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).
TWITTER FIGHT: President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Biden celebrates start of Hanukkah Fauci says lies, threats are 'noise' MORE's reelection campaign is pressing Twitter to label a video posted by Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden to provide update Monday on US response to omicron variant Restless progressives eye 2024 Emhoff lights first candle in National Menorah-lighting ceremony MORE as "manipulated," the latest salvo in the escalating war between Democrats and Republicans over online political misinformation and what the social media companies should do about it.
The Trump campaign is hitting back after Twitter placed its new "manipulated media" label on an edited video of Biden, which was passed around by Trump supporters and shared by White House social media adviser Dan Scavino on Sunday.
What the Trump campaign says: In a new letter, the Trump campaign accused the social media giant of favoring the former vice president over Trump as it applies new policies against deceptively edited videos.
"It appears that many people employed by Big Tech corporations in Silicon Valley are assisting the Biden campaign by instituting a special 'Biden protection rule' that effectively censors and silences legitimate political speech Biden's campaign and its supporters do not like," wrote Michael Glassner, the Trump campaign's chief operating officer, in a letter on Monday.
"In order for American elections to remain free and fair, it is critical that the Biden campaign be held to the same standard it is demanding apply to others," he wrote.
"Therefore, Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., is formally requesting that Twitter apply its new 'manipulated media' label to a doctored and deceptively edited video tweeted by the Biden campaign less than a week ago," Glassner wrote. "This Biden campaign video manipulates audio and video of President Trump in order to mislead Americans and give a false impression."
The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment.
The video: The video in question, which was posted two days before Twitter's new policy went into effect, includes clips of Trump calling the coronavirus and climate change a "hoax," as well as calling neo-Nazi protesters in Charlottesville, Va., "fine people."
"This has to stop," the Biden campaign advertisement reads. "We fight back." The post encourages voters to support Biden.
The Trump campaign says the clips are cut misleadingly, pointing out that a fact-checking institution recently said Trump never called coronavirus a "hoax." The campaign also noted that Trump said the white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville should be "condemned totally."
The context: The calls for labeling Biden's campaign video are a slight change of pace from the Trump campaign, which has lambasted social media companies over any efforts to crack down on misinformation, particularly in political advertisements.
A Twitter spokesperson said in an email that the company "has received the letter and intend[s] to respond." According to Twitter, the video flagged by the Trump campaign was posted before Twitter began enforcing its new policy against "manipulated media" on March 5. The company has said it is not applying the policy retroactively.
KLOBUCHAR'S NEW BILL: Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharKlobuchar confident spending bill will be finished before Christmas Sunday shows preview: New COVID-19 variant emerges; supply chain issues and inflation persist The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden renominates Powell as Fed chair MORE (D-Minn.) on Tuesday introduced legislation that would strengthen the ability of antitrust enforcement agencies to go after industry giants.
The Anticompetitive Exclusionary Conduct Prevention (AECP) Act, co-sponsored by Sens. Cory BookerCory BookerPoll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall MORE (D-N.J.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), would amend the 1914 Clayton Antitrust Act.
It would shift the burden of proof in the hundred-year-old law so that companies with a market share over 50 percent, or "significant market power," have to prove that exclusionary conduct does not cause "an appreciable risk of harming competition."
The legislation would also allow both agencies tasked with antitrust investigations, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to dole out civil penalties of up to 15 percent of the company's revenues for Clayton violations.
The bill also eliminates the need in some cases for claimants to prove a relevant market before establishing liability under antitrust laws. And it limits the ability of courts to imply immunity for certain anticompetitive conduct based on federal regulations.
"We have a major monopoly problem in this country, which harms consumers and threatens free and fair competition across our economy. Companies need to be put on notice that exclusionary behavior that threatens competition cannot continue," Klobuchar said in a statement.
The legislation comes as both the DOJ and FTC conduct antitrust investigations into major tech companies.
In a Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee hearing on competition in digital markets on Tuesday, experts said Klobuchar's bill would make those investigations more effective.
"The legislation ... introduced today would be a great first step to try to create new balances in antitrust enforcement, create new streamlined opportunities for enforcers to show their faces," said Gene Kimmelman, senior adviser at nonprofit Public Knowledge.
CALLS TO INVESTIGATE PORNHUB: GOP Sen. Ben SasseBen SasseThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - House to vote on Biden social spending bill after McCarthy delay CBO releases cost estimate of Biden plan Real conservatives must make a choice MORE (Neb.) is calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to launch an investigation into Pornhub, one of the most popular pornography websites in the world, over allegations that it is hosting videos of sex trafficking victims, including young women and children.
In a letter to the DOJ on Tuesday, Sasse, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked the DOJ to investigate Pornhub and its parent company, MindGeek Holding SARL, over "their involvement in this disturbing pipeline of exploiting children and other victims and survivors of sex trafficking."
