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

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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A QUID-PRO-DATA?: Facebook gave companies like Netflix and Lyft special access to certain user data after the social network had restricted third parties' ability to retrieve the information, a British lawmaker alleged on Wednesday.

Damian Collins, a member of the U.K. Parliament who heads a committee on social media, released a trove of documents that he had seized from a company suing Facebook in California.

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Collins said the documents appear to show that Facebook entered into "whitelisting agreements" with companies without the consent of its users.

"Facebook have clearly entered into whitelisting agreements with certain companies, which meant that after the platform changes in 2014/15 they maintained full access to friends data," Collins wrote in a note attached to the document dump. "It is not clear that there was any user consent for this, nor how Facebook decided which companies should be whitelisted or not."

Read more here.

 

FACEBOOK FIRES BACK: Facebook's 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 hit back later Wednesday saying the company has never sold user data.

In 2014, "we decided on a model where we continued to provide the developer platform for free and developers could choose to buy ads if they wanted," Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Facebook directly addressing British lawmaker Damian Collins and the mass of internal documents he released.

"Other ideas we considered but decided against included charging developers for usage of our platform, similar to how developers pay to use Amazon AWS or Google Cloud," he said. "To be clear, that's different from selling people's data. We've never sold anyone's data."

More on Zuckerberg's denial here.

 

PRIVACY BILL ON DECK AFTER MARRIOTT HACK: Lawmakers are fired up after Marriott International suffered what is believed to be the nation's second-largest data hack, in which hundreds of millions of its customers had their personal data stolen.

The massive exposure of personal information from the brand's Starwood Hotels reservation database quickly led to calls for tougher legislation to protect customers' data privacy.

Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) told The Hill on Tuesday that he is crafting privacy legislation to address these kinds of hacks and expressed frustration over the wave of recently revealed, massive data breaches.

Kennedy, who said he is in the early stages of writing the bill, declined to provide details on what exactly it will include. Still, he said that Congress has "got to start" the discussion on holding companies accountable when users' private data is exposed.

"Right now there's a lot of chopping, but I don't see any chips flying. Everybody's talking, but nothing's moving in terms of legislation," Kennedy said.

More on how Marriott is shaking up the privacy debate here.

 

HUAWEI ARREST: The chief financial officer of China's Huawei Technologies, who faces extradition to the U.S. for charges he violated trade sanctions against Iran, was reportedly arrested in Canada.

Wanzhou Meng was arrested in Vancouver Sunday at the request of U.S. authorities, The Globe and Mail reported Wednesday.

"Wanzhou Meng was arrested in Vancouver on December 1. She is sought for extradition by the United States, and a bail hearing has been set for Friday," Justice department spokesperson Ian McLeod said in a statement to The Globe and Mail.

What we know.

 

 

CUBA'S LOGGING ON: Cuba says it is planning to roll out internet access this week for mobile phone users, making it one of the last countries to provide the service on a national scale.

Mayra Arevich Marin, head of the state-run telecom monopoly known as ETECSA, announced on a TV news broadcast Tuesday night that the country will release four internet access packages starting Thursday morning.

"Service will start at 8 a.m. on December 6. For it, [customers] must have a cellphone that supports 3G technology and they must have used the data network before November 26," said Tania Velázquez Rodríguez, vice president of business strategy and technology at ETECSA, according to CubaDebate, an officially sanctioned tech news blog. Read more here.

 

CYBER EXPERT SAYS WHAT: President TrumpDonald John TrumpCorsi sues Mueller for alleged leaks and illegal surveillance Comey: Trump 'certainly close' to being unindicted co-conspirator Trump pushes back on reports that Ayers was first pick for chief of staff MORE's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani claimed Tuesday that Twitter allowed someone to hack his tweet to plant a hyperlink to a site critical of Trump.

In a tweet sent on Nov. 30, Giuliani took shots at special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE, calling for "supervision" of his investigation because he filed indictments at inconvenient times for Trump.

The link Giuliani included in his tweet redirected straight to a page displaying only the words "Donald J. Trump is a traitor to our country."

Four days later, Giuliani acknowledged the link and blamed Twitter.

"Twitter allowed someone to invade my text with a disgusting anti-President message," he tweeted Tuesday evening.

Social media users pointed out that what likely happened was that someone bought a domain name matching the inadvertent link for the purpose of posting an anti-Trump message to troll Giuliani.

Remember: Trump named Giuliani as one of his top advisors on cybersecurity. Yikes.

Read more here.

 

NUN(BERG) OF YOUR BUSINESS: Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg is slated to meet in January with the Senate Intelligence Committee as the panel continues to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Nunberg confirmed to The Washington Post that the meeting has been scheduled and said he is "happy to cooperate and appear" in front of the committee. The meeting is likely to be a closed session, according to The Post.

