Hillicon Valley: Senate confirms Biden Commerce secretary pick Gina Raimondo | Wray hints at federal response to SolarWinds hack | Virginia governor signs comprehensive data privacy law

Hillicon Valley: Senate confirms Biden Commerce secretary pick Gina Raimondo | Wray hints at federal response to SolarWinds hack | Virginia governor signs comprehensive data privacy law
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Former Rhode Island Gov. Gina RaimondoGina RaimondoHillicon Valley: Intel leaders push for breach notification law | Coinbase goes public House Republicans raise concerns about new Chinese tech companies The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden meets with bipartisan lawmakers for infrastructure negotiations MORE (D) was confirmed by the Senate as Commerce Secretary today, weeks after her nomination was blocked over her potential stance on Chinese telecom giant Huawei. The planned federal response to the SolarWinds hack was in the spotlight again, with both the FBI director and the Biden administration hinting at upcoming steps against Russia. And Virginia became the second U.S. state Tuesday to have a comprehensive data privacy law, following on the heels of California. 


COMMERCE SECRETARY CONFIRMED: The Senate confirmed Gina Raimondo as Commerce secretary on Tuesday in an 84-15 vote despite early GOP efforts to block her nomination.

Raimondo, who has served as governor of Rhode Island since 2015, faced pushback as a nominee from Republicans over her comments about keeping Chinese telecom giant Huawei on the Commerce Department’s “entity list.”

Huawei was placed on the entity list, which effectively blacklists the company, by the Trump administration over concerns it posed an espionage threat due to ties to the Chinese government.

During her confirmation hearing, Raimondo said she would review the policy and consult with lawmakers, allies and industry experts, but she did not specifically commit to keeping the company on the list.

The potential decision to remove Huawei from the blacklist, though, would not solely be up to Raimondo as secretary, as Don Morrissey, Huawei’s head of congressional, state and local government affairs, told The Hill last week.

Read more about Raimondo’s confirmation

HINT, HINT RUSSIA: FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday hinted at the planned federal response to what has become known as the SolarWinds hack, stressing that confronting foreign attacks in cyberspace would be “a long, hard slog.”


During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Wray was questioned about how to respond to the breach, which involved likely Russian hackers targeting software from IT group SolarWinds and other vectors to infiltrate at least nine federal agencies and 100 private sector groups. 

“Discussing the response in any detail is probably something that would be better done in a classified setting,” Wray said in response to a question from committee Chairman Dick DurbinDick DurbinSchumer warns Democrats can't let GOP block expansive agenda Holder, Yates lead letter backing Biden pick for Civil Rights Division at DOJ Biden's gun control push poses danger for midterms MORE (D-Ill.). “That by itself might give you a little bit of a hint, but what we have found, speaking more generally, over the last couple of years in the cyber arena in particular is that we are at our most effective when we have joint sequenced operations.”

Read more about Wray’s comments here.

The FBI director’s testimony came as the Biden administration is weighing how to respond to the SolarWinds hack, and also the same day the administration announced sanctions against Russia for the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. 

An administration official told reporters Tuesday morning that “in the coming weeks” there would be “more to come” in terms of actions to push back against Russia for the SolarWinds hack. 

Read more about the sanctions here. 

Wray was also questioned on the FBI’s use of geolocation data to track rioters during the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. 

Read about his comments on location data here. 

IT’S OFFICIAL: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed the Consumer Data Protection Act on Tuesday, making Virginia the second state in the U.S. to pass a comprehensive data privacy law. 

The bill will give consumers the right to opt out of having their personal data processed for targeted advertising and the right to confirm if their data is being processed. 

Virginia’s law which takes effect in 2023,  follows in the footsteps of a privacy bill California passed in 2018. California expanded on its law in November through a ballot measure. 

Other states, including Washington, Utah and Oklahoma, are also considering data privacy proposals

Read more about Virginia’s bill

BAD REPORT CARD: Federal cybersecurity has "regressed" since 2019 due to factors including the lack of centralized cyber leadership at the White House, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report released Tuesday. 


The watchdog agency included boosting federal cybersecurity as a key issue in its “high risk" report to Congress, which outlines a wide array of areas where the federal government is both succeeding and falling behind. 

“Federal agencies and other entities need to take urgent actions to implement a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy, perform effective oversight, secure federal systems, and protect cyber critical infrastructure, privacy, and sensitive data,” GAO wrote. 

The report was the subject of two hearings in the House and Senate on Tuesday. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro testified during both hearings, and stressed the need for the Biden administration to fill the position of national cyber director, created by the most recent National Defense Authorization Act. 

Read more about the report here. 

ZOOM’S BOOM: Zoom reported a massive revenue increase in the latest fiscal year after the COVID-19 pandemic struck, spurring workers, students, lawmakers and others to use the online platform. 

The video communication company documented a $2.65 billion revenue during the 2021 fiscal year, amounting to a 326 percent increase from the previous fiscal year. In the fourth quarter alone, revenue jumped by 369 percent to $882.5 million. 

“We are humbled by our role as a trusted partner and an engine for the modern work-from-anywhere environment. Our ability to rapidly respond and execute drove strong financial results throughout the year,” Eric Yuan, Zoom’s founder and chief executive officer, said in the statement.


Read more here

REDESIGN: Amazon has once again changed the design of its app icon after receiving backlash over a previous version, with some consumers saying it resembled Adolf Hitler's mustache.

In January, the tech giant rolled out its new mobile icon, meant to resemble the company's cardboard box and tape packaging, Business Insider reported on Tuesday. The new design replaced Amazon's long-standing icon, a shopping cart on a white background.

The revamped icon drew criticism as soon as it debuted in January, however. It bore Amazon's iconic smiling arrow but featured a jagged-edged drop-down flag atop it, meant to represent ripped packaging tape. Put together, the image bore a resemblance to Hitler, users alleged.

Read more about the new design here. 

Lighter click: Welcome back to March

An op-ed to chew on: Can anyone keep hackers out? Nope, and that's not a problem



Apple and Google lobbyists are swarming Arizona over a bill that would reform the app store (Protocol/ Emily Birnbaum) 

Colleges that require virus-screening tech struggle to say whether it works (The New York Times / Natasha Singer and Kellen Browning) 

Microsoft warns of state-sponsored Chinese hackers exploiting multiple zero-days (CyberScoop / Sean Lyngaas) 

When U.S. blamed Saudi crown prince for role in Khashoggi killings, fake Twitter accounts went to war (The Washington Post / Craig Timberg and Sarah Dadouch)