Hillicon Valley: House panel advances election security bill | GOP senator targets YouTube with bill on child exploitation | Hicks told Congress Trump camp felt 'relief' after release of Clinton docs | Commerce blacklists five Chinese tech groups

Hillicon Valley: House panel advances election security bill | GOP senator targets YouTube with bill on child exploitation | Hicks told Congress Trump camp felt 'relief' after release of Clinton docs | Commerce blacklists five Chinese tech groups
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Welcome! Follow the cyber team, Olivia Beavers (@olivia_beavers) and Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and the tech team, Harper Neidig (@hneidig) and Emily Birnbaum (@birnbaum_e).

 

'RELIEF': Former White House communications director Hope HicksHope Charlotte HicksPress: Acosta, latest to walk the plank Kellyanne Conway defies congressional subpoena at Trump's direction Republican lawmakers on why they haven't read Mueller report: 'Tedious' and 'what's the point?' MORE told the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday that she and members of the Trump campaign were relieved to see Wikileaks release damaging information stolen from Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump thanks 'vicious young Socialist Congresswomen' for his poll numbers Will Trump's racist tweets backfire? Democrats fret over Trump cash machine MORE's campaign.

During her closed-door interview with the committee, Hicks was asked by Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineHillicon Valley: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency plan | Trump vows to 'take a look' at Google's ties to China | Google denies working with China's military | Tech execs on defensive at antitrust hearing | Bill would bar business with Huawei Tech giants on defensive at antitrust hearing Critics slam billion Facebook fine as weak MORE (D-R.I.) whether the campaign "was happy" to "receive information that was damaging to Hillary Clinton."

"I think that 'happy' is not – I don't think that's a fair characterization. I think 'relief that we weren't the only campaign with issues' is more accurate," Hicks said, according to a 273-page transcript of her interview.

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Hicks also referenced the unverified dossier of claims about President TrumpDonald John TrumpPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Ben Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist MORE's ties to Russia authored by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele during her testimony when asked if she would accept compromising information on an opponent during an election from a foreign source.

"I'm asking you this based on your experience and the expertise you've developed, would you take foreign oppo information from a foreign government, if that were offered when working on a political campaign?" Norm Eisen, a committee lawyer, asked Hicks.

"You know, knowing how much chaos has been sowed as a result of something like the Steele dossier, no, I would not," Hicks responded.

Read more here.

 

FEELING INSECURE: A House committee on Friday advanced legislation that would require election systems to use voter-verified paper ballots to guard against election interference.

The House Administration Committee approved the Securing America's Federal Elections Act in a 6-3 party-line vote.

Committee Chairwoman Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenAnn Coulter offers rare praise for Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib Democratic leaders seek balance amid liberal push to go big on immigration California Democrats unveil redistricting reform bill after Supreme Court partisan gerrymandering ruling MORE (D-Calif.) told The Hill that the House will vote on the measure sometime next week.

The legislation would establish cybersecurity safeguards, such as prohibiting machines from being connected to the internet in any way and outlawing voting machines from being manufactured in a foreign country.

The measure authorizes $600 million in funding for the Election Assistance Commission to give to states to increase security standards through the fiscal year 2020 Financial Services and General Government funding bill. The House Appropriations Committee approved that spending bill, with the election funds, earlier this month.

Beyond the $600 million, the measure would give states $175 million biannually for "sustainment" funds to help maintain election infrastructure and establish a $5 million grant program administered by the National Science Foundation to study accessible paper ballot verification methods to address voters with disabilities and those whose first language is not English.

Lofgren, the main sponsor of the bill, said during the markup that "we have made modest progress to bolster our defenses," and that the legislation will respond to the "urgency" of election security threats.

GOP pushback: However, the bill was met strong GOP opposition, with Republicans on the committee saying the measure is designed to federally "take over" elections from states. They also noted that the 2018 midterms did not fall victim to election interference.

Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisRepublicans say they're satisfied with 2020 election security after classified briefings House passes sweeping Democrat-backed election security bill Transportation lawmakers race scooters in House office building MORE (R-Ill.), the committee's ranking member, compared the measure to H.R. 1, which was passed along party lines by the House in March. Republicans strongly objected to that bill, which includes sweeping voting reform and security measures.

He also accused Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Will Trump's racist tweets backfire? Al Green: 'We have the opportunity to punish' Trump with impeachment vote MORE (D-Calif.) of scuttling talks between Democrats and Republicans on the committee on putting together a bipartisan election security bill.

"There are a lot of things in our bill and in their bill that we can agree on, but then all of a sudden leadership from Speaker Pelosi's office and the Democrat leadership team basically said stop negotiating with Republicans, and that is not what the American people want," Davis told The Hill.

