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

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
© UPI Photo

Welcome to Hillicon Valley, The Hill's newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. If you don't already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter with this LINK.

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).

 

BYE, BEZOS: President Trump said Thursday he'll ask the Department of Defense to look "very closely" at the Pentagon's cloud computing contract that is expected to be awarded to Amazon.

"I'm getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and with Amazon," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. "They're saying it wasn't competitively bid.

"Some of the greatest companies in the world are complaining about it, having to do with Amazon and the Department of Defense," Trump continued. "And I will be asking them to look at it very closely to see what's going on because I have had very few things where there's been such complaining."

ADVERTISEMENT
Bloomberg first reported on Wednesday that Trump has asked for more information on the $10 billion deal, which the Pentagon is expected to award next month. Amazon is considered the favorite to land the contract, though Microsoft is also in the running.

It's unclear whether Trump would go as far as canceling the contract or directly intervene, but he has long been critical of Amazon and its owner, Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosJeff Bezos gives 0M to Feeding America amid coronavirus pandemic Fired Amazon striker demands Bezos protect workers in open letter Hillicon Valley: Coronavirus deal includes funds for mail-in voting | Twitter pulled into fight over virus disinformation | State AGs target price gouging | Apple to donate 10M masks MORE.

Read more here.

 

NEW KIDS' PRIVACY RULES?: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is looking to update its rules on internet privacy for children after renewed concerns about how tech companies are catering to, and collecting data on, young internet users.

The five FTC commissioners voted unanimously to seek public input on updating its regulations on the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which went into effect nearly 20 years ago.

"In light of rapid technological changes that impact the online children's marketplace, we must ensure COPPA remains effective," FTC Chairman Joseph Simons said in a statement on Wednesday. "We're committed to strong COPPA enforcement, as well as industry outreach and a COPPA business hotline to foster a high level of COPPA compliance. But we also need to regularly revisit and, if warranted, update the Rule."

The agency usually reviews its regulations every 10 years, and the last time it looked into the children's privacy law was in 2013. In a draft notice to be published in the Federal Register, the FTC said it was launching a review early "because of questions that have arisen about the Rule's application to the educational technology sector, to voice-enabled connected devices, and to general audience platforms that host third-party child-directed content."

Under COPPA, websites must obtain parental consent before collecting data on children under 13.

"COPPA is the constitution for children's privacy online, and as its author I have consistently advocated for thoughtful updates to the existing COPPA regime to keep pace with technological changes and emerging threats to kids," Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOvernight Health Care: CDC recommends face coverings in public | Resistance to social distancing sparks new worries | Controversy over change of national stockpile definition | McConnell signals fourth coronavirus bill Democratic senators want probe into change of national stockpile description Overnight Energy: Oil giants meet with Trump at White House | Interior extends tenure of controversial land management chief | Oil prices tick up on hopes of Russia-Saudi deal MORE (D-Mass.) said in a statement Thursday. "But if the Commission is truly serious about protecting young people online, it will enforce existing protections, hold violators accountable no matter how powerful they are, and act as a forceful check against the ever-increasing appetite for children's data."

Read more on the law here.

 

SENATE PASSES ELECTION SECURITY BILL: The Senate passed legislation on Wednesday night that would make it a federal crime to hack into any voting systems used in a federal election. 

The bill, known as the Defending the Integrity of Voting Systems Act, passed the chamber on Wednesday night by unanimous consent, which requires the sign off of every senator.  

It would allow the Justice Department to pursue federal charges against anyone who hacks voting systems used in federal elections under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. 

Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDemocratic senators call on domestic airlines to issue cash refunds for travelers Overnight Energy: Coronavirus package punts on environmental fights | Court sides with tribes in Dakota Access Pipeline case | Trump officials walk away from ethanol court fight Coronavirus package punts on environmental fights MORE (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham asks colleagues to support call for China to close wet markets Justice IG pours fuel on looming fight over FISA court Trump says he's considering restricting travel to coronavirus 'hot spots' MORE (R-S.C.) introduced the legislation earlier this year and it cleared the Judiciary Committee in May. 

"Our legislation to protect voting machines will better equip the Department of Justice to fight back against hackers that intend to interfere with our election," Blumenthal said when the bill was introduced.

Read more here. 

 

FACEAPP FALLOUT: Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerBiden calls on Trump to appoint coronavirus 'supply commander' Democrats press Trump, GOP for funding for mail-in ballots Schumer doubles down in call for Trump to name coronavirus supply czar MORE (D-N.Y.) is asking the FBI and Federal Trade Commission to investigate FaceApp, a viral photo-aging tool that is sparking privacy concerns. 

Schumer sent a letter on Wednesday to FBI Director Christopher Wray and FTC Chairman Joseph Simons saying he was concerned that the app, which is headquartered in Russia, "could pose national security and privacy risks for millions of U.S. citizens." 

"In the age of facial recognition technology as both a surveillance and security use, it is essential that users have the information they need to ensure their personal and biometric data remains secure, including from hostile foreign governments," Schumer wrote. 

Schumer is asking the FTC to determine if there are "adequate safeguards" in place to prevent Americans' privacy from being compromised and, if not, to publicly disclose that. 

He separately wants the FBI to find out if data being uploaded to FaceApp by Americans is "finding its way into the hands" of Russia's government or companies with ties to the government. 

Read more here. 

 

MORE MONEY PLEASE: States are in need of further funding from the federal government to fully secure elections, a report published Thursday found, citing six states as examples.

The report was compiled by the Brennan Center for Justice, the R Street Institute, the University of Pittsburgh's Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security, and the Alliance for Securing Democracy. It spotlights Alabama, Arizona, Illinois, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.

