Hillicon Valley: Manafort associate to cooperate after guilty plea | Official urges LinkedIn to shut down Chinese spies | Dems press for probe into Verizon throttling data during wildfire

Hillicon Valley: Manafort associate to cooperate after guilty plea | Official urges LinkedIn to shut down Chinese spies | Dems press for probe into Verizon throttling data during wildfire
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*SIREN* ANOTHER MANAFORT ASSOCIATE PLEADS GUILTY: Sam Patten, a former associate of Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortMake the special counsel report public for the sake of Americans Paul Manafort should not be sentenced to 20 years in prison Mueller recommends Manafort serve at least 19 years in prison MOREpleaded guilty in federal court on Friday to illegally acting as a foreign agent and is now cooperating with the government.

Patten was charged with failing to register as a foreign agent in the United States.


The charges are related to Patten's work lobbying on behalf of a political party in Ukraine, known as the Opposition Bloc, according to the criminal information document federal prosecutors filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Friday.

Patten is accused of knowingly and willfully acting as an agent for a Ukrainian political party and its members without registering with the attorney general, a violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

The government alleges he worked with a Russian national, known only in court documents as Foreigner A, on lobbying and political consulting services, and helped Foreigner A and a prominent Ukraine oligarch set up meetings with members of Congress, specifically senators on the Foreign Relations Committee and representatives on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, as well as officials in the State Department and members of the media.

Patten faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, followed by supervised release for up to three years, and could be fined up to $250,000 for the offense.

As part of his plea agreement, Patten has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, though it is unclear what the nature or extent of that cooperation may be.

Federal prosecutors also alleged that Patten sought tickets for President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE's inauguration for a prominent Ukrainian oligarch.

Patten allegedly tried to conceal the source of a $50,000 payment for four presidential inauguration tickets in 2017 on behalf of the Ukrainian oligarch, who is not named. The Presidential Inauguration Committee does not accept money from foreign nationals but allows foreigners to attend the inauguration so long as they do not pay for the tickets.

Prosecutors say that Patten "solicited a United States citizen to act as a 'straw'

Read more here.


OH(R) DEAR: Department of Justice (DOJ) official Bruce Ohr reportedly told lawmakers during a private interview this week that former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele told him that Russian intelligence officials believed "they had [President] Trump over a barrel."

The Associated Press reported Friday that Ohr, who testified before Republican lawmakers on the House Judiciary and the Oversight and Government Reform committees for roughly eight hours on Tuesday, said that Steele shared the sentiments of Russian intelligence during a breakfast meeting in July 2016.

The AP noted that it's unclear if Steele had received the statement on Trump directly from Russian officials, or from his contacts.

Steele is the former British spy who compiled the controversial dossier that alleged ties between Trump and Russia.

Ohr also reportedly told lawmakers that Steele told him former Trump campaign aide Carter Page had met with higher-ranking Russian officials than he has previously stated.

Some House Republicans have charged that the DOJ and FBI abused their authority in obtaining a surveillance warrant on Page, citing the use of Steele's dossier in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant application on Page.

The dossier included salacious allegations on Trump's ties to Moscow. The FBI stated in the warrant application that while it considered Steele to be reliable, the agency stopped using the former spy as a source after he said he was sharing information with the media.

The AP also reported that Ohr told lawmakers that he believed Steele had previously been a credible source, but could not fully vouch for the accuracy of the information shared with him at the breakfast meeting. 

Read more here.


DECLINE THESE INVITES: A top U.S. counterintelligence official is warning LinkedIn not to "be like Facebook" after finding that Chinese intelligence operatives are using its platform.

William Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, told Reuters that China is creating fake profiles on the networking platform to recruit Americans with access to government and commercial secrets.

China is being "super aggressive" in its use of the site, Evanina said. The official is asking LinkedIn to get aggressive in response.

Evanina recommended a response similar to how Twitter has handled fake accounts from foreign operatives attempting to use its social media platform.

"I recently saw that Twitter is cancelling, I don't know, millions of fake accounts, and our request would be maybe LinkedIn could go ahead and be part of that," Evanina told Reuters.

LinkedIn pledged to do "everything we can to identify and stop this activity."

"We've never waited for requests to act and actively identify bad actors and remove bad accounts using information we uncover and intelligence from a variety of sources including government agencies," LinkedIn's head of trust and safety, Paul Rockwell, told Reuters. 

Read more here.


A BAD KIND OF HALF-BAKED COOKIE: A study from the University of Michigan found that while more websites are sending visitors cookie notifications, the notices likely aren't reaching the legal standard set by the European Union's new privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Researchers found that the notices don't reach the GDPR's standard, because users can disable them. And the study found that some sites aren't sending the notices to all users, but only to those in countries where the law is in place.

"The bottom line is that without regulation companies in the United States are not likely to give more privacy choice to customers, so many will find ways to adapt their sites to comply where they must but continue to operate business as usual elsewhere," said Florian Schaub, one of the researchers from the University of Michigan. 

Read more about the study here.


DEMS LIGHT FIRE UNDER FCC TO PROBE VERIZON: Two Democratic lawmakers are pressing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to look into Verizon's throttling of a fire department's unlimited data plan during recent wildfires in California.

Sen. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyGreen New Deal Resolution invites big picture governing We can have a Green New Deal, and air travel too 2020 Dem slams Green New Deal: As realistic as Trump's claim that Mexico will pay for wall MORE (D-Mass.) and Rep. Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooDems urge regulators to reject T-Mobile, Sprint merger House Dems to mull bills to overturn Trump ObamaCare actions T-Mobile, Sprint step up merger push MORE (D-Calif.) sent a letter to the federal agency on Friday requesting an explanation of Verizon's actions during the fire.

Verizon admitted last week that it mistakenly throttled the Santa Clara County Fire Department's data while they battled the Mendocino Complex Fire, the largest fire ever recorded in California. Verizon has said it would review the error.

Read more here.


ACTIVISTS PROTEST PALANTIR AT BURNING MAN: Activists are protesting software company Palantir's contracts with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency at Burning Man

Mijente, an advocacy group for Latinx and Chicanx organizing, brought a giant cage on wheels to the festival in Black Rock Desert, Nevada, with the intent to bring the contract to the attention of tech workers in attendance.

"We're conducting an action at Burning Man to start a conversation with these tech workers, in hopes of building the bridge between families being torn apart by ICE, and the tech companies that code the software to help ICE," said a spokesperson for the group.

Read more here. 





Get ready for more extreme political ads on Facebook. (The Wall Street Journal)

Cryptocurrency passwords can now be stored in DNA (Nextgov)

Justice Department warns it might not be able to prosecute voting machine hackers (Motherboard)

Hacking a prince, an emir and a journalist to impress a client (The New York Times)

Apple blocks its gay pride watch face in Russia. (The Verge)