Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to testify on Libra | Extremists find home on Telegram app | Warren blasts Facebook for not removing anti-Biden ad | California outlaws facial recognition in police body cameras | China rips US tech sanctions

Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to testify on Libra | Extremists find home on Telegram app | Warren blasts Facebook for not removing anti-Biden ad | California outlaws facial recognition in police body cameras | China rips US tech sanctions
© Aaron Schwartz

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Welcome! Follow the cyber team, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and the tech team, Emily Birnbaum (@birnbaum_e) and Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills).

 

ZUCKERBERG RETURNING TO THE HILL: Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — NFL social media accounts hacked | Dem questions border chief over controversial Facebook group | Clinton says Zuckerberg has 'authoritarian' views Clinton says Zuckerberg has 'authoritarian' views on misinformation Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — UN calls for probe into alleged Saudi hack of Bezos | Experts see effort to 'silence' Washington Post | Bezos tweets tribute to Khashoggi MORE will return to Capitol Hill this month to testify before the House Financial Services Committee.

Committee Chairwoman Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersHouse holds moment of silence for Kobe Bryant Gearing up for a chaotic year on K Street Maxine Waters: Republicans 'shielding' Trump 'going to be responsible for dragging us to war' MORE (D-Calif.) announced Wednesday that Zuckerberg will be the sole witness at an Oct. 23 hearing titled "An Examination of Facebook and Its Impact on the Financial Services and Housing Sectors."

"Mark looks forward to testifying before the House Financial Services Committee and responding to lawmakers' questions," a Facebook spokesperson told The Hill in a statement.

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Waters's committee has pressed Zuckerberg to testify for months about his company's plans to launch Libra, a new digital currency, this year.

The stakes: Zuckerberg's scheduled appearance comes amid rising scrutiny over Libra. The announcement of a cryptocurrency from one of the world's largest social media platforms has sent regulators scrambling.

Read more here.

 

EXTREMISTS MOVE TO NEW APP: Experts say that two months after 8chan, the fringe social network known as a breeding ground for white supremacists, went offline, other platforms are now attracting extremist voices.

8chan went offline after it was implicated in the El Paso, Texas, shooting in August, but since then extremism researchers say some of its anonymous users are flocking to other platforms, most prominently Telegram, a messaging app with 200 million monthly active users.

"Where people really are going is Telegram," said Joshua Fisher-Birch, a researcher with the Counter Extremism Project, which tracks fringe communities online.

Background: Over the past month alone, Fisher-Birch has seen the user base of 65 extreme-right-wing channels on Telegram grow by an average of 256 users -- or 43 percent.

Telegram did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Experts acknowledge it is hard to definitively say how many anonymous users are coming from 8chan, but they say the number of white-extremist "channels," or groups on Telegram, has been growing for months.

According to a VICE News investigation published Monday, more than two-thirds of 150 far-right channels on Telegram have been created since the beginning of 2019, including many hosted by neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

Tough questions: That growth has reignited the complicated debate over how to crack down on fringe networks and attracted the notice of House lawmakers, who have been conducting a months-long probe into online extremism.

"We've made real progress in pushing Facebook and social media companies to crack down on fringe sites like 8chan and take seriously the threats of terrorism online," Rep. Max RoseMax RoseSan Francisco mayor endorses Bloomberg Mixed feelings on war power limits: Lawmakers and vet candidates Rep. Bobby Rush endorses Bloomberg's White House bid MORE (D-N.Y.) who heads the House Homeland Security Committee's counterterrorism panel, said in a statement to The Hill. Rose has been spearheading the efforts to look into how Congress can help tech platforms crack down on the scourge of violent and bigoted communities online.

"Because it feels like a game of whack-a-mole with extremist content pushed to other platforms like Telegram, it just means we have to redouble our efforts," he said.

Why Telegram?: Telegram is favored among extremists because it consists of public channels where users can post relatively unfiltered content, as well as a private encrypted messaging service where people can communicate without fear of surveillance. For years, Telegram was known as the go-to app for al Qaeda and ISIS terrorists, attracting those pushed off mainstream platforms like Facebook and Twitter. 