Pelosi's office did not immediately provide a response to a request for comment.

However, a committee spokesperson for Lofgren told The Hill that Davis's accusation was "false," and that Republicans and Democrats were unable to come to an agreement on the language in the bill due to disagreements over what the legislation mandates for elections.

While the House is likely to pass the measure, it stands little chance of advancing in the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment White House, Congress inch toward debt, budget deal Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout MORE (R-Ky.) has refused to bring election security legislation to the floor for a vote.

Read more here.

 

BILL TARGETS YOUTUBE: Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyHillicon Valley: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency plan | Trump vows to 'take a look' at Google's ties to China | Google denies working with China's military | Tech execs on defensive at antitrust hearing | Bill would bar business with Huawei Google official denies allegations of ties to China Senators press FTC over 'woefully inadequate' Facebook settlement MORE (R-Mo.) this week introduced a bill that would combat child exploitation on YouTube and other video-sharing platforms by banning their algorithms from automatically recommending videos of minors.

The legislation was introduced on Thursday morning as reports emerged that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is winding down an investigation into whether YouTube violated child privacy laws by collecting data on minors without parental consent.

Hawley's bill would require companies like YouTube to stop recommending videos of minors to users or else face fines of up to $10,000 per day.

The Missouri Republican first released a summary of the bill earlier this month, on the heels of research that found YouTube's recommendation algorithms were enabling child sexual exploitation by suggesting videos of scantily clad children to predators. Hawley officially introduced the bill on Thursday, according to a spokesperson.

Hawley's Protecting Children from Online Predators Act would require companies to give creators the option to identify whether their videos feature children, prompting them to either make the video private or allow it to be seen by a general audience.

Under the legislation, video-sharing platforms could face steep penalties for continuing to recommend those videos.

YouTube's response: YouTube in the first quarter of this year removed more than 800,000 videos for violating its child safety policies. Most of those videos were removed before they had received 10 views, according to the company.

And the video giant has been making efforts to deal with its child sexual exploitation issue. In June, the platform announced that it was reducing recommendations of videos featuring minors in "risky situations."

YouTube also said it is disabling the ability to post comments on videos of minors, following reports that predators were posting comments of time frames in which the children could be seen in positions that could be interpreted as sexual. 

Changes may be coming: This week, The Wall Street Journal reported that YouTube executives had been discussing the fix that Hawley's bill calls for -- ending recommendations of children's videos. Executives have also reportedly discussed moving children's content into an entirely separate app with more stringent restrictions.

"Hard to believe that it takes legislation and a federal investigation for [YouTube] to 'consider' ending its practice of serving videos of children to pedophiles," Hawley wrote on Twitter on Friday.

"C'mon, YouTube, do the right thing," Hawley wrote in another tweet. "Children before profits."

Read more here.

 

PARTY'S GETTING BIGGER: Four more states have joined the lawsuit from attorneys general seeking to block the $26 billion T-Mobile-Sprint merger, bringing the number of states piling on against the deal to 14.

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), one of the state attorneys general leading the lawsuit, on Friday announced that Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Nevada have joined onto the states' effort to block the merger.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith EllisonKeith Maurice EllisonFormer Sanders aides launch consulting firm Minnesota AG will defend state's abortion restrictions despite personal views Hillicon Valley: House panel advances election security bill | GOP senator targets YouTube with bill on child exploitation | Hicks told Congress Trump camp felt 'relief' after release of Clinton docs | Commerce blacklists five Chinese tech groups MORE (D) in a statement said the merging of T-Mobile and Sprint would amount to "anticompetitive behavior [that] makes it harder" for consumers to "afford their lives."

"It would lead to higher prices, fewer jobs, and less service," Ellison said in the statement.

California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraTrump drops bid to add citizenship question to 2020 census Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — Appeals court appears skeptical of upholding ObamaCare mandate | Drug pricing deal faces GOP pushback | Trump officials look for plan B after court strikes drug TV ad rule Democratic group hits GOP attorneys general in six-figure ad campaign on ObamaCare MORE, who is leading the lawsuit alongside James, in a statement said the attorneys general plan to "do everything necessary to block unlawful mergers, including filing a preliminary injunction, if necessary, as part of our litigation."

T-Mobile, Sprint and the states at a hearing on Friday agreed to a trial date of Oct. 7.

The lawsuit is moving forward as the Department of Justice (DOJ) continues to mull whether it will approve the merger. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last month said it will greenlight the deal, which will reduce the number of major mobile wireless networks in the U.S. from four to three.

The states seeking to block the deal include New York, California, Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Virginia and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia.

They are arguing that combining two of the country's four largest mobile carriers could harm competition and drastically raise prices for consumers, estimating the deal could raise prices for consumers by at least $4.5 billion a year.

