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Hillicon Valley — FBI threats spark calls for reduced rhetoric

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Some Republicans are calling on allies of former President Trump to tone down violent rhetoric after an uptick in threats to federal law enforcement officials.

Meanwhile, the crypto community is divided on whether sanctioning cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash was the right call. 

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 Klar and Ines KagubareSubscribe here.

Right responds to spike in FBI threats, online vitriol

An uptick in threats to the FBI after it executed a search warrant at former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is unsettling the political right, with some calling on allies of the former president to tone down their rhetoric. 

Barriers have been erected outside the perimeter of the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., while the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reportedly issued a joint bulletin Friday warning about spikes in threats that included a bomb threat at FBI headquarters and calls for a “civil war” and “armed rebellion.” 

Fox News host Steve Doocy on Monday urged the former president and others to “tamp down the rhetoric against the FBI” in light of the threats, while Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Trump’s language was “inflammatory.” 

“I don’t want to put any law enforcement in the bull’s-eye of a potential threat,” McCaul said. 

The bulletin issued by DHS and the FBI cited an incident in which a man armed with an AR-15-style rifle allegedly fired a nail gun into an FBI office in Cincinnati, Ohio last week, according to NBC News. He was fatally shot by police after a chase and standoff, according to Ohio State Highway Patrol. 

Read more here.  

HBO Max hit with layoffs

More than five dozen staffers at HBO Max have been laid off as part of the company’s restructuring and a cost-cutting effort by its parent company, according to multiple reports.

The layoffs, which effect nearly 15 percent of all employees who report to Casey Bloys, chief content officer at HBO and HBO Max, totaled about 70 people, The New York Times reported

Monday’s layoffs come as Warner Bros. Discovery, the same media conglomerate that owns cable news giant CNN and took over as HBO’s parent company earlier this year, is looking to make a dent in the $50 billion debt it is currently saddled with, the Times reported. 

Layoffs within the Warner Bros. Discovery conglomerate have been widely expected in areas of overlap since the merger with AT&T went through. 

Read more here.  

Crypto community split on mixer sanctions 

Recent U.S. sanctions against cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash have sparked a debate within the crypto community on whether the ban compromises users’ ability to operate anonymously.  

Earlier this week, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions against Tornado Cash for helping hackers launder over $7 billion worth of virtual currency. The agency said the mixer service allowed cybercriminal groups, including North Korean-backed hackers, to use its platform to launder the proceeds of cybercrimes. 

  • The Treasury’s decision has the crypto community split — proponents of the service argue that the sanctions violate their right to privacy, while critics say the ban is a way to discourage criminals from using the platform to hide and launder illicit funds.
  • “In an effort to punish hackers and cybercriminals, Treasury just made a clumsy attempt to sanction Tornado Cash, an open source protocol,” wrote Lia Holland, the campaigns and communications director at Fight for the Future, a digital rights advocacy group. 

Cryptocurrency mixers like Tornado Cash have become popular in recent years as crypto investors turned to the service to make their transactions anonymous and harder to trace by mixing their funds with others on the blockchain.

Read more here.

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: Can antitrust reform legislation get to 60 votes?  

Notable links from around the web: 

On TikTok, Election Misinformation Thrives Ahead of Midterms (The New York Times / Tiffany Hsu) 

Google Maps Regularly Misleads People Searching for Abortion Clinics (Bloomberg / Davey Alba and Jack Gillum) 

Election deniers march toward power in key 2024 battlegrounds (The Washington Post / Amy Gardner) 

🎤 Lighter click: News anchor parents 

One more thing: Tracking mental health 

Researchers at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering have come one step closer to creating a wearable device that can track mental health.   

For the past seven years, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering Rose Faghih has developed technology that measures certain brain activity directly connected to a person’s emotional state — specifically electrodermal activity (EDA), through the skin.   

EDA is an electrical phenomenon of the skin that changes based on certain emotional stressors. For example, stress caused by pain, exhaustion or being rushed at work can change a person’s EDA.   

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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Tags FBI raid HBO Max Mar-a-lago fbi raid mental health Michael McCaul online threats Steve Doocy Tornado Cash Trump Warner Bros.
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