Hillicon Valley: Whole Foods workers protest Amazon's ICE ties | Oregon joins lawsuit against T-Mobile, Sprint deal | Trump looks for help to rein in tech giants | Cyberattacks find easy target in nation's schools

Hillicon Valley: Whole Foods workers protest Amazon's ICE ties | Oregon joins lawsuit against T-Mobile, Sprint deal | Trump looks for help to rein in tech giants | Cyberattacks find easy target in nation's schools
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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).

 

Congress is in recess, President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' EU says it will 'respond in kind' if US slaps tariffs on France Ginsburg again leaves Supreme Court with an uncertain future MORE is on vacation in New Jersey but there's still tech and cyber news on tap...

 

ICE PROTESTS REACH WHOLE FOODS: A group of anonymous Whole Foods workers on Monday denounced their parent company Amazon's ties to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The letter from Whole Foods workers is only the latest activist push from within Amazon, where workers have been protesting their employer's opaque relationship with ICE and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for over a year.

The bulk of the criticism has revolved around Amazon's cloud-computing support for Palantir, the data analytics company that helps ICE track and target immigrants.

Whole Worker – the protest group of Whole Foods employees – is calling for Amazon to "cease all business with Palantir and any other company involved in the continued oppression of marginalized groups."

"Palantir provides software that helps ICE in the deportation of undocumented people," the workers wrote. "Undocumented people must be welcomed with compassion and treated like the political and economic asylum seekers they are."

A coalition of immigration groups have concluded that Amazon's cloud computing arm, Amazon Web Services, supports multiple immigration-related databases for the government.

"Workers that control the levers inside Amazon must make this machine stop and turn in another direction," they continued. "Bodies inside this machine are being mangled as it tramples on our homes, destroying families and communities. If you have your hand on one of those levers, ask yourself what can you to stop it? What will your children think? What will that child separated from their parents think?"

"Peace to you," the letter concluded, "if you're willing to fight for it."

Read more on the protest here

OREGON JOINS IN AGAINST T-MOBILE-SPRINT: Oregon is the latest state to join a growing coalition suing to block the T-Mobile–Sprint merger in defiance of federal regulators who signed off on the deal this year.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D) announced on Monday that her office would be joining 14 other states and the District of Columbia in suing to stop the $26 billion deal.

"It's important that Oregon join other states in opposing the Sprint-T-Mobile merger," Rosenblum said in a statement. "If left unchallenged, the current plan will result in reduced access to affordable wireless service in Oregon -- and higher prices. Neither is acceptable."

The move comes weeks after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton became the first Republican to join the lawsuit.

Read more here.

 

SCHOOL'S OUT FOR CYBER: School districts across the country are increasingly becoming a major target of malicious cyberattacks, leaving both the federal government and state governments scrambling to find ways to fight back.

Recent cyberattacks on school districts in Louisiana, Virginia and Oklahoma have highlighted the threat. In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) declared a statewide emergency last month in response to ransomware attacks on three school districts, and authorized state resources and cyber assistance to help the districts.

Last week in Oklahoma, Broken Arrow Public Schools were also targeted by a ransomware attack, in which an attacker encrypts the system and demands payment to unlock it. School District Superintendent Janet Dunlop said in a statement that the district had experienced "network and server issues which are believed to be caused by criminal actors attempting to disrupt the operations of our district."

Dunlop said the district had notified the FBI and would work to "hold the wrongdoers accountable."

And in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, the school district revealed this week that both it and the county government were the victims of email scams. The investigation has been turned over to the Virginia State Police, with local news outlets reporting that school officials fell for an email scam and paid $600,000 to a cyber scammer, thinking they were paying a contractor for a new football field.

While school districts may not seem to be the obvious target for hackers in comparison to governments or essential services, Doug Levin, the founder and president of EdTech Strategies, a consulting firm, told The Hill that they are easy targets due to outdated systems and the fact that they handle large amounts of money.

"They are a soft target, for those that are doing not-very-sophisticated attacks and they are looking to ransom people and steal data, they are just scanning the internet for easy targets and outdated systems," Levin said.

Read more on the new threat here.

 

ICYMI... TRUMP DOUBLES DOWN ON TECH ATTACKS: President Trump is doubling down on his attacks against Silicon Valley, fueled by his party's conviction that social media companies are working to silence right-wing voices.

That hostility has reportedly led the White House to consider an executive order that would task the federal government with overseeing social media platforms' handling of online political speech.

And the escalation comes as Trump is also trying to push the tech industry on other fronts, including to do more to help law enforcement find and stop extremists online, following two mass shootings last weekend.

"We're going to be very tough with them," the president told reporters Friday ahead of a meeting with tech companies over online extremism.

"They treat conservatives, Republicans totally different than they treat others. And they can't do that," he said.

CNN on Friday reported the contents of a draft summary of the executive order Trump is considering, which would reportedly push the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to do more to police social media companies' content-moderation decisions.

Under the tentative executive action, titled "Protecting Americans from Online Censorship," the FCC would be tasked with adopting rules that would clarify when social media companies' content-moderation decisions are legally protected.

The FTC would also take public comments on platforms' moderating efforts and work with the FCC to investigate those practices.

The FCC and FTC both declined to comment.

Read more here on Trump's new moves.

 

The tech world has also been eyeing another big fight involving social media...

 

TWITTER REVERSES ITSELF ON MCCONNELL TWEET: Twitter on Friday announced that it unlocked the campaign account for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' Pelosi asks Democrats for 'leverage' on impeachment Democrats press FBI, DHS on response to white supremacist violence MORE (R-Ky.) after a number of national GOP groups threatened to stop advertising on the social media site.

The boycott -- which drew support from the Republican House and Senate campaign arms, the Republican National Committee (RNC), and the Trump campaign -- came in response to Twitter's decision to lock @Team_Mitch over a video that included violent threats.

"After multiple appeals from affected users and Leader McConnell's team confirming their intent to highlight the threats for public discussion, we have reviewed this case more closely," Twitter said in a statement.

Twitter confirmed the account was unlocked on Friday.

"Victory!!!" McConnell's campaign account tweeted. "Thank you to EVERYONE for helping #FreeMitch." The post included a campaign donation link.

"We are glad Twitter has reversed their decision to lock our Team Mitch account," Kevin Golden, McConnell's campaign manager, said in a statement.

Read more here.

AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: Government regulation of social media would kill the internet -- and free speech.

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: Some creative embarrassment 

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

How YouTube radicalized Brazil. (The New York Times)

The US Navy says no to touchscreens -- maybe automakers should, too. (Ars Technica)

Google will now let Android users log in to some services without a password. (The Verge)

EU nears decisions in Facebook privacy cases. (The Wall Street Journal)