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Hillicon Valley: FBI to now notify state officials of cyber breaches | Pelosi rips 'shameful' Facebook | 5G group beefs up lobby team | Spotify unveils playlists for pets

Hillicon Valley: FBI to now notify state officials of cyber breaches | Pelosi rips 'shameful' Facebook | 5G group beefs up lobby team | Spotify unveils playlists for pets
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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).

 

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ELECTION SECURITY SHIFT: The FBI on Thursday announced a new policy intended to "clarify and guide timely" notification of state and local election officials of any cyber intrusions, marking a major shift three years after Russian intrusions during the 2016 elections. 

The new internal policy mandates that a state's chief election official and local election officials involved be notified as quickly as possible of any credible cyber threats to election infrastructure. It prioritizes working with other federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), to notify these officials.

The previous policy of the FBI was to notify direct victims of a cyber intrusion, but not always state officials, a stance politicians have protested against, particularly in the wake of findings from former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE that Russians were able to infiltrate systems in at least one Florida county in 2016. 

The FBI wrote in a statement announcing the new policy that "decisions surrounding notification continue to be dependent on the nature and breadth of an incident and the nature of the infrastructure impacted."

The agency added that "it is the intent of the FBI that this new policy will result in increased collaboration between all levels of government for the integrity and security of U.S. elections." 

Read more here.

 

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PELOSI VS. FACEBOOK: House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGovernors take heat for violating their own coronavirus restrictions Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation MORE (D-Calif.) slammed tech giant Facebook on Thursday, accusing the social media company of abusing technology to mislead users and calling its behavior "shameful."

"The Facebook business model is strictly to make money. They don't care about the impact on children, they don't care about truth, they don't care about where this is all coming from, and they have said even if they know it's not true they will print it," Pelosi said at a press conference.

"I think they have been very abusive of the great opportunity that technology has given them," she added. 

Pelosi's comments came in response to a question about whether Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergDemocrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff Democrats press Facebook, Twitter on misinformation efforts ahead of Georgia runoff Hillicon Valley: Facebook content moderators demand more workplace protections | Ousted cyber official blasts Giuliani press conference | Tech firms fall short on misinformation targeting Latino vote MORE or other tech executives, largely based in or near Pelosi's San Francisco-area district, have too much power. Facebook has at least one office in Pelosi's district. 

"All they want are their tax cuts and no antitrust action against them," Pelosi said of Facebook. "And they schmooze this administration in that regard because so far that's what they have received."

Read more here.

 

CARE TO LEND A HAND?: Ukraine's Ministry of Internal Affairs on Thursday announced that the country's cyber police had started "criminal proceedings" around the recent hacking of gas company Burisma, and noted that authorities were seeking the assistance of the FBI in pursuing the case. 

The ministry wrote in a statement that criminal proceedings had been launched, and that "persons involved in committing this criminal offense are being identified."

The company has been propelled into the spotlight in recent months due to the impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE, which began after an anonymous whistleblower report alleged that Trump had tried to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  New DOJ rule could allow executions by electrocution, firing squad MORE and his son Hunter Biden, who served on the company's board between 2014 and 2019. 

The proceedings were launched following a story from The New York Times earlier this week, which reported findings by cyber group Area 1 Security that Russian military hackers had launched email phishing attacks designed to steal credentials of Burisma employees and gain access to the company's systems. 

The attack reportedly came amid impeachment hearings in November.

Read more here.

 

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INSTAGRAM IN HOT WATER: Instagram is facing criticism after taking down content supporting Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a drone strike ordered by President Trump.

In the wake of the controversial killing, Instagram began taking down content encouraging Soleimani or his ideas on its platform, claiming that it was acting in compliance with U.S. sanctions laws targeting the Iranian government.

A spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, told The Hill it removed content in support of Soleimani because of sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which was listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the White House last year. Soleimani was the commander of Quds Force, an elite unit of the IRGC.

But Instagram's action also affected posts from some users not directly affiliated with Soleimani or the IRGC, sparking a backlash online from those affected and critics who accused Instagram of censorship and promoting the Trump administration's views.

Instagram's move surprised many in the tech world, with some questioning the company's interpretation of U.S. law. Other prominent companies did not follow Instagram's lead.

