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: Facebook employees speak up against content decisions | Trump's social media executive order on weak legal ground | Order divides conservatives Facebook employees criticize company position on Trump's George Floyd posts Zuckerberg expressed concern to Trump over rhetoric amid protests: Axios MORE will return to Capitol Hill this month to testify before the House Financial Services Committee.

Committee Chairwoman Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersMcCarthy yanks endorsement of California candidate over social media posts Top bank regulator announces abrupt resignation GOP pulls support from California House candidate over 'unacceptable' social media posts 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 RoseGun control group rolls out House endorsements Max Rose calls on Trump to use Defense Production Act to ensure small businesses have PPE 125 lawmakers urge Trump administration to support National Guard troops amid pandemic 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 WarrenGeorge Floyd's death ramps up the pressure on Biden for a black VP Judd Gregg: Biden — a path to the presidency, or not Vogue's Anna Wintour urges Biden to pick woman of color for VP MORE (D-Mass.) blasted Facebook Wednesday for its refusal to remove an ad from President TrumpDonald John TrumpSessions accepts 'Fox News Sunday' invitation to debate, Tuberville declines Priest among those police cleared from St. John's Church patio for Trump visit Trump criticizes CNN on split-screen audio of Rose Garden address, protesters clashing with police MORE's campaign attacking former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPresidents and 'presidents' Biden to blast Trump's church photo op in Philadelphia speech Rudy Giuliani calls on Cuomo to remove Bill de Blasio 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 NewsomSenior citizens deserve better than to be left in isolation Supreme Court denies California church's challenge to state restrictions Supreme Court denies Illinois churches' request for action after state eases restrictions 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 - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order targeting social media legal protections | House requests conference with Senate after FISA vote canceled | Minneapolis systems temporarily brought down by hackers House punts on FISA, votes to begin negotiations with Senate 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 NadlerHouse Democrats unveil measure to condemn police brutality House Democrats call on DOJ to investigate recent killings of unarmed black people  Gun control group rolls out House endorsements MORE (D-N.Y.), along with Reps. John SarbanesJohn Peter Spyros SarbanesPelosi, Democrats press case for mail-in voting amid Trump attacks Cornell to launch new bipartisan publication led by former Rep. Steve Israel An inclusive democracy Demands DC statehood MORE (D-Md.), Derek KilmerDerek Christian KilmerDemocrats debate how and when to get House back in action Cornell to launch new bipartisan publication led by former Rep. Steve Israel Tech groups call on Congress to boost state funds for cybersecurity during pandemic MORE (D-Wash.), Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Former Rep. Delaney says Trump is spewing venom when he should be leading; Protests roil the nation as fears of new virus outbreaks grow Expanding tax credit for businesses retaining workers gains bipartisan support Congress must fill the leadership void MORE (D-Fla.), Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinHouse holds first-ever proxy votes during pandemic Dozens of Democrats plan to vote remotely in a first for the House House members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes MORE (D-Md.), Susan DavisSusan Carol DavisThe Hill's Campaign Report: Minneapolis protests rock the nation Gloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Warren announces slate of endorsements including Wendy Davis and Cornyn challenger Hegar MORE (D-Calif.), G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), Marcia FudgeMarcia Louise FudgeThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Moniz says U.S. needs energy jobs coalition and Manchin says Congress is pushing Wall Street solutions that don't work for Main Street; Burr to step aside Hillicon Valley: Experts raise security concerns about online voting | Musk finds supporter in Trump | Officials warn that Chinese hackers targeting COVID-19 research groups The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrat concedes in California House race MORE (D-Ohio), Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarDozens of Democrats plan to vote remotely in a first for the House Biden rolls out over a dozen congressional endorsements after latest primary wins Biden rise calms Democratic jitters MORE (D-Calif.), A. Donald McEachinAston (Donale) Donald McEachinHouse Democrats seek to codify environmental inequality mapping tool  House coronavirus bill aims to prevent utility shutoffs OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Oil prices jump amid partial reopenings | Bill aims to block fossil fuel firms from coronavirus aid | Tribes to receive some coronavirus aid after court battle MORE (D-Va.) and Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiGun control group rolls out House endorsements Human Rights Campaign rolls out congressional endorsements on Equality Act anniversary House passes massive T coronavirus relief package 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)