Hillicon Valley: Trump signs cybersecurity executive order | Facebook bans 'dangerous' figures | Dems slam tech's response to extremist content | Trump meets Foxconn CEO over Wisconsin factory plans

Hillicon Valley: Trump signs cybersecurity executive order | Facebook bans 'dangerous' figures | Dems slam tech's response to extremist content | Trump meets Foxconn CEO over Wisconsin factory plans
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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).


EVERYBODY'S WORKING FOR THE CYBER: President TrumpDonald John TrumpDonald Trump and Joe Biden create different narratives for the election The hollowing out of the CDC Poll: Biden widens lead over Trump to 10 points MORE on Thursday signed an executive order aimed at improving the cybersecurity workforce within the federal government.

Senior administration officials said during a call with reporters that the order will create a rotational program for cybersecurity staffers within the federal government to let them work at different agencies and pick up new skills.

And they said that other measures in the order, like creating a "President's Cup Cybersecurity Competition" for cybersecurity, will ultimately improve the quality of cybersecurity staffers in both the government and in the private sector.


Studies have pointed to a significant gap within the cybersecurity workforce, with there being far fewer qualified professionals than there are jobs in the field.

Among other measures, the order establishes a rotational program for federal workers. Workers at the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) will be able to swap out with similar staff at other federal agencies.

Read more here.


FOXCONN'S US TOUR: President Trump on Wednesday met with the CEO of Foxconn, the major manufacturer of Apple's iPhones, as the company wavers on its pledge to build a large factory in Wisconsin.

"Yesterday afternoon, President Trump met with brilliant, business leader Terry Gou, creator of Foxconn one of the world's largest companies," White House press secretary Sarah HuckabeeSarah Elizabeth SandersMcEnany stamps her brand on White House press operation Sanders mocks NY Times urging DNC to investigate Biden allegations: 'I thought it was an Onion headline' Donald Trump: The Boomer TV president MORE Sanders said in a statement on Thursday.

"Mr. Gou is spending a lot of money in Wisconsin and soon will announce even more investment there. The President and Mr. Gou did not discuss support for his campaign in Taiwan, he is just a great friend," Sanders added.

Gou is running for president of Taiwan, and Bloomberg reported that the two had discussed his candidacy on Wednesday.

Gou also met with Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) on Thursday, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

In 2017, Foxconn announced plans to build a $10 billion plant in Wisconsin that would employ 13,000 people. But Evers has said that the company wants to change its agreement with Wisconsin as it lags behind its planned investments in the state.

Read more here.


BOY BYE: Facebook announced Thursday that it has permanently banned a host of prominent figures it described as "dangerous" from its platform, including right-wing commentator and former Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

The platform said it has determined that those figures are "dangerous," and removed them under their policy barring individuals and groups that promote hateful and violent messages.

The tech giant, which has been engaged in an escalating crackdown on hate speech and fear-mongering on its platforms, also removed neo-Nazi Paul Nehlen, who previously ran for the House in Wisconsin, far-right activist Laura Loomer and conservative YouTuber Paul Joseph Watson.

The individuals are all barred from Facebook as well as its image-sharing platform, Instagram.

"We've always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today."

Read more here.


SAY MORE: A pair of Democratic lawmakers on Thursday slammed the "vague explanations" offered by tech companies responding to questions from the House Homeland Security Committee about extremist content.

Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonStates plead for cybersecurity funds as hacking threat surges House members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes Federal watchdog finds chemical facilities vulnerable to cyberattacks MORE (D-Miss.), the chairman of the committee, and Rep. Max RoseMax RoseGun control group rolls out House endorsements Max Rose calls on Trump to use Defense Production Act to ensure small businesses have PPE 125 lawmakers urge Trump administration to support National Guard troops amid pandemic MORE (D-N.Y.) said Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Microsoft have failed to "properly or fully" provide the committee with specifics about their efforts to remove online terrorist content.

"The fact that some of the largest corporations in the world are unable to tell us what they are specifically doing to stop terrorist and extremist content is not acceptable," Thompson and Rose said in a joint statement.

