Hillicon Valley: Critics push FTC to get tough on YouTube | Analysts expect regulatory trouble for Facebook's cryptocurrency | Senators to get election security briefing | FBI, ICE reportedly using driver's license photos for facial recognition

Hillicon Valley: Critics push FTC to get tough on YouTube | Analysts expect regulatory trouble for Facebook's cryptocurrency | Senators to get election security briefing | FBI, ICE reportedly using driver's license photos for facial recognition
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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).

 

YOUTUBE UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Consumer advocates are pushing for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to come down hard on YouTube's handling of children's privacy as regulators approach a potential settlement with the video-sharing site.

The Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) released a letter on Monday they sent to the FTC last week, urging the commission to force YouTube to separate children's videos from the rest of the platform in order to crack down on illegal data collection on younger viewers.

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Jeffrey Chester, CDD's executive director, told The Hill that he became "alarmed" when FTC commissioners asked about a potential remedy that would allow YouTube content creators to simply flag content on their platform that is directed at children in order to make sure advertisers comply with federal children's privacy laws.

That approach is not enough for critics of YouTube and its parent Google, who want the company to shoulder the responsibility for protecting children's privacy on the platform.

"It really did sound like they potentially would support a proposal that could take the responsibility ultimately away from Google and place that burden on programmers," Chester said.

"What I said was if the commission cannot enforce the one privacy law it has responsibility for it has no business [being] given even more power by Congress to protect the rest of us," he added, referring to the role the FTC would play in any potential privacy legislation that lawmakers draft. "If it can't protect children it should not be empowered by Congress to protect everyone else."

The issue was raised during a meeting with FTC Chairman Joseph Simons and Commissioner Noah Phillips, two of the three Republicans who make up a majority of the commission.

Bloomberg first reported on Monday that FTC commissioners had floated a potential settlement that would allow YouTube's content makers to disable ads on children's videos.

A spokeswoman for the FTC said that the agency had received the letter but declined to comment.

The big picture: YouTube's practices have received increased scrutiny from both sides of the aisle over whether the company is doing enough to protect children online from a wide array of threats, including exploitation. YouTube's massive scale and Google's pervasive ad networks have made it challenging for the company to navigate issues around children's videos and to comply with the children's privacy law. The company is not alone.

Read more here.

 

ANALYSTS SEE TROUBLE FOR LIBRA: Facebook may reap steady profits from its foray into cryptocurrency, but its ambitions may be curtailed by intense and costly scrutiny from bank and financial market lenders, according to a Fitch Rating analysis.

In a report released Monday, the credit rating agency said Facebook's Project Libra may emerge as a major money transfer platform, challenging legacy firms like Western Union, Moneygram and Transferwise.

Fitch said that while Libra will have limited impact on banks, it could supplant major money transfer firms and payment platforms if successful.

"Facebook's extensive network, big data access and technology could eventually help Libra challenge banks' dominance of payment mechanisms," wrote Fitch senior directors Monsur Hussain and David Prowse.

"But tight regulation and concerns about data privacy may constrain Facebook's ability to capitalise on these factors."

Set to launch next year, Libra would allow users to send and receive money through exchanging a proprietary cryptocurrency backed by dozens of major corporations, including Facebook.

While Libra will be controlled by a Swiss nonprofit separate from Facebook, the system will use a virtual wallet called Calibra that is operated by a Facebook subsidiary.

Facebook has insisted that it will play no role in controlling Libra, and it simply just one of its several major backers. But lawmakers and regulators have expressed deep skepticism of the project given Facebook's massive reach and series of data and privacy controversies.

Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersBipartisan housing finance reform on the road less taken Manufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank Democrats' impeachment message leads to plenty of head-scratching MORE (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, and a group of the panel's Democrats asked Facebook last week to suspend Libra until lawmakers and regulators vet the project. Rep. Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryManufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank Hasan Minhaj tells Congress: Student loan debt is 'sidelining millions of Americans' Hillicon Valley: Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract | FTC weighs updating kids' internet privacy rules | Schumer calls for FaceApp probe | Report says states need more money to secure elections MORE (R-N.C.) has also expressed concerns about Libra, but has not joined Democratic calls for a moratorium.

Read more here.

 

LAWMAKERS TO GET ELECTION SECURITY BRIEF: The Senate will get an election security briefing on Wednesday, as Democrats clamor for Congress to pass new legislation ahead of the 2020 election.

Senators will have a closed-door meeting with Trump administration officials, including briefers from the Department of Homeland Security, FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, according to a senior Senate aide.

The House is also expected to be briefed on Wednesday, with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden blasts Trump, demands he release transcript of call with foreign leader Pelosi wants to change law to allow a sitting president to be indicted Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Walmart to stop selling e-cigarettes | Senators press FDA to pull most e-cigarettes immediately | House panel tees up e-cig hearing for next week MORE (D-Calif.) announcing late last month that the lower chamber would also have an "all members" briefing.

The back-to-back briefings come as Democrats have been pushing for months for Congress to pass new legislation ahead of the 2020 elections. They also follow former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerLewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network Mueller report fades from political conversation MORE's report on Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

House Democrats passed a massive election and ethics reform bill earlier this year and have followed it up with smaller bills as they've tried to put pressure on the GOP-controlled Senate to take action.

