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Hillicon Valley: Intel chief wants tech, government to work more closely | Facebook doesn't believe foreign state behind hack | New net neutrality lawsuit | Reddit creates 'war room' to fight misinformation

Hillicon Valley: Intel chief wants tech, government to work more closely | Facebook doesn't believe foreign state behind hack | New net neutrality lawsuit | Reddit creates 'war room' to fight misinformation
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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.

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). And CLICK HERE to subscribe to our newsletter.

 

A LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP: Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsDems slam Trump for siding with Saudi Arabia in Khashoggi killing Dem senator demands public intelligence assessment on Khashoggi killing Hillicon Valley: Official warns midterm influence could trigger sanctions | UK, Canada call on Zuckerberg to testify | Google exec resigns after harassment allegations | Gab CEO defends platform | T-Mobile, Sprint tailor merger pitch for Trump MORE called on tech companies to work more closely with the federal government, but hit the same firms for potentially hurting national security by building their devices in foreign companies.

In remarks delivered at Cyberscoop's CyberTalks on Thursday, Coats was congratulatory toward companies that have stepped up their efforts to combat disinformation and influence campaigns by foreign adversaries.

He praised Twitter by name for its recent work removing accounts linked to Russian and Iran, as well as Facebook for shutting down accounts that were pushing political clickbait.

Still, Coats slammed tech companies that declined to work with the federal government on some issues, but chose to work in countries like China that could open them up to supply chain risks.

"If you are a U.S. company that believes you should limit your partnership with the U.S. government because it could hurt your brand," Coats said, think about the harm to U.S. "national security interests for pursuing" opportunities in a country like China.

 

BLAME IT ON THE SP-A-A-A-A-A-M: Facebook believes that the hack it discovered last month that affected nearly 30 million users was not conducted by a foreign state but rather spammers hoping to profit off deceptive advertising, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal, citing unnamed sources familiar with the internal investigation, reported that the preliminary findings conclude that Facebook's security team had previously been aware of the spammers, who act as though they're part of a marketing company.

Facebook has told the press that 14 million users had personal information like location data and search history stolen in the hack, apparently the largest in the country's history. Another 15 million had names and contact information collected, while the remaining one million had no information stolen.

A Facebook spokesman told The Hill that the company could not confirm the Journal's reporting.

"We are cooperating with the FBI on this matter," Guy Rosen, Facebook's head of product management, said in an emailed statement. "The FBI is actively investigating and have asked us not to discuss who may be behind this attack."

Read more here.

 

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER NET NEUTRALITY FIGHT: Internet, cable and wireless providers are suing Vermont because of the state's efforts to impose net neutrality rules following the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of its popular national open internet regulations.

The coalition accused the state's lawmakers of defying federal rules and argued that their industries can't navigate competing state laws governing internet access.

"Broadband providers are united in support of an open internet and committed to delivering the content and services consumers demand," the groups said in a joint statement. "We oppose the actions in Vermont because states cannot use their spending and procurement authority to bypass federal laws they do not like."

The trade groups included USTelecom, the American Cable Association and the wireless association CTIA filed their lawsuit in federal court in Vermont on Thursday.

Earlier this year, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) signed an executive order requiring all internet service providers that do business with the state to treat all web traffic equally. In May, he also signed a bill codifying similar requirements.

"Our net neutrality legislation and my Executive Order demonstrate a clear commitment from Vermont's elected officials, across branches and party lines, to preserving and promoting a free and open internet in Vermont," Scott said in a statement on Thursday. Read more here.

 

RUSSIA-READY REDDIT? Reddit CEO Steve Huffman on Wednesday detailed the "war room" the company has created to fend off foreign misinformation campaigns on the fifth most-visited U.S. site, saying the collaborative effort has helped the company address the issue.

Huffman told NBC News that the company has multiple teams dedicated to addressing the spread of misinformation and protecting the site from manipulative behavior.

The look inside the "war room" comes just a few weeks ahead of the midterm elections, which experts have warned are a target for foreign entities attempting to influence American voters.

"They're not simple issues," Huffman told NBC. "The behaviors are complex, so it takes a variety of expertise to sort them all out."

He added that while there is ongoing foreign activity, the process of rooting out misinformation has become easier as the platform has expanded its resources.  

Reddit, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms have taken steps in the aftermath of the 2016 election to protect their sites from foreign influence campaigns.

Reddit earlier this year removed "a few hundred accounts" linked to Russian propaganda. Huffman said at the time that the site hadn't seen many ads from Russia "either before or after the 2016 election" and that ads from Russia are currently banned from the site.

Read more here.

 

WHAT DO YOU MEME?: Memes may be contributing to the U.K.'s teenage obesity crisis and normalizing online "trolling, body shaming and bullying" a group of British researchers told lawmakers in the U.K.

"A substantial number of individuals on Twitter share health-related internet memes, with both positive and negative messages," academics from Loughborough University wrote in evidence to Parliament. "There is evidence of uncritical consumption of online health-related information."

The researchers warned that memes shared to apparently make light of health-related topics could "normalize undesirable behaviors such as trolling, body shaming and bullying, and a lack of emotion may be indicative of a larger apathy with regards to such practice."

They also warned that memes could help proliferate poor health and eating habits, which could create a higher financial burden for the country's nationalized health care system, the National Health Service (NHS).

"Internet memes are generally viewed as entertaining but they also represent a body of cultural practice that does not account for the specific needs and rights of teenagers," the researchers cautioned.

The researchers are calling for more investigation into the impact of memes and their impact on social policy initiatives. It is not clear what action Parliament might take.

While memes are often innocuous and difficult to decipher for older generations that don't consume them often, they are being weaponized by some groups.

Read more here.

 

QUIETLY DELETE A TWEET? NOT SO FAST: Twitter will now make it clear as to why a tweet has been removed from its platform The company wrote in a post on Thursday that tweets removed for violating its rules will display a notice explaining that the deleted tweet was removed for violating the company's terms of use for 14 days after the deletion.

The new change is set to be rolled out in the coming weeks. Additionally, when a user reports a tweet that potentially violates Twitter's rules, the company will hide the Tweet instead of outright removing it from the user's view. That would allow the user to still view it if necessary.

Twitter said that this new change, which was made available starting on Thursday, is the result of feedback from users who say that they occasionally want to access tweets that they've reported.

Read more here.

 

AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: Why we need a national 5G infrastructure plan.

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Former FBI lawyer speaks with House lawmakers on Rosenstein, 2016. (The Hill)

Kushner and Saudi crown prince communicated informally on WhatsApp. (CNN)

The real cost of free prison tablets. (Mother Jones)

Powerful executives have stepped away from the Saudis. Not SoftBank's. (The New York Times)

Uber takes a detour with plan to provide temporary staff. (Financial Times)