dangerous plan” to “bail out their allies in the liberal media.” The group’s ads are set to air on Fox News.   
  • The Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) separately launched a 30-second digital ad opposing the bill with a broader message that the proposal would “make misinformation harder to fight.”   
  • Meta went so far as to threaten to remove news from its platform if the bill is passed as part of the broader national security legislation.   

Meanwhile, dozens of civil society organizations including the ACLU, Public Knowledge and Free Press wrote to Congressional leaders urging them to keep the JCPA out of the NDAA or any other omnibus legislation.   

Read more here.  

Ye tests Musk’s ‘free speech’ limits 

Elon Musk’s vision for a Twitter that allows any and all content was put to the test late last week by rapper Ye’s tweet featuring a swastika.  

Musk has forged ahead with his plans to create a so-called free speech platform in the month since he took over Twitter as part of a $44 billion acquisition — removing the COVID-19 misinformation policy, cutting key staff and replatforming banned accounts.

But his decision to suspend Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, highlights the tightrope Musk is walking between appeasing his supporters who welcome his “free speech” vision and running a viable social media site. 

  • “I think [Musk] saw a moment to try and work the room to say, ‘look what I did. I stopped the swastika,’” said Angelo Carusone, president and CEO of the left-leaning watchdog group Media Matters for America.  
  • The decision was made in an ad hoc manner and with special treatment for Ye, Carusone said. Before he was suspended, Ye tweeted a screenshot with a text from Musk saying, “Sorry, but you have gone too far. This is not love.” 
     
  • “This isn’t a system-wide thing and it doesn’t change the fact that there’s no policy framework in place or enforcement mechanism on cracking down on this type of hate,” Carusone said. 

Read more here

MUSK DEFENDS CONSTITUTION OVER TRUMP’S COMMENTS 

Twitter CEO Elon Musk blasted former President Trump’s call to terminate the Constitution over his unfounded claims of mass electoral fraud in the 2020 presidential election. 

“The Constitution is greater than any President. End of story,” Musk wrote on Twitter, pinning the tweet to the top of his profile. 

Trump on Saturday wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social, that the Constitution should be terminated over his unfounded fraud claims. 

“A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great ‘Founders’ did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!” Trump wrote. 

The post led to widespread condemnation from the White House, Democrats and some in the GOP. 

Read more here

MARKEY ACCUSES MUSK OF EVADING HIM 

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said that Elon Musk still has not replied to his request for transparency into Twitter’s verification process, after the senator allowed a Washington Post reporter to impersonate him using Twitter Blue. 

Markey sent Musk a letter on Nov. 11 asking the new Twitter owner to explain how the company would combat impersonation accounts. 

“I said to Mr. Musk that he had to have a system that guaranteed that when someone was speaking that it was that person,” Markey said at a Hill event on Friday. “He has not yet sent back to me what the solution is.”  

Markey asked Musk in the letter to respond by Nov. 25.  

The senator has argued that Twitter poses a risk to public safety if it can not effectively stop individuals and corporations from being impersonated on the platform. 

Read more here

CHINESE HACKERS STOLE MILLIONS IN COVID RELIEF: SECRET SERVICE

Hackers from a cybercriminal group linked to the Chinese government stole at least $20 million from the U.S. in COVID-19 relief benefits, the first known instance of foreign, state-sponsored actors tied to pandemic fraud, Secret Service officials told NBC News

The officials said that Chengdu-based cyber group APT41 was a “notable player” in its hundreds of open investigations probing pandemic fraud from both transnational and domestic players. 

APT41 is a “Chinese state-sponsored, cyber threat group that is highly adept at conducting espionage missions and financial crimes for personal gain,” Secret Service officials told the outlet. 

Since the rollout of pandemic relief money in 2020, billions have been stolen by fraudulent actors across the U.S. and in other parts of the world through the Paycheck Protection Program or expanded unemployment insurance. 

The Secret Service said in August that it has recovered $286 million in stolen pandemic relief money. 

Read more here

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: For once, the FTC is considering a merger that helps the workers 

Notable links from around the web: 

NATO prepares for cyber war (Politico / Maggie Miller) 

Elon Musk, Matt Taibbi, and a Very Modern Media Maelstrom (The New York Times / Michael Grynbaum) 

A globally critical chip firm is driving a wedge between the U.S. and Netherlands over China tech policy (CNBC / Arjun Kharpal) 

📱 Lighter click: C’mon, we all do it

One more thing: NZ to make tech firms pay for news

New Zealand’s government proposed new legislation Sunday that would require major tech companies to pay for local news content that they share on their respective platforms.  

In a news release, New Zealand’s Broadcasting and Media Minister Willie Jackson said the proposed legislation will be based on similar laws implemented in Canada and Australia and will be designed to act as an incentive for digital platforms to reach voluntary deals with local news outlets. 

“It’s not fair that the big digital platforms like Google and Meta get to host and share local news for free. It costs to produce the news and it’s only fair they pay,” Jackson said in a statement. 

“New Zealand news media, particularly small regional and community newspapers, are struggling to remain financially viable as more advertising moves online. So it is critical that those benefiting from their news content actually pay for it.” 

Jackson cited how lagging income at media companies has led to a significant decline in the number of journalists at news outlets and reduced production of local news content. 

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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