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Hillicon Valley: Facebook to remove content denying the Holocaust | Microsoft disrupts international botnet group ahead of Election Day | First day of early voting in Georgia marred by technical problems, long lines

Hillicon Valley: Facebook to remove content denying the Holocaust | Microsoft disrupts international botnet group ahead of Election Day | First day of early voting in Georgia marred by technical problems, long lines
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Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.

NOT UP FOR DEBATE: Facebook on Monday announced that it would remove content denying or distorting the Holocaust from its platform after facing years of pressure on the issue.

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The company will begin directing users that search for terms associated with the Holocaust to credible information from third-party sources later this year.

Facebook has long faced pressure to take action against the bevy of conspiracy theories diminishing or denying the killing of 6 million Jews by Nazis.

Content that praised the Holocaust was previously banned.

"But with rising anti-Semitism, we're expanding our policy to prohibit any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust as well," Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to express openness to Section 230 reform | Facebook removes accounts linked to foreign influence efforts ahead of election | YouTube adding warnings to videos, searches on Election Day Zuckerberg to express openness to Section 230 reform Hillicon Valley: Hospitals brace for more cyberattacks as coronavirus cases rise | Food service groups offer local alternatives to major delivery apps | Facebook says it helped 4.4M people register to vote MORE wrote in blog post on Monday.

Zuckerberg had come under intense scrutiny in 2018 for defending the right of Holocaust deniers to post on his platform.

"I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened. I find that deeply offensive," he told New York Times contributing opinion writer Kara Swisher on a podcast. "But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong."

Read more here.  

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MICROSOFT TAKES AIM: Microsoft on Monday announced it had taken control of networks used by a wide-ranging ransomware group that posed a threat to U.S. elections and other critical infrastructure. 

Tom Burt, Microsoft's corporate vice president of customer security and trust, wrote in a blog post Monday that the company had taken control of a distributed infrastructure used by a group known as “Trickbot” to distribute ransomware viruses. The actions by Microsoft and its telecommunications partners worldwide will prevent the group from launching further attacks. 

An attack on a German hospital that resulted in the death of a woman who was not able to receive life-saving treatment in time was recently attributed to the Ryuk ransomware virus delivered by the Trickbot group. Ryuk malware was also connected to the ransomware attack on Universal Health Services earlier this month that led to computers at all 250 of its U.S. hospital facilities being temporarily negatively affected, according to The Associated Press. 

The Ryuk ransomware virus was also responsible for targeting an IT provider for over 100 nursing homes, a Department of Defense contractor, and the city government of Durham, N.C.

“Trickbot has infected over a million computing devices around the world since late 2016,” Burt wrote. “While the exact identity of the operators is unknown, research suggests they serve both nation-states and criminal networks for a variety of objectives.”

Microsoft was able to disrupt the botnet network with approval from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Burt noted that the action would protect not only elections, where officials have cited concerns over potential ransomware attacks disrupting the voting process, but also critical groups including governmental organizations, health care facilities and financial institutions. 

Trickbot used COVID-19 and other major issues of the day, including the Black Lives Matter protests, to distribute malware through malicious phishing emails.

Read more here. 

ELECTION’S A PEACH: A technical issue with voting infrastructure in Fulton County, Ga., on Monday led to delays on the first day of early voting, with the technical issue eventually being resolved. 

The issue with pollbooks, used to check voters in, was a concern during early voting at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, according to The Associated Press. Fulton County encompasses much of the city. 

“While early voting is going well overall, we are experiencing technical issues at @StateFarmArena that are causing delays in voting at that location,” Fulton County tweeted Monday morning. “We apologize for the inconvenience. Technicians are onsite to help address the issue. Thank you for your patience.”

The county reported around an hour later that voting was again “underway.”

“Fulton County Elections quickly worked to resolve a small technical matter,” county officials tweeted. “The county appreciates the patience [of] all voters choosing to cast their ballot at State Farm.”

Dominion Voting Systems, one of the largest voting equipment manufacturers in the country, was awarded a $107 million contract by the state last year to implement a “verified paper ballot system.” 

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A spokesperson for the company referred The Hill to Fulton County, noting that Dominion “has no involvement in the matter.”

Pollbook issues were also partially to blame for long lines in both Fulton and Dekalb counties during the Georgia primary election in June, along with the consolidation of polling sites due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The primary election was one of the first major tests for the new equipment, which was installed following a 2019 federal ruling that required Georgia to phase out paperless machines by 2020. 

Read more here. 

DEMS DIG IN: Democrats are accusing app-based gig companies including Uber and Lyft of playing dirty in their multimillion-dollar ad campaign supporting a California ballot measure that would allow their drivers to continue to be treated as independent contractors rather than employees.

California state Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D) said Monday that the campaign backing Proposition 22 includes tactics that are “dirtier than I’ve ever seen before,” such buying up “fake groups” that have no actual members and misleading names meant to tie them to progressives such as Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersIntercept bureau chief says congressional progressives looking to become stronger force in 2021 Obama book excerpt: 'Hard to deny my overconfidence' during early health care discussions Americans have a choice: Socialized medicine or health care freedom MORE (I-Vt.). 

“This is historic spending by any side on an initiative, and not historic by California standards; it's historic nationally,” Gonzalez said during a press conference. “When you think about how much these companies put into the initiative process to simply write their own rules, this is a new path that has been chosen by these Silicon Valley billionaire corporations, and it should alarm all of us.”

Sanders on Monday tweeted his personal opposition to Proposition 22, denouncing as dishonest a mailer that backed it under the title “Feel the Bern, Progressive Voter Guide.”

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The mailers, which also back the Democratic presidential ticket, have been showing up in Southern California mailboxes. But the groups named in them, such as “Our Voice, Latino Voter Guide” and the “Council of Concerned Women Voters Guide,” do not exist, SFGate reported.

Read more here. 

WE’LL CIRCLE BACK TO THAT: A global economic watchdog on Monday said talks on how to overhaul taxes on big tech companies will stretch into 2021 after the coronavirus pandemic and “political issues” prevented the group from wrapping up by its end of the year deadline. 

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Tuesday announced a two-pillar proposal to overhaul how big tech companies are taxed. The proposal was approved by a group with participants from 137 countries and jurisdictions. 

The proposal’s first pillar includes a blueprint to establish rules on where taxes should be paid and a way of sharing taxing rights between countries. The second pillar proposes establishing a global minimum tax for tech companies. 

The plan will be presented to Group of 20 finance ministers next week with the goal of putting the plan in place by the middle of next year if an agreement is reached, said Angel Gurria, the OECD’s secretary-general. 

Gurria, during a press conference from Paris, cited difficulties that arose from the coronavirus pandemic, including restrictions on in-person meetings, as well as “political issues” for the delay in the plan which OECD had previously said would be done before the end of 2020. 

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The Trump administration reportedly pulled out of negotiations in June and threatened to impose tariffs on imports from countries that impose the taxes.

Read more here. 

Lighter click: Wasp water

An op-ed to chew on: The US presidential election is under attack 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Why Facebook Can’t Fix Itself (New Yorker / Andrew Marantz)

Mark Zuckerberg is spending millions like never before to overhaul a landmark law (Recode / Theodore Schleifer)

Facebook Workers Sign Petition Demanding Hazard Pay for Content Moderators Who Have to Go Back to the Office (Motherboard / Lauren Kaori Gurley)

On Tiktok, Men Aren’t The Only Skating Superstars (The Verge / Julia Alexander)