Overnight Tech: Facebook faces crisis over Cambridge Analytica data | Lawmakers demand answers | What to watch for next | Day one of AT&T's merger trial | Self-driving Uber car kills pedestrian

Overnight Tech: Facebook faces crisis over Cambridge Analytica data | Lawmakers demand answers | What to watch for next | Day one of AT&T's merger trial | Self-driving Uber car kills pedestrian
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FACEBOOK UNDER SCRUTINY OVER CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA DATA: Lawmakers are demanding answers from Facebook after reports that Cambridge Analytica, a research firm connected to the Trump campaign, obtained data on 50 million accounts, without the company's permission.

Lawmakers on Monday demanded more answers on how Cambridge Analytica, which was hired by the Trump campaign during the 2016 election, was able to amass the Facebook data and on how they used the data.

 

Lawmakers demand answers:

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneWant to improve health care? Get Americans off of their couches More Dems want focus on job creation than wage growth Google, Apple, Amazon execs to testify at Senate privacy hearing this month MORE (R-S.D.), the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, on Monday wrote to Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergFacebook teaming with nonprofits to fight fake election news China may be copying Facebook to build an intelligence weapon Facebook announces verification to images and video on platform MORE and Strategic Communications Laboratories Group CEO & Director Nigel Oakes, for more information on the sharing of consumer data. SCL Group is affiliated with Cambridge Analytica.

"Consumers rely on platforms like Facebook to be transparent and truthful in their terms of service so consumers can make informed decisions about whether to consent to the sharing and use of their data," the letter to Zuckerberg read. "We appreciate that Facebook has recently taken steps to address this situation. Nevertheless, the possibility that Facebook has either not been transparent with consumers or has not been able to verify that third party app developers are transparent with consumers is troubling."

Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharElection Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls GOP in striking distance to retake Franken seat Warner: 'overwhelming majority' of Republicans would back social media regulations MORE (D-Minn.) and John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) on Monday called for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to question major technology companies on how they share their consumer data with political advertising companies.

They asked Judiciary Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyDem: 'Bulls---' to say GOP doing everything to contact Kavanaugh accuser Grassley wants unredacted version of letter from Kavanaugh's accuser Attorney for Kavanaugh accuser criticizes Senate panel's ‘rush to a hearing’ MORE (R-Iowa) to call a hearing with CEOs from companies including Facebook, Twitter and Google.

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh and his accuser will testify publicly Russia probe accelerates political prospects for House Intel Dems Trump to declassify controversial text messages, documents related to Russia probe MORE (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, issued a statement on Sunday saying that Cambridge Analytica needs to testify before Congress and he threatened to subpoena Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix.

Schiff also wants the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower named in the report, Christopher Wylie, to speak with the committee as well. An aide told The Hill on Sunday that the committee wants to speak with Facebook in the coming days about arranging either testimony or a briefing on the matter.

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerRussia docs order sets Trump on collision with intel community Hillicon Valley: North Korean IT firm hit with sanctions | Zuckerberg says Facebook better prepared for midterms | Big win for privacy advocates in Europe | Bezos launches B fund to help children, homeless Bipartisan trio asks US intelligence to investigate ‘deepfakes’ MORE (D-Va.), the top Dem on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that the incident is further justification for the Honest Ads Act legislation he is cosponsoring with Klobuchar. The bill would hold internet companies to the same political ad transparency standards as radio, TV and print.

"This is more evidence that the online political advertising market is essentially the Wild West. Whether it's allowing Russians to purchase political ads, or extensive micro-targeting based on ill-gotten user data, it's clear that, left unregulated, this market will continue to be prone to deception and lacking in transparency," he said.  

A spokesperson for the senator said he also believes a hearing is necessary but is still weighing committee jurisdiction. Members of the Senate Commerce, Judiciary and Intelligence committees have all expressed interest in hearings.

 

Facebook's response:

On Friday, Facebook said that it would suspend its relationship with Cambridge Analytica.

Christopher Wylie, the former Cambridge Analytica employee, also claims Facebook suspended him for whistleblowing.

Facebook in a statement on Sunday said it has launched an internal review. "We are in the process of conducting a comprehensive internal and external review as we work to determine the accuracy of the claims that the Facebook data in question still exists. That is where our focus lies as we remain committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people's information," Paul Grewal, Facebook's deputy general counsel, said in a statement.

On Monday, Facebook said it had hired a digital forensics firm to investigate Cambridge Analytica.

 

Cambridge denies any wrongdoing:

In a statement, the firm said it did not violate any of Facebook's policies in its handling of the data. "This Facebook data was not used by Cambridge Analytica as part of the services it provided to the Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency MORE presidential campaign; personality targeted advertising was not carried out for this client either. The company has made this clear since 2016."

