Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order to protect US networks from Chinese tech | Huawei downplays order | Trump declines to join effort against online extremism | Facebook restricts livestreaming | FCC proposes new tool against robocalls

Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order to protect US networks from Chinese tech | Huawei downplays order | Trump declines to join effort against online extremism | Facebook restricts livestreaming | FCC proposes new tool against robocalls
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TRUMP SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER ON CHINESE TECH: President TrumpDonald John TrumpRussian sanctions will boomerang States, cities rethink tax incentives after Amazon HQ2 backlash A Presidents Day perspective on the nature of a free press MORE on Wednesday signed an executive order declaring a "national emergency" that would empower his administration to block foreign tech companies from doing business in the U.S. if they are deemed a national security threat.

The order does not name any countries or companies, but the administration has launched a global campaign to keep the Chinese telecom giant Huawei from helping U.S. allies develop next-generation wireless infrastructures.

The measure will empower the Department of Commerce to block transactions that it deems to be a threat to national security.


"This Executive Order addresses the threat posed by foreign adversaries to the nation's information and communications technology and services supply chain," Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossCan the US slap tariffs on auto imports? Not anymore On The Money: Slowing economy complicates 2020 message for Trump | Tech confronts growing impact of coronavirus | Manufacturing rises after five-month contraction The Memo: Trump threatens to overshadow Democrats in Iowa MORE said in a statement. "Under President Trump's leadership, Americans will be able to trust that our data and infrastructure are secure."

Read more on the EO here.


HUAWEI SAYS 'BRING IT ON': Senior executives for Chinese telecommunications group Huawei said Wednesday they would "welcome" the U.S. banning use of technology deemed a national security risk, as President Trump considers signing an executive order on the matter.

"Making America safer from a national security perspective, we welcome it," Andy Purdy, the chief technology officer for Huawei Technologies USA, told The Hill in an interview.

Purdy's comments came shortly before the president signed the executive order on Wednesday afternoon.

Don Morrissey, the head of congressional, state and local governmental affairs for Huawei, told The Hill that it's Huawei's "firm desire to be able to talk to the government and look at solutions on cybersecurity that cover all vendors, that look at risk mitigation."

Scrutiny from the Senate: Huawei's potential impact on the rollout of fifth generation wireless technology, or 5G, was a focus of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday on national security threats stemming from 5G. Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony US defense chief says Taliban deal 'looks very promising' but not without risk Lawmakers wary as US on cusp of initial deal with Taliban MORE (R-S.C.) suggested that the U.S. should consider severing business ties with other countries that use Chinese technology, telling reporters that "until China stops being a communist dictatorship, we are not going to support working with a country that uses their technology."

Huawei executives pushed back on those comments, with Purdy saying the Senate hearing "really manifested a misunderstanding or lack of understanding of the role of equipment vendors and the role of the network operators and how those relationships are managed, how risk is managed. They misunderstand the relationship of the equipment vendor like Huawei with customer data."

During Tuesday's Senate hearing, there appeared to be bipartisan support and an understanding of the dangers posed by allowing Chinese companies access to 5G networks in the U.S., or to those of the American allies.

"If our allies decide to trust Huawei, they are deciding to trust the Chinese government with their big data," Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseOvernight Health Care: Nevada union won't endorse before caucuses after 'Medicare for All' scrap | McConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills | CDC confirms 15th US coronavirus case McConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills Behind the scenes of McConnell's impeachment drama MORE (R-Neb.) said.

Read more here.


IT'S A NO FROM US: The White House on Wednesday said it declined to sign on to a global call to fight online extremism, citing concerns about freedom of speech.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronDemocrats: The road to kumbaya Trump to host king and queen of Spain for state visit How Britain can shape Europe's foreign policy after Brexit MORE are meeting in Paris on Wednesday to rally support for the "Christchurch call," a pledge to coordinate efforts to crack down on online terrorist content following the March attack on worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The shooting was livestreamed on Facebook and appeared on all of the major social media platforms.

