Hillicon Valley: Uber to lay off thousands of employees | Facebook content moderation board announces members | Lawmakers introduce bill to cut down online child exploitation

Hillicon Valley: Uber to lay off thousands of employees | Facebook content moderation board announces members | Lawmakers introduce bill to cut down online child exploitation

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

UBER LAYOFFS: Uber is laying off 3,700 employees as the coronavirus pandemic drives down demand for its service, the company announced Wednesday.

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The layoffs in its customer support and recruiting teams account for roughly 15 percent of the ride-hailing giant's total workforce, according to recent estimates.

Uber expects to spend approximately $2 million on severance and related termination benefits.

In addition to the layoffs, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is waiving his base salary for the remainder of 2020.

Uber's investors expect to get a clear picture of the company's finances when it reports earnings on Thursday.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the ride-hailing industry hard as many Americans are staying home.

Demand for rides has cratered, leading Lyft to lay off roughly 17 percent of its corporate workforce late last month.

 

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Read more about the layoffs here. 

 

CONTENT MODERATION BOARD: The independent oversight board created by Facebook to review content moderation decisions announced its first 20 members and co-chairs on Wednesday.

Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergTwitter removes Trump campaign tribute to George Floyd claiming copyright complaint On The Money: Initial jobless claims drop to 1.9 million | IRS faces obstacles with remaining stimulus checks | Nearly half of Americans have lost income over coronavirus Hillicon Valley: Facebook begins labeling posts from state-controlled media | Chinese and Iranian hackers target Biden, Trump campaigns | Twitter CEO gives M to Kaepernick group MORE first revealed his intentions to launch the oversight board in November 2018 amid blowback over how Facebook manages hate speech and political content.

The oversight board will have final and binding say over whether content should be allowed on, or taken down from, Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook recruited the board's four co-chairpeople, who then led the interview and recruitment process for the rest of the board along with the social media giant and an executive search firm.

"Each of our members has chosen to participate in the board because they believe there is no single company that can solve the most challenging online content decisions today," Thomas Hughes, the oversight board's administrative director, said on a press call.

The co-chairs are Helle Thorning-Schmidt, a former Danish prime minister, Michael McConnell, a constitutional law professor at Stanford University, Jamal Greene, a Columbia law professor, and Catalina Botero-Marino, dean of Universidad de los Andes faculty of law.

Read more about the board here. 

 

FBI SURVEILLANCE POWERS: Senators are expected to vote next week on House-passed legislation to extend the FBI’s surveillance powers, setting up a battle between civil libertarians who want to curtail the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and allies of the intelligence community and law enforcement.

The legislation will extend core surveillance powers of the lapsed USA Freedom Act: the power to collect business records relevant to a counterterrorism or counter espionage investigation; the authority to use roving wiretaps to track suspects; and the ability to surveil “lone wolf” suspects not connected to a known terrorist group or foreign power.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump vows to campaign against Murkowski after senator's criticism Senate advances conservation fund bill, House introduces companion Paul clashes with Booker, Harris over anti-lynching bill MORE (R-Ky.) has told colleagues he plans to bring the House-passed bill to the floor next week and allow votes on three or four amendments, according to GOP lawmakers.

The amendments are expected to fail and the House bill is expected to advance to President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal plan to contain Washington protests employs 7,600 personnel: report GOP Rep calls on primary opponent to condemn campaign surrogate's racist video Tennessee court rules all registered voters can obtain mail-in ballots due to COVID-19 MORE’s desk, although lawmakers caution there could be unexpected drama on the floor.

Senators will vote on three amendments to the House bill, which itself is a bipartisan reform compromise that would end the National Security Agency’s collection of bulk phone data and ban the collection of GPS and cellphone location data without warrants.

