Hillicon Valley: White House threatens to veto net neutrality bill | UK floats tough new rules on tech platforms | Facebook removes white nationalist groups amid pressure | Senators ask FTC to 'take action' against tech giants

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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).

 

NET NEUTRALITY VETO THREAT: The White House on Monday threatened to veto House Democrats' bill to reinstate net neutrality rules as the legislation heads toward a vote.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said in a release Monday that the Trump administration "strongly opposes" the Save the Internet Act that Democrats have championed in recent weeks.

The legislation would put the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) 2015 rules back into effect. The Trump FCC voted to repeal the Obama-era rules at the end of 2017.

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The OMB said that the Democrats' bill would "return to the heavy-handed regulatory approach of the previous administration and undo the FCC's action that restored the Federal Trade Commission's authority to investigate and take enforcement action against unfair, deceptive, or anti-competitive acts or practices committed by broadband providers."

Background: Democratic leaders have championed the new bill, hoping that net neutrality's broad public support will push it through a divided Congress. But the legislation faces an uphill battle in the GOP-controlled Senate.

The House could vote on the bill as early as Tuesday.

More here.

 

UK PLANNING TECH CRACKDOWN: The United Kingdom is proposing a new plan to aggressively ramp up oversight on tech companies, including fines of senior executives and the possibility of blocking internet platforms that aren't policing their sites enough for harmful content.

The proposed regulations, outlined in a white paper released Monday, would establish a statutory "duty of care" for social media companies like Facebook and Twitter and a new independent regulator to oversee the platforms.

"Up until now, we have allowed these firms to regulate themselves, but it is simply no longer working," Prime Minister Theresa May wrote on Monday in a post on Facebook. "Online companies are increasingly operating without consideration for some of their most vulnerable users."

The details: The U.K.'s definition of online harms would include terrorist propaganda, child pornography, disinformation and any content that incites violence.

The increased scrutiny on tech platforms comes in the aftermath of the mass shooting in New Zealand. The shooting was livestreamed and video of the attack spread across social media platforms in the hours that followed.

May said that the proposal would balance protecting innovation and freedom of speech with the need to protect users.

"We are leading the way on this internationally," she wrote. "And crucially, we're giving businesses clarity and certainty over what is expected of them."

Read more here.

 

IS THAT BAD?: New Zealand's top privacy official on Monday called Facebook "morally bankrupt," remarks that come in the wake of last month's mass shooting at two Christchurch mosques that were livestreamed on the social media platform, according to the Associated Press.

"Facebook cannot be trusted. They are morally bankrupt pathological liars who enable genocide (Myanmar), facilitate foreign undermining of democratic institutions," New Zealand Privacy Commissioner John Edwards said in a since-deleted tweet, the AP reported.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Edwards's remarks came in response to an interview last week in which Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergFacebook's new cryptocurrency raises red flags for critics Facebook's new cryptocurrency raises red flags for critics Libras fire back at Facebook for naming new cryptocurrency after astrological sign representing fairness MORE rejected calls to delay the company's livestream function following the massacre.

"It would ... fundamentally break what livestreaming is for people," Zuckerberg said on "Good Morning America" Thursday. "Most people are livestreaming, you know, a birthday party or hanging out with friends when they can't be together."

Read more here.

 

WHACK-A-MOLE: Facebook on Monday banned a batch of Canadian white nationalist groups from its platform after facing criticism for declining to remove a post by white nationalist commentator Faith Goldy.

HuffPost last week reported that Facebook declined to take down a video in which Goldy accused people of color and Jews of "replacing" white populations in Europe, the United States and Canada. The tech giant at the time said Goldy's rhetoric did not violate Facebook's new policies against white nationalist and white separatist content.

In a statement on Monday, a Facebook spokesperson said the company has removed Goldy and other prominent white nationalist groups and individuals from Facebook and Instagram.

Goldy, Kevin Goudreau, the Canadian Nationalist Front, Aryan Strikeforce, Wolves of Odin, and Soldiers of Odin are now banned from having any presence on Facebook and Instagram. Facebook has pledged to remove any affiliates with those groups and figures.

"Individuals and organizations who spread hate, attack, or call for the exclusion of others on the basis of who they are have no place on our services," the Facebook spokesperson said.

Read more here.

 

SENATORS ASK FTC TO INVESTIGATE FACEBOOK, GOOGLE: Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharOvernight Defense: House passes T spending package with defense funds | Senate set to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales | UN nominee defends climate change record Overnight Defense: House passes T spending package with defense funds | Senate set to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales | UN nominee defends climate change record The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Trump jumps into 2020 race MORE (D-Minn.) and Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnYouTube may move children's content to separate app YouTube may move children's content to separate app Democrats detail new strategy to pressure McConnell on election security bills MORE (R-Tenn.) in a letter on Monday urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to "take action" against Facebook and Google over possible antitrust and data privacy violations.

In a statement, Blackburn said she hoped the "bipartisan effort" would "shed light" on the country's largest tech companies.

Klobuchar and Blackburn in the letter asked the FTC to disclose whether it is investigating Google and to provide details on ongoing investigations into major online platforms.

New scrutiny: The FTC, the federal agency overseeing consumer protection and antitrust cases, closed an antitrust probe into Google without a major enforcement action in 2013.

The senators' letter comes a few weeks after Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineDemocrats fume, say Hicks declines to answer questions Democrats fume, say Hicks declines to answer questions Cracks form in Democratic dam against impeachment MORE (D-R.I.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee, called for the FTC to probe whether Facebook has violated U.S. antitrust laws.

More on the letter here.

 

CLASSIC COLLEGE HIJINKS: Federal prosecutors this week accused two college students of scamming Apple out of $900,000 by allegedly importing counterfeit iPhones and exchanging them for legitimate ones.

According to court documents, Yangyang Zhou and Quan Jiang are accused of importing thousands of counterfeit iPhones from China and filing warranty complaints with Apple, which then replaced the knock-off devices with real models, NPR reported Friday.

The two men, who were engineering students in the U.S. at the time, allegedly claimed the smartphones were broken and would not turn on. Court documents say that Apple then replaced the devices with genuine iPhones -- typically new -- which would then be shipped back to China and resold for a profit, NPR reported.

The duo allegedly orchestrated the scheme between April 2017 and March 2018, prosecutors said in a criminal complaint filed in Portland, Ore. According to NPR, prosecutors said the men received a portion of profits after attempting to switch more than 3,000 iPhones.

Apple told investigators that it replaced 1,493 of the phones with warranty claims linked to Jiang and/or Zhou and took a loss of about $600 per phone, a company official told a Homeland Security agent. The company estimates that it lost $895,800.

Read more here.

 

AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: A big win for big brother in Hanoi.

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: Working towards that beach bod.

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Wikipedia isn't officially a social network. But the harassment can get ugly. (The New York Times)

The robocall crisis will never be totally fixed. (Wired)

Great Hill Partners agrees to acquire Gizmodo Media Group. (The Wall Street Journal)

AI systems should be accountable, explainable, and unbiased, says EU. (The Verge)