Hillicon Valley — Presented by CTIA and America's wireless industry — House panel approves bill restoring net neutrality | FTC asks for more help to police tech | Senate panel advances bill targeting illegal robocalls

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).

 

HOUSE PANEL APPROVES NET NEUTRALITY BILL: House Democrats advanced their flagship net neutrality bill on Wednesday, clearing the final hurdle before a floor vote next week.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee in a 30-22 party-line vote approved the Save the Internet Act, which would reinstate the Federal Communications Commission's Obama-era regulations requiring internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally.

A marathon markup: The Democrats beat back more than a dozen attempts from Republicans to gut the bill with amendments throughout the markup that lasted nine and a half hours.

GOP pushback: Republican members pushed bills that would undercut the FCC's authority to enforce the rules and called for Democrats to come up with a compromise bill that would establish less oversight of the broadband industry.

"This, my friends, is not the net neutrality that people want," said Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenDemocrats hold first hearing in push for clean energy by 2050 EXCLUSIVE: Swing-state voters oppose 'surprise' medical bill legislation, Trump pollster warns House panel investigating private equity firms' role in surprise medical billing MORE (R-Ore.). "It's actually more government socialism and frankly it's worse."

Why it's a big deal for Dems: The party has rallied around the bill as an answer to the Trump FCC's repeal of the rules in 2017. Democratic leaders have scheduled a floor vote on the bill next week, and it is widely expected to pass.

What's next: The bill, though, faces long odds in the Republican-controlled Senate. The GOP has argued that the 2015 rules were too burdensome and largely resisted efforts to overturn the repeal.

We've got the full story here.

 

 

 

SHOT: Cybersecurity researchers on Wednesday said they found hundreds of millions of Facebook user records exposed publicly online.

Upguard, a cybersecurity firm, in a report found two third-party Facebook app makers had inadvertently exposed data sets containing troves of Facebook users' personal information on Amazon cloud computing services.

The data contained details including Facebook users' comments, likes and names. The information was collected by the third-party Facebook apps and stored on Amazon's cloud.

"Facebook's policies prohibit storing Facebook information in a public database," a Facebook spokesperson told The Hill. "Once alerted to the issue, we worked with Amazon to take down the databases."

"We are committed to working with the developers on our platform to protect people's data," the spokesperson added.

Mexico-based company Cultura Colectiva left 540 million records exposed on Amazon's cloud without a password, according to the researchers, and app maker At The Pool left information on 22,000 Facebook users exposed, including their passwords.

The researchers said those passwords appear to be for At The Pool's app, but many users use the same password for multiple accounts.

The public data sets include information on "Facebook users, describing their interests, relationships, and interactions, that were available to third party developers" who made apps for Facebook.

Read more here.

 

CHASER: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Wednesday told Congress that it only has 40 full-time employees dedicated to overseeing internet privacy and data security and requested lawmakers give the agency more resources to adequately police tech companies.

FTC Chairman Joseph Simons, a Republican appointed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump conversation with foreign leader part of complaint that led to standoff between intel chief, Congress: report Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Trump to withdraw FEMA chief nominee: report MORE, wrote in a letter to House leaders this week that the commission lags far behind other developed countries' data watchdogs.

"For example, the U.K. Information Commissioners' office has about 500 employees, and the Irish Data Protection Commissioner has about 110 employees," Simons wrote. "Although these entities have somewhat different mandates, the contrast is stark.

"The FTC, as the federal entity primarily responsible for protecting consumers' privacy and data security in the United States (a much larger jurisdiction), should have more employees devoted to this effort."

Simons was responding to a letter that Reps. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneHouse reaches deal on continuing resolution, vote expected Thursday Democrats hold first hearing in push for clean energy by 2050 EXCLUSIVE: Swing-state voters oppose 'surprise' medical bill legislation, Trump pollster warns MORE (D-N.J.) and Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyDem leader says party can include abortion opponents Lawmakers jump-start talks on privacy bill The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller testimony gives Trump a boost as Dems ponder next steps MORE (D-Ill.) sent last month asking if the agency needed more resources to police internet giants. Lawmakers have grown increasingly concerned about Silicon Valley's handling of user privacy and the government's ability to hold companies accountable for abusing or mishandling consumers' data.

Read more here.

 

PROGRESS ON ROBOCALLS: A Senate panel on Wednesday advanced legislation that would levy a hefty fine on illegal robocalls, the latest congressional effort to crack down on the billions of unwanted calls that irritate U.S. consumers every year.

Lawmakers on the Senate Commerce Committee approved the bill in 26-0 vote. The measure's co-sponsors include Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharBiden lead shrinks, Sanders and Warren close gap: poll Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet Media and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity MORE (D-Minn.), who is running for president, and Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranPompeo pressed on possible Senate run by Kansas media Jerry Moran: 'I wouldn't be surprised' if Pompeo ran for Senate in Kansas Senators introduce bill aimed at protecting Olympic athletes in response to abuse scandals MORE (R-Kan.), who chairs the Senate Commerce consumer protection subcommittee.

The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, introduced by Sens. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet NRA says Trump administration memo a 'non-starter' Trump administration floats background check proposal to Senate GOP MORE (R-S.D.) and Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDefense bill talks set to start amid wall fight Kennedy to challenge Markey in Senate primary Overnight Energy: Trump tweets he's revoking California's tailpipe waiver | Move comes as Trump visits state | California prepares for court fight | Climate activist Greta Thunberg urges lawmakers to listen to scientists MORE (D-Mass.), would give the federal government the authority to slap offenders with fines of up to $10,000 per call.

