Hillicon Valley: US files criminal charges against Huawei | Facebook unveils new plans to crack down on misinformation | Ocasio-Cortez hits tech giants over event with climate skeptics

Hillicon Valley: US files criminal charges against Huawei | Facebook unveils new plans to crack down on misinformation | Ocasio-Cortez hits tech giants over event with climate skeptics
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Welcome! Follow the cyber team, Olivia Beavers (@olivia_beavers) and Jacqueline Thomsen (@jacq_thomsen), and the tech team, Harper Neidig (@hneidig).


HUAWEI HIT WITH FRAUD CHARGES: Federal prosecutors filed criminal charges on Monday against Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei, a move that is likely to inflame tensions between the U.S. and China.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said two separate grand juries in Seattle and New York have returned indictments against Huawei affiliates, subsidiaries and executives.

The indictments allege that the company stole intellectual property from T-Mobile and also violated U.S. sanction orders, Whitaker said.


Administration officials also said they are in the process of formally requesting the extradition of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested in Vancouver, Canada, late last year at the request of American authorities. The request will be filed by Tuesday.

The background: The charges mark an escalation in an already tense trade battle with Beijing.

Huawei and ZTE, another Chinese telecommunications firm, have faced immense scrutiny from lawmakers over their ties to the Chinese government. The U.S. intelligence community has raised national security concerns over the companies.

The charges: Meng, Huawei, Huawei Device USA and its Iranian subsidiary Skycomm are all facing charges, according to the officials.

The 10-count indictment charges Huawei with conspiracy to steal trade secrets, wire fraud and obstruction of justice.

"As you can tell from the number and magnitude of charges, Huawei and its senior executives repeatedly refused to respect the laws of the United States and standard international business practices," FBI Director Christopher Wray said during a press conference.

"Huawei also intentionally and systematically sought to steal valuable intellectual property from an American company, so it could circumvent hard-earned, time-consuming research and gain an unfair market advantage," he continued, blasting the company's "dishonest business practices."

Meet 'Tappy': The indictment alleges that Huawei "began a concerted effort" in 2012 to steal information about a robot used by T-Mobile known as "Tappy," that was used to test phones.

Employees at the company tried to steal trade secrets about the robot, including parts of the device itself, but claimed to T-Mobile that it was the work of individual actors within the company, according to the court filings.

We have more on the criminal charges here.


FACEBOOK'S FAKE NEWS FIGHT: Facebook on Monday unveiled new plans for preventing the spread of misinformation ahead of elections in multiple regions, including the European Union and Ukraine.

"In advance of the European Parliament election, in late March we will launch additional tools in the EU to help prevent foreign interference and make political and issue advertising on Facebook more transparent," the social media giant wrote in a statement on Monday.

Facebook said the tools will make it easier for users to learn information about groups behind political advertisements, adding that it will put advertisers through a more rigorous authorization process to ensure they are not foreign entities seeking to sway regional elections.

Facebook earlier this month began temporarily barring foreign entities from purchasing electoral ads on the platform in Nigeria before voters in that country cast ballots. The company will implement that policy in Ukraine as the country heads into its March elections.

Facebook also said it will begin assembling information on ads in the European Union, India, Ukraine and Israel, which all have elections coming up. That information will be placed in a library available for users to peruse for up to seven years, the company said, adding that library will include information on the number of people the ad reached, the demographics of who saw the ad, and the budget of the advertisement.

Facebook is predicting these tools will launch globally by the summer. Read more here.


AOC VS. SILICON VALLEY OVER CLIMATE: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants Harris, Ocasio-Cortez push climate equity bill with Green New Deal roots Young minority voters show overwhelming support for Biden: poll MORE (D-N.Y.) and Chellie PingreeRochelle (Chellie) PingreeTrump's pitch to Maine lobstermen falls flat Trump directs aid to Maine lobster industry crushed by tariffs Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (D-Maine) are pressing Google, Facebook and Microsoft over their sponsorship of a conference that included climate change skeptics.

