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Hillicon Valley: Closing arguments in AT&T trial | Cyber 'turf wars' heat up | Dem wants more oversight of DHS cyber mission | Lawmakers want hearing on T-Mobile, Sprint deal

Hillicon Valley: Closing arguments in AT&T trial | Cyber 'turf wars' heat up | Dem wants more oversight of DHS cyber mission | Lawmakers want hearing on T-Mobile, Sprint deal
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The Hill's Overnight Cybersecurity and Tech teams are joining forces to bring you Hillicon Valley, a new comprehensive newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley.

 

Welcome! Follow the tech team, Ali Breland (@alibreland) and Harper Neidig (@hneidig), and the cyber team, Morgan Chalfant (@mchalfant16) and Olivia Beavers (@olivia_beavers), on Twitter.

 

THE TOPLINE: AT&T, Time Warner and the Justice Department made their closing arguments today in the landmark trial over the $85 billion dollar deal.

Both sides largely summarized the arguments that they had been making over the last six weeks of trial. It was one last chance to make their case before Judge Richard Leon makes his ruling.

The government's case: Craig Conrath, the lead attorney for the Justice Department, told the court that combining the two companies will give AT&T the "ability and incentive" to use Time Warner's stable of entertainment offerings as leverage to hurt competing pay-TV providers. "They'll be a gatekeeper to the content their rivals need," Conrath said, referring to Time Warner assets like HBO and live news and sports programming.

AT&T's argument: AT&T lawyer Daniel Petrocelli dismissed that theory and spent a considerable amount of time attacking the credibility of the government's case and its expert witnesses. "This whole case is a house of cards," Petrocelli said. He dismissed the Justice Department's theories, saying "This model makes no sense."

Flashback: Earlier this month, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson took the stand to argue the merger is necessary to compete for online ad dollars.

Timeline: Judge Leon pledged to issue a ruling by June 12 in order to beat a June 21 merger deadline that the companies are facing.

 

Another big merger... T-Mobile announced on Sunday it had reached a deal to buy Sprint for about $59 billion in stock. The deal would remake the wireless industry, reducing the number of national service providers from four to three. The companies argued that the deal is necessary for them to compete with Verizon and AT&T. But critics say reducing the number of players in the market will hurt competition and ultimately raise prices for consumers. Reps. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneHillicon Valley: DNC tech chief finds no midterm hacks | Google ends forced arbitration for sexual harassment | House Dems look to rein in FCC | North Korean hackers become new banking threat | Tesla gets new chair Dems to ramp up oversight of Trump tech regulators Midterm stakes high for Silicon Valley MORE (D-N.J.) and Mike DoyleMichael (Mike) F. DoyleDems to ramp up oversight of Trump tech regulators Twitter chief faces GOP anger over bias at hearing Live coverage: Social media execs face grilling on Capitol Hill MORE (D-Pa.), the top Dems on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, are already pushing the panel's leadership to hold a hearing to review the merger.

 

TECH AS TRUMP ANTAGONIST: Tech companies are becoming President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichael Cohen: I pray Michelle Obama's words will unite country again Michelle Obama: ‘I stopped even trying to smile’ during Trump’s inauguration Trump wants to end federal relief money for Puerto Rico: report MORE's chief antagonists in the business world. On a number of issues, Silicon Valley is directly challenging the administration's policies more forcefully than other industries.

Microsoft is suing the administration for ending the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provided legal protections for certain immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. IBM has also take a lead role in that fight, filing briefs with the court in favor of the program and having CEO Ginni Rometty press lawmakers for a legislative fix. Tech companies have also taken a lead in criticizing Trump's new tariffs, worrying it could raise production costs, disrupt critical supply chains and discourage foreign investment in their industry.

The sense that the tech world is at loggerheads with Trump is also heightened by one of the president's biggest feuds -- with e-commerce giant Amazon.

In some cases, tech leaders have found themselves under pressure from their employees, who are urging them to use their fortunes and public recognition to push back on Trump's agenda. But activism against the White House has potential pitfalls for tech, say industry insiders. Read more here.

 

IN CONGRESS

Cyber fight: Congress is out this week but one cyber fight is heating up. Over the weekend, we took a look worries that "turf wars" are complicating the federal government's efforts to defend the nation against hackers.

The issue took center stage before lawmakers left town last week, as senators on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said that they had been unable to pass key cyber legislation requested by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) because of a disagreement with the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"The reality of the situation is there is conflict here," said Chairman Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonCommerce Department IG to audit Trump's tariff exemptions Trump trip to rural Wisconsin highlights GOP’s turnout concern GOP senator seeking information on FBI dealings with Bruce Ohr, former DOJ lawyer MORE (R-Wis.) at a hearing Wednesday. "This threat is too significant to allow turf wars to get in the way of as efficient an operation as possible in terms of dealing with a very complex and serious problem."

The dust-up illuminates the broader issue of turf wars over cybersecurity in the federal government. The executive branch has no one single agency assigned to handle cyber. Instead, authorities are spread out over various agencies, including the Justice Department, which investigates and prosecutes cyber crime, and the Pentagon and broader intelligence community, both of which handle what is considered "offensive" cyber activity.

