Hillicon Valley — Presented by AT&T — New momentum for privacy legislation | YouTube purges spam videos | Apple plans $1B Austin campus | Iranian hackers targeted Treasury officials | FEC to let lawmakers use campaign funds for cyber

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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PRIVACY BILL FRONT AND CENTER IN 2019: Congress is seeing a new flurry of activity toward drafting a national privacy law as major breaches mount and the public's anger over companies' data policies grows.

The calls for a privacy bill have been growing louder in recent months. And for Republicans and industry groups, the need for a set of federal data rules has gained new urgency since this summer, when California passed the toughest state law in the nation giving users unprecedented control over their information.

Major trade groups representing internet giants want any bill that Congress comes up with to pre-empt state laws like California's out of concern that they'll have to navigate conflicting -- and stringent -- data regulations in each state.

"I'm of the opinion that we are better off with more of an overarching data protection framework for users, and I think that would be good to do," Google CEO Sundar Pichai told the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

In the Senate, Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTrump, lawmakers consider app that would conduct background checks: report 'Mike Pounce' trends on Twitter after Trump slip at GOP retreat The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same MORE (R-S.D.) has said he is preparing to work on privacy legislation and in September convened a hearing with top executives from Silicon Valley on the issue.

More on the growing momentum in Congress for privacy legislation.

 

 

 

YOUTUBE CRACKDOWN: YouTube removed 58 million videos between July and September this year because they broke community guidelines.

More than 7.8 million of those videos were taken down because they violated community guidelines. The other 50.2 million were taken down as YouTube removed 1.67 million channels.

The online video platform said 72 percent of the videos removed for violating guidelines in the latest quarter were "spam or misleading," 10.2 percent were removed out of concern for "child safety" and 9.9 percent were removed for including "nudity or sexual content," according to its latest report.

The "transparency" report, which was released publicly on Thursday, emerges as YouTube touts its efforts to screen and delete harmful content more often and more efficiently.

YouTube, which is owned by Google, has deleted more than 31 million videos since October 2017, and started releasing "transparency reports" in 2017.

The reports have expanded significantly as YouTube faces intensifying criticism over the deluge of controversial, harmful and violent content on its platform.

More on the crackdown here.

 

APPLE OPENING NEW FACILITY IN AUSTIN: Apple announced Thursday that it will open a new campus in Austin, Texas, where it estimates about 15,000 jobs will be created across a variety of fields including engineering and finance.

The tech giant said in a statement that it would spend $1 billion to build the campus in north Austin, at a location less than a mile from existing Apple facilities.

A 133-acre facility will initially employ 5,000 workers, the company said, adding that the planned expansion is predicted to make Apple the largest employer in the city.

"Apple is among the world's most innovative companies and an avid creator of jobs in Texas and across the country," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said in a statement. "Their decision to expand operations in our state is a testament to the high-quality workforce and unmatched economic environment that Texas offers."

More on Apple's plans here.

 

IRANIAN HACKERS TARGETED TREASURY OFFICIALS: Iranian-backed hackers targeted the personal email accounts of U.S. Treasury officials around the time President TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE reimposed sanctions on the country, according to an Associated Press report.

The news outlet on Thursday reported that the cybersecurity firm Certfa found that a hacking group known as "Charming Kitten" had spent the past month trying to access the officials' private email accounts through a phishing campaign.

The Treasury Department is responsible for imposing the sanctions and the economic penalties have been widely decried by the Iranian government.

The hacking group also reportedly went after prominent figures supporting, enforcing or arguing against the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump formally withdrew from last month. Among those targeted were foreign nuclear experts and staffers at D.C. think tanks. Read more here.

 

FEC VOTES TO ALLOW CANDIDATES USE CAMPAIGN MONEY FOR CYBERSECURITY: The Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Thursday voted to allow lawmakers to use leftover campaign funds to guard their personal devices and email accounts from cyber threats.

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenKey Senate Democrat unveils proposal to tax the rich Overnight Health Care: Trump seeks ban on flavored e-cigarettes | Purdue Pharma nears settlement with states, cities over alleged role in opioid epidemic | Senate panel cancels vote on key spending bill amid standoff Pelosi woos progressives on prescription drug pricing plan MORE (D-Ore.) proposed the measure, which the commission passed unanimously.

Wyden argued that elected officials face a bevy of cyber threats "including attacks by sophisticated state-sponsored hackers and 22 intelligence agencies against personal devices and accounts."

Cybersecurity for campaigns and candidates has emerged as a major issue following the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) as well as the compromise of Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDershowitz: 'Too many politicians are being subject to criminal prosecution' The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Democrats spar over electoral appeal of 'Medicare for All' MORE campaign chair John Podesta's email account. Those resulted in the release of internal Democratic emails in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.

Read more here.

 

MANCHIN PUTS HOLD ON FCC NOMINEE: Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) Manchin The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Trump, lawmakers consider app that would conduct background checks: report Conservatives offer stark warning to Trump, GOP on background checks MORE (D-W.Va.) has placed a hold on a Republican nomination to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to the agency's decision to pause a program that would fund wireless internet expansion in rural areas.

Manchin announced the hold on Commissioner Brendan Carr's renomination Thursday, a week after FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced that the agency's Mobility Fund Phase II program would be suspended temporarily while regulators investigate whether major wireless carriers submitted false data on their coverage maps.

Manchin said that "inaccurate" maps are not a good enough reason to put the funds on hold.

"Last week the FCC finally recognized that their broadband maps were inaccurate," Manchin said in a statement. "That's something that I have been saying since day one. But the answer is not to put the Mobility Fund on an indefinite hold that prevents states like West Virginia from receiving the funding they desperately need to deploy mobile broadband."

Read more here on the controversy.

 

HUAWEI OR THE HIGHWAY: Aides have advised President Trump to stay out of the case involving a top Chinese technology executive, a source told The Wall Street Journal.

Some of Trump's advisers have warned him that it would not be productive for the White House to intervene in Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou's case after Trump suggested he might during a Reuters interview on Tuesday.

Huawei is a Chinese telecom giant.

Trump during the Reuters interview said he would intervene in the case if it would help close a trade deal with China.

"Whatever's good for this country, I would do," he told Reuters. "If I think it's good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made -- which is a very important thing -- what's good for national security – I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary." Read more here.

 

AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: How much is your data worth?

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: Iowa sounds weird.

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

FTC commissioner: You should have the right to sue Apple. (The New York Times)

We finally talked to an actual Waymo passenger -- here's what he told us. (Ars Technica)

Postmates' quest to build the delivery robot of the future. (Wired)

'They don't care': Facebook factchecking in disarray as journalists push to cut ties. (The Guardian)