Read more on the lawsuit here.

 

OPM BREACH FALLOUT: The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday ruled that two groups of federal workers can move forward with their class action lawsuits against the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) over a 2015 data breach that exposed the personal information of 22 million people.

According to the appeals court, the data breach left the plaintiffs vulnerable to identity theft, a substantial and ongoing "injury" that can be traced back to OPM's failure to adequately safeguard its systems.

Hackers in 2014 began stealing personal information such as Social Security numbers, birth dates, fingerprints and addresses from OPM, which functions as the federal government's human resources department.

In the years since, federal workers affected by the breach have reported various types of identity theft, including credit cards being opened and fraudulent tax returns in their name, according to the lawsuit.

The breach set off a flurry of lawsuits, which were combined into two complaints in D.C. In 2017, a federal judge dismissed the complaints, saying plaintiffs lacked sufficient evidence that they faced a substantial or imminent threat of identity theft.

The appeals court on Friday argued there is evidence the hack left federal workers vulnerable to identity theft or fraud.

Read more on the complaints here.

 

RECEIPTS? A group of Democratic senators is demanding answers from the government's antitrust enforcers about their oversight of the nation's tech giants after a string of media reports alluded to investigations into companies like Google and Amazon.

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharKlobuchar fundraises for McConnell challenger: 'Two Amys are better than one' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump digs in ahead of House vote to condemn tweet The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet MORE (D-Minn.) led a group of her colleagues in letters to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice on Friday, asking for information about the reported probes beyond what had been leaked to the media.

"Many of us have called on both the FTC and the Justice Department to investigate potential anticompetitive activity in these markets, particularly following the significant enforcement actions taken by foreign competition enforcers against these same companies," the group wrote.

"When we saw the recent press reports of potential U.S. investigations into these matters, we were encouraged, but also somewhat troubled that such inquiries were not already well underway," the letter continues. "But given the silence of the FTC and the Justice Department, the truth is that we still do not know if these investigations have actually been initiated and neither do the American people."

Klobuchar, a 2020 presidential candidate and the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, was joined by Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Schumer throws support behind bill to study reparations MORE (D-N.J.), another presidential contender; Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyLawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Trump administration denies temporary immigrant status to Venezuelans in US Epstein charges show Congress must act to protect children from abuse MORE (D-Vt.); Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.); Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinThe Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Planned Parenthood ousts its president | Harris releases drug pricing plan | House Dem drug plan delayed until after recess Health care needs transparency, and President Trump is making progress MORE (D-Wis.); Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHillicon Valley: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency plan | Trump vows to 'take a look' at Google's ties to China | Google denies working with China's military | Tech execs on defensive at antitrust hearing | Bill would bar business with Huawei Senators press FTC over 'woefully inadequate' Facebook settlement Head of miners union calls Green New Deal's main goal 'almost impossible' MORE (D-Mass.) and Tina SmithTina Flint SmithClean water or mining pollution for the nation's favorite wilderness? Hillicon Valley: House panel advances election security bill | GOP senator targets YouTube with bill on child exploitation | Hicks told Congress Trump camp felt 'relief' after release of Clinton docs | Commerce blacklists five Chinese tech groups Senate Democrats press regulators over reported tech investigations MORE (D-Minn.).

Earlier this month, a string of news reports detailed an agreement between the two agencies to divide the responsibilities for antitrust oversight of Silicon Valley, with the FTC reportedly taking the lead on any probes into Facebook and Amazon and the Justice Department handling Apple and Google.

Read more here.

 

BUH BYE: The Commerce Department added five Chinese technology groups to its "entity" list on Friday, effectively blacklisting the organizations from buying components from U.S. companies unless they get a waiver.

The five entities added were high-performance computing group Sugon, the Wuxi Jiangnan Institute of Computing Technology, semiconductor company Higon, Chengdu Haiguang Integrated Circuit and Chengdu Haiguang Microelectronics Technology.

The Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) wrote in its notice of the additions to the list that "these five entities have been determined by the U.S. Government to be acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States."

BIS noted that Sugon and the Wuxi Jiangnan Institute of Computing Technology are leaders of China's development of high-performance computing, with both also involved in modernizing China's military.

Read more here.

 

AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: As security agencies digitize, oversight must keep up.

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: You know what it is ... HOT MIC FRIDAY.

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

U.S. officials fear rising tensions with Iran could prompt cyberattacks. (The Wall Street Journal)

Google Chrome has become surveillance software. It's time to switch. (The Washington Post)

YouTube can't remove kid videos without tearing a hole in the entire creator ecosystem. (The Verge)

AI can now detect deepfakes by looking for weird facial movements. (Motherboard)