Hillicon Valley: Companies urge action at SolarWinds hearing | Facebook lifts Australian news ban | Biden to take action against Russia in 'weeks'

Hillicon Valley: Companies urge action at SolarWinds hearing | Facebook lifts Australian news ban | Biden to take action against Russia in 'weeks'

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 Senate Intelligence Committee today kicked off the first hearing of the week on the fallout from the SolarWinds breach...meanwhile, an update on when President BidenJoe BidenEx-Biden adviser says Birx told him she hoped election turned out 'a certain way' Cheney rips Arizona election audit: 'It is an effort to subvert democracy' News leaders deal with the post-Trump era MORE is expected to respond to Russia's alleged role in the hack.


Facebook lifted its ban on news stories being shared on its platform in Australia and got a message from former President TrumpDonald TrumpEx-DOJ official Rosenstein says he was not aware of subpoena targeting Democrats: report Ex-Biden adviser says Birx told him she hoped election turned out 'a certain way' Cheney rips Arizona election audit: 'It is an effort to subvert democracy' MORE

Meanwhile, this is adorable and pure. 


INTO THE BREACH: In search of transparency after hacks

Top executives from Microsoft and FireEye on Tuesday urged Congress to create mandatory breach reporting requirements for companies following the massive Russian hack of the federal government that extended to the private sector.

“We need to impose a clear, consistent disclosure obligation on the private sector,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in written testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, noting that “silence reigns” when companies are hacked.

FireEye CEO Kevin Mandia, whose company was credited with shining an early light on what has become known as the SolarWinds breach, said there should be a way for companies to report breaches with potential national security ramifications without fear of legal retribution.


“The U.S. government should consider a federal disclosure program for not only sharing threat indicators but for also providing notification of a breach or incident,” Mandia said in written testimony.

Read more about their thoughts here.

Read a preview ahead of the hearing.



The social media company will let users in the country share news again after a late agreement to amend a proposed law compelling online platforms to pay publishers.

The deal will give Facebook more time to negotiate with publishers before being forced into government-run arbitration. 

“After further discussions with the Australian government, we have come to an agreement that will allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers,” Campbell Brown, the company’s head of news partnerships, said in a statement.

The reverse comes less than a week after Facebook cut off news in Australia in advance of the bill’s passage and highlights the Silicon Valley giant’s influence.

Read more.


RUSSIA HAS SOME S'PLAINING TO DO: Biden to respond within 'weeks'

The Biden administration is preparing to take action against Russia following a massive hack of the federal government and the poisoning of a Russian opposition leader and it will happen in “weeks, not months," White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiFive states have yet to administer one dose of vaccine to half their populations Biden has convinced allies 'America is back,' says France's Macron Biden, Macron huddle on sidelines of G7 summit MORE said Tuesday. 

“We have asked the intelligence community to do further work to sharpen the attribution that the previous administration made about precisely how the hack occurred, what the extent of the damage is, and what the scope and scale of the intrusion is, and we are still in the process of working through that now, but it will be weeks not months before we respond,” Psaki told reporters during the daily press briefing.

Psaki’s comments came after she was questioned about a story from The Washington Post, published Tuesday, that reported the Biden administration would soon sanction Russia for what has become known as the SolarWinds hack and for the poisoning of Russian leader Alexei Navalny.

Read more here



Facebook’s Oversight Board received a “user statement” in its case regarding whether to restore former President Trump’s accounts, a spokesperson for the board said Tuesday. 

The spokesperson declined to share further comment on the statement until the board issues its decision, and a spokesperson for Trump wasn't immediately available for comment. 

Trump had slammed Facebook and Twitter over their bans on his account days after he was blocked, calling it “very, very bad for our country.” Twitter has permanently banned the account, but Facebook has left the decision up to the independent Oversight Board made up of former politicians, academics and journalists from around the world. 


Read more here.  


GODADDY INVESTIGATION: The web-hosting company is investigating a report from watchdog group Accountable.US showing GoDaddy providing services to eight groups, including the Oath Keepers and Women for America First, with ties to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

A spokesperson for the company told The Hill that it is looking into those connections, and stressed that using its service to “promote, encourage or engage in violence” violates company policies.

