Overnight Tech: Tech giants detail fight against extremist content | Senate Dems look for 51st vote on net neutrality | House to hold hearing on Hawaii missile alert | Twitter to notify users who saw Russian 2016 content

Overnight Tech: Tech giants detail fight against extremist content | Senate Dems look for 51st vote on net neutrality | House to hold hearing on Hawaii missile alert | Twitter to notify users who saw Russian 2016 content
© Greg Nash

TECH GIANTS TESTIFY ON FIGHT AGAINST EXTREMISTS: Representatives from Facebook, YouTube and Twitter testified before lawmakers on Capitol Hill Wednesday about extremist content on their platforms.

At a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing, the companies gave a rare glimpse into their inner workings as lawmakers probed their anti-terrorism efforts.

The hearing was less contentious than the congressional hearings regarding Russian intervention last November. Instead of grilling the companies, lawmakers primarily used the hearing to educate themselves on what the firms are doing to keep extremist content off their platforms.

But lawmakers still underscored the need for Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to keep their platforms free of extremist groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and al Qaeda.

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"This is a really important issue. Our democracy is at risk," said Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterTrump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field Krystal Ball: Is this how Bernie Sanders will break the establishment? GOP braces for Democratic spending onslaught in battle for Senate MORE (D-Mont.).

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube took advantage of their testimony to tout efforts they've taken in recent years to curb the presence of extremist content on their platforms.

The three boasted that advancements in machine learning techniques had drastically boosted the amount of extremist content they've detected and taken off their platforms. They've also increased the number of employees they have devoted to removing such content.

They also described a partnership formed between several tech companies to share information about extremist use of their platforms.

Read more here.

 

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HOUSE PANEL TO HOLD HEARING ON HAWAII MISSILE ALERT: The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on the false missile alert in Hawaii last week and the state of the country's public alert systems.

The panel's leaders announced on Tuesday that a hearing will be held "in the coming weeks."

Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul Walden'Medicare for All' backers notch win with high-profile hearing Democrats declare victory for eliminating drug protections in trade deal Impeachment surprise: Bills Congress could actually pass in 2020 MORE (R-Ore.), Ranking Member Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneOvernight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments Obstacles remain for deal on surprise medical bills This week: House impeachment inquiry hits crucial stretch MORE (D-N.J.), Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnTikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings, inflaming tensions Lawsuits pose new challenge for TikTok TikTok's leader to meet with lawmakers next week MORE (R-Tenn.) -- the chair of the technology subcommittee -- and Rep. Mike DoyleMichael (Mike) F. DoyleDemocrats demand FCC act over leak of phone location data Hillicon Valley: Google, Reddit to testify on tech industry protections | Trump joins Amazon-owned Twitch | House to vote on bill to combat foreign interference Reddit, Google to testify before House panel on tech's legal protections MORE (D-Pa.) -- the subcommittee's ranking Democrat -- said the hearing will allow Congress to receive an update on the FCC investigation into the Hawaii incident.

"We need to make sure that a mistake like what happened in Hawaii never happens again," the members said in a joint statement. "The upcoming hearing will be an important opportunity to hear from the commissioners as they continue to investigate the incident."

Read more here.

 

DEMS LOOKING FOR 51ST VOTE ON NET NEUTRALITY BILL: Senate Democrats are hunting for one more Republican vote to prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from repealing net neutrality rules.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerKrystal Ball: Is this how Bernie Sanders will break the establishment? TikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings, inflaming tensions Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments MORE (D-N.Y.) announced Tuesday that all 49 Democrats have endorsed legislation to preserve the rules. With Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDemocrats spend big to put Senate in play Senate confirms Trump's 50th circuit judge, despite 'not qualified' rating Republicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial MORE (Maine) already on board, Democrats need the support of just one more Republican to ensure the legislation is sent to the House.

The bill, which will be introduced by Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyWarren proposes 'Blue New Deal' to protect oceans There's a lot to like about the Senate privacy bill, if it's not watered down Trump administration drops plan to face scan all travelers leaving or entering US MORE (D-Mass.), would use a legislative tool called the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to roll back the FCC's vote last month scrapping the 2015 net neutrality rules. The rules have required internet service providers (ISP) to treat all web traffic equally, and supporters say they're essential to preventing companies such as Comcast and Verizon from abusing their control over internet access.

Read more here.

 

TWITTER WILL NOTIFY USERS WHO SAW RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA: Twitter said on Wednesday that it would let users know if they had been exposed to Russian accounts attempting to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Twitter's director of public policy, Carlos Monje, told Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing that Twitter is in the process of working to identify and "individually inform" users who had come in contact with Kremlin-linked accounts.

"We will be rolling out our response shortly," Monje told Blumenthal.

Monje said the notifications would be limited to accounts created by the Internet Research Agency, one of the Russian "troll farms" responsible for creating and disseminating content aimed at influencing the election and sparking social divisions in the U.S.

Read more here.

 

APPLE'S NEW INVESTMENTS: Apple on Wednesday announced plans to spend more than $350 billion and add 20,000 jobs over the next five years.

In addition to hiring and spending at existing campuses, the California-based company said it plans to build a new facility at a location that will be disclosed later this year. The new site will house technical support for customers, Apple said in a press release.

Apple also announced it broke ground on Wednesday at a new facility in Reno, Nev., to support its existing facilities in the state.

Read more here.

 

FACEBOOK WILL INVESTIGATE RUSSIAN INFLUENCE OPERATIONS DURING BREXIT VOTE: Facebook is reopening an investigation into potential foreign interference on its platform in the 2016 United Kingdom "Brexit" referendum on leaving the European Union.

In a letter to a member of Parliament on Wednesday, Simon Milner, Facebook's U.K. policy director, said the company would look for "coordinated activity around the Brexit referendum that was not identified previously."

Damian Collins, an MP who chairs a committee on digital companies, had requested that Facebook broaden a previous probe into Russian activity in Ireland during the EU referendum. Milner told Collins on Wednesday that Facebook agreed to his request, and asked that U.K. authorities provide any relevant intelligence information.

Read more here.

 

ON TAP:

CompTIA will host a webinar on drones' impact on cities at 2:30 p.m.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

WSJ: The antitrust case against Facebook, Google and Amazon

BSA, The Software Alliance released its 2018 policy agenda  

Bloomberg: How a 22-year-old discovered the worst chip flaws in history

The Guardian: More Facebook criticism from early investor Roger McNamee

The Hill op-ed: The next tax reform: Internet sales tax