Overnight Technology

Hillicon Valley: Intel chief creates new election security position | Privacy groups want role in new tech task force | Republicans urge Trump not to delay Pentagon cloud contract

Greg Nash

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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).


INTEL OFFICIALS PREP FOR 2020: The intelligence community has created a position to oversee threats to election security, officials announced Friday, the latest effort to shore up security heading into the 2020 presidential elections.

Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Daniel Coats has appointed Shelby Pierson to serve as the first “election threats executive” (ETE), tasking her with being the intelligence community’s “principal advisor” on election security threats.{mosads}

Pierson served as the crisis manager for election security for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence during the 2018 midterm elections and has worked in the intelligence community for more than 20 years.

Coats praised Pierson and said her “knowledge and experience make her the right person to lead this critical mission.”

The DNI noted in a statement that “Election security is an enduring challenge and a top priority for the IC [intelligence community]. In order to build on our successful approach to the 2018 elections, the IC must properly align its resources to bring the strongest level of support to this critical issue.”

Read more here.


WE WANT TO HELP!: A coalition of advocacy organizations on Friday urged a new Senate privacy working group to give consumer and privacy groups a more prominent role in crafting the nation’s first comprehensive data privacy law.

The letter from top privacy groups, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy, comes a day after Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) convened the first meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s task force on technology, which will focus on drawing up recommendations for a privacy law.

“We urge you to work closely with consumer and privacy organizations in addition to your meetings with industry groups,” the advocates wrote. “For too long, tech companies have determined the privacy policies in the United States. The consequence has been spiraling levels of data breach and identity theft.”

Thursday’s meeting featured representatives from tech companies Mozilla, Snap, Salesforce and Match, the parent company of several top dating apps.

“Industry groups have resisted the passage of meaningful privacy laws and when strong privacy laws are enacted, they come to Washington and ask you to preempt those safeguards,” the advocacy groups wrote in their letter. “We can no longer let industry groups and ineffective agencies decide how much privacy Americans may have.”

A Blackburn spokeswoman told The Hill her office has extended invitations to some consumer advocacy groups, noting “we do think their voices should be heard in the discussion on privacy legislation.”

Read more here. 


A GOP PLEA: A group of Republicans on Thursday urged President Trump to avoid delaying the Department of Defense’s (DOD) $10 billion cloud-computing contract after the president threatened to intervene, according to a letter obtained by The Hill.

The group of four House Armed Services Committee lawmakers, including ranking member Rep. Mac Thornberry (Texas), argued it is a national security imperative to move forward with the contract, which is expected to be awarded later this summer.

“We believe that it is essential for our national security to move forward as quickly as possible with the award and implementation of this contract,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter to Trump on Thursday. “Moving to the cloud will help DOD operate faster, more efficiently, and compete with adversaries, like China.”

The letter comes after Trump earlier in the day said he would ask the Pentagon to look “very closely” at the contract, which 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.” He added that he would ask his administration to “look very closely to see what’s going on.”

Amazon and Microsoft are the final contenders for the $10 billion deal, but Amazon is widely considered the favorite. The Pentagon is expected to award the contract by the end of this summer, but the process could be held up if Trump acts on the threat.

Read more here. 


AMAZON BEEFS UP DC PRESENCE: Amazon’s cloud computing arm hired an ally of President Trump to lobby on its behalf amid the bitter battle over which company will receive the Pentagon’s $10 billion “war cloud” contract, according to a recent lobbying disclosure filing.

Amazon Web Services hired Jeffrey Miller, a political strategist who operates a D.C.-based government relations firm, to lobby members of Congress about “issues related to cybersecurity and technology,” the filing states, noting he was hired last month.

The disclosure, first reported by CNBC, emerges shortly after Trump threatened to intervene in the cloud-computing contract, saying he is concerned the deal is biased toward Amazon.

Miller, the CEO of Miller Strategies, has lobbied on behalf of a host of energy companies. And according to a filing with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Miller this year raised over $111,000 in donations for Trump’s reelection campaign. He helped raise the money on behalf of Trump Victory, a fundraising committee shared by the Republican National Committee and Trump’s reelection committee.

Read more here.


AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: The tech privacy gap: When the law isn’t ready for a killer app 


A LIGHTER CLICK: Even senators are trying to beat the heat wave



UK delay on Huawei decision is harming ties, lawmakers say. (Reuters) 

How cyber weapons are changing the landscape of modern warfare. (The New Yorker) 

New Twitter still has old Twitter’s problems. (The Washington Post)

Instagram is hiding likes. Will that reduce anxiety? (The New York Times)

Tags Donald Trump Jeff Bezos Mac Thornberry Marsha Blackburn

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