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Hillicon Valley: Assange back in US spotlight | New details on drama inside Facebook | Apple CEO bracing for new regs | Cuomo defends Amazon deal

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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WILL ASSANGE BE MOVING?: Time may be up for Julian Assange.

The WikiLeaks founder, who played a central role in leaking hacked emails during the 2016 election, has spent the past six years avoiding prosecution in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. But a recently revealed court filing points to U.S. prosecutors having already pressed sealed charges against him, even as he's avoided arrest.

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And with Ecuadorian leaders publicly growing frustrated over their longtime tenant, it could be just a matter of time until Assange faces extradition to the United States.

Assange's prosecution would be a win for the U.S. federal government, including special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE, who has eyed WikiLeaks over the distribution of Democratic emails ahead of the 2016 election that he alleges were hacked by Russian military officers.

The court document, filed in August of this year, was first flagged Thursday on Twitter by Seamus Hughes, a researcher at the George Washington University's Program on Extremism, hours after The Wall Street Journal first reported that the U.S. was preparing to bring charges against Assange.

Legal experts told The Hill that the mistaken filing is a clear sign that an indictment against Assange is at least in the works, if not already filed against him.

This filing, written by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen Dwyer -- who is also working on the WikiLeaks case -- argues in the unrelated case that it's necessary to seal the charges in the case in order "to protect this investigation."

"Another procedure short of sealing will not adequately protect the needs of law enforcement at this time because, due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged," the filing reads.

Assange is mentioned again later in the document, in a statement asserting that all documents related to the charges in the unrelated case "would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter."

"So it seems likely that Assange has been charged and the sealing motion was filed in that case, and then somebody made this cut and paste error in this new case," said former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade.

It's unclear what charges Assange may be facing. But the U.S. has sought to prosecute him since WikiLeaks distributed classified U.S. cables obtained from former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2010.

Read more here.

 

ANOTHER LOOK BEHIND THE CURTAIN AT FACEBOOK: Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergMerkel named Harvard commencement speaker The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — Congress to act soon to avoid shutdown Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg denies selling 'anyone's data' | UK Parliament releases more Facebook docs | Canada reportedly arrests Huawei CFO | Fallout from Marriott hack | Cuba rolls out internet service for mobile users MORE reportedly told Sheryl Sandberg, the company's chief operating officer, that he blamed her for the backlash following revelations of the Cambridge Analytica scandal earlier this year.

The Wall Street Journal on Monday reported the internal strife between top two Facebook executives. After Zuckerberg blamed her for the fallout this spring, Sandberg told friends that she was worried about losing her job.

The Journal also reported that Zuckerberg later expressed approval of Sandberg's response to the backlash over the privacy scandal, which Zuckerberg referred to as "hysteria."

The new details are emerging as the two executives are struggling to respond to a New York Times report detailing Facebook's tactics in Washington following the scandal. The fallout from Cambridge Analytica prompted lawmakers to go after the company over Russian disinformation campaigns on the platform.

On a call last week with reporters, Zuckerberg said that Sandberg is a "very important partner to me, and continues to be, and will continue to be." 

Read more here.

 

APPLE CHIEF SAYS WINTER IS COMING: Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an interview airing Sunday that new regulations are inevitably going to be imposed on the tech industry.

"Generally speaking, I am not a big fan of regulation," Cook told Axios on HBO. "I'm a big believer in the free market, but we have to admit when the free market is not working. And it hasn't worked here."

"I think it's inevitable that there will be some level of regulation," Cook said. "I think the Congress and the administration at some point will pass something."

Cook said that tech companies should embrace the regulations.

"This is not a matter of privacy versus profits, or privacy versus technical innovation," he told Axios. "That's a false choice."

Cook has previously voiced his support for stricter laws protecting internet privacy. In October he called for a "comprehensive federal privacy law."

The issue has brought many tech companies, such as Facebook and Google, under greater scrutiny. Apple last month began allowing customers to download copies of all the data it holds on them.

Read more here.

 

BUT MOST PEOPLE DON'T BELIEVE GOVERNMENT WILL DO ENOUGH: More than half of Americans are concerned that the government will not go far enough in regulating U.S. technology companies, a poll released Monday found.

A SurveyMonkey poll conducted for "Axios on HBO" found that 55 percent of respondents believe the federal government will not do enough to regulate big technology firms, up 15 percentage points from a year ago.

But the poll found that 40 percent of those surveyed are concerned that the government will actually go too far in restricting tech companies.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents said social media companies need to be regulated in some form because they actively encourage people to be on their mobile devices, while 39 percent said additional regulation of those platforms is not needed. 

Read more here.

 

SLASHIN AWAY?: Apple has slashed production orders for all three of its newest iPhone models, The Wall Street Journal reports.

People familiar with the situational told the Journal that unexpectedly low demand led the company to cut production. The move reportedly frustrated executive Apple suppliers and workers.

Lower-than-expected demand has hit the iPhone XR particularly hard, causing Apple to slash its production plan by up to a third of about 70 million units in late October, people familiar with the matter told the Journal.

Over the last week, the company told several suppliers to cut the production plan for the iPhone XR again.

Apple declined to comment to the Journal. The Hill has reached out to confirm the report with the company.

Last week, iPhone suppliers such as Qorvo Inc., Lumentum Holdings Inc. and Japan Display Inc. cut quarterly profit estimates, citing a drop in orders that had been placed previously by a large customer.

Apple was not identified in the announcement, but makes up a third to half of those companies' revenue, the Journal reports, citing filings and estimates.

Read more here.

 

CUOMO DEFENDS DEAL WITH AMAZON: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is pushing back against claims that New York "gave" Amazon $1 billion to lure the retail giant's second headquarters to a location in Queens.

"The New York Post, which is representative of extreme conservatives, says essentially that New York 'gave Amazon $1 billion,' " Cuomo wrote in an op-ed published Monday. "Their argument is factually baseless.

"New York State and New York City gave Amazon nothing."

He wrote that New York agreed to reduce the $1 billion Amazon was projected to pay the government by about $100 million.

"New York doesn't give Amazon $100 million. Amazon gives New York $900 million." 

Read more here.

 

OCASIO-CORTEZ TEARS INTO FACEBOOK: Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Monday ripped Facebook for failing to prevent the spread of misinformation on its platform, specifically referring to a meme that falsely attributed an inflammatory quote to her colleague Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).

The meme, which reportedly originated on Facebook, claimed that Omar once said, "I think all white men should be put in chains as slaves because they will never submit to Islam."

According to the fact-checker Politifact, there is no proof that Omar, one of the first two Muslim-American women elected to Congress, ever said this. 

Read more here.

 

AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: Privacy legislation could provide common ground for the newly divided Congress.

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: It is a real danger.

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

The founder of Buzzfeed wants to merge with other publishers to counteract Facebook. (The New York Times)

Why innovation isn't dead in Silicon Valley, according to this tech expert. (The Washington Post)

Outlook for traditional TV goes from bad to worse. (The Wall Street Journal)

This is your mind on garbage. (Axios)

The forgotten legend of Silicon Valley's flying saucer man. (Bloomberg)