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State-backed hackers from Russia and China are increasing their efforts to target critical infrastructure in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, according to a latest cyber threat update from Google.

Meanwhile, Fight for the Future, a digital rights group, is launching a crowdfund campaign to press Senate leadership to bring two antitrust bills targeting tech giants to the floor for a vote.

This is Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Send tips to The Hill’s Rebecca KlarChris Mills Rodrigo and Ines Kagubare. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

Hackers ramp up cyber operations 

Government-backed hackers from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea have been increasing their efforts over the past few weeks to target critical infrastructure in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, according to a latest cyber threat update from Google.  

The tech giant said in a blog post on Tuesday that the hackers are “using the war as a lure in phishing and malware campaigns” as they attempt to target critical sectors including telecommunications, manufacturing and the oil and gas industry. 

“[The hackers] have used various Ukraine war-related themes in an effort to get targets to open malicious emails or click malicious links,” Google said in the blog post. 

Read more here

Advocacy group pushes for antitrust bills 

The digital rights group Fight for the Future is launching a crowdfund campaign to press Senate leadership to bring two antitrust bills targeting tech giants up for a vote.

“Democrats control the House, the Senate, and the White House,” Evan Greer, the group’s director, told The Hill Tuesday.  

“They have a once in a lifetime opportunity to advance overwhelmingly popular bipartisan legislation that would finally crack down on Big Tech monopoly power and abuses,” she continued. “If they fail, they will have no one but themselves to blame, and the American people will not forget.” 

The group is raising money to run an ad encouraging Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to bring the bills forward in New York. 

Read more here

SEC BOOSTS CRYPTO UNIT 

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has bolstered its unit dedicated to finding and cracking down on cyber and cryptocurrency-related crimes, the agency announced Tuesday. 

The SEC has opened 20 new roles on its newly renamed Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit within the agency’s enforcement division. Formerly known as the Cyber Unit, the group previously included 30 officials focused on internet-centric schemes, hacks and illegal investment offerings. 

“The U.S. has the greatest capital markets because investors have faith in them, and as more investors access the crypto markets, it is increasingly important to dedicate more resources to protecting them,” said SEC Chair Gary Gensler in a Tuesday statement. 

Read more here.  

APPLE STORE SETS JUNE UNION VOTE 

Workers at an Apple store in Atlanta will vote on unionization early next month, according to a copy of the election agreement shared with The Hill. 

The location in the Cumberland Mall would be the first unionized Apple store in the United States. 

The election will be held in person between June 2 and 4 at the store. Roughly 100 full- and part-time workers will be eligible to vote in the election. 

Workers at the Cumberland store first went public with their union campaign last month, with the Communications Workers of America, the union that would represent them, claiming 70 percent of the store signed cards in support of an election. 

Read more here

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: National Science Foundation: Innovation anywhere, opportunity everywhere 

Notable links from around the web

CDC Tracked Millions of Phones to See If Americans Followed COVID Lockdown Orders (Motherboard / Joseph Cox) 

‘I Don’t Really Have a Business Plan’: How Elon Musk Wings It (The New York Times / Ryan Mac, Cade Metz and Kate Conger) 

Tech companies face a legal nightmare if Roe v. Wade is overturned (Protocol / Ben Brody) 

As buy now, pay later services have grown more popular, there remains virtually no oversight (Fast Company / Bryce Covert) 

One more thing: Bill Gates’ regrets

Billionaire Bill Gates regrets his continued meetings with disgraced financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, calling it a “huge mistake” in a new interview. 

Gates met with Epstein — who died while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges — a number of times with a goal of raising money for global health, he told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie. 

His ex-wife Melinda Gates told CBS’s Gayle King in March that she didn’t like that he was meeting with Epstein, who she described as “abhorrent” and “evil personified,” adding that it was a contributing factor to their divorce, finalized in August 2021. 

Read more here

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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