What the White House says: The White House said in a statement that while it stands with the international community in "condemning terrorist and violent extremist content online," it is not currently "in a position to join the endorsement."

The White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy said in the statement that it believes the "best tool to defeat terrorist speech is productive speech."

"We maintain that the best tool to defeat terrorist speech is productive speech, and thus we emphasize the importance of promoting credible, alternative narratives as the primary means by which we can defeat terrorist messaging," the statement reads.

"We encourage technology companies to enforce their terms of service and community standards that forbid the use of their platforms for terrorist purpose," it added.

The pushback: The decision could open up the Trump administration to criticism it is not doing enough to combat white supremacists.

Trump was widely condemned for saying there were "very fine people on both sides" of a 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., where a counterprotester was killed. It also ended a Department of Homeland Security program designed to combat domestic terrorism.

What the pact means: The Christchurch call asks the top social media companies to step up their efforts to investigate and remove toxic online content from their platforms and asks them to commit to share more information about online terrorism with government authorities.

Top executives with Google, Facebook and Twitter are scheduled to attend the summit. Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter are expected to sign the nonbinding agreement.

Read more here.


LIVESTREAM CRACKDOWN: Facebook will start restricting the use of its livestreaming feature for users who violate its content policies in a new shift that comes in response to the mosque attacks in New Zealand earlier this year that were livestreamed and quickly spread across social media.

The company announced in a blog post on Tuesday that users who break rules involving terrorism, hate speech and violence will not be allowed to use Facebook Live for a certain amount of time.

"For instance, someone who shares a link to a statement from a terrorist group with no context will now be immediately blocked from using Live for a set period of time," Guy Rosen, Facebook's vice president of integrity, wrote in the post. "We plan on extending these restrictions to other areas over the coming weeks, beginning with preventing those same people from creating ads on Facebook."

The social media company has struggled to respond to the withering criticism from New Zealand officials after the shooter broadcasted the attack that left 50 people dead.

Read more here.


FCC MOVES ON ROBOCALLS: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote next month on a proposal to let phone carriers block certain calls by default in an effort to crack down on unwanted robocalls, the agency announced Wednesday.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said his proposal would clarify the commission's rules to let carriers filter out robocalls or scam calls from fraudulent numbers.

"Allowing call blocking by default could be a big benefit for consumers who are sick and tired of robocalls," Pai said in a statement. "By making it clear that such call blocking is allowed, the FCC will give voice service providers the legal certainty they need to block unwanted calls from the outset so that consumers never have to get them."

The FCC will also be voting on a rule to give safe harbor to carriers implementing call blocking informed by a new authentication standard that the industry is expected to adopt this year.

Some carriers provide automatic call blocking services to their customers for an extra charge.

Pai said that language in a 2015 FCC order created uncertainty about whether carriers had to let consumers opt in to call blocking.

Pai suggested that under the new rule, carriers could use analytics to decide which calls to filter out and consumers could even decide not to receive any calls from unknown numbers.

Read more on the move here.


CYBER CONCERNS OVER APPLE CASE: Cybersecurity experts are worried about the fallout from a Supreme Court ruling allowing customers to sue Apple over the prices in its App Store, claiming it could eventually lead to more unsecured apps being sold to consumers.

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a group of iPhone users can proceed with their class-action lawsuit against Apple, which claims that the company's monopoly over the downloading of apps from its App Store drives up prices.

The case will now work its way through the lower courts, but at issue is the potential that Apple could be forced to allow users to download apps from third-party groups and not just the App Store.

The cyber angle: Experts warn that scenario could lead to a higher rate of malware infections from apps for Apple's iOS devices.

Cyber experts see this issue in Android phones, with users already able to download apps from third-party sources easily, leading to a much higher rate of malware in Android phones than in iOS phones.

Renaud Deraison, the co-founder and chief technology officer of cyber exposure company Tenable, told The Hill that Apple's current "stringent" review process for apps on the App Store has minimized the amount of malware that iOS users can download.

