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Hillicon Valley: Democrats push Facebook to 'take responsibility' for placement of gun accessory ads | Lawmakers introduce bill allowing Americans to take foreign hackers to court | Malala Yousafzai signs content deal with Apple

Hillicon Valley: Democrats push Facebook to 'take responsibility' for placement of gun accessory ads | Lawmakers introduce bill allowing Americans to take foreign hackers to court | Malala Yousafzai signs content deal with Apple
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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 to get our newsletter by clicking HERE. 

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

The Democratic members of a key House committee on Monday pushed for transparency from Facebook on placements of gun accessory advertisements in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. A group of bipartisan lawmakers rolled out legislation to allow Americans to hold foreign hackers accountable in court. And a major women’s rights activist signed a deal with Apple TV on International Women’s Day. 

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‘TAKE RESPONSIBILITY’: House Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee on Monday urged Facebook to be more transparent around its policies on the placement of ads, specifically advertisements for gun accessories. 

The Democrats called on the social media giant to make “substantive changes” to its policies on the placements of ads in light of reports of ads showing gun accessories and protective equipment next to content that “amplified election misinformation.” They said similar ads also appeared next to news about the insurrection at the Capitol after Jan. 6 

“With more than 100 million daily Facebook users in the United States, it is paramount that Facebook take responsibility for where it places advertisements and what those advertisements promote,” the Democrats added. “Furthermore, Facebook should inform advertisers about surrounding content, and make the necessary changes to guarantee that Facebook and companies’ ad dollars are not further supporting or sowing seeds of hate and distrust throughout the country.” 

They called for detailed responses on Facebook’s policies around advertising by March 22. Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergAdvocacy group accuses Facebook of fueling anti-Muslim hate Texas GOP move to overhaul voting laws: What you need to know Congress must come together and protect our children on social media MORE, along with the CEOs of Twitter and Google, are scheduled to appear before the committee on March 25. 

Read more about the letter

 

WE’LL SEE YOU IN COURT: A group of bipartisan House lawmakers on Monday introduced legislation that would allow Americans to hold foreign governments and their employees accountable in court for malicious cyber activity. 

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The Homeland and Cyber Threat Act would eliminate the immunity given to other nations, along with their employees or agents, if they have engaged in cyberattacks against U.S. nationals. This would enable Americans to file cases against foreign hackers in federal or state courts for any damage from a cyberattack. 

The bill was led by Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas), with a bipartisan group of co-sponsors including Reps. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.), Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickHouse panel opens probe into Tom Reed over sexual misconduct allegations Fitzpatrick replaces Tom Reed as House Problem Solvers co-chair The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by Facebook — Biden delivers 100 million shots in 58 days, doses to neighbors MORE (R-Pa.), Jaime Herrera BeutlerJaime Lynn Herrera BeutlerLawmakers urge Capitol Police release IG report on riot House Republicans who backed Trump impeachment warn Democrats on Iowa election challenge Hillicon Valley: Democrats push Facebook to 'take responsibility' for placement of gun accessory ads | Lawmakers introduce bill allowing Americans to take foreign hackers to court | Malala Yousafzai signs content deal with Apple MORE (R-Wash.), Joe NeguseJoseph (Joe) NeguseGun control advocates applaud Biden funding plan but say more must be done Democrats urge Biden to take executive action on assault-style firearms The Hill's Morning Report - Biden leans heavily into gun control MORE (D-Colo.), and Andy Kim (D-N.J.).

The legislation was introduced as the federal government is in the midst of responding to two major cyber incidents involving the Russian and Chinese malicious activity that may have compromised thousands of organizations, including U.S. federal agencies. 

Read more about the legislation here. 

 

APPLE’S LATEST PARTNERSHIP: Women’s rights activist and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai has signed a content partnership deal with Apple TV after launching a new production company Extracurricular.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Yousafzai will create inspirational dramas, comedies and documentaries and well as animated and children's programs.

"I believe in the power of stories to bring families together, forge friendships, build movements, and inspire children to dream," Yousafzai said in a statement. "And I couldn't ask for a better partner than Apple to help bring these stories to life. I'm grateful for the opportunity to support women, young people, writers, and artists in reflecting the world as they see it."

Read more here

 

RUSSIA NEVER SLEEPS: Russian intelligence agencies are waging a disinformation campaign to undermine the public’s trust in western COVID-19 vaccines, according to a State Department official.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the official, from the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC), identified four small online publications that are spreading false and misleading claims by playing up the vaccines' side effects, questioning their efficacy and claiming that the U.S. had rushed the development of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine.

The official said he believes the websites are fronts for Russian intelligence, and their false narratives are being amplified by Russian and international media, the Journal reports.

“We can say these outlets are directly linked to Russian intelligence services,” the GEC official told the newspaper. “They’re all foreign-owned, based outside of the United States. They vary a lot in their reach, their tone, their audience, but they’re all part of the Russian propaganda and disinformation ecosystem.”

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Read more here. 

 

TAKE IT OUT FOR A SPIN: Alphabet’s self-driving car unit Waymo is claiming that its artificial intelligence could have avoided or mitigated the majority of a set of fatal accidents.

In a white paper published Monday, the company simulated 72 deadly-crashes that occurred between in 2008 and 2017 in Chandler, Ariz., where Waymo currently operates.

Waymo’s artificial driver was able to avoid or mitigate the crashes excluding cases where the car was hit from behind.

“We believe we have an opportunity to improve road safety by replacing the human driver with the Waymo Driver,” Trent Victor, the company’s director of safety research, said in a blog post. “This study helps validate that belief.”

Read more here. 

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ICYMI: AD BATTLE BREWING: Silicon Valley giants are drawing battle lines over personal data collection practices and targeted ads as the threat of regulation looms.

Apple is pressing forward plants to launch an anti-tracking feature. The impending update has drawn criticism from Facebook over the significant impact it could have on the social media giant's revenue.

Meanwhile, Facebook and Google have aligned themselves over the latter's more measured approach to scaling back tracking features that was announced last week. 

Google said it would not replace its tracking features used for personalized ads once it phases out its existing method. But experts and pro-privacy advocates say that while Google’s update may be a small step toward giving users more control over their data protection, the change may hurt Google’s rivals more than the company itself. 

Read more here


Lighter click: ICYMI

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An op-ed to chew on: The power to change what we are: Social media as the new ‘fifth estate’ 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

Tech spent years fighting foreign terrorists. Then came the Capitol riot. (Protocol / Issie Lapowsky)

Google advised mental health care when workers complained about racism and sexism (NBC / April Glaser and Char Adams) 

Inside a Massive Anti-Trafficking Charity's Blundering Overseas Missions (Vice World News / Anna Merlan and Tim Marchman)

Black Tech Employees Rebel Against ‘Diversity Theater’ (Wired / Sidney Fussell)