Read more here

 

WARREN VS FACEBOOK: Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden on whether Sanders can unify party as nominee: 'It depends' Overnight Health Care — Presented by Philip Morris International — HHS has no plans to declare emergency over coronavirus | GOP senator calls for travel ban to stop outbreak | Warren releases plan to contain infectious diseases Biden lines up high-profile surrogates to campaign in Iowa MORE (D-Mass.) blasted Facebook Wednesday for its refusal to remove an ad from President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Don Lemon explains handling of segment after Trump criticism NPR reporter after Pompeo clash: Journalists don't interview government officials to score 'political points' Lawyer says Parnas can't attend Senate trial due to ankle bracelet MORE's campaign attacking former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPerry delegation talking points stressed pushing Ukraine to deal with 'corruption' GOP senator airs anti-Biden ad in Iowa amid impeachment trial Biden photobombs live national news broadcast at one of his rallies MORE's efforts to oust a prosecutor in Ukraine.

The ad implies Biden sought to fire the prosecutor because he had been investigating the company where Biden's son served as a board member. 

There's no evidence showing Biden sought the prosecutor's firing to protect his son. The Obama administration repeatedly said it sought to oust the prosecutor because of concerns he was not doing enough to root out corruption.

"Facebook already helped elect Donald Trump once. Now, they're deliberately allowing a candidate to intentionally lie to the American people. This is a serious threat to our democracy," Warren tweeted Wednesday. "We need transparency and accountability from Facebook."

Facebook's side: Facebook announced this week that it would not remove the 30-second video from the Trump campaign, saying its decision was "grounded in Facebook's fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process, and belief that in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinized speech there is."

Read more here.

 

STOP RIGHT THERE: California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin Christopher NewsomCalifornia faces federal lawsuit over its private prison ban Overnight Health Care: Trump becomes first sitting president to attend March for Life | Officials confirm second US case of coronavirus | Trump officials threaten California funding over abortion law Trump administration threatens to cut health funding for California over abortion insurance law MORE (D) on Tuesday signed a bill blocking law enforcement from using facial recognition technology in body cameras.

The bill, AB 1215, bars police from installing the software on their cameras through Jan. 1, 2023.

California is now the largest state to take steps to limit police use of the technology, following New Hampshire and Oregon.

San Francisco and Oakland, Calif., already had citywide bans on the use of facial recognition technology -- which scans faces for the purposes of identifying individuals -- by police or city agencies.

Opponents of law enforcement using facial recognition technology argue it expands unwarranted surveillance and exacerbates racial discrimination because of a tendency to be inaccurate, especially for people of color.

"With this law, California has acted boldly to stem the expansion of a surveillance state that presents an unprecedented threat to our rights and liberties," Matt Cagle, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, said in a statement.

Read more here. 

 

HELP: The majority of American social media users want the government to intervene in moderating content, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

Morning Consult's survey found that 59 percent of self-described social media users think the government should play a role in regulating how platforms decide what content to keep up or delete.

The majority of all respondents also said they had "not too much" or "no confidence" in social media companies to remove harmful content, including false information, harassment, hate speech and offensive material.

Scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators on social media companies' content moderation policies increased significantly around 2016 because of election interference as well as allegations of anti-conservative bias coming from President Trump and his allies.

A spike in hate crimes with links to internet forums, like the shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, and El Paso, Texas, also drew attention to the issue.

Read more here. 

 

MORE ELECTION SECURITY PLEASE: A group of House Democrats led by Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenLatest Bolton revelations are no game-changer Senate Republicans face pivotal moment on impeachment witnesses Democrats, Republicans tussle over witnesses as vote approaches MORE (Calif.) on Tuesday introduced new legislation aimed at combating foreign efforts to interfere in U.S. elections.

The SHIELD Act would require campaigns to report "illicit offers" of election assistance from foreign governments or individuals to both the FBI and the Federal Election Commission (FEC), and also take steps to ensure that political advertisements on social media are subject to the same stricter rules as ads on television or radio. 

The bill classifies the "offering of non-public campaign material to foreign governments and those linked with foreign governments and their agents as an illegal solicitation of support," while also closing gaps that allow foreign investment in aspects of U.S. elections. 

