Overnight Tech: Internet giants back Senate net neutrality bill | Twitter turns a profit | UK presses social media on Russian influence | Dems want answers on Equifax probe

Overnight Tech: Internet giants back Senate net neutrality bill | Twitter turns a profit | UK presses social media on Russian influence | Dems want answers on Equifax probe
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INTERNET GIANTS BACK BILL TO REINSTATE NET NEUTRALITY: A trade group representing internet giants including Google and Facebook is throwing its support behind a bill that would reverse the repeal of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) net neutrality rules.

The Internet Association (IA) on Thursday sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMeghan McCain calls Russian attacks against her father the 'highest compliment' to her family Schumer: Fight for Senate is 'neck and neck' Nikki Haley powerfully rebuts Trump MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns McConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' Medicare for All is disastrous for American seniors and taxpayers MORE (D-N.Y.) arguing that the FCC rules should be reinstated.


"Strong net neutrality rules are necessitated by, among other factors, the lack of competition in the broadband service market," Michael Beckerman, the group's CEO, wrote. "More than half of all Americans have no choice in their provider, and 87 percent of rural Americans have no choice."

A Senate bill that would overturn the FCC's December decision has nearly enough support to pass the chamber. Every Democrat and one Republican have announced their support for the bill, meaning that it needs just one more GOP senator to put it over the top. Democrats have promised to force a vote.

IA said while they support the legislation, they are also calling on lawmakers to codify the net neutrality rules into law with a bipartisan bill.

Read more here.


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UK LAWMAKERS PRESS SOCIAL MEDIA GIANTS OVER RUSSIAN INFLUENCE: British lawmakers grilled Silicon Valley social media giants on Thursday over the presence of "fake news" and Russian influence on their platforms in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.

The British parliament members asked Twitter, Facebook and YouTube representatives pointed questions during a special U.S. hearing over how hoax content disseminated from their websites may have swayed the 2016 British "Brexit" referendum on leaving the European Union.  

The tech representatives downplayed those concerns, citing internal data they said found that accounts linked to Russians did not heavily use their platforms in the same way that they did around the time of the U.S. elections.

Nick Pickles, Twitter's U.K. senior public policy manager, told the panel that the company had only found 49 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, a Russian "troll farm," that were active during the Brexit referendum.

These accounts tweeted 942 times, and these tweets received a cumulative 461 retweets and 637 likes. Pickles stressed that the numbers represented the group's limited engagement and reach on its platform around the time of the Brexit vote, but did not provide deeper analytics.

Juniper Downs, YouTube's global head of public policy, told lawmakers that YouTube found "no evidence of Russian interference in the Brexit referendum" on its platform.

Facebook is still conducting its own investigation into the matter, but U.S. senators have challenged the quality of both Facebook's investigation and Twitter's inquiry into Russian Twitter influence on the Brexit vote.

British lawmakers also questioned the companies on their broader potential harms to society – including how their products contribute to technology addiction among children -- and their data collection policies.

Read more here.


SENATORS DEMAND ANSWERS ON EQUIFAX PROBE: More than 30 senators are asking the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for details about their investigation into last year's massive Equifax data breach following reports the agency has been dragging its feet on the probe.

The group, led by Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzDem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation Graham: Saudi’s findings on slain journalist not 'credible' Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma — Democrats, McConnell spar over entitlements | Minnesota AG sues drugmakers over insulin price hikes | CDC investigates polio-like illness MORE (D-Hawaii), sent a letter to the CFPB, dated Feb. 7, which cites a Reuters report that Acting Director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOn The Money: Mnuchin pulls out of Saudi summit | Consumer bureau to probe controversial blog posts on race | Harris proposes new middle-class tax credit Consumer bureau to probe top Trump official's past racial comments On The Money: Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion | Yellen says Trump attacks threaten Fed | Affordable housing set for spotlight in 2020 race MORE has not approved a number of preliminary steps in the investigation.

"The CFPB has a statutory mandate to participate in this process by conducting an investigation," the senators wrote. "If that investigation exposes wrongdoing or consumer harm, the CFPB has the authority, and indeed a duty, to bring appropriate enforcement actions."

Read more here.


DEM PUSHES WHITE SUPREMACISTS AWAY FROM CRYPTO: A Democratic lawmaker is pressing cryptocurrency groups to make sure that white supremacists and other extremists don't use their technology to secure funds.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) in letters to the Bitcoin Foundation and the Digital Chamber of Commerce recounted how white supremacist groups in Charlottesville, Va., procured funding on financial technology apps like PayPal and Venmo. Such companies promptly banned known white supremacists from their platforms.

"Unfortunately, however, the actors that violated the terms and conditions of the aforementioned online payment systems have found an alternative in cryptocurrency," Cleaver wrote to the groups, which lobby on behalf of organizations that work with cryptocurrencies.

Read more here.


TWITTER TURNS A PROFIT: Twitter announced Thursday it made a net profit in the final quarter of 2017, marking the first time the social media giant has had a profitable quarter.

"Q4 was a strong finish to the year," CEO Jack Dorsey said in a statement. "I'm proud of the steady progress we made in 2017, and confident in our path ahead."

CNBC reported that the company's shares jumped more than 20 percent following the report.

Read more here.


DEMS CALL FOR HEARINGS ON ELECTION HACKING: Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are demanding "immediate" hearings on cyber vulnerabilities in U.S. election infrastructure, amid sustained concerns about the prospect of Russian meddling in future elections.

The lawmakers wrote to Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteRosenstein to appear for House interview next week Fusion GPS co-founder pleads the Fifth following House GOP subpoena House Judiciary chairman threatens to subpoena Rosenstein MORE (R-Va.) on Thursday asking him to call leaders of the departments of Homeland Security, Justice and State before the committee to explain what steps the Trump administration "may or may not be taking to ensure the integrity of our state and federal elections."

"We believe the threat is urgent," wrote the Democrats, led by ranking member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). "We cannot afford to ignore the mounting evidence of a coordinated effort to undermine the most basic and essential aspects of democratic process."

Read more here.


TRANSITIONS: Information Technology Industry Council hires Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellSwalwell blasts Trump for holding rally during Hurricane Michael: ‘NOPE NOPE NOPE’ Dem lawmaker mocks conservative activist as a ‘mansplainer’ after criticism of Taylor Swift Dem rep mocks Trump’s attack on SNL MORE's (D-Calif.) former chief of staff, Ricky Le, to lead Democratic outreach.



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