Hillicon Valley: DNC tech chief finds no midterm hacks | Google ends forced arbitration for sexual harassment | House Dems look to rein in FCC | North Korean hackers become new banking threat | Tesla gets new chair

Hillicon Valley: DNC tech chief finds no midterm hacks | Google ends forced arbitration for sexual harassment | House Dems look to rein in FCC | North Korean hackers become new banking threat | Tesla gets new chair

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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ALL CLEAR FROM THE DNC (FOR NOW): The chief technology officer for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) said Thursday that the group isn't aware of any successful hacks during Tuesday's midterm elections.

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Raffi Krikorian told CNN Business that the DNC, which was hacked ahead of the 2016 elections, "didn't hear much" about possible hacks on Election Day.

Still, he noted that it could be weeks or months before a cyberattack emerges and that the DNC is currently undergoing a post-mortem study on the elections.

"We'll do a bunch of checking against what the elected counts look like, if the voter file looks different than from a week ago, scouring of all our network traffic logs," Krikorian told CNN Business.

Republican National Committee spokeswoman Cassie Smedile told The Hill that the organization also didn't see any successful hacking attempts during the midterms. 

Read more here.

 

NEW HOUSE, NEW TECH PRIORITIES: As the Democrats prepare to take over the House next year, they are already signaling their new tech policy priorities.

On top of the list will be using control of the House committees to go after FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Democrats are still angry over Pai's repeal of the net neutrality rules last year and they believe House Republicans shielded him from oversight while rolling back the popular regulations.

They'll also be pushing for strong internet privacy protections after a string of high-profile data breaches in the tech sector highlighted the issue in the past year. Still, any effort to impose consumer protections on the data collection trade will have to have the support of Senate Republicans and it's unclear where they stand.

"We plan to put the consumer first by pushing policies that protect net neutrality, promote public safety, and provide meaningful privacy and data security protections that are seriously lacking today," Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneLeft wants a vote on single-payer bill in new Congress On The Money: Trump, Senate leaders to huddle on border wall funding | Fed bank regulator walks tightrope on Dodd-Frank | Koch-backed groups blast incentives for corporations after Amazon deal Overnight Health Care — Presented by The Partnership for Safe Medicines — Dem vows Medicare drug price negotiations will be priority | ObamaCare enrollment down compared to last year | HHS declares health emergency in California MORE (D-N.J.) said in a statement.

"It's also important that the committee get back to conducting real oversight of the FCC, and that means regular oversight hearings with all commissioners," he added. 

Read more here.

 

GOOGLE CHANGES SEXUAL HARASSMENT POLICIES: Google will no longer require its employees to submit sexual harassment claims to an arbitration process that prevented victims from going to court.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Thursday sent a note to employees announcing a number of changes after 20,000 workers last week walked out at Google offices around the world, protesting the company's handling of sexual misconduct allegations against high-level executives.

"We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that," Pichai wrote. "It's clear we need to make some changes."

Critics of forced arbitration say it helps companies sweep misconduct claims under the rug by keeping the accusations out of open court. Some Democrats have tried to push legislation to ban forced arbitration clauses from employee contracts in response to the #MeToo movement. And in the past year, both Microsoft and Uber have ended their own forced arbitration requirements. 

Read more here.

 

But labor advocates aren't convinced: A coalition of workers at major technology companies criticized Google CEO Sundar Pichai's announcement about new workplace rules, saying they exclude contract workers and don't provide a seat at the board.

Tech Workers Coalition, a group that includes staffers in the tech industry, as well as labor and community organizers, said temporary, vendor and contract workers, known as TVCs, have been marginalized by Google's executive leadership.

"Sundar ignored the demand for a worker to be represented on the board," said a coalition spokesperson in a statement, adding that TVCs "continue to have no adequate protections from sexual harassment." 

Read more here.

 

GEORGIA'S (VOTING) ON MY MIND: Hundreds of voting machines sat locked in government warehouses over concerns that they were vulnerable to security breaches, while voters waited in long lines at polling stations in Georgia, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

 

According to the paper, a federal lawsuit led Atlanta officials to lock the electronic voting machines away out of concern that they could be tampered with or hacked.

A surge in turnout caught some officials by surprise and, with fewer voting machines, there were unusually long lines at some polling places.

Voters in some counties covered by the lawsuit's jurisdiction - Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton - all suffered long delays, the paper reports.

