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

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
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TRUMP TAKES AIM AT SOCIAL MEDIA: President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll Trump dismisses climate change role in fires, says Newsom needs to manage forest better Jimmy Kimmel hits Trump for rallies while hosting Emmy Awards MORE signed an executive order Thursday aimed at increasing the ability of the government to regulate social media platforms, a marked escalation of his lengthy feud with Silicon Valley over allegations of anti-conservative bias.


The brunt of the order is focused on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a 1996 law that gives platforms legal immunity for content posted by third-party users while also giving them cover to make good-faith efforts to moderate their platforms.

Trump, joined by Attorney General William BarrBill BarrSunday shows - Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death dominates What Attorney General Barr really said about justice Pelosi: House will use 'every arrow in our quiver' to stop Trump Supreme Court nominee MORE, addressed reporters in the Oval Office on Thursday afternoon before signing the executive order.

"We're here today to defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers it has faced in American history, frankly, and you know what's going on as well as anybody. It's not good," Trump told reporters.

The president accused social media companies of having “unchecked power to censure, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences.” He also said that if he were able to shut Twitter down, he would.

Trump's order directs an agency within the Commerce Department to file a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to clarify the scope of Section 230, a proposition that has already drawn rebukes from the two Democratic members of the five-person commission.

Another section of the order would encourage federal agencies to review their spending on social media advertising.

Trump and Barr indicated that legislation on Section 230 could be incoming.


Barr did not provide further details, while Trump suggested they could just "remove or totally change 230."

Fundamentally, Trump cannot rewrite the section without Congress’s help. Any efforts by agencies like the FCC to make determinations about how the law is applied would almost definitely be challenged and ultimately become a matter for a judge to decide.

When asked about the possibility of a legal challenge to the order, Trump said, “I guess it’s going to be challenged in court, but what isn’t?”

Read more about the executive order here.

WHILE WE’RE ON THE SUBJECT: President Trump said Thursday that he'd get rid of his Twitter account if he didn't find it necessary to push back against "fake news."

"If we had a fair press in this country, I would do that in a heartbeat," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office when asked if he had considered deleting his account on the platform given his recent criticism of the social media giant.

"There's nothing I'd rather do than get rid of my whole Twitter account," he added.

Read more about Trump’s comments here.

TRY AGAIN NEXT TIME: The House voted Thursday to request a conference with the Senate over a bill to reauthorize three intelligence programs after it failed twice this week to vote on the legislation. 

The 282-122 vote allows negotiations between the House and Senate to begin as Congress tries to reach a deal on legislation to reauthorize three lapsed surveillance programs and make some changes to the court associated with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). 

Reps. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTop Democrats call for DOJ watchdog to probe Barr over possible 2020 election influence Overnight Defense: Top admiral says 'no condition' where US should conduct nuclear test 'at this time' | Intelligence chief says Congress will get some in-person election security briefings Overnight Defense: House to vote on military justice bill spurred by Vanessa Guillén death | Biden courts veterans after Trump's military controversies MORE (D-Calif.) and Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesSunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election Sunday shows preview: With less than two months to go, race for the White House heats up Sunday shows preview: Republicans gear up for national convention, USPS debate continues in Washington MORE (R-Calif.), the top members of the House Intelligence Committee; Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerSchumer: 'Nothing is off the table' if GOP moves forward with Ginsburg replacement Top Democrats call for DOJ watchdog to probe Barr over possible 2020 election influence House passes bill to protect pregnant workers MORE (D-N.Y.) and Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanSunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election House passes resolution condemning anti-Asian discrimination relating to coronavirus Republicans call for Judiciary hearing into unrest in cities run by Democrats MORE (R-Ohio), the top members of the Judiciary Committee; and Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenTop Democrats call for DOJ watchdog to probe Barr over possible 2020 election influence DHS opens probe into allegations at Georgia ICE facility House passes legislation to boost election security research MORE (D-Calif.), who has been at the center of the months-long debate, will lead the negotiations for the House.

The Senate will also have to vote to formally launch a conference committee. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOcasio-Cortez to voters: Tell McConnell 'he is playing with fire' with Ginsburg's seat McConnell locks down key GOP votes in Supreme Court fight Video shows NYC subway station renamed after Ruth Bader Ginsburg MORE (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyTrump asked Chamber of Commerce to reconsider Democratic endorsements: report The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - White House moves closer to Pelosi on virus relief bill Trump's sharp words put CDC director on hot seat MORE (R-Calif.) talked on Thursday morning about the plan to go to conference to work out the differences. 

“The Leaders spoke this morning. Going to a conference committee is regular order when the two chambers disagree,” a spokesman for McConnell told The Hill. 

Establishing a conference committee would allow leadership and key members space to try to hash out an agreement on how to handle the intelligence programs in the face of insurmountable opposition from Republicans and progressives that scuttled Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiAs families deal with coronavirus, new federal dollars should follow the student Sunday shows - Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death dominates Hypocrisy rules on both sides over replacing Justice Ginsburg MORE’s (D-Calif.) plan to try to send a Senate-passed bill to President Trump’s desk. 


