Overnight Technology

Hillicon Valley: Livestreaming service Twitch suspends Trump account | Reddit updates hate speech policy, bans subreddits including The_Donald | India bans TikTok


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.

TWITCH VS. TRUMP: Twitch, the livestreaming service owned by Amazon, on Monday temporarily suspended President Trump‘s account for violating the company’s policy on “hateful conduct,” a company spokesperson told The Hill.  

The company said the decision stemmed from comments made on streams shared by an account associated with the Trump campaign. One stream was a rebroadcast of 2015 remarks from Trump during which he referred to Mexicans as “rapists.” Twitch also flagged a stream that included comments Trump made during his a recent campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla. 

In that stream, Trump had asked the crowd to imagine a “very tough hombre” breaking into someone’s home.

“Hateful conduct is not allowed on Twitch,” a Twitch spokesperson said. “In line with our policies, President Trump’s channel has been issued a temporary suspension from Twitch for comments made on stream, and the offending content has been removed.”

The spokesperson said that “politicians on Twitch must adhere to our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines” and noted the company conveyed this message to the president’s team when he joined the service last year. 

“To hear directly from the President, people should download the Trump app and text ‘Trump’ to 88022,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told The Hill when asked for comment about the Twitch suspension.

Twitch’s community guidelines define hateful conduct as any content that promotes, encourages or facilitates discrimination, harassment or violence based on race, ethnicity or gender, among other things. The platform said last week that it was creating more tools “to combat harassment and hate” after some Twitch streamers came forward with allegations of sexual abuse and harassment. Twitch said it was also reviewing its Hateful Conduct and Harassment policies.

Read more about the decision here. 


REDDIT VS. TRUMP: Reddit updated its policies against hate speech Monday and banned 2,000 communities or “subreddits,” including one devoted to President Trump.

The forum r/The_Donald had over 700,000 users, although activity on it had declined since the 2016 election. Several of the most popular posts on the forum on Monday morning were months old.

The new policy explicitly bans subreddits and users that “promote hate based on identity or vulnerability.”

“All communities on Reddit must abide by our content policy in good faith. We banned r/The_Donald because it has not done so, despite every opportunity,” the company wrote in a post announcing the changes.

“The community has consistently hosted and upvoted more rule-breaking content than average, antagonized us and other communities, and its mods have refused to meet our most basic expectations. Until now, we’ve worked in good faith to help them preserve the community as a space for its users—through warnings, mod changes, quarantining, and more.”

The community, which was created in the run-up to the 2016 election, has a history of hateful posts and conspiracy theories.

It has been influential, with some content created on it ending up on Trump’s Twitter account.

Reddit had previously “quarantined” the community, making it harder for users to stumble upon it in searches.

Among the 2,000 subreddits banned, only 200 had more than 10 daily users.

Read more about Reddit’s decision here. 


BAD NEWS FOR TIKTOK: India on Monday banned dozens of Chinese apps including TikTok, pointing to privacy and security concerns, a move that comes less than two weeks after a deadly skirmish along the border of the two nations.

The Ministry of Electronics & IT said that the 59 apps were “engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, and security of state and public order.”

“The Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) has also received many representations from citizens regarding security of data and breach of privacy impacting upon public order issues,” the Indian government agency also said.

The bans are the latest digital standoff between the world’s two most populous countries.

They also come a few weeks after more than 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese forces in the Himalayas.

Read more about the apps banned here. 


PENNSYLVANIA VS. TRUMP: President Trump’s reelection campaign is suing Pennsylvania’s secretary of state and 67 county election boards in an effort to change how mail-in ballots are sent and counted. 

The federal lawsuit was filed in Pittsburgh on Monday by the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee, and four Pennsylvania Republican members of Congress: Glen Thompson, Mike Kelly, John Joyce and Guy Reschenthaler

“To be free and fair, elections must be transparent and verifiable. Yet, Defendants have inexplicably chosen a path that jeopardizes election security and will lead -and has already led – to the disenfranchisement of voters, questions about the accuracy of election results, and ultimately chaos heading into the upcoming November 3, 2020 General Election,” the lawsuit reads

The suit claims the issues are a “direct result” of Pennsylvania’s “hazardous hurried, and illegal implementation of unmonitored mail-in voting” that the Trump campaign and Republicans claim can lead to fraud and “chaos.” 

A spokesperson for Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat, said the department will not comment on pending litigation.

Pennsylvania passed a law last year that expanded mail-in ballot voting options to allow anyone to vote by mail without providing a reason.

The lawsuit argues, however, that during the June 2 primary voters used procedures that were not outlined in the new law including submitting absentee and mail-in ballots at locations such as shopping centers, parking lots, fairgrounds, parks, retirement homes, college campuses, fire halls, municipal government buildings and elected official’s offices. 

Read more about the case here. 


BOOSTING CYBER DEFENSES: A group of Senate Democrats on Monday introduced a measure that would strengthen cybersecurity protections for states vulnerable to malicious cyberattacks as part of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). 

The proposed amendment to the Senate version of the 2021 NDAA would fund a cybersecurity coordinator for every state that would be responsible for working with all levels of government to prevent and respond to escalating cyberattacks on schools, hospitals, and other groups. 

The amendment was introduced by Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and is based on previous legislation introduced by the senators in January. 

The Senate Armed Services Committee approved the massive annual defense spending bill earlier this month, with the bill also being negotiated in the House Armed Services Committee, which is set to debate and approve its version of the legislation later this week. The Senate will begin debating the overall bill this week. 

The amendment was introduced following a year of mounting cyberattacks on state and local government entities across the nation, including on school districts, libraries, and city governments including those of New Orleans and Baltimore.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the vulnerabilities at the state and local levels to cyberattacks due to budget shortfalls, and hospitals and research groups involved in fighting and studying COVID-19 have also become targets. 

Read more about the amendment here. 


NYT DITCHES APPLE NEWS: The New York Times announced Monday that it has terminated its relationship with Apple News.

Articles from the Times will no longer appear on the Apple News feed available on the company’s devices.

In a memo announcing the change, the Times’ chief operating officer, Meredith Kopit Levien, said that the Apple partnership has failed to bring in more readers.

“Core to a healthy model between The Times and the platforms is a direct path for sending those readers back into our environments, where we control the presentation of our report, the relationships with our readers and the nature of our business rules,” she wrote.

“Our relationship with Apple News does not fit within these parameters.”

A spokesperson for Apple shrugged off the Times’s decision, saying the outlet was only offering “a few stories per day.”

“We are committed to providing the more than 125 million people who use Apple News with the most trusted information and will continue to do so through our collaboration with thousands of publishers,” Apple said in a statement to The Hill, listing major outlets including The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal.

Read more about the move here. 


Lighter click: Some actually uplifting news

An op-ed to chew on: The EARN It Act threatens encryption and national security


The real cost of Amazon (Recode / Shirin Ghaffary and Jason Del Rey)

‘Boogaloo’ Believers Think a Civil War Is Coming. These Gun Firms Are Openly Marketing to Them. (The Trace / Ian Karbal)

Zuckerberg once wanted to sanction Trump. Then Facebook wrote rules that accommodated him. (Washington Post / Elizabeth Dwoskin, Craig Timberg and Tony Romm)

California university conducting coronavirus research pays over $1 million in ransom to hackers (CyberScoop / Jeff Stone) 

TikTok Is Shaping Politics. But How? (New York Times / John Herrman)

Tags Apple Donald Trump Facebook Gary Peters Guy Reschenthaler John Cornyn John Joyce Maggie Hassan Mike Kelly Rob Portman The New York Times Twitch Twitter

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