Hillicon Valley: Senators working on new Russia sanctions bill | Defense bill includes cyber warfare policy | Hatch tells Google he's still alive | Dem wants tech execs back before Congress | Facebook gets foothold in China

Hillicon Valley: Senators working on new Russia sanctions bill | Defense bill includes cyber warfare policy | Hatch tells Google he's still alive | Dem wants tech execs back before Congress | Facebook gets foothold in China
© Greg Nash

Welcome to Hillicon Valley, The Hill's newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley.

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

 

MOVEMENT ON RUSSIA SANCTIONS?: Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham asks colleagues to support call for China to close wet markets Justice IG pours fuel on looming fight over FISA court Trump says he's considering restricting travel to coronavirus 'hot spots' MORE (R-S.C.) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezHillicon Valley: Facebook launches portal for coronavirus information | EU sees spike in Russian misinformation on outbreak | Senate Dem bill would encourage mail-in voting | Lawmakers question safety of Google virus website Democratic senators press Google over privacy of coronavirus screening site Menendez calls for 'Marie Yovanovitch bill' to protect foreign service employees MORE (D-N.J.) are working on legislation to slap new sanctions on Russia as Congress faces pressure to crack down in the wake of the Helsinki summit.

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"Just as Vladimir Putin has made clear his intention to challenge American power, influence, and security interests at home and abroad, the United States must make it abundantly clear that we will defend our nation and not waver in our rejection of his effort to erode western democracy as a strategic imperative for Russia's future," Menendez and Graham said in a joint statement referring to the Russian leader on Tuesday.

In addition to making sure the 2017 sanctions legislation, which passed Congress overwhelmingly, is fully implemented, the forthcoming Graham-Menendez bill includes new sanctions on Russia's debt and energy and financial sectors.

It would also target cyber actors in Russia and Russian oligarchs.

The legislation comes as senators are weighing how to respond to Moscow after President TrumpDonald John TrumpMilitary personnel to handle coronavirus patients at facilities in NYC, New Orleans and Dallas Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort has total of 20 patients: report Fauci says that all states should have stay-at-home orders MORE refused to denounce Russian meddling in the 2016 president election during last week's summit with Putin in Helsinki.

Read more here.

 

MEANWHILE ... Two Senate panels are planning a series of hearings to review the Trump administration's policies toward Russia and examine whether additional sanctions against the country are warranted.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats press Trump, GOP for funding for mail-in ballots Top GOP lawmakers push back on need for special oversight committee for coronavirus aid Stocks move little after record-breaking unemployment claims MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters on Tuesday that he tasked the chairmen of the Senate committees, Sens. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerMcConnell, Romney vie for influence over Trump's trial RNC says ex-Trump ambassador nominee's efforts 'to link future contributions to an official action' were 'inappropriate' Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight MORE (R-Tenn.) and Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoLobbying blitz yields wins for airlines, corporations, banks, unions Stimulus empowers Treasury to rescue airlines with billion in direct assistance White House, Senate reach deal on trillion stimulus package MORE (R-Idaho), to "recommend to the Senate additional measures that could respond to or deter Russian malign behavior."

Read more.

 

SENATORS PRESS TREASURY TO SANCTION RUSSIAN HACKERS: A bipartisan pair of senators on Tuesday asked the Treasury Department to impose financial sanctions on the 12 Russian intelligence officers indicted by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE last week for allegedly hacking the emails of top Democratic Party officials.

In a Tuesday letter, Sens. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyNSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show Overnight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns MORE (R-Pa.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenLawmakers call for unemployment benefits for evacuated Peace Corps volunteers Democratic senators ask Pompeo to provide coronavirus aid to Palestinian territories Overnight Energy: House stimulus aims to stem airline pollution | Environmental measures become sticking point in Senate talks | Progressives propose T 'green stimulus' MORE (D-Md.) asked Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinMurkowski pushes Mnuchin for oil company loans 17 things to know today about coronavirus The Memo: Scale of economic crisis sends shudders through nation MORE to target the alleged cyber-criminals under sanctions enacted by President Trump through executive orders and legislation he signed.

