Hillicon Valley: House votes to reinstate net neutrality rules | GOP lawmakers lay into Twitter, Facebook over censorship claims | Amazon workers push company on climate | Bill targets algorithmic bias | Yahoo to pay $117M in breach settlement

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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).


HERE WE GO AGAIN: The House on Wednesday voted to reinstate Obama-era net neutrality rules prohibiting internet service providers from interfering with web traffic.

The bill passed by a 232-190 vote, mostly along party lines. Just one Republican, Rep. Bill PoseyWilliam (Bill) Joseph PoseyOVERNIGHT ENERGY: 20 states sue over Trump rule limiting states from blocking pipeline projects | House Democrats add 'forever chemicals' provisions to defense bill after spiking big amendment | Lawmakers seek extension for tribes to spend stimulus money House Democrats add some 'forever chemicals' provisions to defense bill after spiking major amendment House Republicans urge White House to support TSA giving travelers temperature checks MORE (Fla.), voted for the bill.

House Democrats pushed their measure, dubbed the Save the Internet Act, through the chamber in the face of opposition from conservative groups and Republican lawmakers, but the legislation will likely hit a wall in the GOP-controlled Senate.


The bill would reverse the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) party-line vote in 2017 to repeal the rules prohibiting broadband companies from blocking, throttling or prioritizing certain websites.

"This is just common sense," Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PallonePharma execs say FDA will not lower standards for coronavirus vaccine Dem chairmen urge CMS to prevent nursing homes from seizing stimulus payments Federal watchdog finds cybersecurity vulnerabilities in FCC systems MORE (D-N.J.) said on the House floor during debate on Tuesday. "Each of us should be able to decide what videos we watch, which sites we read and which services we use. Nobody should be able to influence that choice -- not the government and not the large companies that run the networks."

Its prospects? Not good. Earlier this week the White House came out in opposition with a threat to veto the bill if it makes it to President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeWine tests negative for coronavirus a second time Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Beirut aftermath poses test for US aid to frustrating ally MORE's desk. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump signs executive orders after coronavirus relief talks falter Coronavirus deal key to Republicans protecting Senate majority Coronavirus talks collapse as negotiators fail to reach deal MORE (R-Ky.) called it "dead on arrival."

Why it still matters to Dems: Passing the bill was an important step for Democrats: The issue is an important one for consumer advocates and groups on the left. And the 2015 rules have been hugely popular, with polls registering support as high as 86 percent among voters of all political affiliations.

Read more here.


CRUZ HITS TECH OVER CENSORSHIP CLAIMS: GOP lawmakers on Wednesday laid into Twitter and Facebook over allegations the companies routinely censor and undermine right-wing voices at a Senate hearing.

The often-tense hearing before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, chaired by Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzPat Fallon wins GOP nomination in race to succeed DNI Ratcliffe The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Negotiators 'far apart' as talks yield little ahead of deadline Wary GOP eyes Meadows shift from brick-thrower to dealmaker MORE (R-Texas), revisited claims by Republicans that Silicon Valley's largest companies are biased against conservatives.

Cruz said most of the evidence presented was "anecdotal," but said he hopes more transparency from the tech companies will clear up the issue.

"Argument by anecdote is less than satisfying but it is all we are left with as long as big tech remains a black box that simply says 'trust us,'" Cruz said.

Tech pushes back: At the hearing, the companies' representatives repeatedly said they do not make policies or remove content based on any political bias, and at times debunked instances of alleged censorship invoked by GOP lawmakers.

Twitter's director of public policy and philanthropy, Carlos Monje said the company tracked the Twitter accounts of Republicans and Democrats in Congress for five weeks before the hearing. He said they found no "statistically significant difference" in the number of times the tweets by Democrats or Republicans were viewed.

What about the Dems? The hearing was attended by only two Democrats, both of whom disputed its premise.

The subcommittee's ranking member, Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Overnight Defense: Guardsman to testify Lafayette Square clearing was 'unprovoked escalation' | Dems push for controversial Pentagon nominee to withdraw | Watchdog says Pentagon not considering climate change risks to contractors Democrats urge controversial Pentagon policy nominee to withdraw MORE (D-Hawaii), sparred with Cruz over whether anti-conservative bias by tech platforms is a pressing issue.