Twitter and YouTube, also among the most-used social platforms in Iran, have not removed content about Soleimani from users not affiliated with the Iranian military.

Read more here.

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STOPPING ANTI-SEMITISM ONLINE: Jewish advocates on Wednesday called on social media companies and Congress to take more steps to regulate online anti-Semitic speech after the number of anti-Semitic incidents has increased in the past year. 

Jewish representatives spoke during a congressional hearing to highlight the efforts the federal government can take to combat anti-Semitism and domestic terrorism in the wake of several attacks against the Jewish community, from the shooting in Pittsburgh last year to the stabbing in Monsey, N.Y. last month. 

"This is not the time for thoughts and prayers," Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said. "We need resources and actions."

Several representatives, including Rep. Yvette ClarkeYvette Diane ClarkeLawmakers call for small business aid at all levels of government The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Washington on edge amid SCOTUS vacancy The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Top tech executives testify in blockbuster antitrust hearing MORE (D-N.Y.), brought up concerns that online anti-Semitic posts have inspired attacks in the U.S.

"The distinction between the real world and the virtual world is blurry. Anti-Semitic rhetoric on the internet can and does inspire actual deadly attacks," Clarke said before asking the advocates how social media companies have done so far and what Congress can do.

Read more here.

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WIKIPEDIA BACK IN TURKEY: Access to Wikipedia was restored in Turkey on Wednesday after more than 2 1/2 years, the Wikimedia foundation announced. 

The access comes after Turkey's highest court ruled at the end of last year against the country's ban on the website, calling it a violation of freedom of expression. 

"We are thrilled to be reunited with the people of Turkey," Katherine Maher, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, said in a statement. "At Wikimedia we are committed to protecting everyone's fundamental right to access information. We are excited to share this important moment with our Turkish contributor community on behalf of knowledge-seekers everywhere."

Turkey blocked access to Wikipedia in April 2017 under a law that allows it to restrict access to material that is considered to be a threat to national security.

Read more here.

 

BEST DOGGONE SONG: Spotify on Wednesday announced a playlist generator specifically for users' pets.

The music streaming service's "Pet Playlist" website presents users with five options -- cats, dogs, iguanas, birds or hamsters -- and asks for a rough overview of the animal companion's personality traits, with the option to upload a picture and the pet's name.

"There is something uniquely special about the relationship we humans have with our pets -- it's one filled with unconditional love, licks, snuggles, and cuddles. It's hard to put into words the emotion these animals give us -- other than pure happiness," the service said in an announcement. "So it's only natural that we want to make them feel good, too, and many pet owners believe they do exactly that with music."

Read more here.

 

5G LOBBYING: 5G Action Now, the group headed up by former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersFormer GOP congressman calls for Biden to receive presidential briefings Democrats slam DHS chief for defying subpoena for testimony on worldwide threats Remembering 9/11 as we evaluate today's emerging threats MORE (R-Mich.), is growing its lobbying team to promote policies to make the U.S. the worldwide leader in 5G.

Scott Reed of Chesapeake Enterprises, who is also a senior strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Ryan Canfield of GuidePostStrategy and a former special assistant to President Trump, and Robert Wasinger of McGuirewoods Consulting LLC, are registering to lobby for the group.

The lobbying shop Miller Strategies also has Trump fundraiser Jeff MillerJefferson (Jeff) Bingham MillerThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden wins Arizona, confers with Dem leaders; Trump tweets It's time to focus on the needs of minority veterans Over 500 clients hired Trump-connected lobbyists so far in 2020 MORE and Ashley Gunn, former special assistant to Trump, registered for it.

The group supports the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) goal of a C-band spectrum auction in 2020 and efforts by lawmakers to ensure U.S. leadership on 5G over China. 

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved a bill in December that would direct the FCC to hold a C-band auction by the end of 2020. 

Read more here.

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: This will get stuck in your head

 

AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: Breaking the encryption impasse 

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

Intel agencies push to close threats hearing after Trump outburst (Politico / Martin Matishak) 

Why #NeverWarren should make you nervous about 2020 (Recode / Emily Stewart)

Inside Armslist, the online 'gun show that never ends' (Verge / Colin Lecher and Sean Campbell)

PopSockets, Tile and other companies will ask Congress to help stop Big Tech bullying (Washington Post / Tony Romm)