Hillicon Valley: Biden proposes big cyber investment | Facebook struggles with 'Stop the Steal' content | Google-Fitbit deal consummated

Hillicon Valley: Biden proposes big cyber investment | Facebook struggles with 'Stop the Steal' content | Google-Fitbit deal consummated
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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.

CYBERSECURITY’S NEW PRESIDENTIAL ADVOCATE: President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Senators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Overnight Defense: New Senate Armed Services chairman talks Pentagon policy nominee, Afghanistan, more | Biden reads report on Khashoggi killing | Austin stresses vaccine safety in new video MORE made clear Thursday that cybersecurity will be a major focus for his administration, proposing more than $10 billion in cyber and IT funding as part of his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan.


If approved by Congress, the plan would give the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the General Services Administration $9 billion to invest in launching new IT and cybersecurity shared services, while also carving out funds for hiring technology experts and improving incident response.

The proposed funds come as the government continues to grapple with the fallout from the Russian hack of IT company SolarWinds, which counted the majority of federal agencies and U.S. Fortune 500 companies as customers. 

Read more here.

MORE ELECTION MISINFO ON FACEBOOK: Facebook said it would remove content with the phrase “Stop the Steal” earlier this week, but 90 groups without the phrase but similarly promoting debunked claims of election fraud are still up, according to an analysis released Thursday by nonprofit advocacy group Avaaz. 

Avaaz said the 90 groups had 166,000 total members. While the groups did not contain “stop the steal” in their names, they similarly “aggressively promoted debunked claims of voter fraud and election rigging.” 

Some of the content promoted in the groups includes further calls to mobilize, according to Avaaz. 

Read more here.


DORSEY SPEAKS OUT: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Wednesday discussed the platform’s decision to permanently suspend President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Georgia secretary of state withholds support for 'reactionary' GOP voting bills MORE’s account last week for violating it policies.

In a lengthy Twitter thread on Wednesday, Dorsey said the company “faced an extraordinary and untenable circumstance, forcing us to focus all of our actions on public safety. Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all.”

Dorsey recognized, however, that having to ban an account has “real and significant ramifications,” adding that doing so is a “failure of ours ultimately to promote healthy conversation. And a time for us to reflect on our operations and the environment around us.”

Read more here

GOOGLE-FITBIT REALITY: The long anticipated merger between Google and Fitbit was deemed complete Thursday despite lingering concerns from regulators in the U.S. and Australia.

The deal gives Google a new strong foothold in the health wearables market. Critics worry that it will also give Google access to a fresh trove of sensitive user data.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) continues to investigate the acquisition.

Although Google did not need consent from the DOJ to complete the deal, the merger could be unwound if the department determines down the line that it violates antitrust law.

Read more.

DIGITAL COVID PASSPORT IN THE WORKS: A coalition of health and technology organizations, including Microsoft, Oracle and the Mayo Clinic, are working to develop a digital COVID-19 vaccination passport to allow businesses, airlines and countries to check if people have received the vaccine.

The Vaccination Credential Initiative, announced on Thursday, is formulating technology to confirm vaccinations in the likelihood that some governments will mandate people provide proof of their shots in order to enter the nation.

The organization hopes the technology will allow people to "demonstrate their health status to safely return to travel, work, school and life while protecting their data privacy."

Read more here

BE PREPARED: Christopher Krebs, the nation’s former top cybersecurity official, strongly urged critical infrastructure owners and operators to anticipate and be prepared for targeting ahead of Inauguration Day.


Krebs, who was fired from his position as director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency by President Trump in November, pointed to concerns over the storming of the Capitol last week and the recent bombing in Nashville, which took out an AT&T center, in expressing concerns around the targeting of critical infrastructure. 

“Look at Nashville, look what was accomplished there with the disruption of services, those are the sorts of things — that every systemically important infrastructure owner, operator, CEO needs to be assembling their crisis management teams yesterday,” Krebs said during an interview on CNN.

Read more here.

AMAZON E-BOOK BUSINESS FACES ANTITRUST PROBE: Amazon is facing another antitrust investigation, this time from Connecticut over the e-commerce giant’s distribution of e-books. 

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong (D) said in a statement his office has “an active and ongoing antitrust investigation into Amazon regarding potentially anti competitive terms in their e-book distribution with publishers.” 

“Our office continues to aggressively monitor this market to protect fair competition for consumers, authors, and other e-book retailers,” Tong said in the statement. 

Read more here


Lighter click: Never enough

An op-ed to chew on: The long game: Why the US must rethink its cyber strategy


How Facebook Incubated the Insurrection (New York Times Opinion / Stuart A. Thompson and Charlie Warzel)

Nextdoor moderators scramble to address QAnon after Capitol attack (The Verge / Makena Kelly)

MeWe Sold Itself on Privacy. Then the Radical Right Arrived. (OneZero / Sarah Emerson)

Google says it’s fighting election lies, but its programmatic ads are funding them (Protocol / Issie Lapowsky)