“If content goes beyond the exercise of expression and crosses over to inciting violence, we will take appropriate action,” the spokesperson added.

Read more.



STATE DEPT. IN THE CYBER SPOTLIGHT: A group of bipartisan lawmakers led by House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulSunday shows preview: Biden foreign policy in focus as Dem tensions boil up back home Senate bill would add visas, remove hurdles to program for Afghans who helped US House Democrats press key GOP senator to release hold on aid to Palestinians MORE (R-Texas) will reintroduce legislation Tuesday intended to increase the ability of the State Department to address international cybersecurity cooperation issues. 

The Cyber Diplomacy Act, first introduced in 2017, would require the State Department to open a Bureau of International Cyberspace Policy. The head of the new office would be appointed by the president and given the rank of ambassador. The position would report directly to either the Secretary of State or a deputy. 

The bureau would be tasked with leading the agency’s cybersecurity efforts, including through creating an international strategy to guide efforts by the United States to engage with other nations on cybersecurity issues and set norms on responsible behavior in cyberspace. 

Read more here


FACEBOOK UNDER FIRE: Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are pressing Facebook over its role in allowing the spread of misinformation, as well as seeking details on the tech giant’s internal process to weigh and implement changes designed at remedying polarization on the platform. 

“The Committee is deeply concerned about dangerous and divisive rhetoric thriving on Facebook’s platform and is considering legislation to address these issues. From conspiracy theorists peddling false information to extremist voices urging and organizing violence, Facebook has become a breeding ground for polarization and discord,” the Democrats wrote in a letter

The Congress members are seeking responses from Facebook about its internal studies on divisiveness, and its vetting process for considering recommendations to combat polarization, due just days before Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Advocacy groups target Facebook employees in push to keep Trump off platform | Senior Biden cyber nominees sail through Senate hearing | State Dept. urges Nigeria to reverse Twitter ban Advocacy groups target Facebook employees in push to keep Trump off platform Fauci on Blackburn video: 'No idea what she is talking about' MORE is scheduled to testify before the committee at a hearing about the spread of misinformation. 

Read more here


TESTING, TESTING: The first autonomous cars without a safety driver at the wheel were successfully tested in Las Vegas this month, automotive technology start-up Motional announced Monday. 

The group, a joint venture between Hyundai Motor Group and driving software company Aptiv, unveiled the achievement in a press release, noting that it is one of the world’s first companies to operate driverless vehicles on public roads. 

The firm said that the testing in Las Vegas this month included multiple “driverless vehicles safely navigating intersections, unprotected turns, and interactions with other road users, including pedestrians and cyclists.” 

Read more here


Join The Hill on Thursday, February 25th for Race & Justice Imperative. We'll be joined by a standout lineup of civil rights and social justice leaders to discuss race and racism, the conditions that perpetuate inequality, and why this moment could serve as a catalyst to help us unite and build a better nation. The Hill's Steve Clemons and Marty Johnson sit down with Martin Luther King III, Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersTulsa marks race massacre centennial as US grapples with racial injustice Fauci may have unwittingly made himself a key witness for Trump in 'China Flu' hate-speech case Of inmates and asylums: Today's House Republicans make the John Birchers look quaint MORE, Michael Eric Dyson, Rep. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeHundreds gather at historic Tulsa church to dedicate prayer wall on anniversary of massacre Overnight Defense: Pentagon pitches 5B budget | Kamala Harris addresses US Naval Academy graduates Pentagon pitches 5B budget with cuts to older weapons MORE, Van Jones and more. RSVP today for event reminders. https://raceandjusticeimperative.splashthat.com/ 


Lighter click: So pure

An op-ed to chew on: Cybersecurity and your water: Hacker attempted to poison Florida city's water supply


Life amid the ruins of QAnon: ‘I wanted my family back’ (Washington Post / Greg Jaffe and Jose A. Del Real)

The COVID-19 pandemic has sped up the shift to a digital economy but in many cases the work is poorly paid (Thomson Reuters Foundation / Avi Asher-Schapiro)

Twitter scrubs accounts tied to Russian, Iranian influence operations (CyberScoop / Shannon Vavra)