Overnight Technology

Overnight Tech: Lawmakers dig into internet security | FCC drops agenda items | Twitter cracks down on alt right | Intel shakeup


CYBERSECURITY ON THE HILL: Cybersecurity concerns are front and center on Capitol Hill.

Lawmakers have held three hearings so far this week and are grappling with how to respond after a summer of hacks and a massive web attack last month.

On Wednesday, John Hanke, the CEO of Niantic and developer of the hit game Pokemon Go, told members of the Senate Commerce Committee that cybersecurity was like “the wild west.”


“We feel like we’re out there alone. There’s not always a sheriff to help out. For small startups it’s a very difficult challenge,” Hanke said, urging for government to do more to help companies with security.

Across Capitol Hill, House Lawmakers also addressed cybersecurity issues during a hearing on last month’s web attack that took down a number of prominent websites. The hearing was focused on the security of internet-connected devices. The October attack hijacked a number of so-called Internet of Things devices.

“The knee-jerk reaction might be to regulate the Internet of Things, and while I am not taking that off the table, the question is whether we need a more holistic solution,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who co-chaired the hearing before his Energy and Commerce subcommittee on communications and technology.

One witness, cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier, told lawmakers that regulators needed to provide security guidelines.

“I fear for the day where every hospital system is down because an IoT [Internet of Things] attack brings it down,” he said.

For more on the hearing, click here.

And in case you missed it, on Tuesday lawmakers discussed the cybersecurity issues posed by autonomous vehicles during a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade. The hearing was generally on the future of self-driving cars, but security concerns rose to the top.

“We’ve already had meetings [with the Department of Homeland Security],” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration head Mark Rosekind told lawmakers. “NHTSA is coordinating with DHS on safety from hacking.”

For more on that hearing, click here.

Please send your tips, comments and stray observations to Ali Breland (abreland@thehill.com) and follow us on Twitter: @alibreland and @HilliconValley.

ALT RIGHT GETS THE BOOT: Twitter is cracking down on accounts belonging to members of the alt-right movement in the wake of Donald Trump‘s victory in the presidential election, USA Today reported Wednesday. The social networking website suspended the accounts of several prominent figures, including Richard Spencer, president of an alt-right think tank. Spencer, who had a verified account, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that Twitter’s action “is corporate Stalinism.” 

Read more here. 

INTEL SHAKEUP: A shakeup among Democrats has positioned Sen. Mark Warner (Va.) as their party’s top voice on the Senate Intelligence Committee, a key role overseeing the nation’s spies and the debate over encryption. Warner, who joined the panel in 2012, ascends to the position following Sen. Dianne Feinstein‘s (D-Calif.) move to replace Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) as ranking member of the Judiciary Committee. Leahy this year opted to become the senior Democrat on the powerful Appropriations Committee.

Read more here.

FAKEOUT: According to BuzzFeed analysis, fake news outperformed real news on Facebook leading up to the election. In the last three months of the campaign the 20 highest-performing fake election stories garnered 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook. Their 20 highest-performing real counterparts only got 7,367,000.

OK, WE’LL FORGET ABOUT IT: The big Federal Communications Commission news of the day is the agency’s decision to drop every high-profile item from the agenda of its monthly meeting on Thursday.

The move came a day after Republicans warned FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to not move on any “controversial” items during the presidential transition.

Republicans have long had a contentious relationship with Wheeler and opposed many of his policies. ArsTechnica has more.

DEMS FIRE BACK: Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) slammed Republicans after the FCC move, saying that their pressure meant that many important items that would benefit the public would not be delayed.

“Blind and visually impaired individuals will suffer because Republicans and their allies on the Commission will not allow a vote to expand the amount of video-described programming available,” Markey said in a statement Wednesday.

“Small business, universities, hospitals, and public safety organizations will suffer because Republicans and their allies on the Commission won’t allow a vote on business data services,” he said.

Click here for more on Markey’s reaction.

SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE?: FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel likely probably has a better than a one in a million chance of getting confirmed for a second term according to top Senate Republican John Thune (R-S.D.)

“I’ve felt for some time we were gonna get that resolved, I still hope that we will,” Thune told Morning Consult on Wednesday.


The FCC will hold its monthly open meeting at 10:30 a.m.


Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is not pleased with the FCC’s move to drop some agenda items after Republican lawmakers and FCC Commissioners called for Chairman Wheeler to not address “controversial” issues.

New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman got the NFL to agree to drop its mandatory minimum price on secondary market ticket sales.

Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn are helping White House staffers find jobs for after President Obama leaves office.

Lawmakers are torn on how to handle Internet of Things security vulnerabilities that led to last months massive cyberattack which took down websites like Twitter and Airbnb.

The CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, will meet with the EU Commissioner on Competition to discuss antitrust concerns.

A security researcher says he’s created a $5 device that can hack locked Apple and Windows computers.

Adm. Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, is directly blaming Russia for the data breaches at the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which he called “a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect.”

Tags Dianne Feinstein Donald Trump Ed Markey Edward Markey John Thune Mark Warner Patrick Leahy

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