The statement criticizing the companies comes after Democrats on the committee last month asked Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Microsoft – members of a counterterrorism effort by tech companies called the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) – to disclose how much they spend on their efforts to remove extremist content from their platforms.

The committee on Thursday released the full letters from Twitter and YouTube, neither of which included the amount of money the companies spend on counter-terrorism in total.

Twitter called the request "complex," while Google-owned YouTube said it would be "difficult and possibly misleading" to assign a dollar amount to its counter-terrorism efforts.  

Thompson and Rose made a point of adding that Facebook had not responded to their questions.

"We have been, and continue to, work with the Committee on this issue, which is of utmost importance," a Facebook spokesperson told The Hill.

Read more on how the tech companies are handling this issue here.


DELETE YOUR DATA: Google is rolling out a feature that will allow users to automatically delete some information stored about them as the tech giant grapples with privacy concerns.

The changes, announced Wednesday, will allow users to choose if they want their activity data to be saved for either three or 18 months, after which any old data will automatically be removed from their accounts on an ongoing basis.

The controls are currently being implemented for users' location history and web and app activity and will be available in the coming weeks.

"We work to keep your data private and secure, and we've heard your feedback that we need to provide simpler ways for you to manage or delete it," Google said in a blog post. "You should always be able to manage your data in a way that works best for you -- and we're committed to giving you the best controls to make that happen."

Users will keep the option of manually deleting their location history and web and app activity data.

Read more here.


PUTIN SIGNS INTERNET LAW: Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinIn a new cold war with China, America may need to befriend Russia Here's why reporters are not asking the White House about 'Obamagate' Postponed Russian World War II victory parade now set for June MORE signed a controversial measure into law enabling the creation of a national internet network that would be able to operate independently from the rest of the world.

Putin signed the measure -- largely theoretical as of now -- on Wednesday, according to documents obtained by CNN.

The Russian network aims to protect against foreign online restrictions, creating a "sustainable, secure and fully functioning" local internet, according to the Kremlin.

The law legally establishes the creation of the Russian internet server but few details have been disclosed, CNN noted.

The legislation, which will take effect in November, creates a monitoring and management center supervised by Russia's telecoms agency, Roskomnadzor, state news agency RIA-Novosti reported.

In extraordinary situations, the agency would be able to cut off external internet traffic to create a solely Russian web system.

Information from state entities and state-owned enterprises on the internet will be encrypted, RIA-Novosti reported.

Read more on the law here.


OBVIOUSLY: The country's top health prevention agency is raising red flags over the rising popularity of e-scooters in a new study published Thursday.

The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) alongside the Public Health and Transportation departments in Austin, Texas, found that there were about 20 injuries for every 100,000 electric scooter trips over a three-month period last year.

E-scooters, also known as dockless electric scooters, have surged in popularity over the past year. New e-scooter startups have taken root in dozens of cities, and ride-hailing companies including Uber and Lyft have unveiled their own scooter services.

Public health experts have raised concerns about the growing popularity of e-scooters, pointing out that most companies do not offer helmets automatically with scooters, opening up the possibility for head injuries.

And the research released on Thursday provides evidence for that hypothesis.

The researchers, after speaking to an array of people injured while riding e-scooters in Austin, Texas last year, found that almost half of the injured scooter riders had suffered a head injury, with 15 percent experiencing a traumatic brain injury. Less than one percent of the riders said they were wearing a helmet when they got into the accident.

According to the researchers, between September 5 and November 30, 2018, there were a total of 936,110 e-scooter trips and 891,121 miles ridden on the e-scooters.

The study notes that it "likely underestimated" the prevalence of e-scooter-related injuries and calls for further research into the topic.

Read more on the e-scooter craze here.


AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: A national data privacy standard must be addressed by Congress this year.


A LIGHTER CLICK: Gather 'round, kids.



Jack Dorsey is Gwyneth Paltrow for Silicon Valley. (The New York Times)

Verizon looks to unload Tumblr blogging site. (The Wall Street Journal)

What Amazon knows about you. (Axios)

Take your AirPods off. (Buzzfeed News)