Police walk outside the Tops grocery store on Sunday, May 15, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. A white 18-year-old wearing military gear and livestreaming with a helmet camera opened fire with a rifle at the supermarket, killing and wounding people in what authorities described as “racially motivated violent extremism.” (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)


Tech companies are facing renewed scrutiny following this weekend’s deadly shooting in Buffalo for failing to contain the spread of videos of the incident.

We’ll also look at a simmering feud over inflation between the White House and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and new cyber fears involving Russia.

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 KagubareSubscribe here.

Tech faces scrutiny after shooting

In the aftermath of Saturday’s mass shooting at a Buffalo, N.Y., grocery store, attention is turning to the role technology companies played leading up to the attack and afterwards, as clips spread online.

Ten people were killed and three more were injured in the shooting. Authorities say the suspected gunman, 18-year-old Payton Gendron, livestreamed the shooting on Twitch, a streaming platform best known for hosting video game players.

Twitch said it pulled down the stream within two minutes of the violence starting, but for critics that reaction was insufficient. The civil rights organization Color of Change renewed its calls for the company to undergo a racial equity audit after the shooting. 

Video clips from the shooting quickly spread across the rest of social media over the weekend and on Monday, despite efforts from platforms to rein them in.

More than three years after the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, which was streamed live on Facebook and shared widely across the internet, tech companies are once again facing scrutiny on how they handle such attacks.

Bezos faces White House backlash

The White House on Monday hit back at criticism from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos over its economic policies in the latest back-and-forth between the administration and the tech and retail magnate.

“It doesn’t require a huge leap to figure out why one of the wealthiest individuals on Earth opposes an economic agenda for the middle class that cuts some of the biggest costs families face, fights inflation for the long haul, and adds to the historic deficit reduction the President is achieving by asking the richest taxpayers and corporations to pay their fair share,” deputy White House press secretary Andrew Bates said in a statement. 

“It’s also unsurprising that this tweet comes after the President met with labor organizers, including Amazon employees,” Bates added. 

Bezos responded a short time later on Twitter, accusing the White House of trying to “muddy the topic” and shift the focus away from soaring inflation. 

Read more here.

MUSK, TWITTER CEO ARGUE OVER SPAM ACCOUNTS

Elon Musk on Monday publicly challenged Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal’s explanation of how the platform measures bot or spam accounts.

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO announced last week he was putting his $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter “on hold” over concerns about the platform’s estimate that less than 5 percent of its daily active users are fake accounts.  

Musk has signed a binding agreement to acquire all outstanding shares, making the threat of suspending the deal far from concrete, but his public criticism of the company sent share prices tanking. 

Agrawal on Monday tried to calm the concerns behind that drop, explaining in a lengthy thread how Twitter goes about identifying bots and spam accounts. 

Read more here.

BIG TECH’S LATEST ANTITRUST ATTACK

A group representing the nation’s largest tech companies is rolling out a seven-figure TV ad campaign slamming a key antitrust proposal that seeks to curb tech giants’ power, warning it could raise already soaring prices on consumers. 

The Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) — which represents companies such as Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook — released a 30-second ad Monday as part of its “Don’t Break What Works” campaign. The ad offers a new line of attack by focusing on inflation and arguing that proposed legislation would further raise prices for Americans. 

The bill the ad targets is the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, according to a copy of the ad first shared with The Hill. The legislation aims to block tech giants from giving preferential treatment to their own products and services. In practice, it could bar Amazon from placing its own products at the top of search results on its site or prevent Google from highlighting its own services. 

Read more about the ad.

Fears rise over Russia cyberattacks

Finland and Sweden’s move to join NATO has raised concerns about potential cyber retaliation from Russia, which sees the expansion of the alliance as a direct threat. 

While it is too early to judge how Russia might try to use its cyber capabilities against Finland, Sweden or other NATO members, including the U.S., experts said it will likely launch unsophisticated and small-scale cyberattacks as a form of protest against the expansion. 

Such attacks would not have the severity of cyber efforts Moscow launched against Ukraine amid the Russian invasion of that country. 

“I think it’s unlikely that Russia will launch the types of cyberattacks against Finland and Sweden like it did with Ukraine, primarily because the aims are different,” said Jason Blessing, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. 

Read more here.

Sweden anticipates cyber retaliation

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said she expects possible cyber retaliation from Russia as her country moves to join NATO. 

Andersson was responding to a question from CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick during a press conference on Sunday in Stockholm. 

“What kind of retaliation there can be? That’s up to Russia and President [Vladimir] Putin,” Andersson told Sedgwick.  

“There could be the possibility of cyberattacks, hybrid attacks and other measures, but it’s all up to them,” she said.  

Andersson added that the decision to join NATO is what is best for her country’s security.  

“It’s not something against Russia, but it is what we think is best for us,” she said. 

Read more here.

UBER ADS EV OPTIONS

Uber announced Monday that ride-hailing customers in some California cities will be able to summon rides in “premium” electric vehicles (EV) like Teslas and Polestars. 

The new feature — which rolls out this week in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, as well as Dubai — is part of a push by the ride-hailing giant to expand its electric offerings as it seeks to ensure that its U.S.- and Europe-based fleets will have zero emissions by 2030. 

Uber Vice President of Product Sachin Kansal said the feature is part of a broader suite of upgrades to the company’s driver platform to “provide drivers with the insights they need to go electric.” 

Read more here.

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: Cybersecurity needs to be top priority in nation’s water utilities 

Lighter click: Be free my son 

Notable links from around the web

Larry Ellison has only tweeted once. Why is he pouring $1 billion into Elon Musk’s Twitter bid? (Grid / Maggie Severns and Jason Paladino) 

The Queasy, Inevitable Johnny Depp Gold Rush Continues Downstream (Motherboard / Anna Merlan) 

Miami’s mayor backed MiamiCoin crypto—then its price dropped 95% (Quartz / Scott Nover and Camille Squires) 

The Hazards of Prescribing A.D.H.D. Drugs Online (The New York Times / Dani Blum)

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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