Election officials told the Journal-Constitution that the lack of voting machines, high turnout, and complex constitutional amendments, slowed down lines significantly.

"We thought we had enough until turnout started expanding, and with the ballot being long and complicated, the time at the touchscreen was longer," Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler told the paper. "We had voters who called and expressed their frustration." 

Read more here.

 

NORTH-KOREA HACKERS BECOME BANKING THREAT: A North Korean-linked hacking group increasingly is carrying out financially motivated attacks, suggesting that cyber heists are now one of its main activities in cyberspace, according to a new Symantec report.

The global cyber firm said in a Thursday blog post that the Lazarus Group is a danger to the banking sector after it carried out a series of "FASTCash" attacks, including targeting ATMs in dozens of countries since at least 2016.

"The recent wave of FASTCash attacks demonstrates that financially motivated attacks are not simply a passing interest for the Lazarus Group and can now be considered one of its core activities," the blog post reads.

Symantec researchers said these attacks suggest the hackers possess "an in-depth knowledge of banking systems and transaction processing protocols," allowing them to steal large sums in their attacks against banks.

After initially gaining unauthorized access into a bank's networks, the hackers will compromise the servers handling ATM transactions, according to Symantec. After that, the Lazarus Group unleashes previously unknown malware the firm has identified as Trojan.Fastcash, which allows the attacks to send fake approval responses to the ATM machines as they make off with cash.

"Lazarus continues to pose a serious threat to the banking sector and organizations should take all necessary steps to ensure that their payment systems are fully secured," the blog post reads.

Read more here.

 

IS CHINA IN TROUBLE? Senior NSA official Rob Joyce said Thursday that he believes that China is violating a 2015 agreement with the U.S. to prevent cyber economic espionage.

"It is clear they are well beyond the bounds of the agreement today that was forged between our two countries," he said during a panel at the Aspen Institute's Cyber Summit.

He said that he didn't think reaching the agreement instead of imposing sanctions against China at the time was a bad idea, noting that it had "a marked effect on how the Chinese were behaving."

But Joyce didn't rule out the U.S. hitting China with sanctions now, saying that he didn't "think the moment's passed."

"Certainly sanctions are things we've used in context of cyber malfeasance, and we'll continue to use that along with other capabilities," Joyce said.

Joyce's comments come shortly after the Trump administration declared a crackdown on Chinese economic espionage. Then-Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMulvaney positioning himself to be Commerce Secretary: report Graham: Trump’s new AG has ‘concerns’ about criminal justice bill Kentucky shooting suspect charged with federal hate crimes MORE said last month that the Chinese actions pose "a real and illegal threat to our nation's economic prosperity and competitiveness." 

Read more here.

 

NEW CHAIRMAN FOR TESLA: Tesla's board on Thursday named the chief financial officer of Australia's largest telecommunications company as its new chair, replacing Elon Musk as part of a settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC).

The company announced that Robyn Denholm would take over as chairwoman, effective immediately. She was already a member of the Tesla board of directors.

Musk, the company's founder, will continue to serve as chief executive.

"Robyn has extensive experience in both the tech and auto industries, and she has made significant contributions as a Tesla Board member over the past four years in helping us become a profitable company," Musk said in a statement. 

Read more here.

 

FACEBOOK TO BEEF UP DUBLIN HQ: Facebook is planning to quadruple the floor space at its international headquarters in Dublin and double the number of staff it has there as it enters a long-term lease in the country, the company told Reuters on Thursday.

Facebook said Thursday that it will hire an additional 5,000 employees as part of the expansion of the office. Currently, the company has 4,000 employees at that office, according to Reuters.

Gareth Lambe, an executive at Facebook Ireland, said in a statement Thursday that Facebook is "investing here for the long term," Reuters reported.

"This significant investment in a 14-acre campus with capacity for thousands more employees demonstrates our commitment to Ireland, our desire to grow our business here and continue to contribute to the economy," he added.

Reuters also reported that, under its new lease, Facebook will move into the headquarters of Allied Irish Banks, a bank in Ireland. 

Read more here.

 

ICYMI: 5 things to know about the new acting AG Matthew Whitaker.

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: "Snitches get stitches."

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Mueller has started writing his final report. (CNN)

West Virginia says 144 people voted using mobile blockchain app (StateScoop)

At China's internet conference, a darker side of tech emerges. (The New York Times)

Google in China: When 'don't be evil' met the Great Firewall. (Bloomberg Businessweek)