Hillicon Valley: Schumer pushes Trump to go on offense over 2020 interference | Facebook gets a facelift | Biden tops competitors in digital ad spending | Sri Lanka lifts social media ban

Hillicon Valley: Schumer pushes Trump to go on offense over 2020 interference | Facebook gets a facelift | Biden tops competitors in digital ad spending | Sri Lanka lifts social media ban
© Stefani Reynolds

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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).

 

TALK TO ME: Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerJohnson eyes Irish border in Brexit negotiations Lewandowski on potential NH Senate run: If I run, 'I'm going to win' Appropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid MORE (D-N.Y.) is calling for the Trump administration to brief the Senate on what actions it is taking to prevent interference in the 2020 presidential election.

"The Senate should be briefed directly by leaders of the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and Cyber Command, in a classified space, on what, if any, actions are underway to protect the 2020 election cycle and whether additional authorities or resources are required," Schumer wrote in a letter Tuesday to the Senate Democratic Caucus. "We need to ensure the leaders of these organizations have their voices heard."

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His letter comes as lawmakers have their first chance after a two-week recess to discuss in person what steps they want to take in the wake of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

What's next: Schumer, who predicted that Senate Democrats would have a "robust internal caucus discussion," outlined "a few bipartisan actions" the upper chamber could start on, including the briefing, ahead of the 2020 election.

"The Trump Administration is not forcefully and adequately responding to the attack on our democracy outlined in the Mueller Report. The United States Senate can and should fill this vacuum with serious debate and action," Schumer wrote.

Schumer is also calling on the Senate to pass additional Russia sanctions legislation and include additional money in government funding bills for carrying out elections and bolstering the country's election infrastructure. But any additional legislation potentially faces an uphill battle in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Read more here.

 

A STORM'S A BREWING: Google employees are planning a Wednesday morning sit-in to protest alleged instances of retaliation against workers who have spoken up critically about the company. 

The sit-in comes six months after more than 20,000 Google workers participated in walkouts at offices around the world, organized to protest the company's handling of sexual harassment as well as general working conditions.

"Six months ago, we walked out," reads a flyer posted by the Twitter account Google Walkout for Real Change on Tuesday afternoon. "This time, we're sitting in."

The sit-in is planned for 11 a.m. PST.

Background: Organizers of last year's Google walkout have come out in recent weeks with allegations that they have been targets of retribution by the tech giant.

Meredith Whittaker, the founder of Google's Open Research Group, and Claire Stapleton, who currently works for Google-owned YouTube, wrote in an internal message that they have both faced retaliation for organizing Google employees, according to a report from Wired. 

Their claims sparked a windfall of other retribution claims from Google workers. "Google Walkout for Real Change," the group of activist Google workers, posted a compilation of those claims on Medium on Monday.

The stories include an allegation that Google's human resources department threatened the immigration status of an employee alleging unethical activity at the company. Another anonymous worker is claiming that they were passed over for promotions due to bias, and then faced retribution when they reported that discrimination to a manger. 

"I was told that I was being an 'emotional woman,'" the anonymous author wrote.

Google's response: Google in a statement said it does not condone retaliation in the workplace. 

"To make sure that no complaint raised goes unheard at Google, we give employees multiple channels to report concerns, including anonymously, and investigate all allegations of retaliation," a Google spokesperson said. 

Read more here. 

 

A NEW DO: Facebook on Tuesday announced that it had launched the latest redesign of its platform, including its Messenger app, saying that it will be simpler and faster for users to navigate.

In a blog post, the company wrote that it was redesigning its news feed to include more content from Facebook groups to which the user belongs, and will allow content from groups to be shared directly to the feed for the first time.

Users will also reportedly see recommendations for groups to join in other areas of the platform including the marketplace and gaming tabs.

"We've completely redesigned the Groups tab and made discovery even better. The tab now shows a personalized feed of activity across all your groups. And the new discovery tool with improved recommendations lets you quickly find groups you might be interested in," Facebook's blog post reads.

The company's Messenger app, which allows users to send and receive text and video messages, has also received a redesign meant to streamline the app's performance, according to the blog.

The redesign's rollout coincides with Facebook's annual conference, dubbed F8, which began Tuesday in San Jose, Calif.

Read more here.

 

THE SOCIAL MEDIA RACE IS ON: Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHarry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' Warren offers plan to repeal 1994 crime law authored by Biden Panel: Jill Biden's campaign message MORE is outpacing his 2020 Democratic rivals in spending on digital advertisements, CNN reported Tuesday.

Biden spent about $800,000 last week on Facebook and Google ads, more than any of his competitors in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, according to CNN.

Biden, who announced his bid for the presidency last week, spent about $407,000 on Facebook ads, CNN reported, buying a total of 1,336 targeted ads on the platform.

His campaign's Facebook spending was greater than the combined total of the next five candidates.

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHarry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' Warren offers plan to repeal 1994 crime law authored by Biden Panel: Jill Biden's campaign message MORE (D-Mass.) spent $100,677, while Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHarry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' The exhaustion of Democrats' anti-Trump delusions Warren offers plan to repeal 1994 crime law authored by Biden MORE (I-Vt.), Andrew YangAndrew YangCastro qualifies for next Democratic primary debates Eight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall Biden, Buttigieg bypassing Democratic delegate meeting: report MORE, Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeCastro, Steyer join pledge opposing the Keystone XL pipeline Eight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall Andrew Yang promises mass pardon to those imprisoned for nonviolent marijuana offenses MORE (D), and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegSanders leads Democratic field in Colorado poll Poll: Trump trails three Democrats by 10 points in Colorado Castro qualifies for next Democratic primary debates MORE each spent less than $100,000.

On Google, Biden's campaign spent $388,900 on ads last week, making him the top political advertiser on the platform, according to CNN. The next closest candidate was Buttigieg, whose campaign spent just under $50,000 on ads on the platform, according to the report.

Read more on Biden here.

 

A BAN LIFTED: Authorities in Sri Lanka have ended a temporary nationwide ban on social media platforms following several terrorist attacks that struck the country on Easter Sunday.

The Associated Press reported that Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena announced Tuesday that the ban on Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp as well as with other sites had been lifted, while asking residents to act in a "responsible" manner on the platforms.

The lifting of the ban came even as the country's health minister, Rajitha Senarathna, said that he and other government officials had received word from intelligence agencies that they could possibly be targeted by future attacks from individuals linked to the bombing suspects who are still at large, the AP reported.

It also comes a day after Indian officials reportedly arrested an adherent of Mohammed Zahran, the alleged mastermind of the Easter bombings thought to have been killed during the attacks, who was allegedly planning his own attack in the Indian state of Kerala.

On Monday, authorities in Sri Lanka moved to ban face coverings traditionally worn by Muslim women, a sign that Sri Lanka's government is cracking down on the country's Muslim minority population in the wake of the deadly attacks, which killed more than 250 people.

"President Maithripala Sirisena took this decision to further support the ongoing security and help the armed forces to easily identify the identity of any wanted perpetrators," the government said Monday.

The State Department urged U.S. citizens on Friday to leave the country, warning of the possibility of future attacks.

Read more here.

 

AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: Only one way with Huawei -- don't let it control 5G.

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: Zuckerberg in two screenshots.

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Foxconn tore up a small town to build a big factory -- then retreated. (The Wall Street Journal)

New research shows why the Sprint, T-Mobile merger could be a disaster for your wallet. (Gizmodo)

Vodafone found hidden backdoors in Huawei equipment. (Bloomberg)

Instagram tests out anti-bullying measures. (TechCrunch)