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

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, 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 Zuckerberg'Facebook Papers' turn up heat on embattled social media platform TikTok, Snapchat executives to make Capitol Hill debuts Facebook whistleblower 'shocked' at focus on metaverse MORE will return to Capitol Hill this month to testify before the House Financial Services Committee.

Committee Chairwoman Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersAffordable housing is critical infrastructure — its funding doesn't show it Which proposals will survive in the Democrats' spending plan? House Democrats scramble to save housing as Biden eyes cuts 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 RoseMax Rose preparing for rematch with Nicole Malliotakis: report 'Blue wave' Democrats eye comebacks after losing reelection Overnight Defense: Austin takes helm at Pentagon | COVID-19 briefing part of Day 1 agenda | Outrage over images of National Guard troops in parking garage 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 WarrenDemocrats face critical 72 hours The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Democrats inch closer to legislative deal This week: Democrats aim to unlock Biden economic, infrastructure package MORE (D-Mass.) blasted Facebook Wednesday for its refusal to remove an ad from President TrumpDonald TrumpYoungkin ad features mother who pushed to have 'Beloved' banned from son's curriculum White House rejects latest Trump claim of executive privilege Democrats say GOP lawmakers implicated in Jan. 6 should be expelled MORE's campaign attacking former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by American Clean Power — Methane fee faces negotiations White House rejects latest Trump claim of executive privilege The No Surprises Act:  a bill long overdue 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 NewsomCalifornia faces flash flood watches amid 'Bomb Cyclone' and 'Atmospheric River' Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Ivory poaching changes evolution of elephants California regulator proposes ban on oil drilling near schools, hospitals, homes 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 LofgrenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit Biden to raise refugee cap to 125,000 in October Republicans keep distance from 'Justice for J6' rally 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 NadlerAll eyes on Garland after Bannon contempt vote Photos of the Week: Manchin protestor, Paris Hilton and a mirror room Fight breaks out between Jordan, Nadler over rules about showing video at Garland hearing MORE (D-N.Y.), along with Reps. John SarbanesJohn Peter Spyros SarbanesDemocrats push to shield election workers from violent threats   Rep. Bush drives calls for White House action on eviction moratorium lapse Chesapeake Bay's health increases slightly to a C MORE (D-Md.), Derek KilmerDerek Christian KilmerProgressives cheer, moderates groan as Biden visit caps chaotic week  Democratic factions dig in, threatening fate of infrastructure vote Lawmakers using leadership PACs as 'slush funds' to live lavish lifestyles: report MORE (D-Wash.), Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyDemocratic retirements could make a tough midterm year even worse On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Climate divides conservative Democrats in reconciliation push MORE (D-Fla.), Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinAll eyes on Garland after Bannon contempt vote 'You're a joke': Greene clashes with Cheney, Raskin on House floor Cheney becomes GOP's Trump foil MORE (D-Md.), Susan DavisSusan Carol DavisOvernight Defense: Congress recommends nuclear arms treaty be extended | Dems warn Turkey | Military's eighth COVID death identified Bipartisan congressional task force recommends extending nuclear treaty with Russia The Hill's Campaign Report: Minneapolis protests rock the nation MORE (D-Calif.), G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeToomey takes aim at Schumer's spending windfall for NYC public housing Powell death leads to bipartisan outpouring of grief Ethics watchdog accuses Psaki of violating Hatch Act MORE (D-Ohio), Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarAll eyes on Garland after Bannon contempt vote First senator formally endorses Bass in LA mayoral bid Bass receives endorsement from EMILY's List MORE (D-Calif.), A. Donald McEachinAston (Donale) Donald McEachinA holistic approach to climate equity Nearly 200 House Democrats call for focus on clean energy tax credits in reconciliation End the practice of hitting children in public schools MORE (D-Va.) and Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiOn The Money — Sussing out what Sinema wants Ethics watchdog finds 'substantial' evidence Rep. Malinowski failed to disclose stocks US Chamber targets more House Democrats with ads opposing .5T bill 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)