Hirono said Republicans were using tech companies as a "bogeyman."

In her opening remarks, she highlighted other fronts on which tech is under pressure in Washington, including the spread of misinformation by foreign agents on the platforms, the companies' struggles with conspiracy theories and the spread of extremist content online.

More on the hearing here.


AMAZON WORKERS PUSH COMPANY ON CLIMATE CHANGE: Thousands of Amazon employees signed an open letter that was released on Wednesday calling on the tech giant to do more on climate change.

As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 3,500 Amazon employees had signed onto the letter using their full names, a rare move for tech worker activists.

The employees are calling for Amazon to transition away from fossil fuels as a company, to advocate for policies that reduce carbon emissions, and to prioritize "climate impact" when making business decisions.

"Amazon has the resources and scale to spark the world's imagination and redefine what is possible and necessary to address the climate crisis," the employees wrote in the open letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Amazon's board of directors. "We believe this is a historic opportunity for Amazon to stand with employees and signal to the world that we're ready to be a climate leader."

Amazon's response: An Amazon spokesperson touted the company's existing efforts on climate change, including "Shipment Zero" and its commitment earlier this year to share Amazon's companywide carbon footprint.

"We have launched several major and impactful programs and are working hard to integrate this approach fully across Amazon," the spokesperson said in a statement. "Our dedication to ensuring that our customers understand how we are addressing environmental issues has been unwavering – we look forward to launching more work and sharing more this year."

Read more here.


DEMS TARGET ALGORITHMIC BIAS: Congressional Democrats on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require companies to correct algorithms that result in biased or discriminatory actions that harm Americans.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenTrump signs executive orders after coronavirus relief talks falter Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Hillicon Valley: Facebook removes Trump post | TikTok gets competitor | Lawmakers raise grid safety concerns MORE (D-Ore.) and Rep. Yvette ClarkeYvette Diane ClarkeThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Top tech executives testify in blockbuster antitrust hearing Hillicon Valley: Tech CEOs brace for House grilling | Senate GOP faces backlash over election funds | Twitter limits Trump Jr.'s account The Hill's Coronavirus Report: INOVIO R&D Chief Kate Broderick 'completely confident' world will develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine; GOP boxed in on virus negotiations MORE (D-N.Y.), would authorize the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enact regulations requiring companies under its jurisdiction to assess the impacts of sensitive automated decisions for their effects on bias, discrimination, privacy and accuracy, according to Wyden's office.

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Senate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package Ex-USAID employee apologizes, denies sending explosive tweets MORE (D-N.J.), a 2020 presidential candidate and co-sponsor of the legislation, said in a statement Wednesday that discrimination from decades ago can be "significantly harder to detect in 2019: houses that you never know are for sale, job opportunities that never present themselves, and financing that you never become aware of--all due to biased algorithms."

Several tech privacy and civil rights groups endorsed the measure, including Data for Black Lives, an activist group that combats uses of data science it says contribute to racial discrimination.

"We know first-hand the harmful impact that automated decision systems have on parents fighting for access to quality education, black mothers engaging health systems in how to provide care that protects their newborns, and activists fighting against community disinvestment and deprivation," Data for Black Lives said in a statement. "Beyond regulation, we are hopeful that this legislation will lead to a broader discussion about the tremendous potential for data systems, if used ethically, to uplift, empower, and democratize our communities."

Read more here.


NEW YAHOO SETTLEMENT OVER BREACH: Yahoo has reached a $117.5 million settlement with nearly 200 million people whose email addresses were hacked and personal information was stolen from their Yahoo accounts, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

According to the AP, the settlement provides for two years of free credit-monitoring services and other possible restitution valued at $117.5 million.

The revised settlement includes at least $55 million for out-of-pocket expenses, $24 million for two years of credit monitoring, up to $30 million for legal costs and up to $8.5 million for other costs, according to Reuters.

The proposed class-action settlement comes in response to the largest data breach in history, Reuters reported Tuesday. The settlement, which was made public Tuesday, still requires the approval of U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California.

The previous deal offered to pay $50 million, but Koh questioned those initial calculations, according to AP.

Read more here.


AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: Is this the internet's 'climate change' moment?


A LIGHTER CLICK: Career advice.



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