Hillicon Valley: TikTok, Oracle seek Trump's approval as clock winds down | Hackers arrested for allegedly defacing U.S. websites after death of Iranian general | 400K people register to vote on Snapchat

Hillicon Valley: TikTok, Oracle seek Trump's approval as clock winds down | Hackers arrested for allegedly defacing U.S. websites after death of Iranian general | 400K people register to vote on Snapchat
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UPDATE ON THE ORACLE, TIKTOK DEAL: Oracle and TikTok are racing to win approval from the Trump administration before a Sunday deadline in a deal that would allow the wildly popular video app to continue operating in the United States.


The broad contours of the deal, expected to be formally announced this week, would involve moving TikTok’s global headquarters to the U.S., while allowing Chinese parent company ByteDance to remain a majority shareholder, with Oracle taking a minority stake, the Financial Times reported Tuesday afternoon.

The previous day, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden argues for legislative patience, urgent action amid crisis On The Money: Senate confirms Yellen as first female Treasury secretary | Biden says he's open to tighter income limits for stimulus checks | Administration will look to expedite getting Tubman on bill Senate confirms Yellen as first female Treasury secretary MORE confirmed aspects of the pending agreement during an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” noting that the new headquarters could create up to 20,000 jobs.

Still, the deal is likely to raise concerns over how much control ByteDance is actually giving up, whether issues of disinformation and censorship on the app will be fully addressed, and how user data will be handled and secured under the restructuring.

Close ties: It’s also expected to raise eyebrows given President TrumpDonald TrumpBlinken holds first calls as Biden's secretary of State Senators discussing Trump censure resolution Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' MORE’s close ties with Oracle executives like Larry Ellison, the tech giant’s co-founder and executive chairman who hosted a fundraiser for the president earlier this year.

“We’re going to make a decision pretty soon,” Trump told reporters Tuesday. “I have a high respect for Larry Ellison. He’s somebody I know, he’s been really a terrific guy for a long time. We’re going to take a look. I heard they’re very close to a deal.”

Oracle CEO Safra Catz was part of Trump's transition team in 2016 and was reportedly floated as a potential Cabinet member.

The company's D.C. top lobbyist, Ken Glueck, was also on Trump's transition team.


Jordan Libowitz, communications director at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said awarding a company that has publicly backed the president is part of a pattern with the Trump administration.

“Oracle actually seems like a pretty obvious pick in Trump world because of the support Larry Ellison has given President Trump,” Libowitz said.

Capitol Hill weighs in: Some Democratic lawmakers have raised similar concerns about the deal.

“I’m waiting to see all the details, but it’s hard to imagine this is anything but a payoff from China to one of Donald Trump’s major campaign fundraisers,” Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenWhat the shift in Senate control means for marijuana policy reform Hawley files ethics counter-complaint against seven Democratic senators Hillicon Valley: Intelligence agency gathers US smartphone location data without warrants, memo says | Democrats seek answers on impact of Russian hack on DOJ, courts | Airbnb offers Biden administration help with vaccine distribution MORE (D-Ore.) said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “Making Oracle a middleman won’t protect Americans against Chinese government influence, and to make matters worse, Oracle has an awful record of harvesting and selling Americans’ private data to anyone with a credit card.”

Read more here. 

HACKERS CALLED OUT: The Justice Department indicted two men on Tuesday for allegedly defacing dozens of U.S.-hosted websites in retaliation for the death of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani in a U.S. strike earlier this year. 

Iranian national Behzad Mohammadzadeh and Palestinian national Marwan Abusrour were indicted for working together to allegedly target and deface over 50 websites hosted in the U.S., including several linked to an unnamed Massachusetts company, with the defendants allegedly replacing the text of the websites with a picture of Soleimani and the Iranian flag along with the message “Down with America.” 

Mohammadzadeh and Abusrour are alleged to have conspired together to target and hack vulnerable U.S. websites, and were linked to earlier ongoing attacks on websites around the world prior to the death of Soleimani. 

The Justice Department noted that “co-conspirators known and unknown” were also involved, and that Mohammadzadeh and Abusrour are believed to be living in Iran and Palestine respectively, but are wanted by U.S. authorities. 

