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Hillicon Valley: CEOs of Google, Facebook and Twitter to testify before Senate | European Union police agency warns of increase in cybercrime | Twitter to remove posts hoping for Trump's death

Hillicon Valley: CEOs of Google, Facebook and Twitter to testify before Senate | European Union police agency warns of increase in cybercrime | Twitter to remove posts hoping for Trump's death
© Greg Nash

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 team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.

TECH CEOS TO TESTIFY: The CEOs of Google, Facebook and Twitter are set to testify before the Senate later this month, spokespeople for the companies confirmed to The Hill on Monday.

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The appearance before the Senate Commerce Committee will be the second time that top tech executives appear before Congress this year, following this summer’s major hearing before a House antitrust subcommittee.

Google’s Sundar Pichai, Facebook’s Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Facebook content moderators demand more workplace protections | Ousted cyber official blasts Giuliani press conference | Tech firms fall short on misinformation targeting Latino vote Facebook says AI is aiding platform's ability to remove hate speech Facebook content moderators demand more workplace COVID-19 protections MORE and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey will appear before the powerful Senate committee on Oct. 28, just days before the general election.

The hearing set to focus on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which is considered the bedrock of the modern internet.

The 1996 law, which has come under increased scrutiny since President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE targeted it in an executive order in May, gives internet companies immunity from lawsuits for content posted on their sites by third parties and allows them to make "good faith" efforts to moderate content.

Read more here.

EUROPEANS SOUND THE ALARM: Euoropol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, warns that cybercrime has spiked over the past year in large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Europol’s findings were detailed in its annual Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment, released Monday. The assessment highlighted ransomware attacks, including those targeting health care organizations, as one of the most persistent cyber threats during the pandemic, including attacks involving hackers threatening to auction off data if a ransom is not paid.

The distribution of child abuse material online has also increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, including livestreaming of sexual abuse. Other concerns have involved SIM swapping, in which the hacker takes over a SIM card on the individual’s phone to intercept a two-factor authentication code, and the increased use of the dark web for criminal activities. 

“Ransomware in particular remains a priority threat encountered by cyber investigators across the EU,” Europol Executive Director Catherine De Bolle wrote in an introduction to the report. “The amount of online child sexual abuse material detected continues to increase, further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had serious consequences for the investigative capacity of law enforcement authorities.”

Phishing emails and online scams have increased, with Europol noting that cyber criminals are increasingly targeting the vulnerable online during the pandemic, and that disinformation has become easier to spread during the period of uncertainty. 

Read more here. 

TWITTER REMOVING POSTS: Twitter warned Friday it will remove posts on its platform that wish for President Trump’s death after he announced he tested positive for COVID-19. 

After reports initially surfaced that Twitter would suspend accounts that posted such messages, the company said the tweets would not merit immediate suspension, but would be swiftly removed.

“[T]weets that wish or hope for death, serious bodily harm or fatal disease against *anyone* are not allowed and will need to be removed. this does not automatically mean suspension,” the platform tweeted from its communications account.

The warning came the same day as Trump’s announcement that he and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpPresident says Trump Jr. doing 'very well' after COVID-19 diagnosis Trumps to spend Thanksgiving at White House instead of traveling to Florida Chelsea Clinton blames Trump for Secret Service officers in quarantine MORE have tested positive for the virus, which has infected more than 7.3 million people in the U.S. and killed more than 208,000.

Social media was soon flooded with posts bashing Trump, though Democrats made several statements wishing the president well.

Read more here. 

MCCABE BOWS OUT: Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamMedia and Hollywood should stop their marching-to-Georgia talk Hackers love a bad transition The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump campaign files for Wis. recount l Secretaries of state fume at Trump allegations l Biden angered over transition delay MORE (R-S.C.) announced Monday the panel would postpone a hearing, originally scheduled for Tuesday, with former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeMcCabe defends investigation of Trump before Senate committee: We had 'many reasons' The Hill's 12:30 Report: What to know about the Pfizer vaccine announcement Watch live: McCabe testifies before Senate Judiciary Committee MORE.

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The news came after McCabe said Saturday that he would not appear at a hearing in front of the Judiciary Committee after two of its members tested positive for COVID-19.

McCabe was set to testify in front of the judiciary panel on Tuesday as part of its investigation into the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe but said he felt attending would be tantamount to putting his family at risk after Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeLoeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight MORE (R-Utah) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTeam Trump offering 'fire hose' of conspiracy Kool-Aid for supporters Loeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection North Carolina's Mark Walker expected to announce Senate bid MORE (R-N.C.), who sit on the committee, tested positive. 

"Mr. McCabe was still prepared to testify voluntarily and in person on October 6 as recently as the latter part of this past week. However, since that time, it has been reported that at least two members of your Committee – Senators Mike Lee and Thom Tillis – have tested positive for Covid-19, and it may well be that other members of the Committee and staff who plan to attend the hearing will test positive between now and then, or may have been exposed to the virus and may be a carrier. Under these circumstances, an in-person hearing carries grave safety risks to Mr. McCabe, me, and senators and staff who would attend,” McCabe’s attorney wrote to Graham.

"Mr. McCabe is willing, able, and eager to testify in person about Crossfire Hurricane at any time in the future when it is safe to do so. But he is not willing to put his family’s health at risk to do so," he continued. "For these reasons, we are unwilling to appear in person for the October 6 hearing; and for reasons of fairness, we are unwilling to testify remotely. A fair and appropriate hearing of this kind — which is complex and contentious — simply cannot be conducted other than in person." 

Graham has been spearheading an investigation into the FBI’s Russia investigation and former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE’s subsequent inquiry. The investigation is also looking into the courts created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Read more here.  

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NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Want to fight online voting misinformation? A new study makes a case for targeting Trump tweets (The Verge / Adi Robertson)

Digital Piecework (Dissent Magazine / Veena Dubal)

GOP lawmaker: Democrats' tech proposals will include 'non-starters for conservatives' (Politico / Cristiano Lima)

Facebook Says Government Breakup of Instagram, WhatsApp Would Be ‘Complete Nonstarter’ (Wall Street Journal / Jeff Horwitz)

Facebook Keeps Data Secret, Letting Conservative Bias Claims Persist (NPR / Bobby Allyn)