Hillicon Valley: Trump to meet Google chief | DHS chief blasts bureaucratic red tape | Russian hackers went after 'Star Wars' | Amazon raises minimum wage

Hillicon Valley: Trump to meet Google chief | DHS chief blasts bureaucratic red tape | Russian hackers went after 'Star Wars' | Amazon raises minimum wage

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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FINALLY COMING TOGETHER?: President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Dems demand Barr cancel 'inappropriate' press conference on Mueller report DOJ plans to release 'lightly redacted' version of Mueller report Thursday: WaPo Nadler accuses Barr of 'unprecedented steps' to 'spin' Mueller report MORE is set to meet with Google CEO Sundar Pichai and other technology industry representatives later this month, a top White House official announced Tuesday.

National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow told reporters that a date isn't set for the meeting, but he expects it to be in mid-October. He said he is hopeful that Facebook and Twitter also send representatives for the meeting.

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"We're going to have a little conference. The president will preside over it. We will have the big internet companies, the big social media companies, search companies, and some who are dissatisfied with those companies," he said. Google and Facebook did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Pichai committed to the meeting during a previous meeting with Kudlow last week, the White House official said Tuesday. Kudlow called his meeting with Pichai "constructive" and said the Google CEO was "extremely cooperative."

Big picture: The expected gathering of industry officials with Trump would follow a tense period between technology companies and the White House. In September, Trump publicly criticized Facebook, Google and Twitter, accusing them of being biased against conservatives and saying that the former two raised a "very antitrust situation." Read more here.

 

STOP CRAMPIN' MY STYLE: The head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Tuesday said bureaucratic red tape, primarily on Capitol Hill, is weighing down the agency's efforts to respond quickly to evolving threats.

"We have to reorganize the way Congress does oversight for DHS," Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said at an event hosted by The Washington Post. She said that while oversight is needed, "100 committees is not workable." Nielsen said numerous congressional committees have claimed oversight jurisdiction over DHS.

"Things develop so quickly given our connectivity, given the pace of innovation, that I worry we won't have time to develop what we need to respond to the evolving threats," she added. "That has been the most difficult -- to change our posture to one that is much more far leaning and anticipatory, horizon-scanning in addressing today's threats."

Nielsen cited drones as a key example of red-tape delays. The DHS chief said she's been talking to Congress for a year about the need to change the agency's authority to track drones. Current requirements say DHS needs a warrant to monitor a drone.

She said that since some drones can fly as fast as 150 mph, it's impractical under the current setup because DHS would not have enough time to get a warrant to follow a drone if it is flying at a soft-target. Nielsen said she was told by six different congressional committees that drones fall under their authority.

Read more here.

 

RIGHT OUT OF A SCI-FI FILM: Russian hackers reportedly targeted the release of Disney's "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" in 2017 to politicize the franchise and drum up discontent.

A new academic paper released this week from researcher Mort Bay at the University of Southern California found evidence online of "deliberate, organized political influence measures disguised as fan arguments."

Russian operators have exploited social media accounts to push political agendas, most notably during the 2016 presidential election, Bay wrote. He found a number of Russian trolls disguised as fan accounts participating in online debates about the movie.

Online discussions comprised of three different audiences, according to Bay. There were trolls, those trying to stir up controversy because of a political agenda and genuine "Star Wars" fans.

"Overall, 50.9 percent of those tweeting negatively [about the movie] was likely politically motivated or not even human," he writes, noting that only 21.9 percent of tweets analyzed about the movie had been negative in the first place.

Bay wrote that the likely goal of the online trolls was to increase media coverage of the fandom's conflict, "thereby adding to and further propagating a narrative of widespread discord and dysfunction in American society," Bay wrote.

Read more here.

 

DOLLA, DOLLA BILLS YA: Amazon announced early Tuesday that it is increasing its hourly minimum wage to $15 per hour for all full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees across the United States.

"We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead," Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder and CEO, said in a statement.

"We're excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us," he added.

