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Hillicon Valley: Fallout from Reddit-driven stock rallies, GameStop purchase ban continues | Lawmakers grill NSA on years-old breach in the wake of massive Russian hack | Facebook reportedly considering antitrust lawsuit against Apple

Hillicon Valley: Fallout from Reddit-driven stock rallies, GameStop purchase ban continues | Lawmakers grill NSA on years-old breach in the wake of massive Russian hack | Facebook reportedly considering antitrust lawsuit against Apple
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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.

 

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SEC TO INVESTIGATE: The impact of the skyrocketing shares of GameStop fueled by online discussions on Reddit continued to snowball on Friday, with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) saying it will investigate why certain online trading platforms blocked users from purchasing highly volatile stocks and if illegal market manipulation spurred the recent surge in stocks such as GameStop.

In a statement, the agency said it was “closely monitoring and evaluating the extreme price volatility of certain stocks’ trading prices over the past several days” and would “review actions taken by regulated entities that may disadvantage investors or otherwise unduly inhibit their ability to trade certain securities.”

Read more about the SEC’s announcement here

REMOVING REVIEWS: In response to Robinhood’s decision decision to block users from buying or trading stocks that were popular on a Reddit subforum, users on Reddit pushed for a campaign to leave one-star reviews of the app leading to an influx of negative reviews of the it in the Google Play store. 

Google removed at least 100,000 negative reviews of the app from its store, The Verge and Gizmodo reported

A spokesperson for Google confirmed to The Hill that the company took action on reviews found to be inauthentic or in violation of the company’s policy. 

Read more here

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LAWYERING UP: Amid mounting scrutiny over the decision to stop trading GameStop and other companies whose stock skyrocketed this week, Robinhood is hiring to bulk up its lobbying portfolio. 

Robinhood posted a job listing for an in-house lobbyist on Friday.

The day-to-day description for the federal affairs manager role prioritized working on federal government relations with a primary focus on Congress, as well as facilitating participation in industry associations and navigating policy. 

Read more here

 

IT’S HAPPENED BEFORE: A group of Democratic lawmakers led by Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenGOP senator: Raising corporate taxes is a 'non-starter' Democrats get good news from IRS IRS chief warns of unpaid taxes hitting trillion MORE (D-Ore.) and Cory BookerCory BookerProgressive lawmakers press DHS chief on immigration detention Democrats battle over best path for Puerto Rico Biden's DOJ civil rights nominee faces sharp GOP criticism MORE (D-N.J.) this week grilled the National Security Agency (NSA) over its investigation into a years-old breach that bears striking similarities to the recent hack of IT group SolarWinds. 

The lawmakers, including a group of House Democrats, sent a letter to the NSA asking questions around the Juniper Networks breach, first discovered in 2015, that involved hackers infiltrating an NSA algorithm used by the company to send malicious code to customers in software updates.

The incident is similar to the SolarWinds breach, with federal authorities believing that Russian hackers infiltrated software updates from the company to gain access to up to 18,000 customers for over a year. These customers included the Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, and Treasury departments, among other federal agencies.

Read more here.

 

FACEBOOK VS. APPLE: Facebook is reportedly considering a lawsuit against Apple as tensions escalate between the two Silicon Valley Giants. 

Facebook has been preparing an antitrust lawsuit against Apple that would allege the company abused its market power by forcing app developers to follow App Store rules that Apple's own apps do not have to follow, The Information first reported Thursday, citing unnamed sources. The New York Times also reported that Facebook is contemplating the lawsuit.

A spokesperson for Facebook said the company will not comment on “suit speculation,” but doubled down on accusations that Apple is behaving anti-competitively amid the impending launch of the app tracking feature. 

The CEOs of the two companies ramped up attacks leveled against each other this week, focused largely on Apple’s impending launch of an App Tracking Transparency feature that will limit the reach of targeted ads.

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Read more here

 

FACEBOOK’S NEW AD TOOL: Facebook is developing a feature that will let advertisers select topics to avoid having their ads appear next to on the platform’s News Feed. 

The new “topic exclusion controls” will be tested with a small group of advertisers in the early stages, Facebook said in a Friday announcement. 

“These controls will help to address concerns advertisers have of their ads appearing in News Feed next to certain topics based on their brand suitability preferences,” Facebook said.

Read more here

 

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EXPANDING GREEN TECH: Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle Thursday said the U.S. is in a strong position to use technology to help protect the environment, and highlighted the domestic and international opportunities for the industry.

“To use the knowledge we have, the tools that we have to advance our humanity in a way in which we protect our planet, we provide opportunities for everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, background or station of life ... to be able to grab hold of an economy that will expand and be sustainable for generations to come,” Rep. Yvette ClarkeYvette Diane ClarkeHillicon Valley: Twitter will not allow Trump account archive on platform | Commerce Dept. still weighing approach to Huawei, TikTok | Dating apps work to reinvent amid COVID-19 pandemic Key House leader to press for inclusion of cybersecurity in infrastructure bill Biden risks first major fight with progressives MORE (D-N.Y.) said at The Hill’s “Responsible Innovation: Protecting Our Planet with Technology” event.

Read more here

 

Lighter click:  The other Robin Hood

An op-ed to chew on: Six priorities to revitalize national intelligence

 

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NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

Keith Gill drove the GameStop Reddit mania (The Wall Street Journal / Julia-Ambra Verlaine and Gunjan Banerji)

Trump taught teachers conspiracy theories. Now they’re teaching them to students. (BuzzFeed News / Julia Reinstein)

The misfits shaking Wall Street (The New York Times / Taylor Lorenz and Mike Isaac)