Hillicon Valley: Trump again blasts social media for 'silencing' millions | Verizon apologizes for throttling firefighter data during wildfire | Voting systems vendor to boost security after criticism

Hillicon Valley: Trump again blasts social media for 'silencing' millions | Verizon apologizes for throttling firefighter data during wildfire | Voting systems vendor to boost security after criticism

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 Jacqueline Thomsen (@jacq_thomsen), and the tech team, Harper Neidig (@hneidig) and Ali Breland (@alibreland).

TRUMP WARNS SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANIES AGAINST ‘SILENCING’ PEOPLE: President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown MORE on Friday blasted efforts from social media companies to "censor" controversial messages and clamp down on "fake news," urging tech companies to allow Americans to figure out the truth for themselves.

The president's message comes amid efforts by major social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to examine Russian election interference efforts on their sites, as well as moves from some companies to ban right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from displaying his content on their platforms.

The president accused the companies of "silencing millions of people."

"Social Media Giants are silencing millions of people. Can’t do this even if it means we must continue to hear Fake News like CNN, whose ratings have suffered gravely. People have to figure out what is real, and what is not, without censorship!" he wrote.

Trump's remarks on social media censorship also come the same day that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey faces a deadline from House lawmakers to decide whether to testify next month before the House Energy and Commerce Committee over questions of conservative censorship or face a subpoena.

Lawmakers, including committee chairman Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul Walden13 states accepted Sessions invitation to meeting on social media bias: report House GOP blocks Trump-supported drug pricing provision from spending bill GOP turns its fire on Google MORE (R-Ore.), are demanding answers over accusations that Twitter officials "shadow-banned" some conservatives due to their political viewpoints, a process that hides a user's post from followers without their knowledge. Read more here.

VERIZON APOLOGIZES: Verizon on Friday apologized for throttling the data speeds for a fire department as it was battling the largest recorded wildfire in California’s history.

“In supporting first responders in the Mendocino fire, we didn’t live up to our own promise of service and performance excellence when our process failed some first responders on the line, battling a massive California wildfire,” Mike Maiorana, Verizon’s senior vice president of public sector, said in a statement.

“For that, we are truly sorry. And we’re making every effort to ensure that it never happens again,” he added.

Verizon said it would be introducing a new data plan for first responders that doesn’t include throttling after an ensuing uproar. Maiorana said details about the plan would be released next week.

In the meantime, Verizon said it has removed all speed restrictions for first responders on the West Coast and in Hawaii, which is battling flooding from Hurricane Lane.

The controversy began this week when a coalition of Democratic state attorneys general asked a federal appeals court to block the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from overturning its 2015 net neutrality rules. Read more here.

VOTING SYSTEMS VENDOR TO BOOST SECURITY: A major election systems vendor on Thursday announced steps to boost the security of its products, just one day after lawmakers raised concerns that the company is not doing enough to safeguard itself from hackers.

Election Systems and Software (ES&S), which is the third largest election system vendor in the U.S., announced it will work more closely with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISAC) in an effort to increase security of its systems ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

The company, in a press release, said it has formed new partnerships with multiple DHS offices that include its key cyber office, known as the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), as well as the National Cybersecurity Assessment and Technical Services (NCATS).

These federal partnerships will help "conduct cyber hygiene scans of ES&S public‐facing internet presence, monitor and share cyber threat information, detect and report indicators of compromise, develop and distribute election security best practices, and raise the election security awareness of election officials and the voting public," according to the release. Read more here.

DORSEY SAID TO BE FACING COMMITTEE DEADLINE: Republicans have reportedly given Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey until Friday to decide whether he will testify next month or face a subpoena from the House Energy and Commerce Committee on allegations of censorship of conservatives on his platform.

Axios reports that committee staffers told Dorsey during a call on Thursday that he can choose to testify before the committee on Sept. 5 or during the week of Sept. 24, or face a subpoena compelling his testimony.

Republicans on the committee are seeking Dorsey's testimony over reports that conservatives have been "shadowbanned" on the platform.

A spokesperson for the committee did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill. Read more here.

TEXAS VOTING RECORDS BREACHED: A file containing personal information on millions of Texas voters was found on an unsecured online server, Techcrunch reported Thursday.

An estimated 14.8 million records were found on the server, representing files on the majority of Texas’s 15.2 million registered voters.

It is unknown who owns the server, but analysis suggests the data was likely aggregated by the GOP data analytics firm Data Trust, according to Techcrunch.

Included among the information are voters’ names, ages, genders, races, phone numbers and voting histories. Read more here.

RUSSIAN BOTS SOWED DISCORD OVER VACCINES: A new study published Thursday shows Russian bots promoted divisive speech and misinformation surrounding vaccinations in the U.S.

The study, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health, found social media posts taking hardline views on both sides of the vaccination debate in roughly equal proportion.

"These trolls seem to be using vaccination as a wedge issue, promoting discord in American society," the study's authors told NBC News.

The researchers reportedly analyzed a list of Russian bot accounts compiled by NBC News and found that the accounts were “significantly more likely to tweet about vaccination than are average Twitter users.”

Several of the tweets studied originated from accounts identified as being connected to a Kremlin “troll farm," the Internet Research Agency, NBC reported. Read more here.

SECRET SILICON VALLEY SUMMIT: Representatives from a dozen of the nation's largest tech companies will meet Friday to discuss the industry's strategy to combat foreign election interference efforts in the midterm elections.

An email obtained by BuzzFeed News from Facebook cybersecurity chief Nathaniel Gleicher invites officials from companies such as Google and Snapchat to a meeting set to take place at Twitter's headquarters in San Francisco.

“As I’ve mentioned to several of you over the last few weeks, we have been looking to schedule a follow-on discussion to our industry conversation about information operations, election protection, and the work we are all doing to tackle these challenges,” Gleicher wrote according to BuzzFeed. Read more here.

 

A lighter Twitter click: Facebook helps you cherish memories of loved ones.

An OP-ED to chew on: How and why Silicon Valley is getting high.

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Tech firms step up to confront online threats. But some ask, what about the White House? (Washington Post)

The New York Times profiled Lisa Brennan-Jobs about her relationship with her father, Steve Jobs.

China is getting even tougher on cryptocurrencies a year after its crackdown. (Wall Street Journal)

The cybersecurity firm that helped Big Tech find election attacks. (Axios)

Amazon has a PR army on Twitter. (The Guardian)