Hillicon Valley: Supreme Court declines to hear net neutrality challenge | How the midterms will affect the cyber agenda | Facebook rejects controversial Trump ad | Gab back online

Hillicon Valley: Supreme Court declines to hear net neutrality challenge | How the midterms will affect the cyber agenda | Facebook rejects controversial Trump ad | Gab back online
© Greg Nash

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.


SCOTUS ENDS COURT BATTLE OVER OBAMA'S NET NEUTRALITY RULES: The Supreme Court on Monday put an end to a legal battle over the Obama administration's net neutrality rules, refusing to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling that upheld the 2015 regulations.

The court declined to hear the appeal from the trade group USTelecom, which represents internet service providers, and Century Link Inc. without explanation.

The internet service providers, along with the Trump administration, had asked the justices to toss out the ruling from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.


They argued the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) lacked the congressional authority to impose public-utility, common-carrier obligations on broadband internet access service. The rules prohibited ISPs from blocking or throttling web content or from creating paid fast lanes.

While the Supreme Court's order is a win for net neutrality supporters, the fight over how internet access will be regulated is still far from over.

The FCC voted 3-2 along party lines last December to repeal the rules, a decision that is facing a separate challenge from net neutrality supporters before the D.C. Circuit. The repeal went into effect in June, and Monday's order will have no immediate bearing on the current state of the rules.

But net neutrality supporters celebrated the win on Monday, noting that it leaves in place a high court ruling that the FCC has the authority to regulate broadband like a public utility.

Read more here.


WHAT THE CYBER AGENDA MIGHT LOOK LIKE AFTER TUESDAY: The midterm elections will be the first major test of election security since 2016, and also set the stage for the next Congress's cyber priorities.

Cybersecurity is largely a bipartisan issue, but if Democrats take control of the House as expected, election security will likely move to the forefront of their agenda. There will also be even greater pressure on President TrumpDonald John TrumpCummings says Ivanka Trump not preserving all official communications Property is a fundamental right that is now being threatened 25 states could see severe flooding in coming weeks, scientists say MORE from liberal critics to counter foreign adversaries and ensure that the administration is taking steps to protect the 2020 vote.

Democrats will be expected to push ahead on a number of other cyber priorities as well, including eliminating threats to the supply chain and resolving the contentious debate on the encryption of devices.

To read more on how election security, supply chain threats and the encryption debate may unfold after the votes are tallied, click here.


FACEBOOK WON'T LET GOP PROMOTE TRUMP AD: Facebook on Monday said it would not run President Trump's controversial immigration ad, which critics have labeled racist, on its website.

"This ad violates Facebook's advertising policy against sensational content so we are rejecting it," a Facebook spokesperson told The Hill in a statement. "While the video is allowed to be posted on Facebook, it cannot receive paid distribution."

While Facebook won't let the video run as a paid ad, it will be allowed on the social media giant's platform under the company's community standards.

The spokesman confirmed that Facebook initially approved the ad.

According to a review of Facebook political ad data, the Trump campaign spent between $28,000 and $100,000 to run the ad, which was displayed on the platform between 2.8 million to 5 million times.

The ad focuses on an undocumented immigrant who was deported several times before coming back into the U.S. and killing two police officers.

The man, Luis Bracamontes, was arrested and released in 1998 by Republican Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio and then deported twice, once during a GOP president's administration and once during a Democrat's, despite the video's claim that Democrats allowed Bracamontes to stay in the U.S. 

Read more here.


YIKES! Hackers have attempted to breach U.S. election systems more than 160 times since August, according to a federal election threats report viewed by The Boston Globe.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reports show that foreign hackers have made dozens of new pushes to try to access U.S. election systems, like voter registration databases, in the weeks ahead of Tuesday's elections, the Globe reported on Monday. Officials have publicly said that they have been able to prevent cyberattacks on election systems.

A DHS cybersecurity official told the Globe that the hacking attempts are similar to those used by Russia ahead of the 2016 election, but that they have not yet attributed the attacks to any one foreign entity. "We're seeing the same thing; the only difference is now we aren't saying Russia," the official told the newspaper.

The DHS report states that the hackers have had "limited success." For example, a senior official leading a state's election systems saw their personal social media account hacked on Oct. 23. It was then reregistered with a Russian email account, according to the Globe.

DHS spokesman Scott McConnell said in a statement to The Hill that state and local election officials are sharing more information about the kind of cyberattacks they are experiencing.

"This does not mean that our partners are seeing an increase in cyber threats to their networks," he said. "DHS is committed to sharing timely and actionable information, like what is outlined in the intelligence report, with our elections partners."

McConnell said the strategies being used by cyber actors are "common and not unique to election systems.

Read more here.


GAB BACK ONLINE: Gab, which was booted by its domain host after a user of the platform was accused of killing 11 in a Pittsburgh synagogue, came back online this week.

The platform, which bills itself as a free speech alternative to Twitter, has been scrutinized for attracting far-right, white supremacist and neo-Nazi users who have flocked to its platform after being banned from mainstream sites like Twitter and Facebook.

The scrutiny hit a climax in the aftermath of last month's tragedy in Pittsburgh when the company PayPal said that it would no longer provide service to the site and Gab's web host, GoDaddy, also decided to drop it, effectively taking the platform offline. 

Read more here.


YOU GET HQ2... AND YOU GET HQ2: Amazon is planning to split its second headquarters between two cities, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

A person familiar with the matter told the Journal that the decision was driven by the need to recruit enough tech talent.

The source also said it will spread the impact of the second headquarters, known popularly as "HQ2" across two communities, easing potential housing and transit problems caused by a sudden influx of tens of thousands of workers.

The person said 25,000 employees will go to each city the company selects, and an announcement of the two locations could come as soon as this week.

Read more here.



Senate Intel Vice Chairman Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerLawmakers urge tech to root out extremism after New Zealand Dems request probe into spa owner suspected of trying to sell access to Trump Live video of New Zealand shooting puts tech on defensive MORE (D-Va.) says, "People should vote with confidence" knowing that the elections will be secure. Read more here.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Friday activated his state National Guard's cybersecurity teams to be on standby for Tuesday's midterms, a precautionary move. Read more here.

Three key tech issues at stake in tomorrow's elections. Read more here.

More than 20,000 Google employees participated in last week's walkouts. Read more here.



A little something called the MIDTERM ELECTIONS: A reminder: Lyft and Uber are offering discounted rides to polling stations on Tuesday so plan accordingly. And VOTE!


AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: Congress should pass legislation to prevent stacked taxation of digital purchases.


A LIGHTER CLICK: What we have to look forward to.



A cryptocurrency millionaire wants to build a utopia in Nevada. (The New York Times)

Here's the proof that net neutrality is going to be a factor in the midterms. (Fight for the Future)

Intel's new interactive privacy principles. (Intel)

Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpCummings says Ivanka Trump not preserving all official communications Kushner accused of using WhatsApp, personal email to conduct official business: report Student loan debt: The government broke it, and must fix it MORE's company applied for -- and was granted -- a trademark for voting machines in China. (CREW)

How law enforcement missed the threat of white nationalism (The New York Times)