Ocasio-Cortez and Pingree in a letter to the tech firms' CEOs accused the giants of compromising their records on sustainability with their "implicit support" of LibertyCon, a conference that took place earlier this month in Washington, D.C.

Mother Jones first reported that the libertarian event included a session titled "Let's Talk About Not Talking: Should There Be 'No Debate' that Industrial Carbon Dioxide is Causing Climate Catastrophe?" The group behind the session, CO2 Coalition, opposes mandatory reductions in CO2 emissions.

CO2 Coalition at the conference handed out pamphlets casting doubt on climate science, Mother Jones reported. The group co-sponsored the event alongside Google, Facebook and Microsoft.  

"We are writing to you today in light of the important role that your companies play as we prepare to take comprehensive action on climate change," Pingree and Ocasio-Cortez, wrote in the letter addressed to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergFemale lawmakers pressure Facebook to crack down on disinformation targeting women leaders Hillicon Valley: Facebook removes Trump post | TikTok gets competitor | Lawmakers raise grid safety concerns 20 state AGs call on Facebook to take greater steps to combat hate speech, online harassment MORE.

Pingree and Ocasio-Cortez wrote they were "deeply disappointed" to see the companies were "high-level sponsors" of the conference.

"The past commitments of your companies to address climate change have been well documented," the progressive lawmakers wrote. "We are encouraged that each of you have pledged to reduce your carbon footprint and have committed other efforts like pursuing renewable energy."

LibertyCon was also sponsored by The Heartland Institute, a group that often rejects climate science and pushes against regulation of carbon emissions, Mother Jones reported. Read more here.


PUT MY THING DOWN, FLIP IT AND REVERSE IT: A group of transparency advocates released a massive number of hacked and leaked Russian documents on Friday in what is being viewed as retaliation against Russia's sharing of hacked Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails to influence the 2016 presidential campaign.

The documents, totaling 175 gigabytes in data, were shared on Distributed Denial of Secrets's website and on Internet Archive around the same time on Friday. The scope of the documents shared is far larger than the total known material Russian officials obtained from the DNC and then-Democratic candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump touts economic agenda in battleground Ohio The Memo: Campaigns gird for rush of early voting Trump's pitch to Maine lobstermen falls flat MORE's campaign.

The collection of material, called "The Dark Side of the Kremlin," includes insider information such as "hundreds of thousands of messages and files from Russian politicians, journalists, oligarchs, religious figures, and nationalists/terrorists in Ukraine," according to the group that posted the documents.

The news was first reported by The New York Times.

Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE indicted Russian intelligence members last year for the 2016 hacking of the DNC and former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

The Russian government has repeatedly denied hacking the DNC. Read more here.


JOIN THE HILL TO TALK 5G: Join The Hill Events for Boundless: Building a 5G World on Wednesday, Feb. 6th featuring Reps. Yvette ClarkeYvette Diane ClarkeThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Top tech executives testify in blockbuster antitrust hearing Hillicon Valley: Tech CEOs brace for House grilling | Senate GOP faces backlash over election funds | Twitter limits Trump Jr.'s account The Hill's Coronavirus Report: INOVIO R&D Chief Kate Broderick 'completely confident' world will develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine; GOP boxed in on virus negotiations MORE (D-N.Y.) and John Curtis (R-Utah). Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack and Hill.TV's Jamal Simmons will sit down with our guests for a series of conversations on the impact of 5G on all aspects of society. RSVP here.


AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: The importance of independent, unbiased data.


A LIGHTER CLICK: A clear messaging strategy.



DHS official says new cyber agency doesn't have a 35-day shutdown plan. (FCW)

The hidden automation agenda of the Davos elite. (The New York Times)

Nick Clegg uses debut as Facebook lobbyist to win over EU. (Bloomberg)

Facebook's messaging merger leaves lawmakers questioning the company's power. (The Verge)