Overnight Tech: Tech listens for clues at Sessions hearing | EU weighs expanding privacy rule | Senators blast Backpage execs

Overnight Tech: Tech listens for clues at Sessions hearing | EU weighs expanding privacy rule | Senators blast Backpage execs
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SESSIONS AND TECH: During a marathon confirmation hearing to be attorney general on Tuesday, Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits McCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Overnight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability MORE (R-Ala.) fielded questions on two issues important to Silicon Valley: immigration and privacy.

Sessions reinforced his opposition to DACA or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which defers deportations for some undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and makes them eligible for work permits.

Sessions has previously called for overhauling a program used to bring high-skilled immigrants that is favored by Silicon Valley.


During his hearing Tuesday, Sessions said he would like to

reform America's immigration system reformed from being family based to skills based.

"The immigration flow from almost all of our countries frankly is based on family connections and other visas rather than a skills based program like Canada has today," Sessions told lawmakers.

"I'd like to see it more skills based."

Sessions didn't specify how he'd implement those changes.

At another point in the hearing, he spoke broadly about his concerns over the effect immigration has on the labor force.

"I think if you bring in larger flow of labor than we have jobs for than it does impact adversely the wage prospects and the job prospects for American citizens," Sessions said.

Sessions's testimony also gave privacy advocates reason to be hopeful. Questioned by privacy advocate Sen. Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsManchin threatens 'zero' spending in blowup with Sanders: reports Defense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' MORE (D-Del.), Sessions said he is open working with lawmakers on "the right of individuals to protect data they believe is private."

"I do not have firm and fast opinions on the subject," Sessions said.

Sessions's previous stances on privacy issues sparked concern in Silicon Valley.

The Alabama senator previously opposed Apple's decision not to comply with FBI requests to unlock an iPhone used by the San Bernardino shooters.

Sessions also opposed the USA Freedom Act which stopped the bulk collection of phone records by the NSA and has questioned legal challenges to surveillance programs.

For The Hill's live coverage of Sessions's confirmation hearing, click here.

WHAT ABOUT RUSSIAN HACKING?: Sessions deflected questions regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election, something President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds Ohio Democrat calls Vance an 'ass----' over Baldwin tweet Matt Taibbi says Trump's rhetoric caused public perception of US intelligence services to shift MORE has repeatedly denied affected the outcome. The nominee declined to offer firm positions on the matter saying that he had not been briefed nor spoken with intelligence and that he only seen media reports. The Hill's Joe Uchill has the full story

MERGERS: Sessions's hearing also touched on mergers, another area tech interests are eyeing closely this year.

Trump on the campaign trail said he would oppose the proposed AT&T-Time Warner merger, claiming that it would concentrate too much power in the hands of too few.

But Sessions took a more cautious approach during the hearing.

"It would be wrong to further some other separate discrete agenda that is not reasonably connected to the merger itself," Sessions told lawmakers.


Reports claim Trump still opposes the $85 billion merger.

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

LOAN QUESTIONS: Federal regulators slammed Wall Street banks in regard to a $1.15 billion loan that they helped set up for the ridesharing company, Uber, reports Reuters. A group of banks including Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Citi and lead by Morgan Stanley helped the company access the leveraged loan market according to sources. Morgan Stanley focused on courting investors by highlighting the company's sky-high valuations instead of its losses in China and India.

EU RULES COULD POSE THREAT TO ONLINE ADS: New proposed rules from the European Union would stipulate that users have to consent to website cookies. If approved websites like Facebook and Google, whose ad products take advantage of such cookies could be negatively impacted. "Transparency is important. People must know whether information stored in their devices is being accessed or whether their online behavior is tracked," the European Commission said in a press release regarding the rules. Harper explains here.

HOUSE PASSES BILL EXEMPTING SMALL BIZ FROM NET NEUTRALITY RULES: The House passed the Small Business Broadband Deployment Act by unanimous voice vote today. The bill is intended to exempt smaller internet service provider from the net neutrality rules. The bill would extend a waiver from the FCC's net neutrality rules for five years to providers with fewer than 250,000 customers. The bill also passed the House last year.

