Hillicon Valley: Facebook to label posts if candidates prematurely declare victory | Supreme Court hears landmark $9B Google, Oracle copyright fight | House Dem accuses Ratcliffe of politicizing election security intel

Hillicon Valley: Facebook to label posts if candidates prematurely declare victory | Supreme Court hears landmark $9B Google, Oracle copyright fight | House Dem accuses Ratcliffe of politicizing election security intel
© getty

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.

FACEBOOK TO LABEL PREMATURE VICTORY POSTS: Facebook will add labels to posts from candidates who prematurely declare victory in the November elections, the social media platform announced Wednesday.


If a candidate or party claims to have won before the race is called by major news outlets, users will be shown a notification explaining that no winner has been determined and that votes are still being counted. The same information will be shown at the top of a user's news feed.

In the event of a candidate or party contesting the results declared by news outlets, a label will be added showing the winner of the race according to the media.

Facebook also said it will stop running social issue, electoral and political ads in the U.S. after polls close on Nov. 3, a precaution that Google rolled out last month to preempt risks of misinformation being pushed through ads.

Facebook does not fact-check political ads.

Sarah Schiff, product manager at Facebook, told reporters Wednesday that advertisers should expect the ad freeze to last one week but that the length could change based on how the elections go.

The company last month announced it would block new political and issue ads in the final week leading up to the elections.

The platform will also ban posts calling for people to engage in poll watching that use militarized language or include a suggestion that the goal is to intimidate voters.


Read more here.


GOOGLE, ORACLE GET THEIR DAY: The Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments in a $9 billion copyright infringement fight over Google’s unlicensed use of the popular Java software application to develop its Android platform.

The landmark case brought by Oracle, which owns Java, drew dozens of outside briefs from Silicon Valley, intellectual property experts and others with a stake in how the court resolves a dispute that could fundamentally reshape the legal contours of the tech industry.

Although the implications of the case are potentially sweeping, and could set a major new precedent regarding the Constitution’s promise to promote scientific innovation, the issues presented to the short-handed court were highly technical.

As the eight justices wrestled with the scope of Oracle’s legal rights over its Java code, they invoked a host of analogies — from a football team that seeks to stop a rival from swiping its playbook, to a chef’s interest in keeping secret the ingredients of a signature dish — as if to place the argument on a more familiar footing.

The tech industry has largely backed Google in this case, with rivals like Microsoft, IBM and Mozilla filing amicus briefs on its behalf. Google argued that ruling in Oracle’s favor would be devastating to developers who have come to rely on the assumption that software interfaces — like the code at issue here — can be reused lawfully.

Read more here.


DEM VOICES INTEL CONCERNS: Rep. Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinRepublicans eye Nashville crack-up to gain House seat Democrats seize on GOP opposition to Jan. 6 commission Hillicon Valley: Democrats urge Facebook to abandon 'Instagram for kids' plan | 'Homework gap' likely to persist after pandemic MORE (D-Mich.) on Wednesday accused Director of National Intelligence John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Five things to know about the new spotlight on UFOs Extraordinary explanations for UFOs look increasingly plausible MORE of politicizing election security intelligence on behalf of President TrumpDonald TrumpMaria Bartiromo defends reporting: 'Keep trashing me, I'll keep telling the truth' The Memo: The center strikes back Republicans eye Nashville crack-up to gain House seat MORE and urged him to take a number of steps to improve transparency.

Slotkin, a former CIA officer and former special assistant to the director of national intelligence, pointed to serious concerns over Ratcliffe’s decision last month to declassify a letter citing unverified Russian intelligence that claimed former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: The center strikes back Democratic clamor grows for select committee on Jan. 6 attack White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine MORE approved a plan to “stir up scandal” against President Trump during her 2016 presidential campaign.

“Recently, you declassified information—which the Intelligence Community cannot corroborate—as part of an apparent effort to undermine the past assessments of nonpolitical career intelligence analysts,” Slotkin wrote in a letter to Ratcliffe on Wednesday. “Press reports indicate that you released this information despite concerns from the leadership of both the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency.”

Slotkin noted that “the uncorroborated claims, which you hastily briefed to Republican Senators on September 29, were subsequently repeated by the President during the first presidential debate in a further attack on the patriotic, hard-working women and men of the Intelligence Community which you lead.”

Ratcliffe and other intelligence officials have been involved in briefing members of Congress in recent months about election threats. One senior official at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence assessed in August that Russia, China, and Iran were actively interfering in U.S. elections. 

Slotkin cited classified information on election security threats in sharply criticizing Ratcliffe and the Intelligence Community for “drawing false equivalency” between threats from the three countries, accusing Ratcliffe of “seeking to bolster a future case by President Trump, if he loses, that Chinese interference caused his loss.”

Read more here.


AMAZON UNDER FIRE: House Democrats on Wednesday called on Amazon to investigate and recall products that are reportedly causing hazardous situations for consumers. 

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyPublic option fades with little outcry from progressives Online school raises new concerns about cyberbullying Progressives nearly tank House Democrats' Capitol security bill MORE (D-Ill.) wrote to Amazon urging an investigation in light of a recent CNN report about AmazonBasics products exploding and starting fires. 

“The new concerns regarding Amazon’s own product line add to mounting questions about Amazon’s priorities and oversight of its sprawling platform,” the Democrats said in the letter

“We call on you to thoroughly investigate this matter, immediately issue recalls of defective products, and take comprehensive corrective action to protect your customers from all dangerous products on your platform, including those from your own private label brands.”


Last month’s report from CNN cited at least 1,500 reviews, covering more than 70 items, that described products exploding, catching on fire, smoking, melting, causing electrical malfunctions or otherwise posing risks, since 2016. 

Pallone and Schakowsky called Amazon’s oversight of its own products “grossly inadequate.”

Read more here.


TIKTOK BAN HEARING SET: A hearing over the Trump administration’s attempt to ban the popular video-sharing app TikTok is set to be held one day after the upcoming presidential election, a federal judge said Tuesday. 

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols said he would hold a hearing on Nov. 4 on whether to allow President Trump’s efforts to overhaul how the Chinese-owned platform operates in the U.S., Reuters reported

Nichols had issued a preliminary junction on Sept. 27 that temporarily blocked the Commerce Department from ordering app stores to remove TikTok, thereby preventing it from being downloaded by new users. 


The November hearing is scheduled just days before the Commerce Department order’s Nov. 12 deadline that would completely ban the use of TikTok in the U.S. if a deal is not reached between the Trump administration and the company. 

Read more here.


Lighter click: Freeloading pups

An op-ed to chew on: Fixing government's trillion-dollar system glitch



Distance learning shows how badly rural America needs broadband (The Verge / Monica Chin)

Leaked: Confidential Amazon memo reveals new software to track unions (Recode / Jason Del Rey and Shirin Ghaffary)

Pregnant Amazon Employees Speak Out About Nightmare at Oklahoma Warehouse (Motherboard / Lauren Kaori Gurley)

QAnon High Priest Was Just Trolling Away as a Citigroup Tech Executive (Bloomberg / William Turton and Joshua Brustein)

Chinese hackers suspected in cyber-espionage operation against Russia, India (CyberScoop / Shannon Vavra and Sean Lyngaas) 

Hackers exploit Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis to spread a different kind of virus (CyberScoop / Tim Starks)