Nunberg also told the newspaper that he is uncertain about what subjects he'll discuss with the committee but predicted he would answer questions about longtime Trump ally Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneCorsi sues Mueller for alleged leaks and illegal surveillance Hillicon Valley: Huawei executive facing possible US fraud charges | Dem blames White House for failure of election security bill | FCC investigating wireless carriers over coverage data | Assange rejects deal to leave embassy Mueller looking into Trump campaign adviser appearances on Russian state TV: report MORE and the Trump campaign.

Stone has appeared at the center of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election because of his apparent ties to WikiLeaks in the months leading up to the election.

Read more here.

 

NEW TOOL IN THE CYBER WAR: Cybersecurity company Symantec on Monday unveiled a new network aimed at protecting critical infrastructure like the power grid from cyberattacks.

The new resource, known as the Industrial Control System Protection (ICSP) Neural, uses artificial intelligence to detect and stop potential cyberattacks on operational technology used in industries such as energy and transportation.

Symantec said in a press release that those kinds of "legacy" industries will often use unscanned USB devices to update their systems, which could introduce malware or other cyber threats to the critical infrastructure.

This new system would detect and prevent attacks coming from the unscanned USB devices by scanning the devices, detecting any malware and then sanitizing the tech. Read more here.

 

LET'S LEARN ABOUT CYBER: A pair of lawmakers on Wednesday introduced bipartisan legislation to create a grant program at the Department of Education to add cybersecurity into career and technical education curriculums.

Reps. Jim LangevinJames (Jim) R. LangevinHillicon 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 Bipartisan bill would create grant program promoting cybersecurity education Dem rep: I may not have made it to Congress without Bush signing ADA MORE (D-R.I.) and Glenn ThompsonGlenn (G.T.) W. ThompsonHillicon 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 Bipartisan bill would create grant program promoting cybersecurity education This week: Lawmakers return to mourn George H.W. Bush MORE (R-Pa.), who serve as co-chairmen of the Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus, said their bill would help promote an area of education that they see as lacking.

The grants, which would be capped at $500,000 for each fiscal year, would be awarded on a competitive basis to partnerships between educational institutions and local employers that can show how they will incorporate cybersecurity education addressing critical infrastructure functions, such as the power grid.

Langevin, the co-founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, said in a statement that workers who handle vital online networks need to have better training, "particularly in safety critical industries where lives can be put in jeopardy by malicious cyber actors."

Read more here.

 

MICROSOFT CASTS DOUBT ON FCC'S BROADBAND NUMBERS: Almost half the U.S. population does not use broadband internet, according to a new study from Microsoft researchers, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

Microsoft President Brad Smith put the number of nonusers at 162.8 million, almost half of the 329 million U.S. residents, at a company event on Tuesday, according to the Times.

That figure exceeds other recent estimates, including a Pew Research Center study that said 113 million people do not use broadband.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimates that 24.7 million Americans do not have access to broadband internet.

Read more here.

 

FCC CHAIR ACKNOWLEDGES RUSSIAN INFLUENCE IN NET NEUTRALITY COMMENTS: Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai is acknowledging that Russia-linked email addresses weighed in during the public comment process ahead of the FCC's net neutrality repeal last year.

Pai said in a statement this week that it is a "fact" that a half-million comments were submitted from Russian email addresses during the public comment period, adding that most of those comments were in favor of net neutrality.

The FCC's public comment process around net neutrality was mired in controversy in 2017, with lawmakers and companies on both sides of the issue arguing that a deluge of fake comments undermined the legitimacy of the process.

Read more here.

 

WAYMO LAUNCHES TAXI SERVICE IN ARIZONA: Waymo, a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet Inc., on Wednesday launched a commercial robotaxi service in Arizona.

Waymo began developing driverless cars in 2009.

The new Waymo One service works similar to Uber or Lyft, where users download an app on which they load payment info. A Waymo engineer will sit behind the wheel in case anything goes wrong, but the cars will primarily drive themselves.

This iteration of the service will be available for "a few hundred customers" in a 100-mile area near the Phoenix suburbs.

Read more here.

 

AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: Want to ruin text messaging? Get the government involved.

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: At least some of them get along these days.

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Google part-time and contract workers demand more equitable conditions. (Bloomberg)

Hackers linked to the Syrian army are going after Android phones with fake WhatsApp attacks. (Forbes)

After repeated warnings of election fraud, Republicans remain silent amid N.C. election fraud concerns. (Mother Jones)

What scares experts the most about the future. (Motherboard)

Net neutrality activists target Dems. (Fight for the Future)