Hillicon Valley — Presented by NCTA — Meet the DNC's new chief security officer | FTC probes broadband providers' privacy practices | Dem net neutrality bill clears first hurdle

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).

 

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DNC'S NEW CYBER CHIEF: The Democratic National Committee's (DNC) new chief security officer is no stranger to serious breaches.

But Bob Lord, who journeyed from Silicon Valley to the Beltway, is facing a far different landscape than his previous workplaces, which include technology giants Yahoo, Twitter and AOL. At his most recent job as Yahoo's chief of information security, Lord was tasked with detecting two massive data breaches that had unfolded before he began working there.

While he used to have a large team of security officials handling matters out of a centralized headquarters, he is now tasked with defending the scattered political ecosystems of remote state party offices and campaigns against cyberattacks.

"The challenges that we had in just a regular company are amplified by diverse missions, staffing, you know the whole nine yards," Lord told The Hill in a sit-down interview last week.

"I didn't have to deal with training individual people when I repped large organizations. All of the DNC is on the order of the size of the security team that I left," he said.

Lord's arrival at the committee came after the group was left reeling from the aftermath of its unprecedented and highly disruptive hack in 2016, in which Russian intelligence operatives targeted the DNC's servers.

Russian hackers sent a reported 30 phishing emails that looked like a notification from Google encouraging staffers to change their passwords. All but one of those phishing attempts failed, but one click was enough for hackers to penetrate the system and gain access to the DNC's internal emails, which were published by WikiLeaks.

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The DNC leak caused a major embarrassment for the party as internal discussions were released to the public and weaponized by political opponents amid the heated presidential campaign.

This experience of dealing with major breaches, Lord says, has given him a unique perspective.

"Seeing battle up close can make you a little bit more aware of what you need to focus on," Lord said. "I think a lot of security professionals, if they haven't seen battle, they may have their own sensibilities about what should be prioritized and what should not be -- and sometimes those need a little bit of adjustment."

Read more here.

 

 

TICK TOCK: Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrFive things to watch in Russia probe review Trump, GOP shift focus from alleged surveillance abuse to Durham Russia probe Trump: Giuliani to deliver report on Ukraine trip to Congress, Barr MORE aims to release a public version of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump MORE's report within weeks, according to multiple reports.

A Justice Department official told Reuters Tuesday that Barr plans to make the report public within "weeks, not months."

The Justice Department did not immediately return a request for confirmation

Read more here.

 

Fast enough for Dems? Top House Democrats are pressing Attorney General William Barr to provide Congress with the full report and underlying evidence from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, giving him a deadline of early next month to provide such information.

More on their timeline here.

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OFF TO THE RACES: A bill to reinstate the Obama administration's net neutrality rules passed its first legislative hurdle on Tuesday as a House panel voted to advance the measure.

Democrats pushed the Save the Internet Act through a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee in the face of Republican opposition. Lawmakers approved the bill in an 18-11 party-line vote after an at-times contentious markup.

Proponents of the measure reiterated their long-running arguments that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations are essential to the internet.

"Without this legislation there is no backstop to make sure big corporations don't use their power to undermine and silence their small competitors or their political opposition," said Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneKey House and Senate health leaders reach deal to stop surprise medical bills Overnight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson – House progressives may try to block vote on Pelosi drug bill | McConnell, Grassley at odds over Trump-backed drug pricing bill | Lawmakers close to deal on surprise medical bills Key negotiator says deal close on surprise medical bills legislation MORE (D-N.J.), chairman of the full committee.

GOP lawmakers spent Tuesday's hearing grilling the Democrats' legislative counsel about the powers the bill would grant the FCC, reviving their complaints that the rules are a broad regulatory overreach that would allow the federal government too much power over the internet.

"I'm disappointed that we're considering this proposal, which [is] like so many other things like the Green New Deal and all these other plans to have more government control over our everyday lives," said House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseTrump: Fox News 'panders' to Democrats by having on liberal guests Republicans disavow GOP candidate who said 'we should hang' Omar Nunes accuses Democrats of promoting 'conspiracy theories' MORE (R-La.).

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Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology had threatened to try to hamstring the bill with amendments but at the last minute chose not to introduce them during the markup, clearing the way for the party-line vote.

Four Democrats on the panel -- Reps. G.K. ButterfieldGeorge (G.K.) Kenneth ButterfieldDemocrats likely to gain seats under new North Carolina maps North Carolina poised to pass new congressional maps Black leaders say African American support in presidential primary is fluid MORE (N.C.), Tom O'Halleran (Ariz.), Kurt SchraderWalter (Kurt) Kurt SchraderDemocrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Krystal Ball: New Biden ad is everything that's wrong with Democrats Blue Dogs issue new call for House leaders to abide by pay-go rule MORE (Ore.) and Tony Cárdenas (Calif.) -- had not voiced support for or co-sponsored the bill ahead of Tuesday's markup.

