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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 Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Big Tech hearing the most partisan yet | Rubio warns about foreign election interference | Trump campaign site briefly hacked Tech CEOs clash with lawmakers in contentious hearing Cruz in heated exchange with Twitter's Dorsey: 'Who the hell elected you?' MORE will return to Capitol Hill this month to testify before the House Financial Services Committee.

Committee Chairwoman Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersCompanies start responding to pressure to bolster minority representation Democratic senators unveil bill to ban discrimination in financial services industry Safeguarding US elections by sanctioning Russian sovereign debt 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 RoseDemocrats seek wave to bolster House majority Centrist Democrats got their COVID bill, now they want a vote Lawmakers fear voter backlash over failure to reach COVID-19 relief deal 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 WarrenWhat a Biden administration should look like Overnight Defense: Dems want hearing on DOD role on coronavirus vaccine | US and India sign data-sharing pact | American citizen kidnapped in Niger Conservative operatives Wohl, Burkman charged in Ohio over false robocalls MORE (D-Mass.) blasted Facebook Wednesday for its refusal to remove an ad from President TrumpDonald John TrumpHillary Clinton responds to Chrissy Teigen tweet: 'I love you back' Police called after Florida moms refuse to wear face masks at school board meeting about mask policy Supreme Court rejects Trump effort to shorten North Carolina mail-ballot deadline MORE's campaign attacking former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillary Clinton responds to Chrissy Teigen tweet: 'I love you back' Supreme Court rejects Trump effort to shorten North Carolina mail-ballot deadline Overnight Defense: Trump campaign's use of military helicopter raises ethics concerns | Air Force jets intercept aircraft over Trump rally | Senators introduce bill to expand visa screenings 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 NewsomWashington, Oregon, Nevada join California plan to review COVID-19 vaccine OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Ford, GM scientists knew in 1960s that emissions caused climate change: report | Testing for oil in Arctic wildlife refuge proposed for this winter | Biden's oil stance jars Democrats in tough races Electric vehicles see state-level gains 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 LofgrenWhy prevailing wage reform matters for H-1B visas Fears grow of voter suppression in Texas Business groups start gaming out a Biden administration 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 NadlerMarijuana stocks see boost after Harris debate comments Jewish lawmakers targeted by anti-Semitic tweets ahead of election: ADL Democrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court MORE (D-N.Y.), along with Reps. John SarbanesJohn Peter Spyros SarbanesBottom line Congress must finish work on popular conservation bill before time runs out Congress must enact a plan to keep government workers safe MORE (D-Md.), Derek KilmerDerek Christian KilmerHillicon Valley: House panel says Intelligence Community not equipped to address Chinese threats | House approves bill to send cyber resources to state, local governments House approves legislation to send cybersecurity resources to state, local governments Is Congress reasserting itself? MORE (D-Wash.), Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyDemocrats scramble on COVID-19 relief amid division, Trump surprise Bank lobbying group launches ad backing Collins reelection bid House Democrats call on State Department for information on Uighur prisoner Ekpar Asat MORE (D-Fla.), Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinCongress must repeal tax breaks for the wealthy passed in CARES Act COVID-19 and the problem of presidential succession Warren, Porter to headline progressive fundraiser supporting seven swing state candidates 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 Louise FudgeOfficials urge social media groups to weed out election disinformation targeting minority voters Letter from Trump taking credit for aid now mandated in government food boxes: report This week: House returns for pre-election sprint MORE (D-Ohio), Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarOn The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline Anxious Democrats amp up pressure for vote on COVID-19 aid Rep. Robin Kelly enters race for Democratic caucus vice chair MORE (D-Calif.), A. Donald McEachinAston (Donale) Donald McEachinOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden pledges carbon-free power by 2035 in T environment plan | Trump administration has been underestimating costs of carbon pollution, government watchdog finds | Trump to move forward with rollback of bedrock environmental law Trump to move forward with rollback of bedrock environmental law Sanders-Biden climate task force calls for carbon-free power by 2035 MORE (D-Va.) and Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiPhil Murphy says no coronavirus outbreaks in New Jersey linked to Trump fundraiser Marjorie Taylor Greene spars with GOP lawmaker over QAnon, antifa Hillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones 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)