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Hillicon Valley: Trump fires top federal cybersecurity official, GOP senators push back | Apple to pay $113 million to resolve fight over batteries | Los Angeles Police ban use of third-party facial recognition software

Hillicon Valley: Trump fires top federal cybersecurity official, GOP senators push back | Apple to pay $113 million to resolve fight over batteries | Los Angeles Police ban use of third-party facial recognition software
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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.

TRUMP FIRES KREBS: President TrumpDonald John TrumpVenezuela judge orders prison time for 6 American oil executives Trump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation MORE ousted Christopher Krebs, the top U.S. cybersecurity official, on Tuesday evening, disagreeing with his statement affirming the security of the 2020 election.

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Trump, who has refused to accept his loss to Democrat Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation US records 2,300 COVID-19 deaths as pandemic rises with holidays MORE in the presidential election earlier this month, said on Twitter that Krebs had been terminated "effective immediately." 

Trump said a recent statement by the cyber chief about the election being secure was “highly inaccurate” and claimed, without evidence, that “there were massive improprieties and fraud — including dead people voting.”

“Poll Watchers not allowed into polling locations, 'glitches' in the voting machines which changed votes from Trump to Biden, late voting, and many more,” the president wrote. 

“Therefore, effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.”

Krebs, a Trump appointee, had served as director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) at the Department of Homeland Security since the agency's establishment in 2018. Krebs previously helmed CISA’s predecessor agency, the National Protection and Programs Directorate.

The Hill and other news outlets reported last week that Krebs expected to be fired by the White House after attracting attention for his efforts to debunk conspiracies about voter fraud and the security of the election. 

Read more here.

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KREBS REMOVAL DRAWS GOP BACKLASH: Several Senate Republicans are pushing back on President Trump's decision to fire Chris Krebs, a top cybersecurity official, in a rare break with the administration.

The reactions from GOP senators, who generally are careful to stick closely to Trump, range from those offering support for Krebs to those openly breaking with Trump's decision to fire him.

"It’s the president’s prerogative but I think it just adds to the confusion and chaos, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that would like some return to a little bit more of a — I don’t even know what’s normal anymore. We’ll call it the next normal," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a close adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said Trump should be “very proud” on the administration’s work on election security and that Krebs had a “major role.”

“I was very disappointed when I found out that he’d been terminated,” Rounds said.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) noted that Krebs's firing was the president’s decision, but called it a “terrible mistake.” 

“I don’t agree with it,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) added. “He’s kept us very well informed, he's been very professional. I've had several meetings with him ... and I'm appreciative of all of his work” 

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), another member of the Intelligence panel, praised Krebs in a statement, adding that he "obviously should not be."

Read more here.

PAY UP: Apple will pay $113 million to settle allegations from a coalition of nearly three dozen states that the company concealed battery issues with its iPhone products to prompt users to buy new devices, state officials announced Wednesday. 

The states, led by the attorneys general of Arkansas, Arizona and Indiana, alleged the tech company discovered battery issues that led to unexpected shutdowns. But, rather than disclosing the issue or replacing batteries, Apple concealed the issue from consumers. 

“Big Tech companies must stop manipulating consumers and tell them the whole truth about their practices and products,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) said in a statement. “I’m committed to holding these goliath technology companies accountable when they conceal important information from users.”

Issues surrounding Apple's throttling efforts drew headlines in 2017 as users discovered some older devices slowed down after they updated to a newer version of Apple’s iOS mobile operating system. 

A complaint filed in Arizona states that Apple’s “unfair and deceptive acts and practices … artificially increased Apple’s iPhone sales, potentially by millions of devices per year.”

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LAPD BANS CONTROVERSIAL FACIAL RECOGNITION APP: The Los Angeles Police Department has reportedly banned the use of third-party commercial facial recognition software after controversial firm Clearview AI came under scrutiny this year amid reports it was working with law enforcement agencies across the country. 

The department, which is the third largest in the nation, issued a moratorium on the use of third-party facial recognition software on Nov. 13, BuzzFeed News reported Tuesday

“It has come to the Department’s attention that a limited number of personnel have accessed commercial facial recognition systems (such as Clearview or other services) for Department business,” Deputy Police Chief John McMahon wrote in a department-wide statement, according to Buzzfeed. 

