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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

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
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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.

Virtual Event Announcement: America's Agenda: Infrastructure 

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America needed to refresh its aging infrastructure prior to COVID-19. Now, there is added pressure on our existing digital infrastructure as more Americans are working and learning from home full time. How can we bring our physical infrastructure into the future and embrace options for increased safety and security by connecting them to smart, data-informed systems? On Thursday, October 29th at 1:00 PM ET, Reps. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisGOP Rep. Dan Newhouse tests positive for COVID-19 Colorado Democrat Ed Perlmutter tests positive for coronavirus Biden's gain is Democratic baseball's loss with Cedric Richmond MORE and Sam GravesSamuel (Sam) Bruce GravesLawmakers say infrastructure efforts are falling victim to deepening partisan divide The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, Biden blitz battleground states Hillicon Valley: Big Tech hearing the most partisan yet | Rubio warns about foreign election interference | Trump campaign site briefly hacked MORE and Del. Eleanor Holmes NortonEleanor Holmes NortonRecord number of Black women elected to Congress in 2020 Lawmakers say infrastructure efforts are falling victim to deepening partisan divide The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, Biden blitz battleground states MORE join us for "America's Agenda: Infrastructure." RSVP today for event reminders! Learn more here

THE WORST TYPE OF HACKERS: Hospitals and health care institutions preparing for a fall wave of coronavirus cases are bracing for more cyberattacks after hackers seeking to take advantage of the pandemic launched several successful one this year that severely disrupted patient services.

The attacks have been widespread around the world, hitting health care groups during the worst public health crisis in a century. Experts say the attacks have involved both cyber criminal groups and nation states looking to target COVID-19 research and sow chaos.

“I’ve been describing this as a cyber gold rush, the bad guys of all shapes and sizes recognize that there is an opportunity here,” said Marc Rogers, executive director of cybersecurity at software group Okta who also helps lead the COVID-19 CTI League that tracks cyberattacks against health groups.

The organization is made up of around 1,500 professionals in more than 80 countries from sectors including information technology, telecommunications and law enforcement who have volunteered their time to fight cyberattacks and track threats against health care groups and other critical sectors.

“We see everything from emails that have no payload at all, through to complex new malware that has been specifically compiled to go after that target at that time,” Rogers said.

Hackers have targeted governmental organizations such as the World Health Organization and the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as specific hospital chains. Other state-sponsored attacks backed by Russia, China and Iran have gone after groups involved in COVID-19 research.

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A recent attack on Pennsylvania-based hospital chain Universal Health Services temporarily disabled systems in hundreds of hospitals in the U.S., potentially delaying treatment and possibly exposing the data of millions of customers.

Read more here.

DELIVERY FOR… Adam Fry had just started exploring third-party delivery services when the coronavirus pandemic upended the business model for his bar in Northwest Washington, D.C.

Ivy and Coney, a dive bar known for its Detroit and Chicago-style hot dogs, started leaning more heavily on popular delivery app Grubhub once its regular patrons couldn’t safely visit in person. But Fry said that arrangement quickly became untenable.

“Within about a week we saw, based on our revenue, our total profit actually decreasing,” he said in an interview.

Instead of continuing with the app, Fry and fellow Ivy and Coney co-owners Chris Powers and Josh Saltzman decided to launch their own service geared toward D.C. establishments.

The service, DC To-GoGo, offers a mobile app and web-based marketplace for pickup and delivery. It also offers third-party delivery for any restaurant with its fleet of couriers.

“We wanted to model a business which was largely built on number one transparency, number two living wages and number three working within the restaurant ecosystem,” Fry said.

While the dominant food delivery apps have positioned themselves as allies of local restaurants – urging eaters to support independent businesses and touting efforts to keep them afloat amid the pandemic – many restaurant owners have complained about the services and what they view as excessively high commission fees on orders that leave little margin for restaurants to profit.

Read more here.

FACEBOOK REALLY GETS OUT THE VOTE: Facebook on Monday said it has helped an estimated 4.4 million people register to vote across its platforms since launching a voter information initiative over the summer. 

Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergDemocrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff Democrats press Facebook, Twitter on misinformation efforts ahead of Georgia runoff Hillicon Valley: Facebook content moderators demand more workplace protections | Ousted cyber official blasts Giuliani press conference | Tech firms fall short on misinformation targeting Latino vote MORE in June announced the company would launch a voting information center, with the aim of helping 4 million people to register to vote. 

“Today, we hit our goal,” Zuckerberg said in the post published about a week before Election Day. 

“We estimate we've helped 4.4 million people register across our apps — based on conversion rates we calculated from states we've partnered with,” Zuckerberg added. 

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Facebook has been displaying “reliable election information” at the top of its apps for all users of voting age in the U.S., including key deadlines and information on how to vote by mail, Zuckerberg said. 

Facebook’s voting information center included a link for users to register to vote or check their voter registration status. 

The social media giant’s push to include voting information ahead of this year’s elections follows intense scrutiny the company faced over the spread of disinformation on its platform during the last presidential election. 

Read more here.

PRE-BUNKS TO DEBUNK: Twitter on Monday announced that it will start placing messages preemptively debunking common election misinformation at the top of users' feeds.

The first message, which the platform is calling a “pre-bunk,” focuses on the safety and accuracy of mail-in voting.

“With the 2020 US general election approaching on November 3, experts and fact-checkers have continued to assure American voters that voting by mail is a safe and secure option, especially in the middle of a pandemic,” the message reads. “Deadlines and rules vary from state to state, so it is important that voters check with their state and county about how to properly vote by mail if this is the voting method they choose, experts say.”