THUNE ANNOUNCES GOP SUBCOMMITTEE ROSTERS: Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneDemocratic frustration with Sinema rises Senate Republicans raise concerns about TSA cyber directives for rail, aviation Democrats narrow scope of IRS proposal amid GOP attacks MORE (R-S.D.) announced the Republican subcommittee members today. The Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, which will be chaired by Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerPennsylvania Republican becomes latest COVID-19 breakthrough case in Congress Senate Republicans raise concerns about TSA cyber directives for rail, aviation 6 in 10 say Biden policies responsible for increasing inflation: poll MORE (R-Miss.), will be filled out by Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeCawthorn, Lee introduce bills banning interstate travel vaccine mandate Retreating economy creates new hurdle for Democrats in 2022 McConnell vows GOP won't help raise debt ceiling in December after Schumer 'tantrum' MORE (R-Utah), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonA pandemic of hyper-hypocrisy is infecting American politics Sen. Ron Johnson hoping for Democratic 'gridlock' on reconciliation package Republicans' mantra should have been 'Stop the Spread' MORE (R-Wis.), Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoBiden's soft touch with Manchin, Sinema frustrates Democrats The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit Here are the 11 GOP senators who helped advance the debt extension MORE (R-W.Va.), Cory GardnerCory GardnerColorado remap plan creates new competitive district Protecting the outdoors: Three cheers for America's best idea Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm MORE (R-Colo.), Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungSenate Republicans raise concerns about TSA cyber directives for rail, aviation The unseen problems in Afghanistan How to fix the semiconductor chip shortage (it's more than manufacturing) MORE (R-Ind.), Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntIt's time to make access to quality kidney care accessible and equitable for all Hartzler pulls in 6,000 for Missouri Senate bid with .65M on hand McConnell gets GOP wake-up call MORE (R-Mo.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised The Senate confirmation process is broken — Senate Democrats can fix it Australian politician on Cruz, vaccines: 'We don't need your lectures, thanks mate' MORE (R-Texas), Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerSenate Republicans raise concerns about TSA cyber directives for rail, aviation Austin, Milley to testify on Afghanistan withdrawal After messy Afghanistan withdrawal, questions remain MORE (R-Neb.), Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranSenate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair Star gymnasts call on Congress to dissolve US Olympics board Expats plead with US to deliver COVID-19 vaccines MORE (R-Kan.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerNevada becomes early Senate battleground Nevada governor Sisolak injured in car accident, released from hospital Democrats brace for tough election year in Nevada MORE (R-Nev.) and Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan GOP lawmakers worry vaccine mandate will impact defense supply chain Top GOP senators want joint review of Afghan visa process MORE (R-Okla.).



9:30 a.m.: New America's Open Technology Institute hosts "A #Netfreedom Agenda for the 45th POTUS."

9:30 a.m.: Day 2 of Sen. Jeff Sessions's (R-Ala.) confirmation hearing.

10:00 a.m.: The Information Technology Innovation Foundation and the Brookings Institution are holding an event on tech transfer and commercialization featuring Reps. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) and Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.)


Spent the day watching Sessions's hearing? Here's what you missed.


Senators of both parties took aim at Backpage.com on Tuesday during a Homeland Security subcommittee hearing in which the site's executives refused to answer lawmaker questions.

David Plouffe, former Uber and Obama staffer will join Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan's Chan-Zuckerberg initiative.

After revelations about massive data breaches last year, Yahoo announced in SEC filings yesterday that it would be changing its name to Altaba and that Marissa Mayer would be leaving the company's board

Reuters reports that the European Union is considering a proposal to apply telecom privacy laws to include online messaging services like Gmail and WhatsApp.

Uber is releasing some of its data to city officials, urban planners and researchers.

James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the DNC denied the FBI access to its hacked servers.

Sixty-four percent of American voters think that Trump should delete his personal Twitter account when he takes office, a Quinnipiac University poll found. Just 32 percent said he should keep it.