The Justice Department charged 11 members of Russia's military intelligence wing (GRU) on July 13 with conspiring to illegally access and distribute the emails of Democratic Party leaders, candidates and political committees. Another was charged was attempting to infiltrate systems used to conduct state elections.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has indicated he will not surrender the 12 indicted Russian officers to the United States for prosecution.

Toomey and Van Hollen asked Mnuchin to exercise his "legal authority necessary to impose sanctions on individuals who engage in cyber activities intended to interfere in America's elections."

Read more here.

 

NICE TRY: Democrats on the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday failed in their attempt to subpoena the top U.S. intelligence official to testify publicly on the threat Russia poses to U.S. elections.

Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyOPM chief abruptly resigns The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the APTA - Biden looks for Super Tuesday surge; coronavirus fears heighten 'Liberated' Pelosi bashes Trump — and woos Democratic base MORE (D-Va.) offered a motion to subpoena Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsWe weren't ready for a pandemic — imagine a crippling cyberattack GOP presses for swift Ratcliffe confirmation to intel post Experts report recent increase in Chinese group's cyberattacks MORE. Republicans defeated the effort in a 17-15 party-line vote that tabled the motion.

The vote was held during a hearing on election security after Democrats criticized Committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdySunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for another week fighting the coronavirus, seek to curb fallout GOP lawmaker shows off AR-15 in office, challenges Biden to 'come and take it' Sunday shows preview: 2020 Democrats jockey for top spot ahead of Nevada caucuses MORE (R-S.C.) for declining their request to ask Coats to testify.

Gowdy had offered to invite Coats to testify before the committee in a classified setting, but Democrats described that offer as insufficient.

"We appreciate your agreement to hold a classified briefing with [the Office of Director of National Intelligence], but we think a briefing, albeit helpful, needs to be accompanied by a public hearing," said Connolly, adding that a closed-door briefing would be "no substitute" for a public one.

At the end of the hearing, Gowdy, who is also a member of the House Intelligence Committee, pushed back on Democrats' broader demands for more public hearings to examine Russian interference in the 2016 election.

He argued that the House and Senate intelligence committees appropriately conducted their investigations into Moscow's election meddling in a classified setting in order to review sensitive information.  "Everything can't be done in public," he said.

Read more here.

 

DEM WANTS TECH BACK BEFORE CONGRESS: The Senate Intelligence Committee's top Democrat is pushing for another hearing on how tech firms are dealing with Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHackers target health care AI amid coronavirus pandemic Hillicon Valley: Coronavirus deal includes funds for mail-in voting | Twitter pulled into fight over virus disinformation | State AGs target price gouging | Apple to donate 10M masks Senator sounds alarm on cyber threats to internet connectivity during coronavirus crisis MORE (D-Va.) has said before that he was interested in bringing technology executives back before his committee after representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in November.

Two sources with knowledge of the matter told The Hill that Warner is now taking steps to make the hearing happen.

The focus of the hearing expected to be on how major internet platforms were manipulated during the election and the threat it could happen again.

We have the details here.

 

A CYBER WARFARE POLICY?  The final version of an annual defense policy bill would set new authorities for the Department of Defense to deter and respond to attacks in cyberspace, including establishing the first U.S. policy on cyber warfare.

Following House and Senate negotiations, a conference report on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) released Monday says the United States should be able to use every option on the table, including offensive cyber capabilities.

"[The NDAA] establishes a policy that the United States should employ all instruments of national power, including the use of offensive cyber capabilities, to deter if possible, and respond when necessary, to cyber attacks that target U.S. interests," the conference report reads.