That led to an online lobbying campaign from activists and some internet companies targeting the lawmakers to sign on. All four ended up voting to advance the legislation.

For both industry groups and consumer advocates, the vote was another opportunity to revisit the contentious fight over the internet rules.

With the majority of House Democrats signing on as co-sponsors, the bill will likely easily pass the chamber but faces long odds in the Senate. A similar bill passed the upper chamber last year, thanks to three GOP defectors. But it is unlikely supporters will find the needed Republican support this year.

Read more on the revived net neutrality battle here.

 

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PRIVACY PROBE: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is ordering the nation's largest broadband providers to turn over information on their handling of consumer data as the agency launches an extensive review of privacy practices.

Comcast, Verizon and AT&T were among the companies that received orders from the FTC following a 5-0 vote by the agency's commissioners.

The FTC said the information would be used to compile a special report on the broadband industry's privacy practices.

The extensive inquiries ask the companies how they collect user data, what they do with it and who they share it with.

The effort could shed light on the lucrative and often opaque trafficking of user data for targeted advertising.

It's the FTC's first major endeavor to flex its oversight powers over broadband providers since the industry came under its jurisdiction after the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) repeal of net neutrality rules went into effect last year.

Read more about the probe here.

 

YOU CAN'T SEE THESE, THEY'RE ELECTRIC: President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades MORE on Tuesday signed an executive order directing federal agencies to identify the threats posed by potential electromagnetic pulses (EMP), which are believed to be potentially dangerous to critical infrastructure like the electric grid and find ways to guard against them.

Senior administration officials told reporters during a call Tuesday that the order will direct federal agencies to coordinate in assessing the threats that EMPs pose and find ways to prevent their impact. An EMP is a burst of electromagnetic energy that can be caused by a nuclear weapon or solar storms.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that the order will create an environment "that promotes private-sector innovation to strengthen our critical infrastructure."

"Today's executive order – the first ever to establish a comprehensive policy to improve resilience to EMPs – is one more example of how the administration is keeping its promise to always be vigilant against present dangers and future threats," she said.

The officials noted during the call with reporters that the national security strategy released in 2017 was the first to identify EMPs as a threat, and that the executive order will build off that work.

"We are taking concrete steps to address this threat," one senior administration official said. "The steps that we are taking are designed to protect key systems, networks and assets that are most at risk from EMP events."

The order signed by Trump directs agencies to identify pieces of critical infrastructure, like the electric grid, that could potentially be impacted by an EMP. It tasks national security adviser John Bolton with overseeing the order's implementation.

Read more here.

 

THE WHOLE INTERNET™: The European Parliament on Tuesday approved a controversial copyright law that will force online platforms such as Google and Facebook to filter out content that could be considered a copyright infringement.

European Union lawmakers backed the new law 348-274, capping off three years of heated debate over how the EU should modernize its copyright rules.

Tech companies and digital rights activists campaigned aggressively against the copyright reforms, claiming they could infringe on freedom of speech online and fundamentally alter how Google and Facebook in particular do business in the EU. Google in January said it might pull its Google News service from the EU entirely if the law is enacted.

The new law will force all but the smallest online platforms to install content filters to weed out potentially copyrighted content, including memes and gifs. Under the new rules, anyone sharing copyrighted content must obtain explicit permission from the content's creator.

The entertainment industry in the EU has broadly backed the reforms, saying they will allow entertainers and creators to be fairly compensated for their work.

The new law will also allow media publishers to demand compensation when platforms post snippets of their news articles.

The text of the law still has to be approved by the Council of the European Union, with a vote expected for April 9.

Read more here.

 

 

JUDGE RULES AGAINST APPLE: A U.S. trade judge on Monday ruled that Apple infringed on two of chipmaker Qualcomm's patents and recommended that some iPhones should be banned from the country as a result.

U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) Judge MaryJoan McNamara found Apple had violated two Qualcomm patents and had not infringed on two others.

McNamara is recommending a block on importing some iPhone models from China, where they are produced, to the U.S, according to a notice from the ITC

The full ITC panel has to review McNamara's findings before making a decision on a potential ban. They are expected to decide by July, Bloomberg reported.

Apple and Qualcomm are locked in court battles around the world. Apple claims Qualcomm boosts its prices excessively and the chipmaker accuses Apple of stealing its intellectual property without compensation. 

Read more here.

 

AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: Losing 5G fight with China would be a disaster for US.

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: Our legal analysis.

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Australia's digital spy chief claims cyber operatives hacked into and then deactivated ISIS communications amid military ground operation. (The Australian Financial Review)

Google announces external advisory panel to help guide responsible tech development. (Blog)

The backdoor move Uber and others are using to shape labor rules. (The New York Times)

Apple wants to be the only tech company you trust. (The Verge)