Hillicon Valley: Biden signs order on chips | Hearing on media misinformation | Facebook's deal with Australia | CIA nominee on SolarWinds

Hillicon Valley: Biden signs order on chips | Hearing on media misinformation | Facebook's deal with Australia | CIA nominee on SolarWinds
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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 by clicking HERE. 

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

President BidenJoe BidenFirst lady leaves Walter Reed after foot procedure Biden backs effort to include immigration in budget package MyPillow CEO to pull ads from Fox News MORE on Wednesday signed an executive order to improve supply chains for critical materials, including chips. Biden’s CIA director nominee William BurnsWilliam BurnsHavana Syndrome: Is it safe to serve? CIA watchdog to review handling of 'Havana syndrome' cases The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi considers adding GOP voices to Jan. 6 panel MORE told senators that pushing back against China would be a major priority if confirmed, and that the CIA would enhance its cybersecurity. Plus, House Energy and Commerce Committee members debated concerns over misinformation in the media. Take a moment.




CHIPS INCOMING: Biden signs executive order to boost semiconductor supply chains

President Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order meant to improve the supply chains of critical materials, including semiconductors, or chips. 

The order requires a 100-day review of the supply chains for chips, large-capacity batteries used in electric vehicles, pharmaceuticals, and rare Earth minerals, along with sector-specific reviews over the next years in areas including defense, transportation and information technology.

Biden signed the order after meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers from the House and Senate on Wednesday, and amid efforts by Senate Majority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerAn August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done Biden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Schumer's moment to transform transit and deepen democracy MORE (D-N.Y.) to roll out bipartisan legislation to address competition with China on emerging technologies.

Read more about Wednesday’s actions around the executive order here.




A letter sent by two Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce hearing took center stage at a committee hearing Wednesday over disinformation in the media. 

Reps. Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooHouse committee approves slate of bills to improve telecom security Hillicon Valley: House advances six bills targeting Big Tech after overnight slugfest | Google to delay cookie phase out until 2023 | Appeals court rules against Baltimore Police Department aerial surveillance program House lawmakers introduce bill to increase American awareness of cyber threats MORE (D-Calif.) and Jerry McNerneyGerlad (Jerry) Mark McNerneyHouse passes host of bills to strengthen cybersecurity in wake of attacks In defense of misinformation House Democrats want to silence opposing views, not 'fake news' MORE (D-Calif.) sent a letter to cable and streaming companies on Monday questioning their decisions to host certain news networks. The letter linked content aired on certain channels to the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

The letter drew quick backlash from Republicans, including ranking committee member Rep. Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersLatina lawmakers discuss efforts to increase representation CDC backtracks with new mask guidance CDC: Vaccinated people should now wear masks in high transmission areas MORE (R-Wash.) who cast it as an effort to pressure the companies to block the right-leaning outlets. 

Eshoo dismissed the criticism, noting that the letter simply asks companies to respond with detailed answers over their decisions on offering certain channels. 

“I’d like this to be understood, the idea that members asking questions violates the First Amendment is absolutely absurd. It's our job to ask questions,” Eshoo said. 

Read more about the hearing here. 


FACEBOOK v. AUSTRALIA: News tussle has viewers all over the world

Regulators are closely watching Australia’s efforts to compel the world’s biggest digital platforms to pay publishers for news.

Canada is weighing a similar tax on links, while France has used copyright laws to charge Google for including news snippets in search results.

Lawmakers in the U.S. are also evaluating how to stem the loss of media funding and the dominance of Facebook and Google in the digital ad market.

“The bottom line is that Facebook and Google need to give way more money to news outlets,” Columbia University’s Anya Schiffrin told The Hill. “It doesn’t really matter whether it’s through copyright like France is doing or paying for links like Australia is doing.”

Read more on the tussle. 


CYBER SPIES: CIA director nominee to push back on China, Russia

William Burns, President Biden’s pick to lead the CIA, promised Wednesday to push back against both China and Russia if confirmed, zeroing in on the fallout from what has become known as the SolarWinds breach. 

"While Russia may be in many ways a declining power it can be at least as disruptive under Putin's leadership as rising powers like China," he said during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee. 

With the SolarWinds hack putting cybersecurity concerns in the spotlight, Burns also committed to strengthening the CIA’s cyber capabilities and training, along with increasing efforts to attribute cyberattacks to specific nations and enhancing cyber partnerships with foreign allies.

“The SolarWinds attack was a very harsh wake-up call,” Burns testified. “I think it’s essential for the CIA in particular to work even harder to develop our capabilities to help detect these kinds of attacks when they come from external players from foreign players.”


Burns discussed a range of other issues he may face if confirmed, pledging to “speak truth to power.”

Read more about the nomination hearing here. 


CALIFORNIA NET NEUTRAL: A federal judge ruled against granting a preliminary injunction, meaning that the state will be able to enforce its net neutrality rules since they were passed in 2018.

California passed the stringent regulations in 2018 after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rolled back the Obama-era rule prohibiting service providers from selectively discriminating against online traffic.

The rules finally being enforced in California may put pressure on the Biden administration to move on the issue, although with a 2-2 deadlocked FCC it may be difficult.

Read more.



ANOTHER HURDLE CLEARED: Australia’s legislation that would require tech giants to pay publishers for news content crossed another hurdle on Wednesday, with the upper chamber of the Parliament passing the legislation with amendments made after negotiations with Facebook. 

The Australian Senate passed the legislation with the social media platform’s amendments late Wednesday, and the bill will now head back to the House of Representatives, which had already passed the unamended version, The Wall Street Journal reported. The lower chamber could vote on the legislation as early as Thursday, according to the Journal.

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 WatersBipartisan bill will help level the playing field for small businesses Republicans hammer HUD chief over sluggish rental aid Key GOP lawmaker backs Powell for another term as Fed chief MORE, Michael Eric Dyson, Rep. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeHouse passes sprawling spending bill ahead of fall shutdown fight House passes spending bill to boost Capitol Police and Hill staffer pay Democrats repeal prohibition on funding abortions abroad MORE, Van Jones and more. RSVP today for event reminders. https://raceandjusticeimperative.splashthat.com/ 


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Amazon Sends ‘Vote NO’ Instructions to Unionizing Employees, Tells Them to Use New Mailbox (Motherboard / Lauren Kaori Gurley) 

Sheryl Sandberg and Top Facebook Execs Silenced an Enemy of Turkey to Prevent a Hit to the Company’s Business (ProPublica / Jack Gillum and Justin Elliott)  

Hackers tied to Russia’s GRU targeted the US grid for years, researchers warn (Wired / Andy Greenberg) 

Mobile phishing against government surged with pandemic telework (StateScoop / Benjamin Freed)