Hillicon Valley: Wells Fargo tells employees to delete TikTok from work phones | Google, Facebook join legal challenge to ICE foreign students rule | House Republican introduces bills to bolster federal cybersecurity

Hillicon Valley: Wells Fargo tells employees to delete TikTok from work phones | Google, Facebook join legal challenge to ICE foreign students rule | House Republican introduces bills to bolster federal cybersecurity
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Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech reporter, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills), for more coverage.

WELLS FARGO VS. TIKTOK: Wells Fargo has ordered a group of employees to delete TikTok from their work phones over concerns about the Chinese-owned app's practices when it comes to privacy and security. 

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The financial services company said in a statement to The Hill on Monday that it "identified a small number of Wells Fargo employees with corporate-owned devices who had installed the TikTok application on their device."

"Due to concerns about TikTok’s privacy and security controls and practices, and because corporate-owned devices should be used for company business only, we have directed those employees to remove the app from their devices," the company said. 

A TikTok spokesperson told The Hill that it has not been in communication with Wells Fargo. 

"But as with any organization that has concerns, we are open to engaging with them constructively and sharing the actions we take to protect data security for our users," the spokesperson said. "Our hope is that whatever concerns Wells Fargo may have can be answered through transparent dialogue so that their employees can continue to participate in and benefit from our community."

The move from the company comes as TikTok, a short-form video platform popular among teens, faces growing scrutiny from lawmakers and businesses in the U.S. over its handling of user data. The announcement also came after Amazon on Friday sent an email to employees asking them to delete TikTok from their phones, before backtracking just hours later. 

"There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok," an Amazon spokesperson told The Hill, adding that the email was sent in "error."

Read more about the policy here. 

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TECH TAKES ON ICE: Over a dozen tech companies filed a brief Monday backing a lawsuit to block the Trump administration from stripping foreign students of their visas if the schools they attend go exclusively online this fall.

Harvard and MIT filed the lawsuit last week after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced international students whose courses move entirely online would be required to leave the country, rescinding a previous plan to grant exemptions to student visa holders.

Over 60 universities filed a brief backing that case earlier Monday, while 17 states and the District of Columbia sued separately to block the rule.

The tech companies including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Paypal are arguing the ban will "inflict significant harm" on their businesses.

"America's future competitiveness depends on attracting and retaining talented international students," the companies said in the brief.

Read more about the effort here. 

 

NEW CYBERSECURITY BILLS: Rep. John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoCongress must deliver aid and empower localities to continue assisting in COVID-19 response Lawmakers zero in on Twitter following massive hack Democrat Dana Balter to face Rep. John Katko in NY House rematch MORE (R-N.Y.) on Monday introduced three pieces of legislation designed to improve cybersecurity at the national level, particularly within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 

The proposed bills would help bolster leadership at DHS's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), one of the key federal agencies involved in addressing cybersecurity threats. 

The CISA Director and Assistant Directors Act would elevate the position of CISA director and give the job a five-year term, along with reclassifying assistant director positions. 

A second bill would require CISA to conduct a comprehensive review of its operations to help improve coordination and transparency, and a third would establish a talent exchange program between CISA and the private sector. 

Katko, who serves as ranking member of the House Homeland Security cybersecurity subcommittee, said in a statement that “the time for our nation to take cybersecurity seriously is far overdue,” pointing to increased cyberattacks while the nation seeks to beat back the coronavirus.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, American businesses and governments, as well as individuals working from home, have experienced a significant uptick in cyberattacks,” he said. “As a nation, it’s clear we must do better to prepare for and respond to these attacks.” 

Katko noted that all three bills were introduced following the publication of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission’s report in March. The group was created by Congress and charged with laying out recommendations for defending the nation against cyber threats. 

Read more about the bills here. 

 

TO RUSSIA WITH LOVE: President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Bob Woodward book will include details of 25 personal letters between Trump and Kim Jong Un On The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' Biden commemorates anniversary of Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' rally: 'We are in a battle for the soul of our nation' MORE on Friday confirmed for the first time that the U.S. launched a cyberattack on the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) in 2018.

