Hillicon Valley: FCC chief proposes $200M telehealth program | Twitter takes down posts promoting anti-malaria drugs for coronavirus| Whole Foods workers plan Tuesday strike

Hillicon Valley: FCC chief proposes $200M telehealth program | Twitter takes down posts promoting anti-malaria drugs for coronavirus| Whole Foods workers plan Tuesday strike
© Greg Nash

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Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech reporter, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills), for more coverage.

 

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FCC BOOSTS TELEHEALTH: Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is proposing using $200 million from the government stimulus package for a telehealth program to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The project, which he proposed on Monday, would have to be approved by the commission before launching. The program would help eligible health care providers purchase telecommunications equipment, broadband access and devices necessary for remote health services.

Expanded telehealth services would allow doctors to work with patients diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, without putting themselves at risk. It would also help providers care for high-risk patients who might contract the coronavirus if forced to leave their homes to visit doctors.

"As we self-isolate and engage in social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth will continue to become more and more important across the country," Pai said in a statement.

Read more here.

 

TRUMP ON VOTE-BY-MAIL: President TrumpDonald John TrumpTwitter CEO: 'Not true' that removing Trump campaign video was illegal, as president has claimed Biden formally clinches Democratic presidential nomination Barr says he didn't give 'tactical' command to clear Lafayette protesters MORE said Monday that the vote by mail proposal in the original Democrat-backed House version of the coronavirus stimulus bill would have ensured that no Republicans were ever elected again. 

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"The things they had in there were crazy, they had things, levels of voting that if you ever agreed to, you would never have a Republican elected in this country again," Trump said during an appearance on Fox & Friends. "They had things in there about election days and what you do and all sorts of drawbacks, they had things that were just totally crazy."

Trump was referring to provisions that would have given $4 billion to states to boost mail-in and absentee ballots. Specific proposals included requiring states to send absentee ballots to every registered voter, requiring online and same-day voter registration, and expanding early voting by 15 days. 

The House ended up passing the Senate's stimulus bill. It was signed by Trump last week and included $400 million for states to make preparations for holding elections during the coronavirus pandemic, but did not include any specific requirements on how the money could be used. 

Democrats and election security advocates argued the $400 million was not enough, pushing for $2 billion to be sent to states to cover expenses instead. 

Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharTwitter CEO: 'Not true' that removing Trump campaign video was illegal, as president has claimed Biden formally clinches Democratic presidential nomination Hillicon Valley: Conspiracy theories run rampant online amid Floyd protests | First lawsuit filed against Trump social media order | Snapchat to no longer promote Trump's account MORE (D-Minn.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenCBO releases analysis on extending increased unemployment benefits Overnight Health Care: Hydroxychloroquine ineffective in preventing COVID-19, study finds | WHO to resume hydroxychloroquine clinical research | WHO says no evidence coronavirus is mutating Bipartisan lawmakers press Trump administration to get COVID-19 aid to Medicaid providers MORE (D-Ore.), who introduced legislation separately earlier this month to boost mail-in voting, vowed to keep pushing for more funding in future coronavirus stimulus packages.  

House 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 (D-Calif.), who spearheaded the addition of the election funds and policies to the House version of the stimulus package, pushed back strongly against Trump's comments on Monday, describing them as "morally bankrupt."

Read more here.

 

TWITTER CRACKS DOWN: Twitter has in the last week taken down multiple posts from public figures promoting an anti-malaria drug as a way to treat coronavirus.

On Friday, the platform removed a tweet from President Trump's personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiPiers Morgan, Rudy Giuliani in furious debate over Trump: 'You sound completely barking mad' Rudy Giuliani calls on Cuomo to remove Bill de Blasio Sunday shows preview: States begin to reopen even as some areas in US see case counts increase MORE claiming that hydroxychloroquine has been proven a safe way to treat COVID-19, the disease resulting from the novel coronavirus.

A spokesperson for the platform confirmed that the tweet was removed for violating its rules over coronavirus misinformation.

Twitter earlier this month said it would begin removing coronavirus-related posts that deny expert recommendations, promote fake treatments and prevention techniques, or misleadingly claim to be from authorities.

Giuliani's now-deleted post included direct quotes from a tweet by conservative activist Charlie Kirk which has also been removed for violating rules.

A March 20 tweet from Fox News's Laura IngrahamLaura Anne IngrahamLeBron James renews feud with Laura Ingraham: 'Tired of this treatment' Trump lashes out at Fox News after poll shows him trailing Biden Trump complains Fox News is 'doing nothing to help' him get reelected MORE claiming that hydroxychloroquine was in use "at many hospitals" and was showing "very promising results" was no longer available on the platform as of Monday. A spokesperson for Twitter declined to comment on whether Ingraham deleted the tweet herself or was compelled to do so, but did confirm that the post fell under the platform's health misinformation policy. 