“Department personnel shall not use third-party commercial facial recognition services or conduct facial recognition searches on behalf of outside agencies,” McMahon added. 

The moratorium reportedly comes after inquiries from BuzzFeed News about the use of Clearview AI by Los Angeles police officers. BuzzFeed News obtained documents that showed more than 25 officers in the department performed nearly 475 searches using Clearview AI earlier this year. 

Read more here.

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CYBER BILLS HEADED TO TRUMP: The Senate this week unanimously passed bipartisan legislation designed to boost the cybersecurity of internet-connected devices.

The Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act would require all internet-connected devices purchased by the federal government — such as computers and mobile devices — to comply with minimum security recommendations issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. 

The bill would require private sector groups providing devices to the federal government to notify agencies if the internet-connected device has a vulnerability that could leave the government open to attacks. 

The legislation, which the Senate advanced on Tuesday, was passed unanimously by the House in September. It now heads to President Trump for a signature.

The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHarris shares Thanksgiving recipe: 'During difficult times I have always turned to cooking' Biden leans on foreign policy establishment to build team Trump relents as GSA informs Biden transition to begin MORE (D-Va.) and Cory GardnerCory GardnerHillicon Valley: Trump fires top federal cybersecurity official, GOP senators push back | Apple to pay 3 million to resolve fight over batteries | Los Angeles Police ban use of third-party facial recognition software Senate passes bill to secure internet-connected devices against cyber vulnerabilities Democrats vent to Schumer over Senate majority failure MORE (R-Colo.), the co-founders of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, who both celebrated its passage. 

“While more and more products and even household appliances today have software functionality and internet connectivity, too few incorporate even basic safeguards and protections, posing a real risk to individual and national security,” Warner said in a statement. 

“I’m proud that Congress was able to come together today to pass this legislation, which will harness the purchasing power of the federal government and incentivize companies to finally secure the devices they create and sell,” he added. “I urge the President to sign this bill into law without delay.”

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Read more here.

PARLER CEO DEFENDS APP: The CEO of conservative-boosted social media app Parler on Tuesday responded to criticism that the platform could spread extreme opinions and misinformation, saying that “people say crazy things all the time” and “it's not against the law to have those opinions.” 

While appearing on Fox News’s “Tucker CarlsonTucker CarlsonEx-Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell files lawsuits in Michigan, Georgia The Memo: Trump election loss roils right More conservatives break with Trump over election claims MORE Tonight,” John Matze responded to questions on why “corporate media is so afraid of what you’re doing.” 

“I always ask them, ‘What do you think of the First Amendment? Do you believe that we should have somebody in New York, let’s say in the middle of Times Square, telling you what you can and cannot say?'” Matze said. “Because that’s what these companies are doing.” 

“I don’t know why they’re so afraid. Maybe it’s because they don’t like that people are getting power again,” he continued. 

Matze later added that "when you go out in public, people say crazy things all the time. Everybody has opinions, and some of them might not be the norm.”

Read more here

APPLE CUTS COMMISSION COSTS: Apple is cutting the commission costs it charges smaller app developers for App Store sales, addressing some frequent complaints about the company's role as a facilitator of online commerce transactions.

On Wednesday, the tech company said that starting next year, it would collect 15 percent rather than 30 percent of App Store sales from third-party companies that generate no more than $1 million in revenue, including sales from in-app purchases, according to a press release.

The move marks a win for small businesses looking to gain a firmer footing in a digital landscape dominated by more massive tech companies, as some critics have argued the previously nonnegotiable 30 percent commission rate was unfairly levied against companies.

Read more here.


Lighter click: Keep Twitter happy :)

An op-ed to chew on: The future of ‘fintech’ is at stake for Biden and the Senate

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

‘Absolute right guy for the job’: New cyber chief takes the reins amid chaos (Politico / Eric Geller) 

Why sexual-abuse survivors are getting sucked into QAnon (Rolling Stone / EJ Dickson)

Inside the behind-the-scenes fight to convince Joe Biden about Silicon Valley (Recode / Theodore Schleifer)

That pig couch on Craigslist? Not for sale. (Also, not a couch.) (New York Times / Kate Conger)