It also would give the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) more time to bring charges against companies behind illegal robocalls, lengthening the statute of limitations from one to three years. The telecom industry would be required under the legislation to take stronger action against "spoofing," a practice where robocallers make it look like they are calling from a number in the recipient's area code.

"As nearly half of all calls to mobile phones this year will be robocalls, this legislation can't get signed into law soon enough," Thune said during the hearing. "The TRACED Act is a bipartisan act that targets the worst of the worst."

Markey called the vote "historic."

Read more here.

 

GET OUT OF HERE RUSSIA: A pair of bipartisan senators on Wednesday reintroduced legislation that would require the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to determine whether there was any foreign interference in federal elections and impose sanctions on any nations found to interfere.

The bill, authored by Sens. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenProgressive tax-the-rich push gains momentum Senators pressure Trump to help end humanitarian crisis in Kashmir Democratic candidates are building momentum for a National Climate Bank MORE (D-Md.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioTrump faces difficult balancing act with reelection campaign Republicans wary of US action on Iran California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth MORE (R-Fla.), would give the DNI 60 days after every federal election to investigate whether there was any foreign meddling and issue a report to Congress on the findings.

Election influence operations covered under the legislation would include the purchase of ads to influence Americans, social media disinformation campaigns and hacks on election infrastructure, including campaign emails.

The bill specifically targets Russia, which U.S. intelligence has determined interfered in the 2016 presidential election, requiring that any further election meddling from the Kremlin be met with strict sanctions within 30 days of the DNI report.

The legislation is similar to an executive order issued by President Trump last year, which requires the administration to determine if there was any foreign interference in federal elections. If any meddling is detected, sanctions are then imposed on foreign actors involved in the process.

While Van Hollen and Rubio said at the time of Trump's order that they supported the move, they said they still wanted their legislation to move forward.

And the reintroduction of the bill on Wednesday points to a belief that not enough has been done to counter election interference, particularly that coming from Russia.

Read more here.

 

TIME TO ORGANIZE: A bipartisan pair of House leaders want to let news outlets join together to negotiate with Facebook and Google for a greater share of online ad revenue.

Reps. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillinePelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Nadler considering holding Lewandowski in contempt Lewandowski, Democrats tangle at testy hearing MORE (D-R.I.) and Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsGOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan Lewandowski, Democrats tangle at testy hearing Justice OIG completes probe on FBI surveillance of ex-Trump campaign aide MORE (R-Ga.) introduced a bill Wednesday morning that would grant publishers a waiver from antitrust laws in order to engage in collective bargaining with internet giants.

"The free press is a cornerstone of our democracy," Cicilline said in a statement. "Journalists keep the public informed, root out corruption, and hold the powerful accountable. This bill will provide a much-needed lifeline to local publishers who have been crushed by Google and Facebook. It's about time we take a stand on this issue."

Critics of Facebook and Google have argued that the companies' stranglehold on the digital advertising market has shrunk the amount of ad revenue left for media outlets, making it nearly impossible for local newspapers to survive.

The two companies combined took in about 58 percent of all internet ad revenue generated in 2018, according to an analysis by eMarketer.

Cicilline, the chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust and an outspoken critic of the internet giants, introduced the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act last year, but with no Republicans in the GOP-held House on board, the bill went nowhere.

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.

 

THANKS, WE'LL THINK ABOUT IT: Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet On The Money: Fed delivers second rate cut to fend off global risks | Trump says Fed has 'no guts' | House gets deal on continuing resolution | GM faces bipartisan backlash amid strike Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers to discuss 'future internet regulation' MORE raised eyebrows over the weekend with a call for regulating internet giants, but his proposals are facing skepticism from the social network's critics.

Regulators, lawmakers and activists who have grown wary of Facebook saw Zuckerberg's move less as a mea culpa and more as an effort to shape future regulations in his favor and counter more drastic proposals like Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden lead shrinks, Sanders and Warren close gap: poll Defense bill talks set to start amid wall fight Biden allies: Warren is taking a bite out of his electability argument MORE's (D-Mass.) demand to break up Silicon Valley's giants.

"Mark Zuckerberg doesn't get to make the rules anymore," Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who chairs the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, wrote in a tweet. "Facebook is under criminal and civil investigation. It has shown it cannot regulate itself. Does anyone even want his advice?"

A top regulator in the United Kingdom, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, whose office fined Facebook about $560,000 last year over its handling of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, also pushed back against Zuckerberg. Denham said Zuckerberg could show his sincerity about welcoming regulatory oversight by dropping Facebook's appeal of the fine.

Zuckerberg's proposals for regulation recevied a cold reception from both ends of the political spectrum.

We look into why here.

 

AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: Designate China a strategic adversary, and prosecute companies that give it AI technology.

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: Watch out, Hungry Caterpillar – here's Hungry Turtle.   

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Legislate against the machine: Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDefense bill talks set to start amid wall fight Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet Lobbying groups ask Congress for help on Trump tariffs MORE has become the new sheriff of Silicon Valley. (Esquire)

On recent research auditing commercial facial analysis technology. (Leading AI experts)

Dems seek FCC explanation of faulty broadband coverage data. (Broadcasting & Cable)

The problem with AI ethics. (The Verge)