Hillicon Valley: ICE renews controversial contract with Palantir | Sanders targets gig economy in labor plan | Bipartisan panel to issue cybersecurity recommendations next year | Ransomware attacks hit Texas | LinkedIn blocks more than 21M fake accounts

Hillicon Valley: ICE renews controversial contract with Palantir | Sanders targets gig economy in labor plan | Bipartisan panel to issue cybersecurity recommendations next year | Ransomware attacks hit Texas | LinkedIn blocks more than 21M fake accounts
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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).

 

ICE RE-UPS WITH PALANTIR: Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is signaling it will renew its contract with Palantir Technologies, a software company co-founded by a top adviser to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat MORE, amid ongoing protests of the tech firm's role in the U.S. immigration system.

ICE likely will continue to use Palantir's software until 2022, according to a filing posted publicly on Monday, despite outcry from tech employees and immigration groups over the company's immigration database system, referred to as the Investigative Case Management System.

In the contract, ICE said it has not found another company to provide comparable services, though it has put out inquiries soliciting support from other firms.

"As a result of the market research conducted, the Contracting Officer has confirmed that Palantir, the software developer, is the only firm able to ensure the continued effectiveness of the ICM system," the document reads.

There had been some speculation that ICE might cut ties with Palantir after the law enforcement agency solicited proposals from other tech companies.

Palantir's current contract with ICE, which is set to expire in September, was worth $41 million at first and now costs around $51 million, according to government records. Though the documents posted Monday redact the new contract's value, copying and pasting the redacted section reveals an amount around $49 million.

Read more here.

NEW POLLING ON TECH REGULATION: Americans are divided over government regulation of big tech firms, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday, as concerns grow over users' privacy and whether tech giants have formed monopolies.

Forty-eight percent of survey respondents said the government should boost its regulation of technology companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google, while 40 percent said regulation of these firms shouldn't change. Ten percent said the companies should face less oversight.

Hispanics and non-college graduates were the only two groups mostly in favor of not changing regulations, while roughly 60 percent each of self-identified liberals, union members, college graduates and Democrats support increased oversight.

Adults under the age of 30 were evenly split over whether to increase regulations or keep them the same, with 44 percent voicing support for each position.

Fears over users' privacy on major platforms have been fueled by headlines about information being collected either by third parties or the platforms themselves for advertising purposes.

The issue was in the spotlight two years ago after it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica harvested data from millions of Facebook profiles and used it for political advertising purposes.

Lawmakers have also voiced concerns over some tech giants' market power, with the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee opening a probe into major Silicon Valley players.

Read more here.

 

THERE GO ALL MY ENDORSEMENTS: LinkedIn announced this week that it had blocked or removed 21.6 million fake accounts on its platform between January and June of this year.

The professional networking platform, which has about 645 million users, wrote in a Tuesday blog post that 95 percent of the face accounts were blocked from being created during the registration process and never went live.

Another 2 million fake accounts were restricted by LinkedIn before a user reported them, while 67,000 accounts were taken down after being flagged by users.

LinkedIn emphasized that spotting the fake accounts was possible through using both artificial intelligence and human review, but that artificial intelligence and machine learning defense processes were responsible for taking down or blocking 98 percent of the fake accounts.

"We want to make sure our community continues to be a valuable resource for you; one that creates opportunities to find jobs, make connections and grow careers," LinkedIn wrote. "When we stop fake accounts, we start more chances for economic opportunity."

Read more here.

 

PLEASE, TAKE YOUR TIME: A congressionally mandated commission plans to issue its recommendations for protecting the U.S. against cyberattacks early next year, a former top official at the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday.

The Cyberspace Solarium Commission -- made up of bipartisan members of Congress, former government officials and industry representatives -- is working toward formulating a comprehensive, strategic approach, commission member Suzanne Spaulding said at the Digital Government Institute's 930gov conference.

"I think we're trying to cover everything, frankly, short of war," said Spaulding, a former under secretary of the Department of Homeland Security's National Protection and Programs Directorate, now known as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

"To have a strategic approach, you've got to make sure that you're thinking about all of the tools that you have at your disposal, all of the resources, all of the levers that both you and the private sector can contribute and bring to bear," she added.

The commission was created by the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and was named after President Eisenhower's 1953 Solarium Project, which was tasked with developing a strategy to defend the U.S. against threats from the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Read more here.

 

SANDERS TARGETS UBER, LYFT: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersChamber of Commerce argues against Democratic proposals for financial transaction taxes Top Sanders adviser: 'He is a little bit angry' Working Families Party endorses Warren after backing Sanders in 2016 MORE (I-Vt.) took a shot at companies like Uber and Lyft on Wednesday with a new plan that would make it harder for them to rely on gig workers.

Sanders, a presidential candidate, unveiled a wide-ranging "Workplace Democracy" plan to promote workers' rights and expand unions.

As part of the platform, the Vermont senator promised to crack down on the gig economy, which critics say has allowed companies to exploit workers by treating them as contractors instead of offering them the full benefits that come with being an employee.

Under the plan, "companies will no longer be able to ruthlessly exploit workers by misclassifying them as independent contractors or deny them overtime by falsely calling them a 'supervisor,' " it reads. "When Bernie is president, his administration will end the ability of corporations to misclassify workers as 'independent contractors' or label them as a 'supervisor.' "

Neither Uber or Lyft immediately responded to a request for comment.

The companies have faced an uphill fight in California, where the state legislature is considering a bill that would make it harder for them to classify gig workers as contractors instead of employees.

Uber and Lyft have argued that the law would make it harder for them to offer the flexibility that they believe makes their services attractive to drivers.

Read more here.

 

WILL THE BOOMERS EVER LEARN? Instagram on Wednesday debunked a widely shared meme claiming the social media platform was poised to allow old messages and private photos TO be used in court.

"Heads up! If you're seeing a meme claiming that Instagram is changing its rules tomorrow, it's not true," Instagram head Adam Mosseri wrote in a public Instagram "story."

Mosseri noted the same thing on Twitter, linking to a story on the fashion news site WWD debunking the rumor.

The meme, which attributes its information to "Channel 13 News" with no further details, claimed "Everything you've ever posted becomes public from today. Even messages that have been deleted."

Read more here.

A LIGHTER CLICK: Threats from the bark web.

 

AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: In debate over internet speech law, pay attention to whose voices are ignored.

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

States' biometric privacy push could threaten big tech in US. (S&P Global) 

T-Mobile 'put my life in danger,' says woman stalked with black market location data. (Motherboard)

Why are there so many weird tech patents? (Slate)

How Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenThe Hill's 12:30 Report: NY Times story sparks new firestorm over Kavanaugh Working Families Party endorses Warren after backing Sanders in 2016 Warren proposes new restrictions, taxes on lobbying MORE came up with a plan to break up big tech. (The New Yorker)