The two men were charged with intentionally conspiring to commit damage to a protected computer and for damaging a protected computer, with the charges added together carrying a jail sentence of up to 15 years and a $500,000 fine. 

“The hackers victimized innocent third parties in a campaign to retaliate for the military action that killed Soleimani, a man behind countless acts of terror against Americans and others that the Iranian regime opposed,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said in a statement. “Their misguided, illegal actions in support of a rogue, destabilizing regime will come back to haunt them, as they are now fugitives from justice.”

Read more here. 

SNAPCHAT GETS OUT THE VOTE: More than 400,000 people have registered to vote this year through the Snapchat app, according to information shared by the company. 

Snapchat’s “Register to Vote” portal states that 407,024 people have registered to vote on the app as of Tuesday afternoon. A spokesperson for the company confirmed the number to The Hill. 


Seven weeks out from the election, the number is already nearly as many voters as the social media app helped register to vote when it rolled out a similar program ahead of the 2018 midterms. According to Snapchat, 450,000 people registered to vote through the app two years ago and more than 50 percent of them cast ballots. 

The Snapchat app now allows users to register to vote with a feature put in place in partnership with TurboVote.

Read more here. 

TWITTER’S NEW ELECTION HUB: Twitter announced Tuesday that it is adding an election information hub to the top of American users' explore pages.

The hub will include news in both English and Spanish in the form of moments curated by either Twitter or news outlets.

It will also include livestreams of major election events, including debates.

Many of these features were available already, but will now it will all be localized in the hub.


Twitter will also be creating a series of nonpartisan PSAs about elections, including information about voter registration and absentee voting.

Read more here. 

UBER GETS IN ON THE GAME TOO: Eligible voters will be able to register to vote and request mail-in ballots through the Uber app, as well as receive information on and discounted rides to and from polling places, the company announced Tuesday. 

Uber is partnering with TurboVote to help “riders, eaters, drivers and delivery people” register to vote or request a mail-in ballot through the Uber and Uber Eats apps, according to the announcement. 

The new feature is part of Uber’s push to make sure every eligible citizen has access to voting, said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

"We hope that by giving people the ability to easily register to vote and request an absentee ballot via the Uber and Uber Eats apps, independent workers — and everyone who uses our platform — will have a stronger voice in our democracy,” Khosrowshahi said in a statement. 

“I know that Uber is uniquely positioned to help move people to the polls, so over the course of the next two months, we’ll work to ensure every American citizen, regardless of the barriers they face, can cast their vote,” the CEO added. 


The company said it will also offer discounted rides to and from the polls for users to limit transportation as a barrier for voting. 

Read more here. 

FREEZING ACCOUNTS WITH THE KARDASHIANS: Kim Kardashian WestKimberly (Kim) Noel Kardashian WestLil Wayne gets 11th hour Trump pardon 2020's top political celebrity moments Trump pardons draw criticism for benefiting political allies MORE, who sits atop a social media empire, says she's "freezing" her Facebook and Instagram accounts to combat misinformation that "undermines our democracy."

The reality TV star tweeted Tuesday that she can no longer "sit by and stay silent" and plans to temporarily suspend her accounts the following day.

Kardashian West, 39, has been dubbed the "queen of social media," with a staggering 188 million Instagram followers and more than 29 million fans on Facebook.

Facebook has faced increasing pressure to rein in hate speech. An independent review released in July criticized the social media giant for failing to develop a mechanism for protecting civil rights and for a generally hands-off approach towards hate speech, even in cases of violent posts.

The organization that Kardashian West tweeted about, Stop Hate for Profit, describes itself as an "ongoing campaign to hold social media companies accountable for hate on their platforms."

Read more here. 

Lighter click: Very important, share to save a life

An op-ed to chew on: U.S. must demand equal access to Russian airwaves


Inspiring: Local Uber Driver Makes $100k A Year Driving 84 Hours A Week (Motherboard / Edward Ongweso Jr.)

Buying Myself Back: When does a model own her own image? (The Cut / Emily Ratajkowski)

Everything Apple Announced Today, From Watches to Home Workouts (Wired /  Boone Ashworth and Michael Calore)

Planes and soldiers in a patriotic, pro-Trump ad were stock images of Russians (The New York Times / Glenn Thrush)