Hillicon Valley: Trump tweet gets warning again | Australia under cyberattack | North Face pulls Facebook ads

Hillicon Valley: Trump tweet gets warning again | Australia under cyberattack | North Face pulls Facebook ads
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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 our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech reporter, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills), for more coverage.

TWITTER VS TRUMP AGAIN: Twitter has flagged a tweet from President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeSantis on Florida schools reopening: 'If you can do Walmart,' then 'we absolutely can do schools' NYT editorial board calls for the reopening of schools with help from federal government's 'checkbook' Mueller pens WaPo op-ed: Roger Stone 'remains a convicted felon, and rightly so' MORE as containing “manipulated media” after the president tweeted a clip of a black toddler and a white toddler edited to include a CNN chyron reading “terrified todler[sic] runs from racist baby.”


The initial video, which was widely circulated online long before the tweet, shows the two children running towards each other and embracing.

It has been edited to include ominous background music and the fictitious CNN headline. The video reverts to the original clip midway through, cutting to a title reading “America is not the problem. Fake news is.”

“This tweet has been labeled per our synthetic and manipulated media policy to give people more context,” a Twitter spokesperson told The Hill.

In a statement directly addressing Trump, a CNN spokesperson noted that the network covered the footage of the two New York children when it first went viral in 2019 under the headline "These two toddlers are showing us what real-life besties look like."

"CNN did cover this story — exactly as it happened. Just as we reported your positions on race [and poll numbers]," the network said in a statement. "We’ll continue working with facts rather than tweeting fake videos that exploit innocent children. We invite you to do the same. Be better."

Read more about Twitter’s decision here.

TROUBLE DOWN UNDER: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday that a “sophisticated state-based actor” has targeted all levels of the Australian government as well as critical infrastructure operators and essential service providers with attempted hacks.


“We know it is a sophisticated state-based cyber actor because of the scale and nature of the targeting,” Morrison said in a press conference in Canberra, Reuters reported.

He declined to identify any specific countries, but said only a handful of state actors would be capable of launching such attacks.

Morrison said Australian cyber experts were able to determine a state actor was behind the activity "because of the scale and nature of the targeting and the trade craft used,” according to the BBC.

"We raised this issue today not to raise concerns in the public's mind, but to raise awareness in the public's mind," Morrison added, saying the activity has been increasing in frequency in recent months.

"We know what is going on. We are on it, but it is a day-to-day task."

Read more about the attack here.

NORTH FACE PULLS ADS: The North Face on Friday became the highest-profile company to join an advertising boycott against Facebook.

The outdoor recreation company tweeted that it would join the campaign launched earlier in the week by several civil rights organizations.

The Anti-Defamation League, NAACP, Sleeping Giants, Color Of Change, Free Press and Common Sense called on companies to stop advertising on Facebook for the month of July to protest what they call a failure by the platform to regulate hateful content.

The North Face said in a statement that it would suspend advertising on the platform immediately.

"Effective June 19th, The North Face is halting all activity and U.S. paid advertising with Facebook until stricter policies are put in place to stop racist, violent or hateful content and misinformation from circulating on the platform," a spokesperson told The Hill in a statement.

Read more about the new policy here.

REPUBLICANS TARGET GOOGLE: Google’s decision to ban a far-right website from its ad platform and issue a warning to another conservative media outlet over posts in its comments sections is adding fuel for Republicans who say tech giants have an anti-conservative bias and need more regulation.

Several GOP lawmakers, as well as a Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), pointed to the move as a prime example of why the government must target the protections a company like Google enjoys over the content posted by its users.

They’re also accusing Google of hypocrisy, considering the tech platform has protections that prevent it from being held liable for third-party posts. The protections do not play a role in Google's decisions on how it runs its ad network.

“It is profoundly disingenuous for Google to insist on applying a standard to other companies that it disclaims for itself,” Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyHillicon Valley: Facebook considers political ad ban | Senators raise concerns over civil rights audit | Amazon reverses on telling workers to delete TikTok ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski emails Josh Hawley an F-bomb Overnight Defense: House Dems offer M for Army to rename bases | Bill takes aim at money for Trump's border wall | Suspect in custody after shooting at Marine training facility  MORE (R-Mo.) wrote in an open letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Wednesday. "In short, Google demands minimum oversight for itself, but maximum power over those who use its platform."