“It will be our intention to go to conference in order to ensure that all of the views of all Members of our Caucus are represented in the final product,” Pelosi wrote in a “Dear Colleague” letter on Thursday, laying out her backup plan.

Democratic leadership has largely pinned the failure to secure passage of the reauthorization bill on Trump, who on Tuesday urged Republican lawmakers to vote against it over his allegations of abuse of FISA by the Obama administration to spy on his 2016 campaign.

Read more about the FISA negotiations here.

TWITTER DOUBLES DOWN: Twitter this week continued to add fact-check labels to hundreds of posts on its platform, a move that came as the Trump administration issued an executive order targeting the broad immunity that social media companies have over the content posted by their users.

The plans from the Trump administration followed Twitter's decision on Tuesday to add fact-check labels to the president's tweets for the first time.

Trump has repeatedly accused the social media company of silencing conservative viewpoints. 

Twitter's policies call for adding labels to potentially misleading information on subjects including elections and the coronavirus outbreak. The company this week added its fact-check label to posts from Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, claiming that COVID-19 originated in a lab in the U.S. because the posts contained "potentially misleading content" about the coronavirus, a Twitter official told The Hill. 


Multiple tweets from Zhao now include "Get the facts about COVID-19" labels directing users to news reports noting that evidence suggests the novel coronavirus originated in animals and not a lab.

Twitter also added labels to posts falsely claiming that a Minneapolis police officer involved in the arrest of George Floyd was the same man pictured with a red "Make Whites Great Again" hat. The posts, some of which went viral earlier this week, now include "manipulated media" labels appended to them.

Hundreds of tweets like the one Ice Cube shared were flagged based on Twitter's "synthetic and manipulated media policy," a spokesperson said, noting that the company began taking action on them on Wednesday. 

Read more about Twitter’s fact checking here.

PELOSI CLAPS BACK:  Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday blasted Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Trump's ban on TikTok, WeChat in spotlight | NASA targeted by foreign hackers | Instagram accused of spying in lawsuit The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Trump contradicts CDC director on vaccine, masks Hillicon Valley: DOJ indicts Chinese, Malaysian hackers accused of targeting over 100 organizations | GOP senators raise concerns over Oracle-TikTok deal | QAnon awareness jumps in new poll MORE’s comments about his platform's decision not to fact-check lawmakers as Twitter plans to do, calling the remarks a “disgrace.”

“As far as the platforms are concerned, they want two things from the federal government: no regulation and no taxes. And so they cater to the Trump administration all the time. I think that Mark Zuckerberg's statement was a disgrace,” Pelosi said Thursday on MSNBC

Zuckerberg had told Fox News on Wednesday that he believes private companies “shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth” when asked about Twitter’s decision this week to fact check and place warnings on two of President Trump's tweets.


Pelosi praised Twitter for placing warnings on the president’s tweets about mail-in voting in California, but suggested they did not go far enough to address the root of the problem of misinformation. 

“They're not taking off any accusations the president's making about Joe ScarboroughCharles (Joe) Joseph ScarboroughScarborough calls on Cuomo to walk back statement he made about Trump: 'Out of bounds' Mika Brzezinski: 'Super grossed out' by Trump speech attendees 'who put their lives at risk' Democrats tear into Trump's 'deep state' tweet: His 'lies and recklessness' have 'killed people' MORE. They know that's not true. So they do a token thing and think it's OK,” Pelosi said, referring to Trump’s recent tweets touting an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory about the death of an aide to the former congressman and current MSNBC host.

Read more about her comments here.

TIKTOK IN THE SPOTLIGHT: A group of House Democrats on Thursday called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate allegations that social media platform TikTok had violated a child privacy agreement.

Reps. Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyAhead of a coronavirus vaccine, Mexico's drug pricing to have far-reaching impacts on Americans With Biden, advocates sense momentum for lifting abortion funding ban Hillicon Valley: Facebook removed over 22 million posts for hate speech in second quarter | Republicans introduce bill to defend universities against hackers targeting COVID-19 research | Facebook's Sandberg backs Harris as VP pick MORE (Ill.), Ann KusterAnn McLane KusterPelosi seeks to put pressure on GOP in COVID-19 relief battle Clark rolls out endorsements in assistant Speaker race Pelosi: House will stay in session until agreement is reached on coronavirus relief MORE (N.H.), and a dozen other Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to FTC Chairman Joseph Simons, asking that the FTC look into a complaint submitted earlier this month.

The complaint, which was submitted to the FTC by a group of 20 nonprofit groups, accused TikTok of violating a $5.7 million agreement reached with the FTC in 2019 that settled previous allegations that the company had violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

The groups claimed that TikTok had violated the settlement by not deleting personal information collected from users under age 13, not posting a clear privacy policy and not making “reasonable efforts” to ensure the parents or guardians of users were aware of the information being collected.

The House Democrats raised concerns that TikTok’s popularity, which has spiked during COVID-19 lockdowns, may make the platform a tempting place for “predators to solicit children.”

“While all children must be careful when using a service like TikTok, children younger than 13 are less equipped to navigate this threat and are particularly vulnerable to abuse when their parents are uninformed about the application,” the lawmakers wrote. “There are inherent dangers whenever children are online, but as long TikTok is out of compliance with COPPA and the consent decree, young children are at heightened risk.”

