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Hillicon Valley: Director of DHS cyber agency expecting ouster amid other agency departures | Twitter says it labeled 300,000 election-related posts | Coalition of election officials say 'no evidence' any votes were changed

Hillicon Valley: Director of DHS cyber agency expecting ouster amid other agency departures | Twitter says it labeled 300,000 election-related posts | Coalition of election officials say 'no evidence' any votes were changed
© Greg Nash

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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.

 

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TOP CYBER OFFICIAL EXPECTS OUSTER: The top U.S. cybersecurity official, Christopher Krebs, believes he will be fired by the White House, a source involved in cyber policy confirmed to The Hill.

Reuters first reported that Krebs had told associates he expects to be fired, with the outlet citing three unnamed associates.

Krebs has served as the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) since its establishment in 2018, and has been a key leader on issues including election security.

CISA posted a “rumor control” page ahead of the general election in order to combat misinformation and disinformation, which has spiked following the contentious presidential election. The website has rebutted conspiracy theories about voter fraud that have been promoted by some Trump supporters.

Krebs has tweeted out updates to the page over the past week, reportedly drawing concerns from the White House. 

Read more here

 

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ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST: Bryan Ware, a top official at the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), will step down at the end of the week. 

CyberScoop first reported that Ware, who serves as assistant director for cybersecurity at CISA, will leave his position on Friday to move to a private sector position. A CISA source confirmed Ware’s departure to The Hill. 

The CISA source gave no further details about the departure, but Reuters reported that a senior U.S. official said Ware had been asked to resign by the White House earlier this week. 

"I’m very proud of the work that CISA has done this year,” Ware told CyberScoop. “And I think against significant odds, the work we did on [protecting] elections is really a testament to what this agency can do.”

Ware was in charge of efforts to protect and strengthen critical infrastructure against cyber threats, and took over the role after Jeanette Manfra stepped down from the position last year. Ware previously served as the DHS assistant secretary for cyber, infrastructure and resilience policy. 

Read more here

 

TWITTER LABELS THOUSANDS OF POSTS: Twitter said Thursday that it labeled roughly 300,000 posts as containing content that was “disputed and potentially misleading” during a two-week period around the general election.

Those tweets accounted for roughly 0.2 percent of all tweets related to the election in the period spanning Oct. 27 to Nov. 11.

Four-hundred and fifty-six of those 300,000 tweets had interstitial labels placed on them that required users to click through to read the posts.

Roughly 74 percent of users who saw the flagged tweets viewed them after the label was applied, Twitter said.

"These enforcement actions remain part of our continued strategy to add context and limit the spread of misleading information about election processes around the world on Twitter," Vijaya Gadde and Kayvon Beykpour, who respectively lead Twitter's legal and product teams, wrote in a blog post on Thursday.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE’s account was one of the ones hardest hit by Twitter’s labeling.

Between Election Day and Nov. 7 — the day former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Biden transition adds new members to coronavirus task force MORE was projected to win the race — Twitter labeled nearly half of Trump’s election-related tweets.

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STRAIGHTFORWARD SECURITY: A coalition of leading federal and state election officials, along with top voting equipment manufacturers, on Thursday unequivocally stated that there was “no evidence” that any voting system was compromised or votes lost during the recent general election. 

"The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. Right now, across the country, election officials are reviewing and double checking the entire election process prior to finalizing the result,” the executive committee of the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Council said in a joint statement Thursday.

“There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” the officials emphasized. 

The officials — who include Election Assistance Commission Chairman Benjamin Hovland and New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D) — noted that the security of the process was high as states worked to certify vote counts. 

“When states have close elections, many will recount ballots,” the officials said. “All of the states with close results in the 2020 presidential race have paper records of each vote, allowing the ability to go back and count each ballot if necessary. This is an added benefit for security and resilience. This process allows for the identification and correction of any mistakes or errors.”

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UNDERAGED: The Twitter account for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was temporarily deactivated on Thursday over a change in age put in for the account, according to Twitter. 

The content on the account’s page disappeared Thursday afternoon, but it did not appear to be suspended as there was no message indicating so. 

The disappearance of the agency’s account quickly drew online attention, but the account was up and running a few hours later with Twitter confirming the issue was due to a change in ICE’s listed birth date that violated the platform's policy requiring users to be at least 13 years old. 

“Twitter requires people using the service to be 13 years of age or older. If an account’s birthdate is changed to a day/month/year prior to that and our systems identify content posted by the account before they were 13 years old, they will be locked out of the account,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement. 

Read more here. 

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DOMINION DENIES TRUMP CLAIMS: Dominion Voting Systems, a Denver-based company that supplies voting machines across the United States, on Thursday rejected President Trump’s claim that it had "deleted" millions of votes in favor of the president. 

Earlier in the day, the president said on Twitter that Dominion had struck a total of 2.7 million Trump votes from its machines, including 221,000 in Pennsylvania that he claims were instead tallied for now-President-elect Joe Biden

Less than two hours after Trump’s tweet, Dominion shared a statement on Twitter, writing that it “categorically denies any claims about any vote switching or alleged software issues with our voting systems.” 

The tweet also included a link to a Wednesday press release fact-checking claims on voting, including allegations of software issues in states such as Michigan and Georgia. 

Read more here

 

EVERYONE’S A CRITIC: A group of 165 companies and industry bodies are reportedly urging the European Union’s antitrust enforcers to take swift action on Google, accusing the U.S.-based tech giant of giving its own services preferential placement in search results. 

“While we compete amongst ourselves for the best consumer experience, there is one common competitor that does not compete fairly - Google,” the letter from companies based in the U.S., United Kingdom and 21 EU countries states, according to Reuters, which obtained a copy. It was sent to EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager on Thursday. 

“Google gained unjustified advantages through preferentially treating its own services within its general search results pages by displaying various forms of grouped specialised search results (so-called OneBoxes),” the letter added.

The group reportedly includes 135 companies that offer online services, plus 30 industry associations. Signatories include Yelp, Expedia, Trivago, Keloo, Stepstone and Foundem, according to Reuters. 

The group reportedly wrote that the Digital Markets Act, new EU tech rules that would aim to prevent dominant online platforms from favoring their own services, would take too long to come into effect, and urged Vestager to act quickly to ensure that Google gives rivals equal treatment in search results. 

Read more here

 

Lighter click: Congrats to Mac McClung!

An op-ed to chew on: Take my word for it: Privacy and COVID alert apps can coexist

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Cheating-detection companies made millions during the pandemic. Now students are fighting back. (Washington Post / Drew Harwell)

Silicon Valley's blue-collar workers remain on edge months into pandemic (NBC News / Cyrus Farivar)

Under a Biden administration, Big Tech is set for a field day (Baffler / Lizzie O’Shea)

The Internet’s First NBA Draft Nerds (The Ringer / Danny Chau)