Sen. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnKoch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Teachers' union President Randi Weingarten calls Trump administration plan to reopen schools 'a train wreck'; US surpasses 3 million COVID-19 cases The Hill's Coronavirus Report: DC's Bowser says protesters and nation were 'assaulted' in front of Lafayette Square last month; Brazil's Bolsonaro, noted virus skeptic, tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (R-Tenn.), chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Tech Task Force, added in a statement that Google’s recent actions would give federal regulators “more ammo to use” in their investigation into the company’s alleged anticompetitive business practices, including its dominance in digital advertising.

The comments from GOP lawmakers come as Republicans ramp up their assault on Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, a provision that says websites cannot be held liable for posts shared by its users. Republicans are also going after a clause that allows "good-faith" efforts on the part of tech companies to moderate the content they host.

Read more about the Republican efforts here.

FRENCH FINE UPHELD: The highest administrative court in France on Friday upheld a previous ruling ordering Google to pay a fine of around $56 million for not being transparent about Android data privacy practices. 

The French Council of State ruled that Google had violated the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by not providing sufficient “transparency” for Android users on how their data would be used for targeted advertisements, according to the translated French ruling.


The council upheld a previous 2019 ruling by France’s National Data Protection Commission, or CNIL, that sanctioned Google for breaching the GDPR by making it difficult for users to understand how their personal data was being used. 

Google appealed this decision to the Council of State, which on Friday ruled that the original fine of €50 million, or around $56 million, was not “disproportionate” and upheld CNIL’s original decision.

The GDPR, a sweeping data protection rule which went into effect in 2018, requires individuals to give informed consent for their data to be used by companies. Many tech companies not headquartered in Europe, such as Google, have to comply with the GDPR because of their millions of European customers. 

Read more about the ruling here.

YIKES: Snapchat apologized for a new interactive face filter created for Juneteenth that called for users to "smile" to break chains that appear in the background, calling it a "mistake."

The filter became viral on Twitter following a post from digital strategist and journalist Mark S. Luckie, who tweeted a video of him using the filter, saying, "um...interesting."

The filter sported words across the screen that read "Juneteenth Freedom Day" and prompted users to "smile," which caused the chains in the background to break.


"Smile to break the chains? Okay then," he penned, following the tweet with a meme of Will Smith asking, "Where are the black people?!"

Snapchat has since pulled the filter from its platform and released a statement about why it was removed, according to BuzzFeed News.

Read more about the removed filter here.

APPLE CLOSING STORES: Apple is closing 11 stores across the United States in areas where coronavirus cases are beginning to spike again.

The company announced Friday that it will shutter the stores in Florida, Arizona, North Carolina and South Carolina that had recently re-opened.

“Due to current COVID-19 conditions in some of the communities we serve, we are temporarily closing stores in these areas," the company said in a statement. "We take this step with an abundance of caution as we closely monitor the situation and we look forward to having our teams and customers back as soon as possible."

All four of the states where Apple is closing its stores have seen spikes in cases in recent days.

Apple had begun re-opening stores in the U.S. in May with health precautions including temperature checks and a mask requirement. 

“The response to COVID‑19 is still ongoing, and we recognize that the road back will have its twists and turns," Apple retail head Dierdre O'Brien said at the time, acknowledging stores may have to be closed again if cases rose.

Lighter click: Not your average window sticker

An op-ed to chew on: The principle of free expression is disintegrating


IRS used cell phone location data to try to find suspects (The Wall Street Journal / Byron Tau)

Philadelphia-area health system says it ‘isolated’ a malware attack (CyberScoop / Sean Lyngaas)

How a group of creatives made Juneteenth ‘spread like wildfire’ in tech (Protocol / Sofie Kodner) 

New Team Telecom recommendation doesn’t bode well for U.S.-China relations (Nextgov / Mariam Baksh)