"While Apple's review process can seem restrictive and arbitrary in some cases -- it is one of the most stringent in the industry -- it also actually helps keep users secure," Deraison said.

"If Apple were mandated to allow third-party app stores to exist, the likelihood of malware-ridden apps would be high, as we've seen on platforms with multiple stores. That level of autonomy is definitely not in the customers' best interest."

Apple pushes back: Apple did not respond to request for comment for this story, but the company put out a statement following the Supreme Court's ruling defending its App Store practices and denying that it ran a monopoly.

"We're proud to have created the safest, most secure and trusted platform for customers and a great business opportunity for all developers around the world," the company said.

The high-profile fight over its App Store has pit Apple against developers and consumers over the company's 30 percent commission on apps sold. But the unintended cyber consequences have received little attention.

JT Keating, the vice president of product strategy at mobile security company Zimperium, compared the Supreme Court's ruling to a "Rubik's cube," with consumer choice on one side and security of the apps on the other.

Read more on the cyber threats here.


PAPER BALLOTS BILL: Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate Dems blast Barr for 'clear violation' of duty in Stone case, urge him to resign Overnight Health Care: Nevada union won't endorse before caucuses after 'Medicare for All' scrap | McConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills | CDC confirms 15th US coronavirus case Harris, Castro introduce resolution condemning Trump aide Stephen Miller MORE (D-Ore.) and a group of 12 other senators introduced a bill Wednesday to mandate the use of paper ballots in U.S. elections and also ban all internet, Wi-Fi and mobile connections to voting machines in order to limit the potential for cyber interference.

Wyden's office described the Protecting American Votes and Elections (PAVE) Act as "providing the strongest protections for American elections of any proposal currently before Congress."

The legislation would also give the Department of Homeland Security the power to set minimum cybersecurity standards for U.S. voting machines, authorize a one-time $500 million grant program for states to buy ballot-scanning machines to count paper ballots and require states to conduct risk-limiting audits of all federal elections in order to detect any cyber hacks.

Among the bill's co-sponsors are 2020 presidential candidates Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Bloomberg hits Sanders supporters in new ad MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Budget hawks frustrated by 2020 politics in entitlement reform fight MORE (D-Mass.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSpeculation swirls around whether Bloomberg will make Las Vegas debate stage Conway: Trump is 'toying with everybody' by attacking Bloomberg for stop-and-frisk comments Democratic rivals sharpen attacks as Bloomberg rises MORE (D-N.J.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandHillicon Valley: US hits Huawei with new charges | Judge orders Pentagon to halt 'war cloud' work amid Amazon challenge | IRS removes guidance on Fortnite game currency Gillibrand proposes creating new digital privacy agency Lobbying world MORE (D-N.Y.), and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisConway: Trump is 'toying with everybody' by attacking Bloomberg for stop-and-frisk comments The Hill's Campaign Report: New challenges for 2020 Dems in Nevada, South Carolina Beleaguered Biden turns to must-win South Carolina MORE (D-Calif.). Rep. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerClinton advises checking your voter registration during Trump's State of the Union Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley to boycott State of the Union 10 Democrats to boycott Trump State of the Union address MORE (D-Ore.) is planning to introduce a companion bill in the House.

"The Russian government interfered in American elections in 2016 and if we don't stop them, they and other governments are going to do it again," Wyden said in a statement. "The administration refuses to do what it takes to protect our democracy, so Congress has to step up. Our bill will give voters the confidence they need that our elections are secure."

Read more here.


AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: 5 steps toward minimizing your cyber risk.


A LIGHTER CLICK: Welcome to Washington.



Why it is dangerous users can't tell if their iPhones got hacked. (Vice News)

Big U.S. hedge funds regain ardor for FAANGs in first quarter: filings. (Reuters)

The FCC flubbed the Puerto Rico hurricane response and won't answer questions about it. (Motherboard)

Angry Birds and the end of privacy. (Vox)