The new hourly minimum wage rate is scheduled to take effect on Nov. 1 and will benefit the more than 250,000 employees working at the retail giant.

"We will be working to gain Congressional support for an increase in the federal minimum wage. The current rate of $7.25 was set nearly a decade ago," Jay Carney, Amazon's senior vice president of global corporate affairs, said in the statement. "We intend to advocate for a minimum wage increase that will have a profound impact on the lives of tens of millions of people and families across this country."

The move follows attacks from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I), an outspoken critic of large corporations.

The Vermont independent has specifically called out Amazon and Bezos following reports that some workers claimed they received wages they could not live on. In a letter to the Amazon CEO in June, Sanders shared stories his staff had heard from Amazon employees who said they were struggling.

Read more here.

 

AND SANDERS WAS PLEASED: Two progressive lawmakers are lauding Amazon's decision to raise the wage of its lowest-paid employees to $15 an hour following pressure on the company to pay its workers more.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersOvernight Health Care: DOJ charges doctors over illegal opioid prescriptions | Cummings accuses GOP of obstructing drug pricing probe | Sanders courts Republican voters with 'Medicare for All' | Dems probe funding of anti-abortion group Ex-Obama campaign manager: Sanders can't beat Trump Booker calls for sweeping voting rights reforms MORE (I-Vt.) and Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaHillicon Valley: Washington preps for Mueller report | Barr to hold Thursday presser | Lawmakers dive into AI ethics | FCC chair moves to block China Mobile | Dem bill targets 'digital divide' | Microsoft denies request for facial recognition tech Lawmakers, tech set for clash over AI Trump vetoes measure ending US support for Saudi-led war in Yemen MORE (D-Calif.), who had criticized Amazon for low wages, both praised the company's CEO Jeff Bezos on Tuesday following the announcement.

"I'm very glad that [Bezos] took this action. He deserves a lot of credit," Khanna told The Hill. "This is going to not just put money in the pocket for Amazon employees, but also set the bar for other retailers to follow."

Khanna acknowledged that Amazon could still improve in other areas but said that he wants "to give [Bezos] the benefit of the doubt today."

 

They're still disappointed with other companies: 

Still, Khanna said the progressive lawmakers plan to press ahead on legislation that would penalize companies that pay workers wages low enough that they rely on government welfare programs.

Khanna joked about changing the name of the bill, which was named the "Stop BEZOS Act," to instead focus on the CEO of Walmart or McDonald's, whose wages he says are still too low.

Read more here.

 

TWITTER'S MIDTERM ELECTION SECURITY:  Twitter outlined its efforts to help preserve election integrity during the upcoming 2018 midterms on Monday, including its removal of a new set of accounts and a ban on the distribution of hacked materials.

"As platform manipulation tactics continue to evolve, we are updating and expanding our rules to better reflect how we identify fake accounts, and what types of inauthentic activity violate our guidelines," Twitter wrote.

The company said that it removed around 50 accounts misrepresenting themselves as members different state Republican parties in August. The company already removed hundreds of accounts in August as a part of its platform security efforts. Read more here.

 

RUBY ROSE MAY HAVE DIGITAL THORNS: Cybersecurity firm McAfee is warning that links tied to Ruby Rose are the most dangerous when searching for information about the Australian celebrity online. McAfee warns users to be careful what they click on links when searching for her.

Read more from the report here.

 

NYC BOOSTIN' ITS CYBER: NYC's Economic Development Corp. on Tuesday announced it would be partnering with SOSA to establish a new Global Cyber Center hub. The hub, which will be located in Chelsea, is expected to help the city clamp down on cyber crime.

 

A LIGHTER TWITTER CLICK: Reinventing the cool koozies.

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

New Zealand to fine travelers who refuse to unlock digital devices. (The Hill)

The Facebook hack exposes an internet-wide failure. (Wired)

Meet the man at the center of the high-stakes, winner-take-all $10 billion Pentagon cloud contract called JEDI. (The Washington Post)

Tesla's SEC deal provides ammunition for U.S. probe, investor lawsuits. (Reuters)