It notes that the policy could be applied if the attack was to intentionally "cause casualties, significantly disrupt the normal functioning of our democratic society or government, threaten the Armed Forces or the critical infrastructure they rely upon, achieve an effect comparable to an armed attack, or imperil a U.S. vital interest." Congress said if it is faced with a cyberattack or malicious cyber activity, it will first encourage the White House to take action before acting unilaterally.

If passed into law, this legislative text from the Senate would establish the nation's first cyber warfare policy -- but it has to pass the president's desk first. President Trump has previously objected to the language in the Senate-passed bill, charging that this would infringe on his presidential authorities.

Read more here.

 

BATTLEGROUND NET NEUTRALITY POLLING: A new poll commissioned by the Internet Freedom Business Alliance that was shared with The Hill has found that swing district voters back net neutrality even though the FCC has repealed the rules.

The firm IMGE polled voters in California's 25th congressional district, Colorado's 6th, Florida's 18th and New York's 19th.

The survey found in aggregate that of the 1600 voters surveyed, 63 percent of Republicans, 72 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of Trump voters back net neutrality rules.

And in each of the districts polled, the net neutrality rules registered at least 64 percent favorability among voters.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents said that the issue would be very or somewhat important during the November midterm elections.

The full poll can be found here.

 

FACEBOOK GAINS A FOOTHOLD IN CHINA: Facebook is opening a subsidiary in China, a major coup for a company that has been trying to get a foothold in the country for years.

The Washington Post first reported that Facebook will be opening a $30 million incubator in Hangzhou that will be focused on advising and making investments in businesses.

However, the social media site itself is still blocked in China despite CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Trump, telecom executives talk coronavirus response | Pelosi pushes funding for mail-in voting | New York AG wants probe into firing of Amazon worker | Marriott hit by another massive breach As misinformation surges, coronavirus poses AI challenge Zuckerberg, Gates team up to contribute M for research into coronavirus treatments MORE's efforts to appeal to Communist Party leaders like President Xi Jinping.

"We are interested in setting up an innovation hub in Zhejiang [province] to support Chinese developers, innovators and start-ups," the company said in a statement released to The Hill. "We have done this in several parts of the world -- France, Brazil, India, Korea -- and our efforts would be focused on training and workshops that help these developers and entrepreneurs to innovate and grow."

Read more here.

 

TODAY IN THE PRESIDENT'S TWEETS: President Trump on Tuesday said he is "very concerned" that Russia will attempt to interfere in this year's midterm elections, claiming Moscow "will be pushing very hard" to support Democrats.

"I'm very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election," Trump tweeted. "Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don't want Trump!"

Don't forget: Russian President Vladimir Putin said alongside Trump after their meeting in Helsinki last week that he wanted Trump to win the 2016 election.

"Yes, I did, because he was the one who wanted to normalize relations with Russia," Putin said.

 

FACEBOOK SAYS WILD ALEX JONES TWEETS ARE OKAY: Facebook on Tuesday said that Infowars founder Alex Jones's monologue threatening special counsel Robert Mueller is not a violation of its platform rules.

In his rant, Jones accuses Mueller of covering up sex crimes, challenges the special counsel to an imaginary gunfight and pantomimes shooting the former FBI director. He challenges Mueller to "make the move first, and then it's going to happen" before pretending to shoot the special counsel.

In the monologue, Jones accused Mueller of molesting children but later walked that back and said Mueller just "controls" the rape of children and did not participate in it.

Facebook is eating the policy it doubled down on: The company has said that despite taking down videos and other content pushing hoaxes and banning repeat offenders, Jones's Infowars account doesn't qualify for a ban from the platform.

Despite criticism for this stance, Facebook says that hoax stories alone are not violations of its rules.

It's not clear if Jones's words could constitute a transmitted threat against Mueller, who is currently leading the special counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. Threatening a federal official with violence is a class C or D felony, punishable by up to five or 10 years in prison.

Read more here.