Read more here.

 

ON STRIKE: Whole Foods workers are set to strike on Tuesday to protest what they say is a lack of employee protections amid the spread of the coronavirus.

Workers at the national grocery chain will call out sick to demand guaranteed sick leave to employees who self-isolate, reinstatement of health care coverage for part-time workers, double hazard pay, a commitment to ensuring workplaces stay clean and the closure of any store where a worker tests positive.

The strike had originally been scheduled on May 1.

"As this situation has progressed, our fundamental needs as workers have become more urgent," Whole Worker, a labor movement within the grocery chain, wrote in a statement.

"COVID-19 poses a very real threat to the safety of our workforce and our customers. We cannot wait for politicians, institutions, or our own management to step in to protect us."

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Cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, have been reported at Whole Foods locations in Chicago, New York City and Huntington Beach, Calif.

All of those locations have remained open.

In response to the pandemic, Whole Foods has boosted wages for U.S. and Canadian workers by $2 per hour. It also promised workers diagnosed with COVID-19 or quarantined two weeks of paid leave.

Read more here.

  

HACKERS TARGET ZOOM: Cyber criminals are increasingly setting up malicious websites tied to the video conferencing tool Zoom to target individuals during the coronavirus pandemic, researchers at software company Check Point found Monday. 

The researchers reported a 25 percent increase in new websites using the Zoom name set up over the past week alone, with 1,700 new domains set up since the beginning of the year. Around 4 percent of these domains were judged to be "suspicious" and potentially dangerous to those who visited them. 

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"Online communication platforms have become essential for many households and organizations," the researchers wrote in a blog post. "During the past few weeks, we have witnessed a major increase in new domain registrations with names including 'Zoom,' which is one of the most common video communication platforms used around the world."

Omer Dembinsky, the manager of cyber research at Check Point, recommended in a statement that Zoom users "take an extra look" at any Zoom link or document sent to ensure "it's not a trap."

"We see a sharp rise in the number of 'Zoom' domains being registered, especially in the last week," Dembinsky said. "The recent, staggering increase means that hackers have taken notice of the work-from-home paradigm shift that COVID-19 has forced, and they see it as an opportunity to deceive, lure and exploit."

Read more here.

 

LOCAL NEWS TAKE A HIT: A massive surge in online readership during the coronavirus outbreak is coinciding with a sudden drop in ad revenue that could cripple local news outlets already struggling to survive. 

Several newspapers and alt-weeklies have announced pay cuts and layoffs, with some shutting down operations altogether. The turmoil has also brought fresh scrutiny on big tech platforms such as Google and Facebook, who critics say had already seriously weakened the news industry.

"The industry was in a dangerous place four weeks ago, before the coronavirus [outbreak]," said John Stanton, a former BuzzFeed News reporter and co-founder of the Save Journalism Project, a nonprofit highlighting Big Tech's impact on the news industry. "The fact we've had so many layoffs so fast -- news outlets getting shut down, the furloughs, all of these things combine together to really drive home what bad shape we are in."

Stanton said that was "in large part due to Facebook and Google's predatory and monopolistic business practices." 

Critics say Google and Facebook's dominance in digital advertising -- the companies together made up nearly 60 percent of the internet ad market in 2018 -- helped lead to declining profits for traditional news outlets, as they siphoned away crucial ad revenue. Ad revenue for the newspaper business fell 60 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to a Pew Research Center analysis

David Chavern, president and CEO of News Media Alliance, a trade group representing about 2,000 media organizations in the U.S. and elsewhere, told The Hill that news publishing was already a "stressed business" before the pandemic.

Read more here.

 

A Lighter click: So that's where all the toilet paper went

 

An op-ed to chew on: We weren't ready for a pandemic--imagine a crippling cyberattack

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

How Russia's troll farm is changing tactics before the presidential election (The New York Times / Davey Alba) 

They Were Opposed To Government Surveillance. Then The Coronavirus Pandemic Began. (BuzzFeed News / Rosie Gray and Caroline Haskins)

FBI turns to insurance providers to deal with ransomware attacks (CyberScoop / Jeff Stone) 

Tech Giants Prepared for 2016-Style Meddling. But the Threat Has Changed. (New York Times / Kevin Roose, Sheera Frenkel and Nicole Perlroth)