Week ahead: Ex-Yahoo, Equifax CEOs to testify on data breaches | Tech, lawmakers eye compromise on sex trafficking bill | Focus on election security

Week ahead: Ex-Yahoo, Equifax CEOs to testify on data breaches | Tech, lawmakers eye compromise on sex trafficking bill | Focus on election security
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Ex-Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is slated to take the hot seat on Wednesday at a hearing on the massive data breaches at her former company and at credit reporting firm Equifax.

Mayer will testify before the Senate Commerce Committee, which is looking into how the companies handled those hacks and what steps can be taken to protect consumers.

The breaches at Yahoo happened on Mayer's watch in 2013 and 2014. At first the web company said 1 billion accounts were affected before discovering that virtually all Yahoo accounts, about 3 billion, had been compromised.


Mayer agreed to attend the hearing after being threatened with a subpoena by the committee, sources familiar with the matter told The Hill. 

Representatives from Verizon, which now owns parts of Yahoo, will testify alongside Mayer, as well as current and former executives from Equifax. The Equifax hack compromised the personal information of 145.5 million Americans.

Former Equifax CEO Richard Smith has testified before a number of congressional panels, and apologized to lawmakers and the public for the breach.

Lawmakers are also pushing ahead in the coming week on a contentious bill opposed by some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley.

On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on legislation from Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanRomney undecided on authorizing subpoenas for GOP Obama-era probes Congress needs to prioritize government digital service delivery House passes B bill to boost Postal Service MORE (R-Ohio) and Richard Blumenthal's (D-Conn.) to crack down on online sex trafficking. The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 (SESTA) would amend section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which exempts internet firms like Facebook, Twitter and Google from being legally liable for user content posted on their websites.

The bill has internet giants pushing back. They say the large volume of user content on their platforms is impossible for them to control.

Google has mobilized its strong lobbying team to influence Congress against the legislation, internal documents show.

Tech companies and their trade group, the Internet Association (IA), argue they are already taking steps to prevent sex trafficking on their platforms and worry Portman and Blumenthal's bill could lead to them in the future being legally liable for other types of bad content.

Lawmakers have acknowledged those concerns but say they have few other options for countering sex trafficking online.

But both sides may be heading toward a deal.

The Internet Association on Friday said it is endorsing a compromise version, but didn't provide details.

"We look forward to working with the House and Senate as SESTA moves through the legislative process to ensure that our members are able to continue their work to fight exploitation," said IA President Michael Beckerman in a statement.

Opponents of the bill have one prominent ally in the upper chamber. Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenGOP senator blocks Schumer resolution aimed at Biden probe as tensions run high Republican Senators raise concerns over Oracle-TikTok deal 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 MORE (D-Ore.), who helped write the Section 230 language, says the bill is the wrong way to fight sex trafficking.

"Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is widely viewed as the legal basis for all of social media and it has been vital to the expansion of affordable internet access throughout the country," Wyden said in August. "It is yet another example of the technical ignorance of Congress threatening the jobs, lives and economic opportunities of millions of Americans."

Unlike the contentious hearings on Russian interference, tech companies are not sending any of their own executives to the Wednesday hearing.

Abigail Slater, general counsel of the Internet Association, will testify. Other witnesses include Yiota Souras, senior vice president and general counsel at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

The tech world will also be watching in the coming week for more details on the Twitter contractor who took down President TrumpDonald John TrumpHR McMaster says president's policy to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is 'unwise' Cast of 'Parks and Rec' reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response MORE's account.

The account was down for eleven minutes on Thursday.

The incident raised questions about the security of the president's account and whether any laws were broken. Twitter said Friday they were putting in place new steps to prevent it from happening again.

The sweeping Republican tax reform plan unveiled on Thursday will dominate the coming week on Capitol Hill, with the House Ways and Means Committee planning to begin marking it up on Monday. But there are also a host of tech-related hearings, as well.

On Tuesday, the House Homeland Security Committee's panel on emergency preparedness will hold a hearing on the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate at 10 a.m.

At the same time, the Senate Commerce technology subcommittee will host a hearing on advancing the Internet of Things in rural areas.

Also on Tuesday at 2 p.m., the House Judiciary internet subcommittee will hold a hearing on intellectual property rules.

Two House Oversight subcommittees will hold a joint hearing on voting machine cybersecurity on Wednesday at 10 a.m.

In the Senate, lawmakers have unveiled legislation that would help states beef up the cybersecurity of their election systems.

The House Science subcommittee on space will hear an update on NASA's exploration systems on Thursday at 9:30 a.m.


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