 

HATCH TELLS GOOGLE THAT HE'S STILL ALIVE: Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchBottom line Bottom line Trump administration backs Oracle in Supreme Court battle against Google MORE wants the world to know he's very much alive after a Google search results snafu had declared the 84-year-old Utah Republican dearly departed.

On Monday night, Hatch's office pointed out the news of the senator's "death" via the search engine. Pulling from a faulty Wikipedia entry, Google had declared that Hatch passed away last September:

Matt Whitlock, Hatch's spokesman, tells ITK, "When Sen. Hatch first heard of his passing he was quite alarmed. Having advanced four major bills last night he was surprised to hear that he may have been dead the whole time."

Hatch's office tweeted out a proof of life series to make the case that their boss was far from expired.

Read more here.

 

CYBER BILL APPROVED BY HOUSE HOMELAND PANEL: The House Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday approved a bill that will codify a key cybersecurity program at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The bill, introduced by Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeGOP presses for swift Ratcliffe confirmation to intel post Acting director of National Counterterrorism Center fired: report Acting director of national intelligence begins hiring freeze: reports MORE (R-Texas), would give the Homeland Security Secretary the authority to establish the Continuous Diagnostics Mitigation (CDM) program, which aims to protect federal networks from cyberattacks.

"The Continuous Diagnostic and Mitigation has been one of the DHS's top priorities because it has the potential to dramatically increase our visibility across federal networks," Ratcliffe said during the Homeland committee's markup of DHS-related bills.

"Many of us believe the program has the ability to provide the information necessary to make better decisions, not only to combat our enemies in cyberspace, but also to help federal [Chief Information Officers] manage information technology."

The approval of Ratcliffe's bill, known as the Advancing Cybersecurity Diagnostics and Mitigation Act, comes a few weeks after the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) found a majority of cyber agencies are vulnerable to cyber attacks.

"OMB found that almost 75 percent of federal agencies are vulnerable to cyber threats in large part due to their inability to understand cyber risks, and therefore their inability to prioritize their resources," the Texas lawmaker said.

Ratcliffe said the DHS CDM program is the "best" solution to this problem because it would help federal agencies understand the threats they face and the risks they face and the vulnerabilities posed in real time.

Read more here.

 

A LIGHTER TWITTER CLICK: Spotted on the Hill.

 

AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: Bitcoin will have ups and downs, but you can expect it to surge in years ahead.

 

ICYMI: Trump mulls move against intel critics.

 

ON TAP:

The Senate Intelligence Committee is holding an open hearing on two intelligence nominations at 9:30 a.m.

The House Homeland Security Committee is holding a hearing on the federal government's cybersecurity risk profile at 10:30 a.m.

All four FCC commissioners will testify in an oversight hearing before the House Commerce subcommittee on communications and technology at 1 p.m.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is holding a hearing on the Government Accountability Office's interim report on the federal government's major cybersecurity challenges at 2 p.m.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hear from Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOrganizing evacuations during a shutdown The Saudi-Russia oil fight is the last thing the economy needs in a pandemic US intel agencies conclude China has under-reported coronavirus cases, deaths: report MORE at 3:00 p.m. Wednesday. Note: The hearing time was pushed back 30 minutes.

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Judiciary Dems call for hearings on NRA's role in Russia's 2016 election meddling. (The Hill)

Officials say Russian hackers claimed 'hundreds of victims' in a campaign targeting the energy sector. (The Wall Street Journal)

A new poll finds that Republican opinions of the FBI have become considerably less favorable over the past year. (Pew Research Center)

Brett Kavanaugh on net neutrality. (SCOTUSblog)

Senate Intel chair says 'sound reasons' for judges to approve the FISA warrant on Carter Page. (CNN)

Facebook's chief security officer's parting memo. (BuzzFeed)

DIY 3D-printed guns get go-ahead after Trump administration strikes court deal. (The Guardian)

Ron Wyden reckons with the internet he helped create. (The Verge)