Hillicon Valley: Google takes heat from Trump, Congress | US cracking down on foreign hackers | Sanders steps up Amazon attack | Analysts predict iPhone prices would rise if production moved to US

Hillicon Valley: Google takes heat from Trump, Congress | US cracking down on foreign hackers | Sanders steps up Amazon attack | Analysts predict iPhone prices would rise if production moved to US
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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.

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GOOGLE TYPES INTO SEARCH BAR: 'AM I IN TROUBLE?': President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: Dems playing destructive 'con game' with Kavanaugh Several Yale Law classmates who backed Kavanaugh call for misconduct investigation Freedom Caucus calls on Rosenstein to testify or resign MORE's fight against Google is making its way down Pennsylvania Avenue to Congress.

Republican lawmakers are ramping up their scrutiny of the tech giant after Trump accused Google of political bias and questioned whether regulators should take a closer look at its market powers.

Google added fuel to the fire last week by skipping a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on foreign influence operations. The committee sought top executives from each company to testify and successfully secured commitments from Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

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Google offered to send Kent Walker, its vice president of global affairs. Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrHillicon Valley: State officials share tech privacy concerns with Sessions | Senator says election security bill won't pass before midterms | Instagram co-founders leave Facebook | Google chief to meet GOP lawmakers over bias claims Overnight Energy — Sponsored by the National Biodiesel Board — Texas coal plant to shut down | Macron rejects trade deals with climate pact outsiders | Vote on park funding bills to miss deadline Senate panel eyes vote on parks funding bills after key deadline MORE (R-N.C.), though, rejected that offer in hopes of securing a more senior executive. Google ended up only submitting written testimony from Walker. That move infuriated lawmakers, who took turns blasting Google during the hearing, which included an empty chair.

Burr said that he was "disappointed that Google decided against sending the right senior-level executive," to the hearing. The anger was bipartisan. Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate panel eyes vote on parks funding bills after key deadline Key House Dem's objections stall intel bill as deadline looms Russia docs order sets Trump on collision with intel community MORE (Va.), the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, piled on in his opening remarks.

"I'm deeply disappointed that Google -- one of the most influential digital platforms in the world -- chose not to send its own top corporate leadership to engage this committee," Warner said.

The takeaway: Tech experts said Google can expect more trouble ahead and worry the company missed an important chance to publicly defend their practices.

Read more here.

 

CYBER CRACKDOWN ON NORTH KOREA: Department of Justice (DOJ) officials have unsealed a massive, 179-page complaint against a North Korean hacker, marking a significant benchmark in U.S. efforts to crack down on foreign cyberattacks.

The document alleges that a North Korean programmer, alongside others, executed major attacks with the backing of Kim Jong Un's government. And DOJ officials are touting the findings as an example of their willingness to go after foreign cyber actors who engage in cyberattacks against the U.S. and its allies.

"The charges reflect the department's determination and ability to follow the facts and the law, and to hold individuals and nations accountable for their crimes," Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers told reporters on Thursday.

The allegations date back to 2014, a sign that officials are not willing to let past attacks slide as they attempt to guard against foreign efforts to influence the November midterm elections.

Demers noted during a press call with reporters that with the complaint against North Korea, DOJ has now retaliated against four nations believed to be hostile cyber actors; the others are Russia, China and Iran.

He said that when the U.S. began issuing the charges, starting with those against Chinese nationals in 2015, U.S. officials "made clear that working with a foreign government does not immunize criminal conduct."

The complaint goes into great detail about how the cyberattacks, believed to be backed by the North Korean government, were carried out. The 2014 hack on Sony, the theft of about $81 million from the national bank of Bangladesh and last year's WannaCry ransomware attack are all described in the documents.

Experts say that lengthy and specific complaints like the one issued this past week help reveal the strategies and techniques used by hackers, while demonstrating that the U.S. is making strides in how it cracks down on malicious cyber actors.

Read more of our coverage here.

 

NEW SANDERS ATTACK ON AMAZON: Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersPoll: Gillum leads DeSantis by 5 points in Florida governor race Sanders: Kavanaugh accusers 'have risked their lives to come forward' Helping citizens unite in post-Citizens United America MORE (I-Vt.) on Monday renewed his attacks against Amazon, sharing videos on Twitter that accuse the company of using "Orwellian language."

"Listen to how Amazon uses its own lingo to blur the distinction between billionaire CEO Jeff Bezos and the average Amazon employee making minimum wage, according to journalist @J_Bloodworth," Sanders tweeted as he shared one of the videos.

In one of the videos, James Bloodworth, the author of a book detailing working conditions at Amazon, starts off by saying, "The kind of language that the company used -- a kind of Orwellian language to blur the distinction between you as a worker and what the management were doing."

Read more here.

 

ANALYST PREDICTS 20 PERCENT IPHONE PRICE BUMP IF APPLE MOVES TO US: Bank of America Merrill Lynch is estimating that iPhone prices would rise up to 20 percent if Apple followed through with President Trump's call for it to shift its factory operations to the U.S., according to CNBC.

The business news network obtained a research note from Merrill Lynch issued Monday responding to a tweet from the president urging the tech giant make its "products in the United States instead of China."

"The conclusion was for the iPhone (not currently impacted by Tariffs) moving production (100% of final assembly) to the U.S. would need 20% price increases to offset the incremental labor costs," analyst Wamsi Mohan wrote.

Read more here.

 

GOOGLE PULLS ADS FROM PUTIN CRITIC: Google has pulled Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's ads from YouTube ahead of regional elections in Russia, according to media reports.

The pulled videos showed Navalny calling for Russians to demonstrate in the country to protest a plan to raise the nation's retirement age, BBC News reported.

An aide to Navalny accused Google of "political censorship" in removing them, but the company has defended the move as acting in accordance with local law.

Russian officials reportedly asked Google last month to take down the ads because they violated a law that prohibits campaigning within 24 hours of an election.

Read more here.

 

JACK MA TO STEP DOWN FROM ALIBABA: Jack Ma, the longtime head of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, on Sunday announced that Daniel Zhang will succeed him as chairman in one year's time.

Ma, the wealthiest man in China, had earlier said he would be unveiling a succession plan, while hitting back at a New York Times report that said he was retiring.

"Today, as we mark the 19th anniversary of Alibaba, I am excited to share some news with you: with the approval of our board of directors, one year from today on September 10, 2019 which also falls on Alibaba's 20th anniversary, Group CEO Daniel Zhang will succeed me as chairman of the board of Alibaba Group," Ma announced in a statement.

Read more here.

 

HERE IS AN INTERESTING TWITTER THREAD on how Instagram forced a user to give his phone number in order to use his account. It goes to show even if you want to limit how much information you give to some sites, the system is built to extract such data.

Speaking of Instagram, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoRod Rosenstein must resign now Civilian deaths in Yemen up by 164 percent: report Trump team must do more to end the ongoing crisis in Yemen MORE now has his own account.

 

A LIGHTER TWITTER CLICK: Twitter sees all.

 

ON TAP:

The Bridge, Microsoft, Facebook and Google will be having a discussion tomorrow about protecting your campaign online ahead of the 2018 elections.

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Can Mark Zuckerberg fix Facebook before it breaks democracy? (The New Yorker)

Most teens prefer to chat online, rather than in person. (The Wall Street Journal)

For Big Tech, a comeuppance we've seen before: on Wall Street. (The New York Times)

Apple's iPhone event: What to expect. (CNN)