Hillicon 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

Hillicon 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
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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).



HACKER SUPER BOWL: The Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts of multiple NFL teams were hacked on Monday, with profile pictures disappearing for the teams. The hack included the two headed to the Super Bowl this weekend. 

A tweet that appeared on Monday afternoon on the official account of the Green Bay Packers credited a group known as "OurMine" for hacking into accounts, with the hackers tweeting "hi, we're back" and "we are here to show people that everything is hackable."

The profile pictures and headers of the official Twitter verified accounts of multiple NFL teams went blank at the same time OurMine took credit for hacking these accounts. 

Teams hacked by OurMine on Twitter included the San Francisco 49ers -- which had its entire bio deleted as well -- and the Kansas City Chiefs, the two teams that are due to go head-to-head in the Super Bowl this weekend.

Other teams that appeared to be impacted by the hack on Twitter were the Dallas Cowboys, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Houston Texans, the New York Giants, the Chicago Bears, and the official Twitter account of the NFL. 

Read more here.



TRUMP BORDER CHIEF UNDER SCRUTINY: House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonStates plead for cybersecurity funds as hacking threat surges House members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes Federal watchdog finds chemical facilities vulnerable to cyberattacks MORE (D-Miss.) is questioning whether the newly selected head of Border Patrol participated in a controversial Facebook group filled with racist and sexist posts from border agents. 

In a letter on Monday, Thompson asked U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to reveal whether the agency took action against Rodney Scott over his engagement with a Facebook group for agents that ProPublica first reported contained lewd and xenophobic posts.

Scott was officially tapped to lead CBP last week, replacing Border Patrol chief Carla Provost, who retired amid heavy criticism over her participation in the secret Facebook group, which had about 9,500 members.

"On Friday, I received notification that Mr. Rodney S. Scott has been selected as the new Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol," Thompson wrote in the letter to the acting commissioner of CBP.

"According to media reports, Mr. Scott engaged with at least one social media site -- the Facebook group 'I'm 10-15' -- in which CBP personnel communicated vulgar and discriminatory comments," Thompson wrote.

"I would like to understand the extent to which Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reviewed and assessed Mr. Scott's engagement with social media sites in which personnel from CBP engaged in racist and hateful dialogue ... prior to his selection to lead the U.S. Border Patrol," he added. 

Read more here.



AMAZONIAN FEAT: More than 350 Amazon workers are speaking out about climate change, defying the company's policy against making public comments about business activity.

In a Medium post on Sunday night, 357 employees posted quotes critical of climate-related actions taken by the online retail giant.

They said in a separate statement posted to Twitter that the quotes were to protest "Amazon's newly updated external communications policy, which forbids employees from speaking about the company's business without prior approval."

The workers said the new policy was unveiled last year after Amazon employees said they would participate in a climate strike in September.

"This clearly shows that as Amazon tech workers have reflected upon what is the right thing to do at this moment, they decided that they needed to keep speaking out," software development engineer Victoria Liang said in the Twitter statement.

"Every person who shared a statement had to decide for themselves that whatever the consequences, they needed to stand up for what they felt was right. The climate crisis is just that urgent. We just couldn't be silenced by these policies on issues of such moral weight," Liang added.

The Medium post follows a report earlier this month from The Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosHillicon Valley: Facebook permanently shifting thousands of jobs to remote work | Congressional action on driverless cars hits speed bump during pandemic | Republicans grill TikTok over data privacy concerns Largest tech company CEOs made billions amid pandemic How the latest X-37B mission may change the world MORE, that said that Amazon threatened to fire at least two employees who expressed concern about the company's environmental policies.

Representatives from Amazon told The Hill at the time that the company's external communications policy was "not new and we believe is similar to other large companies."

After employees said they would participate in the September climate strike, Bezos announced that the company would commit to carbon neutrality by 2040 and 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.

In response to a request for comment Monday, an Amazon spokesperson highlighted those commitments in a statement to The Hill.

"While all employees are welcome to engage constructively with any of the many teams inside Amazon that work on sustainability and other topics, we do enforce our external communications policy and will not allow employees to publicly disparage or misrepresent the company or the hard work of their colleagues who are developing solutions to these hard problems," the spokesperson added.


Employees are encouraged to suggest improvements internally, according to Amazon.

Activists have also pushed the company to sever ties with the fossil fuel industry, a move that Bezos in September disagreed with, saying, "We need to help them instead of vilify them."

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden will help close out Texas Democrats' virtual convention: report Senate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers Gabbard drops defamation lawsuit against Clinton MORE (I-Vt.) on Monday voiced support for the Amazon employees.

"I stand with these Amazon employees who are courageously speaking out," he tweeted. "They are telling Jeff Bezos to end his hypocrisy: You cannot call your corporation a 'leader' on climate change while partnering with ExxonMobil and BP to extract more fossil fuels."

