Overnight Tech: GOP senator open to releasing Russian Facebook ads | House chair backs national hack notification standard | Facebook tests anti-fake news feature

Overnight Tech: GOP senator open to releasing Russian Facebook ads | House chair backs national hack notification standard | Facebook tests anti-fake news feature
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CORNYN OPEN TO MAKING RUSSIA ADS PUBLIC: Sen. John CornynJohn CornynKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle GOP mulls having outside counsel question Kavanaugh, Ford MORE (R-Texas) says that he's open to making public the political Facebook ads that are suspected to have been purchased by Russian actors to influence the 2016 election.

Cornyn is the first Republican to express interest in making the ads available to the public.

"I don't know why the ads [shouldn't be released]," Cornyn, the No. 2 Senate Republican, told reporters on Thursday. "I assume that they were already published, so they're not secret to my knowledge."


Despite the ads having been published on Facebook's site after they were purchased by the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency, Facebook has kept the 3,000 ads tightly under wraps since announcing they existed last month.

The company has cited privacy concerns as its reason for not releasing the ads, and initially hesitated on turning over the ads to Congress. The company eventually relented, giving all 3,000 ads to the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees on Monday.

Reports on the ads describe them as meant to provoke racial and other divisions between Americans.

One ad urged its viewers to attend an anti-Muslim, anti-immigration rally in Idaho, though Facebook deleted the event's page before it occurred. Another suggested that Black Lives Matter is a growing political threat.

Democrats like Senate Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerRussia docs order sets Trump on collision with intel community Hillicon Valley: North Korean IT firm hit with sanctions | Zuckerberg says Facebook better prepared for midterms | Big win for privacy advocates in Europe | Bezos launches B fund to help children, homeless Bipartisan trio asks US intelligence to investigate ‘deepfakes’ MORE (Va.) and his House Intelligence counterpart Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh and his accuser will testify publicly Russia probe accelerates political prospects for House Intel Dems Trump to declassify controversial text messages, documents related to Russia probe MORE (Calif.) have called for the advertisements to be released.

"I think [the ads] need to be public," Warner said on Thursday.

The Virginia Democrat qualified that he also agrees with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrTrump assures storm victims in Carolinas: 'We will be there 100 percent' Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas Graham: Mueller is going to be allowed to finish investigation MORE (R-N.C.), who believes that it's Facebook's call, not the committee's, as to whether the ads are made public.

Read more here.


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REPUBLICAN ENDORSES NATIONAL BREACH NOTIFICATION STANDARD: House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) on Thursday expressed support for a national standard for notifying individuals impacted by corporate data breaches, amid scrutiny over the Equifax breach.

"I do believe that we need to ensure we have a consistent national standard for both data security and breach notification in order to better protect our consumers, hold companies accountable, and ensure that this affair does not repeat itself," Hensarling said during his committee's hearing on the Equifax breach.

The Equifax breach, which exposed the personal information of as many as 145 million Americans, has revived calls for a national notification standard. Lawmakers have been critical of the company for waiting roughly a month to notify the public of the incident after suspicious activity was initially detected.

Read more here.


LAWMAKERS WANT ANSWERS ON IRS CONTRACT WITH EQUIFAX: Lawmakers want to know why the IRS is awarding a multimillion dollar contract to Equifax after the credit rating company suffered a massive hack that compromised the information of more than 145 million Americans.

"Right now, no businesses or consumers in Massachusetts or Nebraska would blindly trust Equifax to protect against fraud or handle sensitive personal information," wrote Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenMore Massachusetts Voters Prefer Deval Patrick for President than Elizabeth Warren Trump's trade war — firing all cannons or closing the portholes? Poll: Most Massachusetts voters don't think Warren should run for president in 2020 MORE (D-Mass.) and Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseMcConnell tamps down any talk of Kavanaugh withdrawal Senate approves 4B spending bill Grassley agrees to second Kavanaugh hearing after GOP members revolt MORE (R-Neb.) on Wednesday.

"It is surprising that the IRS would choose to do so given its legal obligations to protect Americans' privacy," Warren and Sasse continued. "The catastrophic breach at Equifax puts a significant burden on the company to earn any government contract, and on the IRS to explain fully why such a contract was awarded. If the IRS cannot sufficiently do so, this contract should be rescinded."

Read more here.


SCHIFF SAYS INTEL PANEL WILL STRENGTHEN TIES WITH TECH: Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Thursday the panel will develop a "stronger partnership" with social media companies in order to identify foreign entities trying to sow division within the country.

"We're going to have to have a much stronger partnership where the Intelligence Committee identifies Russian troll farms like the one here, they share that information with the social media companies so they can identify those accounts and take them down," Schiff said on CNN's "New Day."

Schiff said these companies have to be "good corporate citizens" and dedicate more time and resources to properly monitor the threat of outside agents taking advantage of the platforms to influence attitudes or events in the U.S.

Read more here.


FACEBOOK TESTS NEW NEWS FEATURE: Facebook is testing a new feature to give users more information about news articles being shared on their feeds as the company fights allegations that its platform has been enabling the spread of misinformation.

In a blog post on Thursday, Facebook announced that it would be trying out a button that will show users more context about the subject of a shared article link as well as the source.

"The additional contextual information is pulled from across Facebook and other sources, such as information from the publisher's Wikipedia entry, a button to follow their Page, trending articles or related articles about the topic, and information about how the article is being shared by people on Facebook," the blog post reads.

Read more here.



The Internet Association is hiring Brian Larkin as its new Director of Cloud Policy. Larkin was previously a Brookings Institution fellow with the Senate Finance Committee and before that a policy advisor on digital services and cloud computing at the Commerce Department.



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