Read more about concerns around TikTok here.

MINNEAPOLIS TARGETED BY HACKERS: City government systems in Minneapolis were temporarily brought down by a cyberattack early Thursday as the city was grappling with raging protests over the police killing of George Floyd.

A spokesperson for Minneapolis told The Hill that some of the city’s public websites and systems were temporarily shut down by a denial of service (DoS) attack, which involves malicious hackers flooding a server with traffic until it crashes. 

Officials were able to bring back 95 percent of affected websites and systems within hours of the attack, with the spokesperson saying that the city expected 100 percent of systems to be back online by the end of the day. 

The spokesperson did not identify who was behind the cyberattack on the city or whether it was linked to any protests. The official said there was no evidence that any data was stolen or compromised.

“Although these types of attacks are not completely unavoidable, they are fairly common, and the City of Minneapolis has proactive measures in place to respond to and mitigate disruptions when they do occur,” the spokesperson said. “The City of Minneapolis IT continues to monitor its cyber platforms to ensure further disruption doesn't happen again.”

Minneapolis officials grappled with a second night of violent protests over the death of Floyd, a black man who died in police custody after an officer placed a knee on his neck to detain him. Some demonstrators looted local stores and clashed with police in the streets, who fired tear gas and rubber bullets.

Read more about the attack here.

KEEP IT SAFE: A coalition of voting rights and public health groups on Thursday rolled out guidelines to help protect voters from catching and spreading COVID-19 while exercising their right to vote this year. 

The Healthy Voting Guidelines, rolled out initially for states holding primaries in June, are the product of the nonpartisan coalition We Can Vote, and were drafted by groups including the American Public Health Association and the Center for Tech and Civic Life.

According to the authors, the recommendations are the the nation’s first healthy voting guidelines, and details ways that voters can exercise their rights at the polls while taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The guidelines address both mail-in and in-person voting for over a dozen states and the District of Columbia. Recommendations include wearing a mask and standing six feet apart from other voters if going to the polls in person, voting during less busy times and washing your hands after dropping off a mail-in ballot.

The guidelines also give instructions on how to send in a ballot by mail.

Mail-in voting is an issue that has become a divisive topic following pushback from President Trump and other Republicans, who have argued a spike in mail-in voting could lead to increased voter fraud. There is no evidence, however, that fraud is any more likely with mail-in voting than in-person voting.

Read more about the guidelines here.

EYES ON YOU: Arizona's attorney general has filed suit against Google, alleging that the tech giant violated a state consumer fraud statute by claiming falsely that apps would not store users' location data if a user opted out of that feature.

The Associated Press reported that state Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) alleged in court documents that Google's user interface is "misleading" and incorrectly explains to users that their location data will not be stored by apps if the "location history" feature is turned off.

“Though Google claims to have obtained consent to collect and store its users’ data, that consent is based on a misleading user interface, as well as other unfair and deceptive acts and practices,” the court documents read.

“Every company has a responsibility to be truthful to consumers,” Brnovich reportedly added. “You can't deceive them, you can’t make misrepresentations.”

Arizona's attorneys reportedly also argue that Google changed privacy settings without notifying users. A Google spokesman denied Arizona's claims in a statement to the AP, claiming that Brnovich had misrepresented Google's features.

Read more about the allegations here.

GOOGLE’S NEW DEFENSE AGAINST SCAMS: Google on Wednesday rolled out a new program to combat scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic as attempted cyberattacks and phishing scams have spiked during the crisis. 

The new "Scam Spotter" program, co-created with the Cybercrime Support Network, recommends a three-step process for individuals to consider before handing over personal information through a phone call or email. 

The program also tests the ability of an individual to spot a scam, gives examples of common ones such as those pretending to be from a government agency or bank and provides resources to report any scams to the Federal Trade Commission.

Google Vice President Vint Cerf wrote in a blog post that combating scams would take a “cross-generational effort” due to the tendency of seniors to fall for them more than younger generations. 

“I’m the biggest advocate for communications technology you’ll ever meet, which is why I care so much that everyone’s online experience be safe and fun,” Cerf wrote. “If we learn how to spot the bad actors, we can spend our time focusing on those moments that matter.”

Scams and cyberattacks have spiked during the coronavirus pandemic. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center said last month that it had received about 3,600 complaints related to coronavirus scams, and the IRS has warned of scams targeting coronavirus relief checks. 

Read more about the scams and attacks here.

Lighter click: It’s been a busy day, so here’s a cute dog

An op-ed to chew on: Don’t applaud Twitter for flagging one tweet


ACLU accuses Clearview AI of privacy ‘nightmare scenario’ (The New York Times / Davey Alba) 

NSA warns of ongoing Russian hacking campaign against U.S. systems (Reuters / Christopher Bing) 

Coronavirus sent us home. Will VR bring us back together? (Protocol / Mike Murphy) 

Calls grow for European regulators to investigate Apple, accused of bullying smaller rivals (The Washington Post / Reed Albergotti)