While Homeland Security is broadly recognized as the main agency defending federal networks and critical national assets from cyberattacks, individual agencies also play a major role in guarding their own networks and personnel from malicious cyber actors.  The set-up means that virtually every congressional committee has a say in the federal government's cybersecurity efforts.

Click here for the full scoop.

 

A closer look at DHS: Rep. Dutch RuppersbergerCharles (Dutch) Albert RuppersbergerCIA's ‘surveillance state’ is operating against us all Athletic directors honor best former student-athletes on Capitol Hill Hillicon Valley: New FTC chief eyes shake up of tech regulation | Lawmakers target Google, Huawei partnership | Microsoft employees voice anger over ICE contract MORE (D-Md.) is out with a report today calling on House Appropriations lawmakers to give more oversight to DHS's cyber mission. Among his specific requests? Figure out if the department needs more money to protect control systems that help power the energy grid, water systems and other critical services. Read more.

One reason for the urgency: Homeland Security and FBI officials warned of a multi-year Russia-backed hacking campaign on the U.S. energy sector back in March.  

 

Software security questions: The executive director of the Linux Foundation responded in a lengthy letter to questions from the House Commerce Committee about the security of open-source software. To check out the letter, click here. To read up on the original request, click here.

 

Dems to force net neutrality vote: Senate Democrats are planning to take the first step next week toward forcing a vote to restore the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) net neutrality regulations.  

Democrats have been gathering signatures under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to force a vote to overturn the decision by the FCC to repeal the net neutrality rules. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) tweeted on Monday that Democrats will file the petition to force the vote on May 9. The vote could take place as soon as the week after.

From Schumer's office: "We're in the homestretch in the fight to save net neutrality," the Senate minority leader said in a statement. "Soon, the American people will know which side their member of Congress is on: fighting for big corporations and ISPs or defending small business owners, entrepreneurs, middle-class families and every-day consumers."

Will it be enough though? Probably not. Democrats would need to get a majority in the House, which no one thinks is happening. In the not impossible, but highly unlikely chance that happens, President Trump would also have to sign off on the sign CRA. No one thinks that's happening either.

 

WHATSAPP COFOUNDER STEPS DOWN: WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum said he is leaving the Facebook-owned company in a post on Monday.

"I'm taking some time off to do things I enjoy outside of technology, such as collecting rare air-cooled Porsches, working on my cars and playing ultimate frisbee," Koum said in his statement.

His departure comes as the company clashes with parent Facebook over efforts to weaken encryption and make use of user data.

More Facebook: The company is expanding testing of a "downvote" button with users in Australia and New Zealand, following a similar test in the U.S. this past February.

 

WHAT TO WATCH IN THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH: Newly-confirmed Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo reaffirms to Saudi crown prince US will hold Khashoggi’s killers ‘accountable’ Trump, Erdogan discussed Khashoggi Trump honors French and American soldiers of World War I in Armistice Day remarks MORE will deliver remarks to State Department employees on Tuesday afternoon, where he could address his long-term plans for the department going forward.

Questions have swirled around what he will do about his predecessor Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonWhite House ousts Sessions Trump downplays potential turnover: 'Everybody wants to work in this White House' Trump says Cabinet changes likely after midterms MORE's controversial reorganization plans. Those included shutting down the department's cyber office. Cyber diplomacy efforts are now being handled by Rob Strayer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Cyber and International Communications and Information Policy, within the department's Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. Pompeo has not revealed his plans for the cyber position, though he told lawmakers during his confirmation hearing that he would put a "great deal of resources" toward cybersecurity.

 

OUTSIDE OF WASHINGTON: Iran is banning a popular instant messaging app that allows its users to send secret messages to one another, joining a handful of other authoritarian countries that have blocked Telegram. To read more about the decision, click here.

Facebook is resisting calls from a prominent Cambodian opposition leader to turn over data to aid his legal fight against the ruling government. Prime Minister Hun Sen has brought multiple criminal and civil claims against Sam Rainsy, the leader of Cambodia's National Rescue Party. Rainsy is seeking Facebook data to prove his counter claim that the government has bought ads to spread propaganda and manipulate voters

 

LIGHTER (TWITTER) CLICK: How Hackers search for new roommates and Bernie Sanders hits Amazon.

 

LONGREAD OF THE DAY: YouTube has a lot of great content. YouTube is also a cesspool of troubling videos. That reality has led major brands, on multiple occasions, to pull their advertisements from the platform.

YouTube's wide range of content is what made it so valuable, but now it's trying to clean itself up. Bloomberg Businessweek looks at the tough line the Google-owned company is trying to tow between making profits and insuring a safe user experience.

 

ON TAP:

The Hudson Institute will host a discussion with former FCC Chairman Richard Wiley on the agency's history at noon.

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

A declining majority believes that the Internet has been good for American society, a Pew survey finds.

Britain's National Health Service is putting more dollars toward cybersecurity following 'Wanna Cry,' according to The Independent.

NATO wins a massive cyber defense exercise.

Energy companies aren't spending a lot on cybersecurity, Bloomberg reports.

The New Yorker delves into the controversial concept of 'hacking back.'
After a Jezebel story detailing sexual harassment at Comcast last year, victims are following up with a petition.