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulPaul clashes with Booker, Harris over anti-lynching bill Rand Paul holding up quick passage of anti-lynching bill Democratic senator to offer amendment halting 'military weaponry' given to police MORE (R-Ky.) will get a vote on his amendment barring the FISA court from issuing warrants for American citizens and instead requiring law enforcement agencies such as the FBI to obtain a warrant from a normal court established under Article III of the Constitution.

Read more about the expected vote here. 

 

SAVE THE CHILDREN: Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday introduced legislation to protect children against online exploitation and to crack down on predators. 

The Invest in Child Safety Act would increase the number of agents at the FBI and the Department of Justice investigating child exploitation and obscenity, along with doubling funding for the Justice Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. 

The legislation would also require tech companies to extend the time they securely store evidence of potential child sexual abuse to enable prosecution of older cases and would establish an office within the executive branch to direct the federal government’s response to child exploitation cases. 

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The bill was introduced in the Senate by Democratic Sens. 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 (Ore.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSenate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers Senate Democrat introduces bill to protect food supply It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE (N.Y.), Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick Casey21 senators urge Pentagon against military use to curb nationwide protests Overnight Health Care: Trump says US 'terminating' relationship with WHO | Cuomo: NYC on track to start reopening week of June 8 | COVID-19 workplace complaints surge 10 things to know today about coronavirus MORE (Penn.), and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownDemocratic senators say police crackdowns undermine US response to Hong Kong Democratic senators kneel during moment of silence for George Floyd 21 senators urge Pentagon against military use to curb nationwide protests MORE (Ohio). The bill was also introduced in the House by Rep. Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooHillicon 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 Democratic lawmakers push leadership to ensure college students have internet access Hillicon Valley: Senate votes to reauthorize intel programs with added protections | ACLU calls on House to block warrantless web browsing surveillance | Dems introduce COVID-19 privacy bill MORE (D-Calif.) and several other Democratic lawmakers. The bill does not have any Republican co-sponsors. 

Wyden said in a statement that the bill would provide funding to help address the “menace” of child exploitation online, along with funding organizations that protect children. 

“Nothing is more heinous than sexual abuse of child, but our ability to combat these crimes has not kept up with technology,” Gillibrand said in a separate statement. “This critical legislation will give federal law enforcement and prosecutors the tools to take on the scourge of child exploitation, prevent its occurrence and support victims and their families.”

Read more about the new legislation here. 

 

PROTECTING SMALL BUSINESS: Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon 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 Derek Chauvin charge upgraded to second-degree murder; other officers charged Democratic lawmakers push leadership to ensure college students have internet access MORE (D-Minn.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenGeorge Floyd protests show corporations must support racial and economic equality It's time to shut down industrial animal farming The Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen MORE (D-Mass.) on Wednesday called for more protections to help defend small businesses against scams targeting coronavirus-related relief funds.

The letter comes as the Small Business Administration (SBA) has been doling out forgivable loans to small businesses willing to meet certain conditions. 

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In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), former presidential candidates Warren and Klobuchar led a group of Senate Democrats urging the agency to take action to defend small businesses, and to keep the businesses informed on how to defend themselves.

They specifically pointed to concerns that scammers were targeting the SBA funds going to small businesses, which have been hit hard by shutdowns during the coronavirus pandemic. The scams involve sending fake emails from the SBA to trick businesses into disclosing sensitive financial information, or scammers calling the businesses pretending to offer financial relief. 

The senators asked that the FTC take “bold actions” to address the scams. 

“We are calling on the agency to take stronger action to ensure that the huge population of potential victims—the nearly 60 million hardworking men and women who own or are employed by small businesses—are protected during this time of crisis,” the senators wrote.

The senators requested answers from the FTC around what steps the agency was taking to assist small businesses if they fall victim to the scams, how it is helping historically disadvantaged businesses, such as those in rural or minority communities, and whether the FTC needed additional resources to combat the scams. 

Read more about efforts to protect small businesses here.