"Elections are the pillar of American democracy, and, as we saw in 2016 and 2018, foreign governments will continue to target them," the authors wrote in the report. "States cannot counter these adversaries alone, nor should they have to. But at a time when free and fair elections are increasingly under attack, they can, with additional federal funding, safeguard them."

Four of the states reported that future federal funds are needed to replace "legacy" or older voting equipment that have cyber vulnerabilities, while several other states cited the need for funding to train election officials in cybersecurity. 

Pennsylvania specifically reported the need for regular county cybersecurity assessments of election systems, while in Oklahoma, the authors pointed to the need for funding to conduct post-election audits, which ensure that the voting tally is correct. 

The report noted that "it is clear that the other 44 states and the District of Columbia have similar unfunded needs."

Read more here. 

 

NEW CYBER BILL: A bipartisan group of senators on Thursday introduced legislation to increase cybersecurity training for U.S. high school students involved in the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) in an effort to increase overall cyber defense training.

The JROTC Cyber Training Act would direct the secretary of Defense to create a program to enhance the preparation of JROTC high school students for military or civilian careers in cybersecurity and computer science, including internship or research opportunities and funding for training.

The bill is sponsored by Sens. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenShocking ignorance about the Holocaust illustrates the need to pass the Never Again Education Act Overnight Defense: Lawmakers tear into Pentagon over .8B for border wall | Dems offer bill to reverse Trump on wall funding | Senators urge UN to restore Iran sanctions Bipartisan Senate resolution would urge UN to renew Iran arms embargo, travel restrictions MORE (D-Nev.), Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnTrump must cut our dependence on Chinese drugs — whatever it takes Senate passes House's coronavirus aid bill, sending it to Trump Nikki Haley expected to endorse Loeffler in Senate race MORE (R-Tenn.), John CornynJohn CornynGOP senator: National shelter-in-place order would be an 'overreaction' Lawmakers already planning more coronavirus stimulus after T package Cuban says he'd spank daughter if she was partying during coronavirus pandemic MORE (R-Texas) and Gary PetersGary Charles PetersUnprecedented health crisis called for historic expansion of unemployment insurance Coronavirus pushes GOP's Biden-Burisma probe to back burner Poll: Biden has small lead over Trump in Michigan MORE (D-Mich.).

According to Rosen's office, the bill has the potential to bring computer science and cybersecurity training to 500,000 students nationwide at 3,400 schools with JROTC programs.

Read more here. 

 

ANOTHER ZUCKERBERG HEARING?: Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersOvernight Health Care: White House projects grim death toll from coronavirus | Trump warns of 'painful' weeks ahead | US surpasses China in official virus deaths | CDC says 25 percent of cases never show symptoms Democrats, Trump set to battle over implementing T relief bill Maxine Waters unleashes over Trump COVID-19 response: 'Stop congratulating yourself! You're a failure' MORE (D-Calif.) is planning to call in Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Trump, telecom executives talk coronavirus response | Pelosi pushes funding for mail-in voting | New York AG wants probe into firing of Amazon worker | Marriott hit by another massive breach As misinformation surges, coronavirus poses AI challenge Zuckerberg, Gates team up to contribute M for research into coronavirus treatments MORE to testify about his company's new digital currency project Libra, Waters told The Hill on Wednesday. 

Waters had floated the idea during a House Financial Services Committee hearing earlier in the day and later confirmed it is something the Democrats on the committee plan to pursue.

"We'll have hearings, we're going to continue to have investigations, we're going to get Zuckerberg here," Waters said.

She added that her staff has not made the formal request with Facebook yet, but they plan to do so.

"The absolute public request was made today by Mr. Sherman," she said, referring to Rep. Brad ShermanBradley (Brad) James ShermanPelosi scrambles to secure quick passage of coronavirus aid House Democrats eyeing much broader Phase 3 stimulus Overnight Defense: Lawmakers clash during Pompeo hearing on Iran | Trump touts Taliban deal ahead of signing | Trump sued over plan to use Pentagon funds for border wall MORE (D-Calif.), who was the first lawmaker on the committee to call for Zuckerberg's appearance. "I'm taking that up."

David Marcus, the head of Facebook subsidiary Calibra, testified before the House Financial Services Committee – which Waters chairs – during a marathon hearing on Wednesday. He fielded tough and sometimes aggressive questions from lawmakers over how the new digital currency could be abused by criminals.

"This is an attempt to transfer enormous power from America to Facebook and a number of its allies," Sherman said. "We need Zuckerberg here."

The ranking member of the House Financial Service Committee, Rep. Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryBottom line Top GOP post on Oversight draws stiff competition Lawmakers shame ex-Wells Fargo directors for failing to reboot bank MORE (R-N.C.), told The Hill he would not get behind that effort.

"I don't think it's necessary," he said. "Bringing in the CEO of a company about one of their projects is not the best use of our time."

"Let's not make this about one company with one project or one highly polarizing figure of corporate America," he said. "I don't think it's additive to the conversation, nor do I think it's gonna bring deeper understanding about the project."

Facebook had no comment.

Read more here.

 

AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: Law enforcement must recognize pitfalls of facial recognition technology 

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: Why the Area 51 meme is good. 

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

AI has a bias problem and that can be a big challenge in cybersecurity. (CNBC)

G7 finance chiefs pour cold water on Facebook's digital coin plans. (Reuters)

U.S. Cyber Command simulated a seaport cybersecurity attack to test digital readiness (CyberScoop)

Here's what we know about the Russian company behind FaceApp. (The Washington Post)