Hillicon Valley — Presented by CTIA and America's wireless industry — Google to require full benefits for temporary workers | House Intel to hold hearing on deepfakes | DOJ warns Academy over rule changes affecting Netflix

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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) and Emily Birnbaum (@birnbaum_e).

 

GOOGLE WILL REQUIRE CONTRACTORS GET FULL BENEFITS: Google said on Tuesday it will require its contracted and temporary workforce to receive full benefits, including comprehensive health care, paid parental leave and a $15 minimum wage, according to an internal memo provided exclusively to The Hill.

The internet search giant's vice president of people operations, Eileen Naughton, said in the memo to employees that Google will require that the workers receive the benefits by 2022.

Google's announcement comes the same day that a group of 915 Google workers signed on to a letter demanding equal treatment for the company's temporary workers and contractors, known internally as "TVCs."

The letter, also obtained by The Hill, claims that temporary workers and contractors account for 54 percent of Google's workforce, or 122,000 positions. Google declined to share how many of its employees are contractors and how many are full-time employees.

For years, Google employees have raised concerns that the company's workplace is stratified, with temporary workers and contractors receiving lower pay and fewer benefits than permanent employees.

Google will now require that the outside companies employing the workers provide them with comprehensive health care, a minimum wage of $15 per hour, 12 weeks of parental leave and a minimum of eight days of sick leave.

Read more here.

 

 

 

THIS INTERNET FAD KEEPS GROWING: For the first time ever, online shopping has outpaced shopping in physical retail stores.

According to the Commerce Department, nonstore, or online U.S. retail sales, surpassed general sales in February, marking the first time that has ever happened.

"The days of the internet and online shopping being 'just a fad' have come a long way over the years, but February's Retail Sales report (released Monday) highlighted another of many major milestones that the growth of online shopping has reached over the years," said Paul Hickey, co-founder of Bespoke Investment Group, according to CNBC.

Read more here.

 

DOJ WARNS ACADEMY AGAINST EXCLUDING NETFLIX: The Justice Department has warned the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that potential rule changes affecting awards for Netflix and other streaming services could be an antitrust violation, according to Variety.

The academy is reportedly considering restricting the awards eligibility of movies that debut on streaming services at the same time as they open in theaters, with board member Steven Spielberg lobbying heavily for the rules change.

In a letter to the academy, Makan Delrahim, chief of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division, said the new rules risk being written in a way that runs afoul of laws against suppressing competition.

"In the event that the Academy -- an association that includes multiple competitors in its membership -- establishes certain eligibility requirements for the Oscars that eliminate competition without procompetitive justification, such conduct may raise antitrust concerns," Delrahim wrote, according to Variety.

The Sherman Antitrust Act bans anticompetitive agreements among competitors, Delrahim reportedly wrote.

"Accordingly, agreements among competitors to exclude new competitors can violate the antitrust laws when their purpose or effect is to impede competition by goods or services that consumers purchase and enjoy but which threaten the profits of incumbent firms," he wrote.

Read more here.

 

TECH UNDER FIRE OVER HOUSING DISCRIMINATION: The Trump administration is stepping up its scrutiny into whether Silicon Valley giants are enabling housing discrimination online.

The administration has already brought charges against Facebook and is investigating both Twitter and Google.

The moves mark a significant escalation in regulators' efforts to apply federal civil rights law to online advertising and is creating a surprising alliance between watchdog groups and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonMoulton confirms he'll miss first Democratic debate Moulton confirms he'll miss first Democratic debate Lawmakers battle over HUD protections for homeless transgender people MORE. Experts say that if regulators step up enforcement, companies could be forced to significantly overhaul their lucrative ad-targeting strategies.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) surprised tech watchers last week by charging Facebook, one of the world's largest players in online advertising, with encouraging and enabling housing discrimination through its targeted advertising practices. The agency argued that the practices allowed realtors and landlords to exclude certain demographics from seeing housing ads.

HUD also accused Facebook of excluding women, minorities, disabled populations and other protected groups from seeing certain ads even when the advertiser did not intend to do so.

The agency's moves surprised many Trump administration critics who say officials have not done enough on civil rights enforcement. And for tech companies, it is opening a new front for an industry already under immense scrutiny from Washington.

Read more here.

 

FAKE OUT: The House Intelligence Committee is planning to hold a hearing in the coming months that will examine a series of national security matters, including the threat of videos manipulated by artificial intelligence that look strikingly real, according to a committee aide.

Warnings about the disinformation threat of these so-called deepfakes are growing louder ahead of the 2020 election, but Congress remains in the early stages of pressing the intelligence community to examine the threat.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff: Intelligence agencies focused on Russian interference 'even if the president isn't' Schiff: Intelligence agencies focused on Russian interference 'even if the president isn't' Schiff: Bolton, Pompeo undercutting Trump's attempts to stay out of war MORE (D-Calif.) warned that foreign and domestic actors could "wreak havoc" with the technology during elections.

"Now with deepfake technology, the Russians can push out fake audio or fake video that is indistinguishable from being real. They can make candidates for office say things they've never said," Schiff told The Hill.

Schiff said one of his chief concerns in 2016 was whether WikiLeaks added forged documents to the authentic ones it published after emails were stolen from the Democratic National Committee.

He said faked videos could be "far more debilitating," and even have "an election-altering impact."

Read more here.

 

NOT JUST FOR THE UBER RICH: Cyber criminals who have infiltrated one group's networks are increasingly using a tactic known as "island hopping" to enter other connected networks, security researchers warned Tuesday.

Researchers for the security firm Carbon Black said in a new report that 50 percent of cyberattacks experienced by its clients during the first quarter of 2019 included the technique, in which hackers will access one network and then spread out by infiltrating other connected networks.

"At this point, it's become part and parcel of a cyber crime conspiracy," Tom Kellermann, Carbon Black's chief cybersecurity officer, said in the report. "They're using their victim's brand against customers and partners of that company. They're not just, say, invading your house -- they're setting up shop there, so they can invade your neighbors' houses too."

Firms working within the financial industry were most likely to report seeing the tactic, with 47 percent reporting incidents of island hopping.

The report also found that companies said a lack of visibility into their networks was the top barrier in responding to cyber incidents.

Read more here.

 

SPONSORED CONTENT — CTIA and AMERICA'S WIRELESS INDUSTRY

Thanks to strong leadership from the administration, FCC and Congress—and industry investment and commitment—the U.S. is now tied with China in the global 5G race. Learn how a National Spectrum Strategy will create millions of jobs, add billions to our economy and ensure U.S. 5G leadership.

 

AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: Public-private joint effort is needed to prevent a cyber Pearl Harbor.

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: They're onto us.

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Twitter and YouTube won't commit to ban white nationalism after Facebook makes policy switch. (Motherboard)

Google's constant product shutdowns are damaging its brand. (Ars Technica)

Media companies take a big gamble on Apple. (The New York Times)

YouTube executives ignored warnings, letting toxic videos run rampant. (Bloomberg News)