Overnight Technology

Hillicon Valley: Chip order inbound | Biden asks for more time on WeChat | New IoT bill introduced

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 by clicking HERE.

Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.

The Biden administration took steps to spell out its tech policy Thursday by requesting more time to evaluate the situation with Chinese social media site WeChat and promising to sign an order on semiconductors. In other news, Facebook took (some) action against anti-vaccine activist John F. Kennedy Jr. and Bumble went public.

NOT THAT KIND OF CHIP: Biden to sign EO addressing chip shortage

President Biden will soon sign an executive order to address the shortage of semiconductors, or chips, an issue that industry has recently begged him to take action on. 

“The administration is currently identifying potential chokepoints in the supply chain and actively working alongside key stakeholders in industry and with our trading partners to do more now,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Thursday. “At the same time, we are looking down the road, the long-standing issue with short supply of semiconductors … is one of the central motivations for the executive order the president will sign.”

The announcement comes as multiple industries are facing a crippling shortage of chips, and the same day that a coalition of leading semiconductor groups urged Biden to take action to fund chip research and manufacturing. 

Read more about the upcoming order. 


WECHAT, WE DON’T CHAT: Biden officially asks court to hit pause on ban

The Biden administration asked a court Thursday for more time to evaluate former President Trump’s efforts to ban the Chinese social media site.

“As the Biden Administration has taken office, the Department of Commerce has begun a review of certain recently issued agency actions, including the Secretary’s prohibitions regarding the WeChat mobile application at issue in this appeal,” the administration filing in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reads.

“In relation to those prohibitions, the Department plans to conduct an evaluation of the underlying record justifying those prohibitions.” 

Read more about Biden’s position on the Chinese messaging app.


MY SMARTWATCH WILL THANK YOU: More internet-connected devices?

Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) and John Katko (R-N.Y.) on Thursday introduced legislation intended to allow for growth of the number of internet-connected devices and the expansion of spectrum to meet the expected increased demand. 

The Internet of Things (IoT) Readiness Act would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to collect data on the growth of internet-connected devices that depend on 5G networks in order to quantify the amount of spectrum needed to support the devices. 

The bill was rolled out as usage of IoT devices–which include everything from mobile devices to laptops to kitchen appliances–continues to surge. 

Read more about the legislation. 


BANNED — SORT OF: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. banned from Instagram

Instagram removed the account of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Wednesday over the spread of his anti-vaccine posts, which violated the company’s policies. 

A spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, said the account was removed “for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines.”

But his Facebook page, which also promotes anti-vaccination posts, has not been removed. 

Facebook said it does not automatically remove accounts across all of its platforms when removing pages, but a spokesperson declined to clarify why the posts on Kennedy’s Facebook page did not violate the platform’s policies. 

Read more on the latest tech response to misinformation

And watch our page for more on this tomorrow morning!


MICROSOFT BOOSTS BING: Tech giant urges US to “copy” Australia

Microsoft is looking to boost its search engine Bing as an alternative to Google as Australia weighs a proposal that would require tech giants to pay publishers for news. 

Google and Facebook have pushed back on the proposal, but Microsoft has embraced it and said Bing could step up to take Google’s place if Google follows through with its threat to pull its service from Australia if the proposal is enacted into law. 

Now, Microsoft is looking to influence the U.S. to adopt a similar policy. 

“The United States should not object to a creative Australian proposal that strengthens democracy by requiring tech companies to support a free press. It should copy it instead,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a blog post Thursday. 

Read more on the push to make tech giants pay for news



Much of the video footage presented by House impeachment managers in former President Trump’s Senate trial was downloaded from Parler by an anonymous programmer before the platform went offline.

Amazon Web Services in January pulled its hosting support for Parler, the social media platform favored by many on the far right, amid reports it had been used to coordinate the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The programmer, who downloaded about 30 terabytes of video, told CNN she “had an efficient way to download it all. I knew what was there, but it seemed that nobody else could see the value.”

The programmer, who uses the Twitter name @donk_enby, told the network that she hoped the use of her downloads at Trump’s trial “inspires more people with similar skills to mine to use those skills for good.” She told CNN she is not based in the U.S. and all of the videos were publicly accessible before Parler went offline.

Read more about the videos she downloaded


BUMBLING TO BILLIONS: A new self-made female billionaire

The Bumble dating app on Thursday debuted on Wall Street, catapulting its CEO to billionaire status and making her one of the few self-made female billionaires.

Bumble, the dating app that requires women in heterosexual matches to make the first move, priced its shares at $43 ahead of trading on Thursday — higher than the original $28 to $30 forecast, CNN Business reported. It started trading on Nasdaq under the ticker “BMBL.”

The increase was enough to value CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd’s stake at more than $900 million, boosting her overall wealth to more than $1 billion, according to Bloomberg News

Read more about the Wall Street debut


Lighter click: King of Italian-American nicknames

An op-ed to chew on: How a DNA database can reunite migrant families



‘I Miss My Mom’: Children Of QAnon Believers Are Desperately Trying To Deradicalize Their Own Parents (HuffPost / Jesselyn Cook)

Clubhouse Is Suggesting Users Invite Their Drug Dealers and Therapists (OneZero / Will Oremus) 

This Company Says Its Facial Recognition Could Be Used For Dating (BuzzFeed News / Caroline Haskins, Ryan Mac and Brianna Sacks)

Tags anti-vaccination movement Donald Trump Internet of Things Jen Psaki Joe Biden John Katko Parler Semiconductors Suzan DelBene WeChat

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