Pornhub, one of the most-visited websites in the world, has been charged multiple times for streaming and hosting videos of sex trafficking victims engaged in pornographic acts. The DOJ previously charged a popular pornographic film production company with a slew of sex trafficking offenses, including forcing women into making adult videos that were later uploaded to Pornhub without their consent.
"These publicized cases clearly represent just the tip of the iceberg of women and children being exploited in videos on Pornhub," Sasse wrote. "I applaud the actions that the Department has already undertaken ... but Pornhub must not escape scrutiny."
Pornhub in a statement said that it maintains a "steadfast commitment to eradicating and fighting any and all illegal content on the Internet, including non-consensual content and under-age material."
"Any suggestion otherwise is categorically and factually inaccurate," Pornhub said, pointing out that its efforts go "above and beyond" the DOJ's recently-released guidelines around combatting child sexual exploitation.
Sasse's letter comes just days after Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead Biden move to tap oil reserves draws GOP pushback MORE (R-S.C.) introduced a controversial, highly anticipated bill aimed at holding tech companies like Facebook and Google accountable for images and videos of child sexual exploitation on their platforms. Several Republicans on the committee declined to sign on to the bill, citing concerns around the Fourth Amendment and government overreach.
His perspective echoes comments from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, which said in a recent statement that Graham's legislative efforts to combat child sexual exploitation "will fall short unless the major adult obscenity websites accessed by millions across the globe are prosecuted."
"Some mainstream pornography websites have been caught mixing child sexual abuse videos (i.e. underage pornography) with adult material and can thus be charged with child pornography offenses," said National Center on Sexual Exploitation President and CEO Patrick A. Trueman in a statement.
"RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA": President Trump on Tuesday said people shouldn't "expect too much" at the congressional election security briefings scheduled for later in the day because House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSunday shows - Spotlight shifts to omicron variant Schiff: Jan. 6 panel decision on charges for Meadows could come this week GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips MORE (D-Calif.) was involved in organizing them.
"There is another Russia, Russia, Russia meeting today," Trump tweeted "It is headed up by corrupt politician Adam "Shifty" Schiff, so I wouldn't expect too much!," tagging acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfAfter a year of blatant ethics violations, Congress must reform corruption laws Jan. 6 committee subpoenas Stephen Miller, Kayleigh McEnany Watchdog cites 13 Trump officials who violated Hatch Act before 2020 election MORE in the tweet.
Members of the House and Senate are set to receive separate classified briefings on the state of election security from top administration officials on Tuesday afternoon.
Schiff, who was one of the key players in the impeachment inquiry into Trump, pushed back against the president, tweeting that Trump was incorrect "as usual."
"Mr. President, you are wrong. As usual," Schiff tweeted. "Today's briefing for all House Members focuses on the threat of foreign interference in our election. The briefers are agency heads and senior officials. They are your own people. We will insist on the truth, whether you like it or not."
The briefings were scheduled following reports in February that Russian agents were already interfering in the 2020 elections in order to favor both Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersRestless progressives eye 2024 Key senators to watch on Democrats' social spending bill Five ways Senate could change Biden's spending plan MORE (I-Vt.).
"FBI and DHS are the lead in charge of securing our elections, and the IC [intelligence community] is participating in today's briefings in support of that mission," the ODNI tweeted. "The IC is focused on detecting and countering foreign election-related threats."
UK VOTES DOWN HUAWEI MEASURE: The United Kingdom's House of Commons on Tuesday narrowly voted down a measure that would have effectively phased equipment made by Chinese telecom group Huawei out of British 5G networks by the end of 2022.
Members of Parliament (MPs) voted down an amendment to a telecommunications bill by a vote of 306-282 that would have banned the use of equipment from groups deemed "high risk" by the U.K.'s National Cyber Security Centre.
Huawei, which has been effectively blacklisted in the U.S. over Chinese espionage concerns, was previously classified as high risk. Huawei has consistently pushed back against national security concerns brought up against it.
Almost two dozen MPs from the Conservative Party signed on to the amendment, which was a direct challenge to the decision in January by the U.K.'s National Security Council (NSC) to allow Huawei equipment to be used in "periphery" portions of telecom networks, though not in "core" networks.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson backed the NSC's decision on Huawei, with the vote on Tuesday seen as a challenge by members of his own party against his stance on the company.
The decision by the House of Commons will likely lead to further tension with the Trump administration and Congress over the issue of Huawei. A senior White House official told The Hill following the NSC's decision that they were "disappointed" in the U.K.
Many bipartisan members of government raised extreme concerns about continued intelligence sharing with the U.K. in January.
A LIGHTER CLICK: Which side are you?
AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: Congress must act on 5G
NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:
Social networks haven't done enough to prevent voter manipulation, tech leaders say (Washington Post / Cat Zakrzewski, Tonya Riley)
European power grid operator says its IT network was hacked (CyberScoop / Sean Lyngaas)
Microsoft orchestrates effort to remove world's largest botnet (ZDNet / Catalin Cimpanu)