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Hillicon Valley: Robinhood raises $2.4 billion over weekend after GameStop fury | New State Dept. cyber bureau stirs concern | Intel agency warns of threats from China collecting sensitive US health data

Hillicon Valley: Robinhood raises $2.4 billion over weekend after GameStop fury | New State Dept. cyber bureau stirs concern | Intel agency warns of threats from China collecting sensitive US health data
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Welcome to Hillicon Valley, The Hill's newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. If you don’t already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter with this LINK.

Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.

ROBINHOOD REBOUND: The day trading app pulled in $2.4 billion from investors over the weekend, its chief financial officer said in a blog post Monday.

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Robinhood received harsh criticism last week after blocking users from purchasing stocks from Gamestop, AMC and Blackberry, companies which were targeted by the Reddit subforum r/WallStreetBets. 

The app’s executives have blamed the pause on needing to put more money into its clearinghouse, a problem this funding round should resolve.

Read more. 

CYBER CONCERNS AT STATE: A newly established State Department bureau focused on cybersecurity and emerging technologies could give the Biden administration a launch pad for strengthening ties with allies after a massive Russian hack on the federal government. 

Yet the office is also facing pushback from both sides of the aisle amid concerns that it was rushed into creation by the Trump administration, and that it may make matters worse at an agency that has been without a dedicated cyber office for almost four years.

“We have really starved this area of cyber diplomacy, and we should be leading on this ... and this ties our hands a bit,” Christopher Painter, the former State Department cyber coordinator under both the Obama and Trump administrations, told The Hill on Friday. 

Concern over the office is also widespread on Capitol Hill. House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulOvernight Defense: Biden makes his Afghanistan decision Biden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  Biden to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 MORE (R-Texas) told The Hill that he intends to work with committee Chairman Gregory MeeksGregory Weldon MeeksEU politician calls for U.S. to sanction Russian gas pipeline Lawmakers want Biden to pressure Saudi Arabia to end Yemen blockade Iran talks set up delicate dance for Biden team MORE (D-N.Y.) to reintroduce a bill that would set up a cyber office at the State Department structured in the best way to meet cyber needs. 

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Read more about the controversy here. 

 

CHINA TARGETS HEALTH DATA: The National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) on Monday warned that Chinese efforts to target and steal sensitive U.S. health data, including DNA, have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“For years, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has collected large healthcare data sets from the U.S. and nations around the globe, through both legal and illegal means, for purposes only it can control,” the NCSC wrote in a fact sheet. “The PRC’s collection of healthcare data from America poses equally serious risks, not only to the privacy of Americans, but also to the economic and national security of the U.S.”

The agency noted that these efforts had increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, with Chinese biotech group BGI offering COVID-19 testing kits to the majority of countries, and establishing 18 testing labs over the past six months alone, none in the United States. 

The NCSC wrote that U.S. health data was an attractive target for the Chinese government due to the diversity of the population, and because of the nation’s comparably lax safeguards for personal data. 

Read more about the concerns here. 

 

NO BIAS FOUND: Republicans have leveled attacks accusing social media giants of censoring content with an anti-conservative bias. A report released Monday found those claims aren’t backed by any evidence. 

“The claim of anti-conservative animus is itself a form of disinformation: a falsehood with no reliable evidence to support it. No trustworthy large-scale studies have determined that conservative content is being removed for ideological reasons or that searches are being manipulated to favor liberal interests,” the report released by New York University stated.  

The allegation of censorship has been key in Republicans’ attacks on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects social media platforms from liability associated with third-party content posted on their sites.

The report recommends the Biden administration work with Congress to update Section 230, as well as create a new Digital Regulatory Agency that would be charged with enforcing the revised law. 

Read more about the report here

 

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ASKING PERMISSION: Facebook said Monday it started testing prompts asking permission from users on its platforms using Apple’s operating system to use their data for personalized ads. 

Facebook’s rollout of its prompts come as the company prepares for an Apple update that will force the social media giant to get users' consent before tracking their data across platforms. 

Facebook’s notifications ask users if they want to allow the app to track their activity to “support businesses that rely on ads to reach customers,” further building on the company's push to cast Apple’s impending privacy feature update as anti-small business. 

Read more here

 

GOOGLE SETTLES: The Silicon Valley giant agreed pay roughly $2.6 million to settle allegations of pay discrimination against women and hiring discrimination against female and Asian applicants.

As part of the “early resolution” conciliation agreement  made public Monday Google will also review its pay and hiring practices.

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Read more.



Lighter click:  Snow much fun at the zoo

An op-ed to chew on: New evidence that Big Tech is 'MIA' on climate policy

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

Facebook Knew Calls for Violence Plagued ‘Groups,’ Now Plans Overhaul (Wall Street Journal / Jeff Horwitz)

Twitter Temporarily Blocked Accounts Critical Of The Indian Government (BuzzFeed News / Pranav Dixit)

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She exposed tech’s impact on people of color. Now, she’s on Biden’s team. (Protocol / Emily Birnbaum)

‘Ethical’ Instacart Alternative Shut Down Facebook Group Where Workers Protested Pay Changes (Motherboard / Lauren Kaori Gurley)

The Capitol riot revealed a political chasm among American Jews, who are split over Trumpism and the far-right (Insider / Rachel E. Greenspan)

Silver gets boost on r/WallStreetBets hype but scope will hang on attention span (S&P Global / Jacob Holzman and Kip Keen)