Hillicon Valley: YouTube to restore Trump's account | House-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference | Senators introduce legislation to create international tech partnerships

Hillicon Valley: YouTube to restore Trump's account | House-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference | Senators introduce legislation to create international tech partnerships
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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.

YouTube’s CEO on Thursday teased a return to the platform by former President TrumpDonald TrumpHouse votes to condemn Chinese government over Hong Kong Former Vice President Walter Mondale dies at age 93 White House readies for Chauvin verdict MORE if certain conditions are met. The House approved legislation late Wednesday night that would create a range of cybersecurity improvements for elections, but the bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate. And a bipartisan group of senators unveiled legislation intended to foster U.S. partnership with other democratic nations on emerging technologies in order to compete with China. 



TRUMP’S YOUTUBE CHANNEL WILL RETURN: YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said Thursday that former President Trump’s account on the platform will be reinstated "when we determine that the risk of violence has decreased."

Trump's YouTube account was suspended a week after the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

“I do want to confirm that we will lift the suspension of the channel," Wojcicki said at an event hosted by the Atlantic Council.

“It’s pretty clear that right now where we stand that there still is that elevated risk of violence."

YouTube on Jan. 12 suspended Trump’s account for a week over uploading a video that the company said violated platform policies.

It chose later to indefinitely extend the ban over continued concerns about violence.


Read more.


ELECTION SECURITY GETS A BOOST: A sweeping elections bill passed by the House on Wednesday night would boost cybersecurity measures and focus on countering foreign interference efforts like the kind that affected the 2016 and 2018 elections.

The bill, which the House passed on a mostly party-line vote of 220-210, marks a major effort by Democrats to tackle both voting reforms such as increasing access to the polls through use of mail-in ballots, and cybersecurity upgrades.

Among issues included in H.R. 1 is a requirement that states use voter-verified paper ballots as part of the election process, a move supporters have pointed to as a vital safety net to check votes in the event of election tampering.

The legislation also calls for the president to create a national strategy to defend democracy, and included bipartisan amendments spearheaded by Reps. Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerLawmakers say companies need to play key role in sustainability On The Money: Weekly jobless claims fall to lowest level since lockdowns | Retail sales surge in March | Dow, S&P hit new records Democrats brace for new 'defund the police' attacks MORE (D-Va.) and Jim LangevinJames (Jim) R. LangevinBipartisan lawmakers signal support for Biden cybersecurity picks Hillicon Valley: Grid security funding not included in Biden's infrastructure plan | Russia fines Twitter | Lawmakers call for increased school cybersecurity Lawmakers urge Education Department to take action to defend schools from cyber threats MORE (D-R.I.) intended to shore up election security even further. 

Read more about the bill here.


COME TOGETHER, RIGHT NOW, OVER CHINA: Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerManchin throws support behind union-backed PRO Act New US sanctions further chill Biden-Putin relations Democrats brace for new 'defund the police' attacks MORE (D-Va.) and a coalition of bipartisan senators on Thursday introduced legislation intended to help the U.S. create international partnerships on emerging technologies in order to better compete with China. 

The Democracy Technology Partnership Act would create an interagency office at the State Department tasked with coordinating partnerships among the U.S. and other democratic countries to promote research and set standards around emerging technologies such as quantum computing, artificial intelligence, 5G and semiconductors. 

The legislation is meant to help the U.S. and other democratic nations compete with China, and is cosponsored by bipartisan leaders including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBiden rebuffs Democrats, keeps refugee admissions at 15,000 Bottom line The Memo: Biden's five biggest foreign policy challenges MORE (D-N.J.), Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck Schumer'Real Housewives of the GOP' — Wannabe reality show narcissists commandeer the party 'Building Back Better' requires a new approach to US science and technology Pew poll: 50 percent approve of Democrats in Congress MORE (D-N.Y.), and Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Marco RubioMarco Antonio Rubio15 Senate Republicans pledge to oppose lifting earmark ban Parade of 2024 GOP hopefuls court House conservatives Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference MORE (R-Fla.). 

Read more about the new legislation here.


FACEBOOK’S MOST ENGAGING CONTENT: Content posted from news outlets rated as far-right received the highest levels of engagement on Facebook in the months surrounding the 2020 elections, according to a new study released by New York University.


Moreover, researchers found that among far-right outlets, sources identified as spreading misinformation had on average 65 percent more engagement per follower than other far-right pages.