The bill is also sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerNadler floats John Kelly as potential impeachment witness Fox's Wallace: Nadler would pay to have his Clinton impeachment remarks 'expunged from the Earth' Pelosi says House will vote on bill to repeal travel ban MORE (D-N.Y.), along with Reps. John SarbanesJohn Peter Spyros SarbanesCitizens United decision weathers 10 years of controversy Bottom Line House to vote this month on legislation to combat foreign interference in elections MORE (D-Md.), Derek KilmerDerek Christian KilmerHouse extends Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress for another year Progressive freshmen jump into leadership PAC fundraising Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to testify on Libra | Extremists find home on Telegram app | Warren blasts Facebook for not removing anti-Biden ad | California outlaws facial recognition in police body cameras | China rips US tech sanctions MORE (D-Wash.), Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphySan Francisco mayor endorses Bloomberg Rep. Bobby Rush endorses Bloomberg's White House bid Sanders, Warren battle for progressive endorsements MORE (D-Fla.), Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinBiden leads 2020 pack in congressional endorsements House Oversight committee asks DHS for information on family separation Maryland Rep. Raskin endorses Warren ahead of Iowa caucus MORE (D-Md.), Susan DavisSusan Carol DavisOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by USAA — House Dems subpoena Giuliani associates Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to testify on Libra | Extremists find home on Telegram app | Warren blasts Facebook for not removing anti-Biden ad | California outlaws facial recognition in police body cameras | China rips US tech sanctions MORE (D-Calif.), G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), Marcia FudgeMarcia Louise FudgeOwning up to the failures of welfare reform US Virgin Islands delegate vies for impeachment manager position With holidays approaching, new SNAP rule hurts families and fails businesses MORE (D-Ohio), Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarDCCC unveils initial dozen candidates for 'Red to Blue' program Senate removes 'white nationalist' from measure to screen military enlistees: report Hispanic Caucus dedicates Day of the Dead altar to migrants who died in US custody MORE (D-Calif.), A. Donald McEachinAston (Donale) Donald McEachinDCCC unveils initial dozen candidates for 'Red to Blue' program Virginia governor seeking to remove Robert E. Lee statue from US Capitol Five environmental fights to watch in 2020 MORE (D-Va.) and Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiSanders, Warren battle for progressive endorsements NJ lawmaker flips endorsement to Biden after Booker drops out House votes to temporarily repeal Trump SALT deduction cap MORE (D-N.J.).

Lofgren in a statement heavily criticized President Trump and his administration for "welcoming" foreign interference in U.S. elections. 

Read more here.

 

CHINA RAILS AT US TECH SANCTIONS: China's Ministry of Commerce said Wednesday that U.S. officials are wrong to say Chinese tech firms aid efforts to repress the country's native Uighur population in the country's northwestern Xinjiang province, and demanded an end to U.S. sanctions over the issue.

The Associated Press reported that a statement from China's Commerce ministry told reporters that U.S. officials should cease making "irresponsible" remarks about China's treatment of Muslim minority residents if the two sides are to reach a trade agreement that has eluded negotiators for months.

"We strongly urge the United States to immediately stop making irresponsible remarks on the issue of Xinjiang, stop interfering with China's internal affairs and remove relevant Chinese entities from the Entity List as soon as possible," the agency said in a statement, according to the AP. "China will take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard Chinese interests."

A spokesman for the agency added at a daily press briefing that Chinese negotiators were en route to the U.S. for another round of trade talks, and stressed that the two sides should seek a middle ground on the issue.

Read more here. 

 

CHINA TAKES A BITE OUT OF APPLE: The Chinese Communist Party's main newspaper on Wednesday criticized Apple over an app that allows pro-democracy protesters to report police movements in Hong Kong. 

People's Daily in a commentary said the app, HKmap.live, which is made by an outside supplier and available in the App Store, "facilitates illegal behavior," The Associated Press reported.

"Is Apple guiding Hong Kong thugs?" the newspaper added. 

"This recklessness will cause much trouble for Apple," People's Daily warned. "Apple needs to think deeply."

The app permits users to publicize police location, tear gas use and other details on a map, the AP reported, noting that another version is available on Android phones.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told the AP he did not have information on whether the Chinese government asked Apple to take the app out of its store.

Read more here. 

 

A lighter click.

 

An op-ed to chew on: In the AI era, privacy and democracy are in peril

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:  

Facebook's hands-off approach to political speech gets impeachment test (The New York Times)

North Korean state media agency and Russia's TASS news agency sign agreement to fight against disinformation (BBC) 

How remote work is quietly remaking our lives (Recode)