Hillicon Valley: Judge considers gag order for Roger Stone | Judges grill FCC lawyer in net neutrality case | Lawmakers fear cyber attacks on the rise | Apple apologizes for FaceTime bug | DNA testing company shares data with FBI

Hillicon Valley: Judge considers gag order for Roger Stone | Judges grill FCC lawyer in net neutrality case | Lawmakers fear cyber attacks on the rise | Apple apologizes for FaceTime bug | DNA testing company shares data with FBI

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. If you don’t already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter with this LINK.

Welcome! Follow the cyber team, Olivia Beavers (@olivia_beavers) and Jacqueline Thomsen (@jacq_thomsen), and the tech team, Harper Neidig (@hneidig) and Emily Birnbaum (@birnbaum_e).

 

SAY IT AIN’T STONE: Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneStone takes shot at Mueller's office in new filing CNN's Navarro returns fire after Roger Stone calls her 'a little piglet' Why an obstruction case against Donald Trump will most likely fail MORE's media tour may be coming to an end.

The federal judge overseeing Stone's criminal trial in Washington, D.C., said Friday that she is considering issuing a gag order in the case.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointee on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, cautioned President TrumpDonald John TrumpBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a 'profound mistake' ACLU says planned national emergency declaration is 'clear abuse of presidential power' O'Rourke says he'd 'absolutely' take down border wall near El Paso if he could MORE's longtime associate against treating proceedings leading up to his trial like a book tour.

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She said this is a "criminal proceeding, not a public relations campaign."

Stone, who appeared in court Friday wearing a black suit with white stripes, has appeared on a number of major news networks since being indicted last week on charges of obstructing a congressional inquiry, witness tampering and making false statements.

Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE has accused the self-proclaimed “dirty trickster” of lying to the House Intelligence Committee about his interactions regarding WikiLeaks, the organization that released troves of hacked Democratic emails ahead of the 2016 election that U.S. officials later concluded were stolen by Russian military hackers. Read more here.

 

TRUMP: IT WASN’T ME: President Trump maintains that he is not responsible for Roger Stone's alleged efforts to contact WikiLeaks during the 2016 election to learn about damaging information the site planned to release about Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonO’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears Exclusive: Biden almost certain to enter 2020 race MORE.

In an interview with The New York Times, Trump was questioned by Times reporters as to whether he is the unnamed Trump campaign official accused in court documents of directing Stone to contact WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Trump denied that he had directed such an action.

“No, I didn’t. I never did,” he said when asked if he had spoken with Stone about the stolen emails. “Never did,” he added, when asked if he had instructed another campaign official to talk to Stone.

The remarks are some of Trump's first public comments on the arrest of Stone, a longtime adviser who was hit with multiple charges last week related to the Russia investigation.

Stone pleaded not guilty to witness tampering, obstruction and other charges on Tuesday, while blasting the large FBI presence that arrived at his Florida residence in the early hours of last Friday morning to arrest him. Read more here.

 

NET NEUTRALITY BACK IN COURT: A panel of federal judges on Friday grilled the top lawyer for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over the implications of the agency's decision to repeal its net neutrality rules in 2017.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments from both sides in a case challenging the FCC’s order to eliminate the rules requiring internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally.

The judges had pointed questions for both net neutrality supporters and the FCC, and it’s unclear how the three-judge panel might rule. At least two of the judges, though, seemed concerned about the repeal’s effect on public safety and how the industry might behave in the absence of FCC oversight.

The legal battle centers in part on questions of whether the FCC overstepped its authority in reclassifying internet service providers and in preempting states from substituting their own net neutrality rules, and whether it followed administrative procedure law in carrying out the order.

“This order is a stab in the heart of the Communications Act,” Pantelis Michalopoulos, a lawyer for the public interest groups and tech companies challenging the FCC’s decision, told the court.

The agency argued that its authority to reverse course from the Obama administration’s regulatory regime is well grounded in Supreme Court precedent. Read more on the arguments here.

 

CYBER THREATS EVERYWHERE YOU GO: Lawmakers fear that increased threats from foreign actors, combined with lingering effects from the government shutdown, are making the U.S. more susceptible to cyberattacks.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued its first-ever emergency directive during the record-long shutdown, requiring federal agencies to secure certain systems after researchers found Iranian actors were trying to penetrate U.S. government networks.

And top intelligence officials this week warned that foreign adversaries are escalating their cyberattacks while seeking to obtain top secret data.

When asked if another shutdown could serve as an open invitation for foreign hackers to go after federal systems, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonLawmakers quiz officials on 2020 election security measures Hillicon Valley: House panel takes on election security | DOJ watchdog eyes employee texts | Senate Dems urge regulators to block T-Mobile, Sprint deal | 'Romance scams' cost victims 3M in 2018 Hillicon Valley: Dems pounce on Trump fight with intel leaders | FBI taps new counterintelligence chief | T-Mobile, Sprint tap former FCC Dem commish to sell merger | Dem bill would crack down on robocalls | Family sues over Uber self-driving fatality MORE (D-Miss.) replied, "Absolutely."

"Our concern is that so many of those persons we relied on, they weren't there," Thompson said. "And that makes us weak."

DHS was one of the agencies that furloughed certain employees during the 35-day shutdown that ended Jan. 25.