Far-right sources were also the only group that didn’t suffer what the researchers deemed a “misinformation penalty,” with the sources of misinformation from far-right outlets outperforming far-right pages that were not identified as sources of misinformation.

The study comes as Facebook and other tech giants are under increased scrutiny over their handling of misinformation. 

Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Apple approves Parler's return to App Store | White House scales back response to SolarWinds, Microsoft incidents | Pressure mounts on DHS over relationship with Clearview AI Facebook unveils new audio features Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference MORE is scheduled to appear alongside other top tech CEOs before the House Energy and Commerce Committee later this month. 

Read more about the study.  


FEDERAL FUNDS (POSSIBLY) INCOMING: The Senate included close to $2 billion for federal cybersecurity and technology modernization programs in its version of President Biden’s proposed COVID-19 relief package.


The funds fall short of the more than $10 billion originally proposed by Biden in his American Rescue Plan, but far more than the House included in the version it approved along party lines earlier this week. The House stripped out Biden’s proposed funds for these areas.

The Senate included $1 billion for the General Service Administration’s Technology Modernization Fund, a fraction of Biden’s originally proposed $9 billion for the fund, which is intended to help the federal government launch new cyber and information technology programs. 

The Senate also included $650 million to help the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) increase its risk mitigation services. While this was less than the $690 million Biden has proposed for CISA, the Senate did include the $200 million Biden proposed for the U.S. Digital Service.

Read more about the funds here.


PEOPLE-SEARCH INQUIRY: Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharJimmy Carter remembers Mondale as 'best vice president in our country's history' Hillicon Valley: Apple approves Parler's return to App Store | White House scales back response to SolarWinds, Microsoft incidents | Pressure mounts on DHS over relationship with Clearview AI Democrats push Twitter, Facebook to remove vaccine 'disinformation dozen' MORE (D-Minn.) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump: GOP candidates need to embrace 'make America great' agenda if they want to win Republicans who backed Trump impeachment see fundraising boost Moderates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats MORE (R-Alaska) are teaming up to pressure regulators to protect survivors of domestic abuse by addressing how their private information is publicized on people-search sites.

In a letter sent to acting Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chair Rebecca Kelly Slaughter on Thursday, the two senators said sites that compile personal data about individuals — phone numbers, emails and physical addresses — can make it more difficult for victims to escape dangerous situations.


Victims “often are forced to relocate to a relative’s house to find safety,” Klobuchar and Murkowski wrote in the letter first shared with The Hill. “The availability of this data makes it difficult or impossible for victims to safely relocate with relatives.”

People-search sites, such as WhitePages, MyLife or Spokeo, scrape publicly available information from records and the web, compile profiles using that data and then sell them. They can often aggregate a large amount of data, including criminal records, financial records and family member addresses, that would otherwise be difficult for an individual to find.

Read more.


AMAZON BUILDS UP: Amazon has added nine new delivery stations in New York City during the coronavirus pandemic as stay-at-home orders forced the company to meet a significantly higher number of online purchases. 

The New York Times reported Thursday that the new stations include a more than 1 million square foot building in Queens, which is expected to be Amazon’s largest New York station. 

Amazon now has at least 12 delivery stations in five New York City boroughs and has also added more than two dozen centers in suburbs surrounding the city, according to the Times. 

Read more about the New York additions

Across the pond, Amazon launched its first cashier-less physical grocery store outside of the U.S. in London on Thursday. 

The e-commerce giant opened Amazon Fresh in Ealing, West London, that will utilize its “Just Walk Out Technology” that the company uses in 26 cashier-less stores in the U.S. under the brand Amazon Go. 

The technology permits customers into the store once they use the phone application to scan a QR code. Then, consumers can fill their shopping bags and leave the store without waiting in line for checkout, as sensors and cameras track what items were chosen. 

Read more about the opening.

Lighter click: Elaborate? No

An op-ed to chew on: What can the US learn from our allies on protecting critical infrastructure?


Military Unit that Conducts Drone Strikes Bought Location Data from Ordinary Apps (Motherboard / Joseph Cox)

Google’s approach to historically Black schools helps explain why there are few Black engineers in Big Tech (Washington Post / Nitasha Tiku)

Watchdog warns of weak cybersecurity in DOD weapons contracts (Bloomberg / Alyza Sebenius)