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Overnight Tech: Mulvaney reportedly froze Equifax hack probe | Dems want new restrictions on Comcast-NBC | NJ gov signs net neutrality order | Senate confirms patent chief

Overnight Tech: Mulvaney reportedly froze Equifax hack probe | Dems want new restrictions on Comcast-NBC | NJ gov signs net neutrality order | Senate confirms patent chief
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MULVANEY REPORTEDLY FROZE EQUIFAX PROBE: White House budget director and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) acting Director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyTrump attacks Democrat in Ohio governor's race On The Money: Stocks slide for second day as Trump blames 'loco' Fed | Mulvaney calls for unity at consumer bureau | Pelosi says Dems will go after Trump tax returns Mulvaney calls for unity at consumer bureau amid racial controversy MORE has dialed back the agency's investigation into a massive data breach at Equifax, Reuters reported Sunday.

Mulvaney has not sought subpoenas or sworn testimony as part of the investigation, Reuters reported, citing three unnamed sources. The bureau has also put on hold plans to test how Equifax protects data.

A CFPB spokesman told Reuters the agency is not allowed to acknowledge an open investigation.

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Former CFPB Director Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayTrump attacks Democrat in Ohio governor's race Election Countdown: Minnesota Dems worry Ellison allegations could cost them key race | Dems struggle to mobilize Latino voters | Takeaways from Tennessee Senate debate | Poll puts Cruz up 9 in Texas Poll: Cordray leads DeWine by 6 points in Ohio governor race MORE authorized a probe in September into how hackers were able to steal personal data from Equifax in a data breach that affected nearly 150 million Americans.

It was later discovered the company was charging individuals to find out if they'd been affected by a breach.

The credit reporting company was the subject of more complaints to the CFPB in 2017 than any other financial services company in all but one state and it faces more than 240 class-action lawsuits.

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating the breach and could fine the company.

Mulvaney's installation as head of the CFPB was surrounded by controversy. Trump appointed him in November to serve as the bureau's temporary director after Cordray stepped down to run for governor in Ohio.

However, Cordray had already appointed Leandra English to take over for him, setting up a battle between the agency and the White House over who had the power to name a replacement.

Read more here.

 

Please send your tips, comments and compliments to Ali Breland (abreland@thehill.com) and Harper Neidig (hneidig@thehill.com) and follow us on Twitter: @alibreland and @hneidig. We're also on Signal and WhatsApp. Email or DM us for our numbers.

 

SENATE DEM WARNS OF FOREIGN MANIPULATION OF YOUTUBE: Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerCollusion judgment looms for key Senate panel Hillicon Valley: Facebook reveals 30 million users affected by hack | Grassley presses Google to explain data practices | Senators warn Canada against using Chinese telecom firm | FCC responds to net neutrality lawsuits Senators urge Canada against using Huawei in 5G development due to national security concerns MORE (Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, is concerned that YouTube's algorithm for video recommendations could be manipulated by foreign governments.

"Companies like YouTube have immense power and influence in shaping the media and content that users see," Warner told The Guardian on Monday. "I've been increasingly concerned that the recommendation engine algorithms behind platforms like YouTube are, at best, intrinsically flawed in optimizing for outrageous, salacious, and often fraudulent content."

"At worst, they can be highly susceptible to gaming and manipulation by bad actors, including foreign intelligence entities," he noted.

Warner's criticism follows a Guardian investigation that found that YouTube's ad algorithm had consistently pushed anti-Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton on if Bill should’ve resigned over Lewinsky scandal: ‘Absolutely not’ Electoral battle for Hispanics intensifies in Florida Trump adds campaign stops for Senate candidates in Montana, Arizona, Nevada MORE conspiracy videos around the time of the 2016 presidential election in its automated video recommendations.

Read more here.

 

NJ GOV SIGNS NET NEUTRALITY ORDER: New Jersey on Monday became the latest state to implement its own net neutrality rules following the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of the Obama-era consumer protections.

Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed an executive order prohibiting all internet service providers that do business with the state from blocking, throttling or favoring web content.

"We may not agree with everything we see online, but that does not give us a justifiable reason to block the free, uninterrupted, and indiscriminate flow of information," Murphy said in a statement. "And, it certainly doesn't give certain companies or individuals a right to pay their way to the front of the line.

Read more here.

 

DEMS CALL FOR NEW RESTRICTIONS ON COMCAST-NBC: Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Mignon Clyburn, a Democrat on the Federal Communications Commission, want regulators to renew restrictions on Comcast that were imposed as a condition for its merger with NBC in 2011.

The two Democrats argued in an op-ed for Bloomberg that letting the conditions expire could lead to Comcast abusing its power to hurt competitors.

"For the majority of Americans who still get their video from pay-TV providers, and for the growing number who rely on an online video distributor, the expiration of the merger conditions brings a less competitive marketplace," Clyburn and Blumenthal wrote.

Read more here.

 

SEATTLE ACCUSES FACEBOOK OF VIOLATING CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS: Seattle's election watchdog on Monday said that Facebook has violated its election advertising laws, reports Reuters.

The city's move is the first attempt at regulatory action against internet companies over political ads on their platforms.

The company could pay as much as $5,000 per ad in fines to the city if it does not disclose information about campaign spending on its platform during last year's Seattle city elections, said Wayne Barnett, an executive director at the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission.

Read more here.

 

SENATE APPROVES TRUMP PICK TO HEAD PATENT OFFICE: The Senate voted unanimously on Monday to confirm President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'I don't trust everybody in the White House' JPMorgan CEO withdraws from Saudi conference Trump defends family separations at border MORE's nominee to head the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Andrei Iancu.

Iancu's vote was met with no pushback from Democrats, even though some voiced opposition over another Trump tech nominee, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, last October.

Both Iancu's confirmation hearing and a Senate Judiciary vote on his nomination last year went smoothly as well.

Iancu is an intellectual property lawyer at the firm Irell & Manella, which once defended Trump, Mark Burnett Productions and NBC Universal in a case involving copyright claims over the reality TV show "The Apprentice."

Read more here.

 

ON TAP:

Democracy is Good for Business will hold a panel discussion on elections and technology at 8 a.m.

The House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on warning and alert systems at 10 a.m.

The Senate Banking Committee will examine virtual currencies at 10 a.m.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee holds a hearing on U.S. cyber diplomacy in an era of growing threats at 10 a.m.

A Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions subcommittee will look at providing retirement savings for so-called gig economy workers at 2:30 p.m.

Uber will testify before the Senate Commerce consumer protection subcommittee on its 2016 data breach at 3 p.m.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

The New York Times: Former tech employees turn on industry

The Washington Post: The bitcoin craze in Kentucky

The Wall Street Journal: Tech giants are in no rush to spend overseas cash

The Guardian: Lauri Love ruling 'sets precedent' for trying hacking suspects in UK

The Hill op-ed: Congress must avoid an 'America First' policy on artificial intelligence