Hillicon Valley: Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC | Lawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cyber during summit with Putin | TSA working on additional security regulations following Colonial Pipeline hack

Hillicon Valley: Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC | Lawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cyber during summit with Putin | TSA working on additional security regulations following Colonial Pipeline hack
© Washington Examiner/Pool

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

Prominent tech critic Lina Khan was named chair of the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday, following the bipartisan vote confirming her to the agency. Meanwhile, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle made the case for President BidenJoe BidenCDC chief clarifies vaccine comments: 'There will be no nationwide mandate' Overnight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it Biden urges local governments to stave off evictions MORE to put recent cyberattacks high on his agenda to discuss with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinDemocrats find a tax Republicans can support Biden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on Biden says Russia spreading misinformation ahead of 2022 elections MORE during their meeting this week, and a top TSA official teased a new cybersecurity directive for pipeline companies.  


NEW CHAIR ON THE BLOCK: Lina Khan, a prominent critic of Big Tech, has been named chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a White House spokesperson confirmed Tuesday.

The update comes just hours after the Senate voted to confirm the 32-year-old to the agency in a 69-28 vote. 

The designation as chair will give Khan greater authority at the FTC, at a time when the agency is pursuing an antitrust case against Facebook and as lawmakers look to revamp laws to give the agency greater authority to rein in the market power of tech giants.

Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee Chair Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Democrats urge tech CEOs to combat Spanish disinformation | Amazon fined 6M by EU regulators Democrats urge tech CEOs to combat Spanish disinformation Bill would honor Ginsburg, O'Connor with statues at Capitol MORE (D-Minn.) announced Khan was named chair during a hearing on competition and innovation in home device technology. 

"An interesting development from an antitrust standpoint," Klobuchar said. 

Read more here



Bipartisan backing: Although progressives rallied behind boosting Khan for the spot, she has also earned support from some Republicans. The Senate voted 72-25 Monday night to end debate on her nomination.

Notably, Republican Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David Hawley228 Republican lawmakers urge Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade Trio of Senate Republicans urges Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade Atlanta-area spa shootings suspect set to be arraigned MORE (Mo.), a leading GOP Big Tech critic, voted in favor of Khan’s nomination. Hawley has proposed his own bill that would revamp antitrust laws, with a target on the tech giants. 

Her confirmation to the FTC comes as lawmakers are pushing forward with proposals that seek to rein in the power of the top tech companies. 

But despite the bipartisan vote, the confirmation is facing pushback from within the tech industry. 

Read more about the vote


‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE THE SUMMIT: Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle on Tuesday urged President Biden to use his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to strongly push back against recent Russia-linked cyberattacks. 

Biden is slated to meet with Putin in Switzerland on Wednesday in the first in-person meeting between the leaders since Biden took office, and White House officials have said cybersecurity concerns are on the agenda. 

It will also be the first meeting between Biden and Putin since the discovery of the SolarWinds hack in December, which U.S. intelligence agencies assessed was likely carried out by Russian government-backed hackers. 

Nine federal agencies and around 100 private sector groups were compromised by the hack, which was ongoing for most of 2020. Biden announced a sweeping set of sanctions against Russia earlier this year in retaliation.

“We can't afford another incident like SolarWinds,” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerDemocrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire Democrats join GOP in pressuring Biden over China, virus origins Senators say they have deal on 'major issues' in infrastructure talks MORE (D-Va.) tweeted Tuesday. “It's my hope that in tomorrow's meeting, @POTUS brings up December's cyberattack and makes clear that any exploitation of compromised networks to produce harmful effects will prompt an appropriate and proportional response.”

Read more about lawmaker concerns here.


INCOMING REGULATIONS: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is working on an additional cybersecurity directive for pipeline companies in the wake of the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline.

“We are continuing to develop additional measures for pipeline companies, and we are developing now a second security directive which would have the force of a regulation,” Sonya Proctor, the assistant administrator for Surface Operations at TSA, testified during a hearing held by two House Homeland Security Committee subcommittees on Tuesday.

The new directive will be the second issued by TSA, with the agency rolling out a directive last month that required pipeline owners and operators to report cybersecurity incidents within 12 hours of discovery to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). It also increased coordination between pipeline owners and both CISA and TSA. 

Both directives are being put together by TSA in the wake of the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline last month. The company provides 45 percent of the East Coast’s fuel supply, and major gas shortages were seen in several states when Colonial was forced to shut down the entire pipeline for nearly a week to protect operational controls from attack. 

Read more about the upcoming directive here.


MAJOR UNMASKING: Researchers at the intelligence firm Logically said Tuesday that they have identified an influential figure in the QAnon conspiracy community who pushed dangerous narratives about coronavirus and child trafficking.

In a new report, researchers linked the Twitter handle “qthewakeup” to Jeremy “J.J.” Sicotte, a documentary filmmaker.