Read more on the statements here.


UNDER PRESSURE: The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), an independent agency, is coming under increasing pressure to recommend the federal government stop using facial recognition.


Forty groups, led by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, sent a letter Monday to the agency calling for the suspension of facial recognition systems "pending further review."

"The rapid and unregulated deployment of facial recognition poses a direct threat to 'the precious liberties that are vital to our way of life'," the advocacy groups wrote.

The PCLOB "has a unique responsibility, set out in statute, to assess technologies and polices that impact the privacy of Americans after 9-11 and to make recommendations to the President and executive branch," they wrote.

The agency, created in 2004, advises the administration on privacy issues.

The letter cited a recent New York Times report about Clearview AI, a company which claims to have a database of more than 3 billion photos and is reportedly collaborating with hundreds of police departments.

Read more here.


NEW RANSOMWARE DEFENSE: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published two draft guidelines Monday providing businesses with ways to defend against debilitating ransomware attacks.

Ransomware attacks, which involve an individual or group locking a network and demanding payment before giving the user access again, saw a spike in 2019, as multiple cities across the country were temporarily crippled by these types of attacks.

"Some organizations have experienced systemic attacks that force operations to cease," the agency wrote in its guidelines. "One variant of a data integrity attack-ransomware-encrypts data, rendering it unusable. This type of impact to data affects business operations and often leads them to shut down."

Read more here.


CLINTON VS. ZUCKERBERG: Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonLongtime Democratic pollster: Warren 'obvious solution' for Biden's VP pick How Obama just endorsed Trump Gabbard drops defamation lawsuit against Clinton MORE criticized Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergDorsey defends decision to fact check Trump tweet: 'More transparency from us is critical' Zuckerberg: 'Facebook shouldn't be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online' Hillicon Valley: Tech companies lead way on WFH forever | States and counties plead for cybersecurity assistance | Trump weighing anti-conservative bias panel MORE and the social media company in a new interview, calling the top executive's views "authoritarian" and saying that the platform "intend[s] to reelect" President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump marks 'very sad milestone' of 100K coronavirus deaths DOJ: George Floyd death investigation a 'top priority' Lifting our voices — and votes MORE

Clinton said that her 2016 presidential campaign did not "understand what was going on below the radar screen," at an event Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival, including alleged conspiracy theories, sexist claims and other lies the former secretary of State claims were spread about her online. 

In an interview with the Atlantic, Clinton specifically referenced a slowed-down video of House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse cancels planned Thursday vote on FISA The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - US virus deaths exceed 100,000; Pelosi pulls FISA bill Pelosi pulls vote on FISA bill after Trump veto threat MORE (D-Calif.), which was meant to make her appear drunk. Clinton said Google took the video off of YouTube, so she contacted Facebook in an effort to get it removed from the social media site. 

"I said, 'Why are you guys keeping this up? This is blatantly false. Your competitors have taken it down. And their response was, 'We think our users can make up their own minds,'" Clinton told the magazine. Facebook defended the choice at the time, saying that flagging the video instead of removing it allowed users to make up their own minds. 

Read more here.



CRACKDOWN ON COUNTERFEITS: The Trump administration on Friday announced it is cracking down on the mass of counterfeit products sold online, threatening a legal and legislative response to the hundreds of billions of dollars of fakes sold on platforms like Amazon every year.

The push by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), laid out in a 54-page report, comes on the heels of a trade agreement with China that requires Beijing to take stronger action against counterfeit goods. The majority of fake and imitation products seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) over the past two decades arrived from China and Hong Kong, according to U.S. government data.

"Historically, many counterfeits were distributed through swap meets and individual sellers located on street corners," DHS wrote in the report. "Today, counterfeits are being trafficked through vast e-commerce supply chains in concert with marketing, sales, and distribution networks."

The rise of e-commerce platforms like Amazon and eBay have led to an enormous flood of counterfeit goods in U.S. markets, opening the door for shady sellers to gain prominence and sell cheap knock-offs of products like purses and toys across the world's most powerful retail platforms. 

Those e-commerce platforms all maintain policies against counterfeit and pirated goods, but they often struggle to police what is real and what isn't. Now, DHS says law enforcement will be seeking out any and all fake products and using "all available statutory authorities to pursue civil fines and other penalties against these entities."

Read more here.




AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: The US must continue to prioritize research and development, especially through NASA



Hackers linked to Turkey believed to be behind recent cyberattacks (Reuters / Jack Stubbs, Christopher Bing, and Joseph Menn) 

Election officials to convene amid historic focus on voting and interference (NPR / Pam Fessler) 

Leaked memos show Instacart is running a union-busting campaign (Motherboard / Lauren Kaori Gurley) 

As virus spreads, anger floods Chinese social media (The New York Times / Raymond Zhong)