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Hillicon Valley — Musk’s Twitter plans 

Elon Musk
Madeline Monroe/iStock/Patrick Pleil-Pool via AP
Madeline Monroe/iStock/Patrick Pleil-Pool via AP

As Elon Musk moves ahead with plans to buy Twitter, we’ll dive into what to expect from the billionaire tech mogul as the deal proceeds.

Meanwhile, federal officials on Tuesday expressed confidence that any attempts to manipulate votes at scale in November’s election will be detected and thwarted. 

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 Ines KagubareSubscribe here.

What to expect as Musk proceeds with Twitter deal

Elon Musk is proceeding with a deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion, the original purchase price agreed upon in April, amid an intense legal battle between the two sides. 

The billionaire businessman is reversing course from his previous attempts to back out of the deal, where he argued that Twitter wasn’t truthful about the number of bot accounts on the platform. Twitter denied those claims and sued Musk to force the sale to go through. 

Here’s what we know about Musk’s renewed effort to buy Twitter:

Musk wants to avoid a highly publicized trial

  • As part of his proposed deal to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share, Musk demanded that Twitter drop its lawsuit against him.
  • A trial before a Delaware court is scheduled to take place in just two weeks. Musk’s demand comes after the court released a trove of his private text messages and just before Musk was set to be questioned under oath by Twitter lawyers on Thursday. 

Twitter’s politics could shift under Musk

  • Musk has said he’s buying Twitter to boost “free speech” and has signaled he’ll overhaul Twitter’s policy of removing posts it considers dangerous and adding disclaimers to posts that are deemed misinformation.
  • He’s pushed back on permanent bans of Twitter users, including former President Trump, who was banned from the platform following the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

Musk would overhaul Twitter’s business model 

  • Musk wants to expand Twitter into an all-purpose app that users rely on for messaging, shopping, video gaming and web browsing, like China’s hugely popular WeChat app. Under his proposed plan, Twitter could take a cut of digital payments made on the app to boost revenue.
  • “Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app,” Musk tweeted Wednesday.

Read more here from The Hill’s Karl Evers-Hillstrom 

MUSK CLAIMS ‘COVID EXPOSURE’ AHEAD OF DEPOSITION 

Twitter’s attorneys accused Elon Musk of seeking to evade his deposition in the ongoing legal battle between him and the company after he refused to attend in person, citing the interviewing attorney’s exposure to COVID. 

In a newly public letter to the Delaware Court of Chancery, Twitter’s attorneys said Musk was slated to sit down for a two-day, in-person deposition beginning Sept. 28, but he later claimed “Covid exposure risk” because the attorney interviewing him had brief contact four days prior with a person who tested positive the following day. 

Twitter filed the suit against Musk in an attempt to require him to follow through with his agreement to acquire the social media company, which he later tried to back out from. But with a trial approaching later this month, Musk on Tuesday said he would move forward with buying the company at the same price he originally offered. 

Twitter’s attorneys cast doubt on Musk’s sincerity in declining to attend last month’s deposition, noting that the infected contact initially tested negative after seeing the attorney, and the attorney had not shown any symptoms and repeatedly tested negative for COVID. 

Read more here

Cyberattacks ‘unlikely’ to disrupt voting process

The FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released a joint announcement on Tuesday expressing confidence that any attempts to manipulate votes at scale will be detected and thwarted

  • Any attempts to compromise election infrastructure are “unlikely” to result in large-scale disruptions or prevent voting, the agencies wrote.
  • “The FBI and CISA will continue to quickly respond to any potential threats, provide recommendations to harden election infrastructure, notify stakeholders of threats and intrusion activity and impose risks and consequences on cyber actors seeking to threaten U.S. elections,” the agencies said. 

The agencies added that they have no reporting to suggest cyber activity has ever prevented someone from casting a ballot or compromised any ballot’s integrity. CISA’s director in April indicated to lawmakers that election security ranks as a top issue for the agency.

The announcement comes as former President Trump and his allies have continually asserted, without evidence, that the 2020 presidential election was “rigged,” claiming that it was tainted by widespread voter fraud. 

Read more here

DOJ SENTENCES CANADIAN CITIZEN OVER RANSOMWARE  

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday sentenced a Canadian national to 20 years in prison and ordered him to forfeit more than $21 million for his role in NetWalker ransomware attacks

  • The DOJ said the defendant, Sébastien Vachon-Desjardins, participated in a sophisticated form of ransomware known as NetWalker, which has targeted dozens of victims across the world, including companies, hospitals, law enforcement, emergency services and schools.
  • “The defendant identified and attacked high-value ransomware victims and profited from the chaos caused by encrypting and stealing the victims’ data,” said Kenneth Polite, assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s criminal division. 

DOJ officials also said that the NetWalker ransomware attacks specifically targeted the health care sector to extort victims during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Read more here

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: How Congress has transformed the US airline industry 

Notable links from around the web: 

Elon Musk’s Twitter Will Be a Wild Ride (The New York Times / Kevin Roose) 

Albania weighed invoking NATO’s Article 5 over Iranian cyberattack (Politico / Maggie Miller) 

Political spam is out of control. Now Gmail is about to make it worse. (The Washington Post / Geoffrey Fowler) 

🏃‍♂️ Lighter click: Dodging the tourists 

One more thing: Green groups tackle climate disinfo

More than a dozen environmental groups called on social media CEOs to better address climate change disinformation as part of their compliance with the EU’s Digital Services Act.

In May 2022, the European Union passed the Digital Services Act, which aims to improve digital spaces for social media users. 

Now, several environmental groups are calling on Twitter, TikTok and others to put more effort into addressing climate disinformation under the law. 

They argue the companies owe it to their users and to the planet. 

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.

Tags 2022 midterm elections cyberattacks DOJ Elon Musk Elon Musk ransomware attack Trump Twitter Twitter takeover

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