 

NEW COUNTERINTELLIGENCE LEADER: The Senate voted Wednesday to confirm President Trump's counterintelligence chief after the nomination was stuck in limbo for nearly two years.

Senators voted 83-7 on William Evanina's nomination to be the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.

Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthCalls for police reform sparks divisions in Congress Trump stokes backlash with threat to use military against protesters Biden unveils disability rights plan: 'Your voices must be heard' MORE (Ill.), Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoFederal judges should be allowed to be Federalist Society members Senate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers Conservative group launches campaign accusing Democrats of hypocrisy on Kavanuagh, Biden MORE (Hawaii), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeySenate Dems introduce bill to keep pilots and bus and train operators safe Markey, Harris, Booker to introduce resolution calling for elimination of qualified immunity GOP Massachusetts governor: Trump's compassion 'nowhere to be found' MORE (Mass.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers Democratic unity starts to crack in coronavirus liability reform fight Oregon GOP Senate nominee contradicts own campaign by saying she stands with QAnon MORE (Ore.), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDemocrats introduce bill to rein in Trump's power under Insurrection Act Democratic senators kneel during moment of silence for George Floyd Hillicon Valley: Twitter flags Trump tweet for 'glorifying violence' | Cruz calls for criminal investigation into Twitter over alleged sanctions violations | Senators urge FTC to investigate TikTok child privacy issues MORE (Md.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.) voted against the nomination.

The Senate's vote comes two days after Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyMurkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump CBO releases analysis on extending increased unemployment benefits Grassley places hold on two Trump nominees in push for explanation of watchdog firings MORE (R-Iowa) ended a nearly two-year blockade on the nomination, which he initially placed a hold on in June 2018.

"Due to the recent actions by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the Attorney General to finally respond to my very longstanding oversight requests, I withdraw my objection to Mr. Evanina’s nomination," Grassley said in a statement.

Grassley announced in 2018 that he was putting a hold on Evanina's nomination because the intelligence community had been slow to respond to his oversight requests. He placed a hold on the nomination for a second time in March 2019, after the start of the new session of Congress.

Grassley said at the time, and again on Monday, that he was not stonewalling Evanina's nomination for personal reasons.

"I did not question Mr. Evanina’s credentials in any way, and I put my statement of those reasons in the Record. I have done that consistently, not only since the rules of the Senate first required every Member to do that but even before that rule was put in place," Grassley said Monday.

Read more about the new counterintelligence chief here. 

 

NEW ZOOM EMPLOYEE: H.R. McMaster, a former Trump administration national security adviser and retired Army lieutenant general, has joined the board of Zoom, the online conferencing company announced Wednesday.

McMaster, who currently teaches at Stanford University, worked in the White House for just over a year from 2017-2018, though his tenure was marked by reports that he and President Trump did not work well together.

“Zoom does significant good for our society, allowing people to connect and collaborate face-to-face from anywhere. This extraordinary capability is vital now more than ever,” said McMaster. “My goal is to help the company navigate rapid growth and assist in meeting Zoom’s commitment to becoming the world’s most secure video communications platform.” 

Zoom CEO Eric Yuan touted McMaster’s 34-year military career, saying he would bring “invaluable” experience in furthering Zoom’s mission of connecting people worldwide. 

“General McMaster is a welcome addition to our Board. During his decorated military career, he has built an expertise in leading through challenging situations and has demonstrated tremendous strength of character. His leadership will be invaluable as Zoom continues to enable people to connect on a global scale,” said Yuan.

Read more here. 

 

Lighter click: We hope you speak Polish

An op-ed to chew on: The pandemic exposes realities of failing to combat global censorship

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

Taiwan’s state-owned energy company suffers a ransomware attack (CyberScoop / Sean Lyngaas) 

Hands on with the new National Health Service COVID-19 tracing app (BBC News / Rory Cellan-Jones) 

People are panic-buying meat, toilet paper...and pelotons? (The New York Times / Erin Griffith)