The agency has temporary funding through Feb. 15, as lawmakers on Capitol Hill attempt to hammer out a longer-term spending deal involving border security. If no deal is reached, another partial shutdown is possible. Read more here.

 

BUGGIN’ OUT: Apple is apologizing for a bug that affected users of its FaceTime app and says a fix for the problem will be implemented by next week.

"We have fixed the Group FaceTime security bug on Apple's servers and we will issue a software update to re-enable the feature for users next week," Apple told CNBC on Friday.

"We sincerely apologize to our customers who were affected and all who were concerned about this security issue," the company's statement continued. "We appreciate everyone's patience as we complete this process."

The bug, which affected Group FaceTime calls, allowed callers to hear recipients before they took the call. Apple temporarily shut down the group feature of the popular app until they could develop a permanent fix.

The bug was first reported earlier this week and the company announced Monday that a fix was in the works. A spokesperson initially claimed that the fix would be issued in a patch "later this week."

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) warned that the bug carried serious potential privacy implications and noted that a British intelligence agency had recently proposed asking tech companies to allow law enforcement to join some calls as secret participants to help stop criminal activity.

More on FaceTime here.

 

AT-HOME DNA TESTING FIRM SHARES DATABASE WITH FBI: Family Tree DNA, one of the largest at-home DNA testing companies in the U.S., has allowed the FBI to gain access to its database of more than a million DNA profiles in order to help solve violent crimes, Buzzfeed News first reported.

Family Tree DNA in a statement to The Hill said it has tested DNA samples provided by the FBI to help "identify perpetrators of violent crimes and to identify the remains of deceased individuals."

The company since last year has allowed the FBI to use its genealogy database, the first time a private company has allowed a federal law enforcement agency access to its DNA data to investigate crimes.

“We came to the conclusion that if law enforcement created accounts, with the same level of access to the database as the standard FamilyTreeDNA user, they would not be violating user privacy and confidentiality,” Family Tree DNA founder and CEO Bennett Greenspan said in the statement.

Investigative genealogy has played an increasingly important role in solving crimes over the past several years. Detectives have uploaded DNA collected from a crime scene to genealogy databases, enabling them to locate relatives of suspected criminals. From there, it is possible to create a genealogical tree that points law enforcement back to the suspect of the crime.

“I would be very against Family Tree DNA allowing law enforcement to have open access to their DNA database,” a research associate at the University College London told Buzzfeed News. “I don’t think it’s right for law enforcement to use a database without the informed consent of the consumer.”

Read more here.

 

FAKE NEWS GROUP TAKEDOWN IN INDONESIA: Facebook on Thursday announced that it had taken down hundreds of accounts and pages linked to an Indonesian group accused of spreading misinformation and fake news ahead of the country's elections this year.

The announcement came days after Facebook said that it is setting up election integrity offices in Singapore and Dublin focused on removing misinformation that could disrupt democratic processes.

Facebook said it took down 207 pages, 800 accounts and 546 groups, as well as 208 Instagram accounts, linked to the Saracen Group, a social media organization that has previously faced legal troubles over allegedly spreading incendiary materials online.

"The Saracen Group’s coordinated abuse of the platform using inauthentic accounts is a violation of our policies and we have therefore banned the entire organization from the platform," Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher said in a blog post.

Facebook on Monday unveiled new plans for preventing the spread of misinformation ahead of elections in multiple regions, including the European Union, Ukraine, India and Israel.

Read more here.

 

DELETE YR ACCOUNT: German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced she would close her Facebook page Friday as she continues to plan the end of her political career.

In a video posted on her page, Merkel explained that she no longer needs the account since she is no longer leading the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

“Today is the day on which I would like to thank you for all your support of my Facebook page,” she said. “You know that I am no longer CDU president, so I will now close my Facebook page.”

Closing a page with 2.5 million followers has driven speculation that whatever Merkel does next she will do as a private citizen.

The chancellor added that the public can get updates on her work from the Facebook page of the German government.
More on Merkel leaving Facebook here.

 

FACEBOOK LIVESTREAM NIGHTMARE: A man has been arrested after a woman's alleged sexual assault at the Opera nightclub in Atlanta was streamed live on Facebook.

CNN reports that police detained Dominique Williams, 34, after he turned himself in Tuesday following the issue of a warrant for his arrest.

A police report obtained by CNN indicates that the unnamed woman could be seen during the assault on a Facebook Live video pleading for her attacker to stop.

"In the video you can clearly hear the female saying, 'stop, please somebody help me,' " the report states.

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Williams's attorney released a statement proclaiming his innocence on Instagram, while calling for other bystanders or witnesses to come forward.

"These allegations are false, and the evidence will prove that our client should never have been charged," Shequel Ross wrote in the post.

The nightclub's attorney told CNN that the business would "continue to provide Atlanta Police Department with any information and footage which may help the investigation."

More here.

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: He is a fashion correspondent after all.

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Democrats are zeroing in on Treasury’s Mnuchin. (The Hill)

Five takeaways on Trump decision to suspend nuclear treaty with Russia. (The Hill)

Google employees report declining confidence in leaders. (Wired)

Snopes quits fact-checking partnership with Facebook. (CNBC)

First SIM swapper to get convicted in U.S. faces 10 years in prison after stealing millions. (Motherboard)

Ethical hacker in Hungary who reported flaws found in large telecom firm gets eight years in prison. (The Hacker News)

The latest shakeup in the encryption debate. (Motherboard)