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The next message, set to go live later this week, will remind users that elections results may be delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The messages will also appear whenever users search for related terms or hashtags.

Read more here.

BAD DAY FOR UBER: Ride-hailing app Uber is being sued over allegations that the company’s rating system for drivers is racially biased, according to a complaint filed Monday in federal court.  

A former driver for Uber, San Diego resident Thomas Liu, alleges that the use of Uber’s passenger star rating system to determine termination had a “disparate impact on him” and other minority drivers. He claims he was “deactivated” as a driver in 2015 when his rating from passengers fell below Uber’s required minimum rating of 4.6.

“While Uber has long attempted to avoid paying its drivers proper wages, based on its misclassification of them as independent contractors, its denial of employment status also affects drivers’ ability to enforce their right to be free of racial discrimination on the job,” Shannon Liss-Riordan, lead attorney for the proposed class, said in a statement.

“Uber’s pattern of exploiting its drivers in the name of the dollar is well documented, and this lawsuit seeks to hold the company accountable for the institutional racism it has embraced and perpetuated,” Liss-Riordan added.

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Uber, however, pushed back on the claims in the “flimsy lawsuit” and questioned the timing of the complaint being filed roughly a week before Election Day, when Proposition 22, a ballot measure that would exempt gig companies from treating workers as employees, is on the ballot in California. 

Read more here.

FACEBOOK MAKES PLANS: Facebook officials are reportedly considering the use of tools developed for so-called at-risk countries in times of political instability during the upcoming U.S. election.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that people familiar with Facebook's decision making told the newspaper that the company could deploy a range of responses, including settings that would stifle the reach of some viral posts or lower the bar for what would constitute dangerous content that should be removed from the platform.

A Facebook spokesperson told the Journal that the company "spent years building for safer, more secure elections," but did not specify what options the company is considering.

“We’ve applied lessons from previous elections, hired experts, and built new teams with experience across different areas to prepare for various scenarios," said the spokesman.

Many of the platform's tools against disinformation and viral misleading political information were developed in countries where content on the platform is thought to have contributed to violence against minority groups, such as in Myanmar, the newspaper noted.

Read more here.

A FEW 5G CONCERNS: The Trump administration is getting pushback from industry groups, both sides of the aisle and even internally about the Pentagon's moves toward a possible 5G network owned and operated by the government. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE's chief of staff, Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump holds his last turkey pardon ceremony Overnight Defense: Pentagon set for tighter virus restrictions as top officials tests positive | Military sees 11th COVID-19 death | House Democrats back Senate language on Confederate base names Trump administration revives talk of action on birthright citizenship MORE, is reportedly leading a pressure campaign for the White House's favored candidate, wireless company Rivada Networks, in its efforts to construct a 5G network, though Rivada says such a network should not be government-owned.

The Pentagon’s deadline for a request for information (RFI) on accelerating spectrum sharing and 5G deployment was Oct. 19, and Rivada, which retains GOP strategist Karl RoveKarl Christian RoveMore conservatives break with Trump over election claims The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Capital One - Pfizer, BioNTech apply for vaccine authorization Trump, attorneys step up efforts to reverse election's outcome MORE as a lobbyist, responded the day before, a spokesperson told The Hill.

Senior administration officials are reportedly alarmed at Meadow's efforts to get the Department of Defense to fast-track the process toward a request for proposal (RFP) on nationalized 5G.

A Pentagon spokesperson said there is no decision yet on an RFP.

“We hope the RFI provides great insight into the art of the possible. Once the RFI submissions are collected we will analyze the concepts and evaluate the potential solutions for feasibility. At this time it is too early to tell if an RFP will follow anytime in the future,” Russell Goemaere told The Hill.

Sources said the wireless industry has been requesting a meeting with Meadows for weeks to discuss 5G and the controversy over the Pentagon RFI. There is suspicion in the industry that an RFP could be released within a matter of days or weeks.

Read more here.

MAN AND WATER ON THE MOON: NASA discovered some water on the sunlit surface of the moon for the first time, raising questions about how water is created and how it persists on the lunar surface, NASA announced Monday. 

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) detected water molecules in Clavius Crater, a large crater visible from Earth, confirming previous observations that there may be water on the sunlit surface of the moon, according to NASA’s announcement. 

“Prior to the SOFIA observations, we knew there was some kind of hydration,” Casey Honniball, the lead author who published the results from her graduate thesis work at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa in Honolulu, said in the announcement. “But we didn’t know how much, if any, was actually water molecules — like we drink every day — or something more like drain cleaner.”

The data from the location revealed water in concentrations of 100 to 412 parts per million, which is roughly equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water, trapped in a cubic meter of soil spread across the lunar surface, NASA said. For comparison, the agency said the Sahara desert has 100 times the amount of water that NASA’s SOFIA detected in the lunar soil.

The discovery, however, raises new questions about how water persists on the airless lunar surface. NASA said it is eager to learn more about the presence of water on the Moon during its upcoming planned Artemis program, which aims to send the first women and next man to the lunar surface in 2024. 

Read more here.



Lighter click: Choose your fighter

An op-ed to chew on: EU data transfer laws might destroy Transatlantic commerce

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Apple, Google and a deal that controls the internet (New York Times / Daisuke Wakabayashi and Jack Nicas)

Surveillance startup used own cameras to harass coworkers (Motherboard / Lauren Kaori Gurley and Joseph Cox)

The people trying to get in Biden's head on holding tech accountable (Axios / Ashley Gold)

Mozilla’s plan to fix social media (at least until Election Day) (Protocol / David Pierce)