 

Cambridge CEO caught on camera:

The CEO of the British data firm Cambridge Analytica was filmed saying that his firm used bribes and sex workers to trap politicians in compromising situations, an undercover investigation by Channel 4 News in London reported Monday.

 

States jump in:

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen sent a written inquiry to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg about the incident.

On Saturday, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) also said her state is launching a probe into Cambridge Analytica.

 

Moving forward... here are five things to watch as the controversy unfolds:

How much damage has Facebook's reputation taken?

How might this be connected to Russia?

What does it mean for the Mueller probe?

What else are we going to learn about Cambridge Analytica?

Could Cambridge Analytica have had a big effect on the election?

Click here for details on each.

 

MORE FACEBOOK: The New York Times reported late Monday that Alex Stamos, Facebook's chief security officer, is stepping down.

Stamos, though, denied the report in a tweet.

"Despite the rumors, I'm still fully engaged with my work at Facebook. It's true that my role did change. I'm currently spending more time exploring emerging security risks and working on election security," he wrote.

Also: Stamos went on a long (now-deleted) tweet thread about Cambridge Analytica. Some, including Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzOvernight Energy: Warren bill would force companies to disclose climate impacts | Green group backs Gillum in Florida gov race | Feds to open refuge near former nuke site Warren wants companies to disclose more about climate change impacts Congress just failed our nation’s veterans when it comes to medical marijuana MORE (D-Hawaii), accused Stamos of being tone deaf on the matter. If you didn't catch the tweets before Stamos pulled them from the internet, one Twitter user posted the screenshots.

Bonus: Stamos's Twitter spat with a Guardian reporter.

 

Please send your tips, comments and top March Madness meltdown reactions 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.

 

AT&T-TIME WARNER TRIAL KICKS OFF: The trial over the $85 billion AT&T-Time Warner merger began today with prosecutors and AT&T attorneys sparring over what evidence will be allowed before the court.

The Justice Department argued that it should be able to include filings that AT&T subsidiary DirecTV made against the similar Comcast-NBC merger in 2010, prior to being bought by the telecom giant.

And the two sides clashed over what AT&T emails are admissible as business documents. Daniel Petrocelli, the lead attorney for AT&T, said that prosecutors are taking an overly broad view of what communications should be allowed as evidence.

He also called one person on the government's witness "fresh out of business school."

Eric Welsh, an attorney for the Justice Department dismissed that argument, saying the judge will be startled by some of the "bad statements" made by AT&T executives in emails uncovered during their inquiry.

Stay tuned as the real drama will begin on Wednesday when both sides make their opening arguments.

Read Harper's preview of the trial and what's at stake.

 

WOMAN KILLED AFTER BEING STRUCK BY AUTONOMOUS UBER CAR: The other big story today comes from Tempe, Ariz., where a woman died after being struck by a driverless Uber vehicle.

The woman appears to be the first pedestrian killed by a driverless car. She was identified as Elaine Herzberg, a 49-year-old resident of Mesa, Ariz., according to the Arizona Republic.

"Our hearts go out to the victim's family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident," an Uber spokesperson said in a statement.

The National Transportation Safety Board announced that it would be sending a team to investigate the incident.

 

TRUMP BANS VENEZUELAN CRYPTO: The Trump administration unveiled new sanctions against Venezuela on Monday, outlawing Americans from using the country's new cryptocurrency.

From our colleague Rafael Bernal:

An executive order bans "all transactions related to, provision of financing for, and other dealings in" any digital currency issued by or for the Venezuelan government.

The sanctions targeting the petro -- the digital currency announced by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in December -- have been in the works for weeks.

 

ON TAP:

The Washington Post will host a summit on artificial intelligence at 9 a.m.

The Hudson Institute will hold an event on 5G at noon.

The American Cable Association Summit begins at 1 p.m.

The House Oversight Committee holds a hearing on IT modernization at 2 p.m.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

One of the most vocal pro-net neutrality groups is opposing a bill on law enforcement access to data. But that stance is pitting it against many of the tech companies it was allied with in the net neutrality fight.

The Ringer: Digg Reader dies, auguring the end of an era for RSS.

If you're still curious about Cambridge Analytica here are more stories about the controversial company.

The Guardian spoke with the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower.

The Intercept reported in 2017 that the company took data from 30 million without Facebook's permission.

The Guardian reported that using Cambridge Analytica, the Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSinger Leon Bridges to join Willie Nelson in performing at O’Rourke rally Election Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls Poll: Beto O'Rourke leads Cruz by 2 points in Texas Senate race MORE campaign harvested data from millions of accounts also without Facebook permission.