Hillicon Valley: Biden names acting chairs to lead FCC, FTC | Facebook to extend Trump ban pending review | Judge denies request for Amazon to immediately restore Parler

Hillicon Valley: Biden names acting chairs to lead FCC, FTC | Facebook to extend Trump ban pending review | Judge denies request for Amazon to immediately restore Parler
© Greg Nash

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BIDEN TAPS ACTING FCC, FTC CHAIRS: President Biden designated Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel as acting chairs of their respective agencies on Thursday.

FCC Chairman Ajit PaiAjit PaiHuawei wants appeals court to overturn FCC's national security ban Rep. Rodgers outlines GOP 'Big Tech Accountability Platform' Biden's Commerce secretary pick says Section 230 'needs some reform' MORE and FTC Chairman Joseph Simons, both Republicans, had announced plans to step down from their positions later this month. 

“I thank the President for the opportunity to lead an agency with such a vital mission and talented staff. It is a privilege to serve the American people and work on their behalf to expand the reach of communications opportunity in the digital age,” Rosenworcel said in a statement

“The best part of serving at the FTC is working with our incredibly dedicated and talented staff. Their expertise, creativity, and steadfast commitment have filled me with confidence that we will be able to meet the formidable challenges facing our markets and the American people today,” Slaughter said in the announcement

Read more here


FACEBOOK OVERSIGHT ACTIVATED: Facebook’s ban on former President Trump will be extended pending a review by the platform’s independent oversight body.


“We believe our decision was necessary and right,” Nick Clegg, a Facebook vice president, wrote in a blog post Thursday. “Given its significance, we think it is important for the board to review it and reach an independent judgment on whether it should be upheld.”

Facebook’s Oversight Board, which started taking cases in October, will make a decision on the ban in the next 90 days.

Facebook made the decision to temporarily ban Trump on Jan. 7 after posts they deemed to have incited the deadly insurrection on Capitol Hill one day earlier.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the time that the ban would last at least until President Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.

Read more.


PARLER DENIED: A federal judge turned down Parler's request for a court order that would have forced Amazon Web Services to immediately resume hosting the social media platform.

U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Rothstein wrote in the decision that Parler’s claims “at this time are both inaccurate and unsupported.”

Amazon’s decision to drop Parler after the deadly insurrection at the Capitol Jan. 6 left the platform dark until this past Sunday, when a nonfunctional homepage appeared back on the web along with a note from the company’s CEO John Matze saying that a return was “inevitable."

Read more.


PLUS, INVESTIGATION COMING: House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyDOJ declined to take up Chao ethics probe Government watchdog finds federal cybersecurity has 'regressed' in recent years Lawmakers line up behind potential cyber breach notification legislation MORE (D-N.Y.) is requesting that the FBI look into Parler’s role in fomenting the Capitol riot.

In addition, Maloney said Thursday that a broader investigation of websites that may promote violence is forthcoming from her committee.

Parler was rife with posts about storming the Capitol in the run-up to Jan. 6. Some Parler users have been arrested in connection to the insurrection, with their posts being used as evidence.


Read more.


BIG TECH CHEERS BIDEN’S IMMIGRATION ACTION: President Biden took executive action on immigration reform during his first day in office, earning praise from CEOs at some of the biggest U.S. tech companies, including Apple, Twitter and Google. 

The president signed two executive orders — one repealing former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump State Department appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot Intelligence community investigating links between lawmakers, Capitol rioters Michelle Obama slams 'partisan actions' to 'curtail access to ballot box' MORE’s travel ban on majority-Muslim countries and another strengthening the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — and sent a sweeping immigration bill to Congress on Wednesday. 

Although Biden’s immigration executive actions drew a positive response from tech companies, Silicon Valley's relationship with the new administration going forward remains up in the air as Biden has voiced support for repealing Section 230 and antitrust accusations against top tech companies heat up. 

Read more here



CYBER ASSESSMENTS INCOMING: President Biden rolled out a national strategy to address the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, and included a clause requiring the director of national intelligence to assess cyber threats to the vaccine effort. 

“The Director of National Intelligence will lead an assessment of ongoing cyber threats and foreign interference campaigns targeting COVID-19 vaccines and related public health efforts,” the strategy reads. 

“The U.S. Government will take steps to address cyber threats to the fight against COVID-19, including cyber attacks on COVID-19 research, vaccination efforts, the health care systems and the public health infrastructure.”

Read more about the assessment here.


CISA VS. RANSOMWARE: The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is stepping up its efforts to combat ransomware, announcing a new public awareness campaign Thursday focused on protecting K-12 institutions and COVID-19 response groups.

“CISA is committed to working with organizations at all levels to protect their networks from the threat of ransomware,” CISA Acting Director Brandon Wales said in a statement on Thursday. 


“This includes working collaboratively with our public and private sector partners to understand, develop and share timely information about the varied and disruptive ransomware threats,” Wales said. “Anyone can be the victim of ransomware, and so everyone should take steps to protect their systems.”

Read more about the campaign here.


Lighter click: Sweet memories

An op-ed to chew on: A Day One game plan for STEM diversity


Here’s what lawmakers want Biden to do on cybersecurity in his first 100 days (The Washington Post/ Tonya Riley) 

Instacart will lay off almost all its unionized workers (Vice Motherboard / Lauren Kaori Gurley) 

Facebook’s oversight board won’t save it front the Trump ban backlash (Protocol / Issie Lapowsky)