The account amassed over 140,000 followers on Twitter before being banned during one of the platform’s sweeps of QAnon-related accounts last year.

Sicotte denied taking part in the account when reached for comment by Logically. The Hill was unable to reach Sicotte.

Read more about the report


PROBE ACROSS THE POND: The British competition watchdog is investigating whether Apple and Google’s dominance in the mobile ecosystem is hurting consumers, the group announced Tuesday. 

The United Kingdom's Competition and Markets Authority said it will look at whether the California-based companies' "effective duopoly" in the mobile ecosystem is stifling competition in a way that leads to reduced innovation and consumers paying higher prices for devices, apps and other services.

The watchdog's study will also look at any effects the companies' market power has over other businesses, including app developers. 


Read more about the investigation


THIS SEEMS FINE: Verizon and one of the country’s largest water agencies were reportedly among the groups targeted in the hack of Pulse Connect Secure devices that was blamed on China and came to light in April.

Verizon told The Associated Press that it had found a Pulse-related data breach in one of its labs but added that it was quickly isolated and that no data or customer information was believed to have been stolen.

A spokesman for the telecommunications giant, Rich Young, said, “We know that bad actors try to compromise our systems.”

Read more about the hacking incident here. 


AFFIRMED IN THE EU: Europe’s top court on Tuesday affirmed the power of national data regulators to pursue cases against major tech companies even if they have their headquarters elsewhere on the continent.

The EU Court of Justice’s ruling means that Facebook, Google, Twitter and Apple — all of which have their European bases in Ireland — may face investigations from more bloc members under certain circumstances.

The decision came in a case over a probe by Belgian authorities against Facebook claiming that the social media giant did not adequately notify users about data collection and use.

Read more about the ruling


NEW COUNCIL ON THE BLOCK: The United States and the European Union (EU) on Tuesday formally established a Trade and Technology Council (TTC) to coordinate on critical technology issues such as developing semiconductors, researching emerging fields and securing supply chains. 

The TTC was established as part of the U.S.-EU summit held Tuesday in Brussels and is intended to serve as a vehicle to compete with China on emerging technology issues.

The nations committed in the official summit statement to driving “digital transformation that spurs trade and investment, strengthens our technological and industrial leadership, boosts innovation, and protects and promotes critical and emerging technologies and infrastructure.”

“We plan to cooperate on the development and deployment of new technologies based on our shared democratic values, including respect for human rights, and that encourages compatible standards and regulations,” the statement read. 

Read more about the group here. 


$40B FOR BROADBAND: Legislation that would provide $40 billion to expand broadband access is expected to be introduced Tuesday in what will likely be one of the largest bipartisan proposals aimed at addressing the digital divide, The Washington Post reported.

The bill — the Broadband Reform and Investment to Drive Growth in the Economy Act, or Bridge Act — is being co-sponsored by Sens. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetLawmakers can't reconcile weakening the SALT cap with progressive goals How Sen. Graham can help fix the labor shortage with commonsense immigration reform For true American prosperity, make the child tax credit permanent MORE (D-Colo.), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanOn The Money: Justice Department says Trump's tax returns should be released | Democrats fall short of votes for extending eviction ban Photos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris Senate starts infrastructure debate amid 11th-hour drama MORE (R-Ohio) and Angus KingAngus KingNew Senate bill would hurt charities and those they serve Overnight Health Care: CDC advises vaccinated to wear masks in high-risk areas | Biden admin considering vaccine mandate for federal workers Four senators call on Becerra to back importation of prescription drugs from Canada MORE (I-Maine). The senators cited the COVID-19 pandemic as a major reason for needing to expand broadband access.

Bennet predicted that demand for easier access would continue to grow after the pandemic is over as hybrid work and school environments become more common.

“I think it’s very exciting as long as everyone in the country has access to broadband,” Bennet told the Post. “If they don’t, we’re going to see the digital divide creating a greater divide than what already exists between kids living in poverty and more affluent kids.”

Read more here


INTERNET FOR SALE: The inventor behind the original source code for the World Wide Web is planning on having it auctioned as a nonfungible token (NFT) to secure digital ownership over the code considered by many to be one of the most significant inventions of all time. 

Tim Berners-Lee unveiled the plans Tuesday, with the official auction page by auction house Sotheby’s stating that bids starting at $1,000 will be accepted from June 23 to June 30. 

The auction, titled “This Changed Everything,” will allow individuals to bid on the original time-stamped files containing the source code for the application invented by Berners-Lee in 1989. 

Read more here

Lighter click: Here we go again

An op-ed to chew on: Biden’s cyber budget good, but still insufficient to meet the threats 



Airbnb Is Spending Millions of Dollars to Make Nightmares Go Away (Bloomberg / Olivia Carville)

Amazon’s Black employees say the company’s HR department is failing them (Recode / Jason Del Rey)

Ransomware Gang Turns to Revenge Porn (Motherboard / Joseph Cox)