Senate Democrats are hoping the election security briefing will move Republicans toward backing additional legislation and funding. In addition to requesting a briefing, Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall MORE (D-N.Y.) backed putting election security in a mammoth defense bill, has called for stand-alone legislation and wants to put additional money for election security assistance in the upcoming appropriations bills.

Read more here.

 

LOOKING FOR ANSWERS: Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharMSNBC Climate Change Forum draws 1.3M viewers in 8 pm timeslot The two most important mental health reforms the Trump administration should consider Sanders searches for answers amid Warren steamroller MORE (D-Minn.) and Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedNegotiators kick off defense bill talks amid border wall, Iran debates Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet Senate Democrats introduce legislation to limit foreign interference in elections MORE (D-R.I.) are demanding answers regarding voting equipment malfunctions in North Carolina during the 2016 presidential election, as election security continues to be a contentious topic on Capitol Hill.

Klobuchar and Reed sent a letter to Acting Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kevin McAleenan late last week asking him to explain the steps taken by DHS to investigate the "unexpected behavior" of voting equipment made by VR Systems during the 2016 election in Durham County, North Carolina.

On Election Day, electronic pollbooks in this county made by VR Systems malfunctioned, leading the county to switch to paper pollbooks. It is not clear if this was due to a cyber attack or a different cause.

The letter from the two Democratic senators was sent in the wake of the release of the report compiled by special counsel Robert Mueller, which concluded that Russian officers "targeted employees of [redacted], a voting technology company that developed software used by numerous U.S. counties to manage voter rolls, and installed malware on the company network."

VR Systems has since confirmed to the media that it was that company whose name was redacted in the Mueller report.

Read more here.

 

NOT EVEN AS A PLUS ONE: Facebook and Twitter were reportedly not invited by the White House to a social media summit being hosted by President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE.

CNN reports the two prominent social media companies were not extended invitations, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The summit, set for Thursday, is set to address issues relevant to social media today, all the more important as Trump utilizes the platforms like no other president before him.

The White House has not made public the various companies that will be attending Thursday's event.

Trump has frequently gone after Twitter and Google for what he alleges, without evidence, is the censoring of conservative voices on the platforms.

He previously met with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai to address his grievances with their companies.

Trump reportedly questioned Dorsey specifically on why he was losing followers on Twitter, to which Dorsey explained it was likely bots who were removed from the platform causing Trump's loss of followers.

Read more here.

 

SEEMS FINE: The FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have reportedly been using driver's license photos for facial recognition searches without license holders' knowledge or consent.

The Washington Post reports the two agencies have used millions of Americans' photos, largely from driver's licenses, for the purpose of facial recognition searches, citing internal documents and emails from the two agencies that were obtained by Georgetown Law researchers over the past five years and shared with the news outlet.

The photos give the agencies a new layer of information on Americans and a new tool to potentially track both criminals and those who have never committed a crime, according to the Post, which adds that Congress has not authorized any such development of a facial recognition system.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle expressed their dismay over reports that the federal agencies were using driver's license photos.

"Law enforcement's access of state databases," particularly DMV databases, is "often done in the shadows with no consent," House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsFederal agency to resume processing some deferred-action requests for migrants Overnight Defense: Trump says he has 'many options' on Iran | Hostage negotiator chosen for national security adviser | Senate Dems block funding bill | Documents show Pentagon spent at least 4K at Trump's Scotland resort Top Oversight Democrat demands immigration brass testify MORE (D-Md.) told the Post in a statement.

Last month at a hearing regarding facial recognition technology, Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanDemocrat accuses GOP of opposing DC statehood because of 'race and partisanship' The Hill Interview: Sanford says Trump GOP doing 'serious brand destruction' Trump slams Democrats as 'shameful' after Lewandowski hearing MORE (R-Ohio), the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said Americans have not given consent to use their photos for facial recognition searches.

Read more here.

 

NEW CYBER BILL TO PROTECT SMALL BIZ: Sens. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersRepublicans to hand out 'baseball cards' mocking Gary Peters in Michigan Election security funds passed by Senate seen as welcome first step Democrats introduce bill to block taxpayer-funded spending at Trump properties MORE (D-Mich.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioLiberal super PAC launches browser extension replacing 'Mitch McConnell' with 'Moscow Mitch' Trump faces difficult balancing act with reelection campaign Republicans wary of US action on Iran MORE (R-Fla.) introduced legislation Monday designed to protect small businesses from cyber attacks by making it easier for these companies to access tools to protect themselves.

The Small Business Cybersecurity Assistance Act would authorize Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) to work with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide consulting to small businesses on how to strengthen their cybersecurity protocols.

It would also require DHS to develop materials and programs for SBDCs to help the small businesses in their area defend against cyber attacks.

Peters and Rubio cited an industry report that found that small businesses accounted for 43 percent of data breaches in 2018, in touting the need for legislation.

"Too many small business owners say they lack the resources they need to safeguard their businesses and customers from hackers, fraudsters, and cybercriminals," Peters said in a statement. "This commonsense legislation will help ensure small businesses can access much needed information and training to secure their systems from malicious cyber-attacks."

Read more here.

 

AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: The Huawei threat: China considers data to be critical national infrastructure 

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: Yet another interesting twist on curry.

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

Your data could be at the center of the fight against Big Tech. (The new York Times)

British Airways faces $230 million fine for customer data theft. (The Washington Post)

Ajit Pai has a new proposal to go after international robocallers. (The Verge)

Social media could make it impossible to grow up. (Wired)