Trump confirmed the attack in a two-part interview with The Washington Post’s Marc Thiessen. When asked whether the U.S. had launched an attack on the IRA — a troll farm that led the effort to spread disinformation around the 2016 presidential election and 2018 midterm elections — Trump said that was “correct.”

The cyberattack, first reported by The Washington Post in 2019 but not confirmed publicly by the Trump administration, involved U.S. Cyber Command disrupting internet access for the building in St. Petersburg that houses the IRA on the night of the U.S. 2018 midterm elections, halting efforts to spread disinformation as Americans went to the polls.

Trump told Thiessen that he acted on intelligence around potential Russian interference in the 2018 midterms in ordering the cyberattack, criticizing former President Obama for not taking similar actions ahead of the 2016 elections.

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“Look, we stopped it,” Trump told Thiessen, noting that “nobody has been tougher on Russia than I have.”

Trump claimed Obama did not take action in order to benefit Democratic presidential candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden, Harris make first public appearance as running mates Trump campaign spox rips GOP congressman over rejection of QAnon conspiracy Biden hits back after Trump's attacks on Harris MORE

According to Trump, Obama “knew before the election that Russia was playing around. Or, he was told. Whether or not it was so or not, who knows? And he said nothing," Trump said.

"And the reason he said nothing was that he didn’t want to touch it because he thought [Hillary Clinton] was winning because he read phony polls," he continued. "So, he thought she was going to win. And we had the silent majority that said, ‘No, we like Trump.’”

A bipartisan report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee in February concluded that Obama administration officials were “not well-postured” to respond to Russian hacking and interference efforts in 2016, and that the U.S. government did not have policy options in place to respond to Russian election interference efforts.

Obama did take action following Election Day in 2016, placing sanctions on Russian individuals and agencies involved in interference efforts, expelling dozens of Russian diplomats, and classifying elections as critical infrastructure, allowing more to be done to secure the voting process. 

Read more here. 

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INDUSTRY BACKS DACA: A coalition of major companies and trade groups that represent more than half of American private sector workers wrote to President Trump on Saturday urging him to leave the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in place.

More than 140 companies and trade associations signed on to the letter, including Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Marriott, Target, Uber, Lyft, the National Retail Federation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The groups are members of the Coalition for the American Dream, which organized the letter.

"As large American employers and employer organizations, we strongly urge you to leave the DACA program in place," the letter states. "DACA recipients have been critical members of our workforce, industries, and communities for years now, and they have abided by the laws and regulations of our country in order to maintain their DACA status."

The letter cited public polling that found most Americans favor protecting "Dreamers," the young immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

"This is no time to disrupt the economic recovery of our companies and communities, nor time to jeopardize the health and safety of these vulnerable individuals," the letter states. "We ask that you leave DACA in place and refrain from taking any additional administrative actions that would negatively impact the DACA program."

The letter comes after the Supreme Court struck down Trump's first attempt to rescind DACA, ruling last month that the administration failed to give an adequate justification for terminating the program as required by federal law. But the court made clear Trump had the authority to rescind the program, essentially forcing the president to try again or risk the appearance of backing down.

Multiple sources told The Hill that the Trump administration was expected to move forward with its second attempt to rescind DACA as early as this week, though the exact timing remains fluid.

Read more about the support here. 

 

Lighter click: This newsletter does not endorse Barstool Sports

An op-ed to chew on: Why we need a 'Wicked Problems Agency'

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

Fear of Chinese social network TikTok takes hold (The Verge / Russell Brandom) 

How HR departments fail Black and brown employees (Protocol / Emily Birnbaum) 

Why repair techs are hacking ventilators with DIY dongles from Poland (Vice Motherboard / Jason Koebler) 

Energy Department watchdog finds research labs failed to secure ‘peripheral’ devices like USBs (CyberScoop / Sean Lyngaas)