SPONSORED:

Hillicon Valley: Amazon union vote count to start for Alabama warehouse | Hackers accessed emails of top DHS officials as part of SolarWinds breach: report | Ex-Google exec launches left-leaning tech coalition

Hillicon Valley: Amazon union vote count to start for Alabama warehouse | Hackers accessed emails of top DHS officials as part of SolarWinds breach: report | Ex-Google exec launches left-leaning tech coalition

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. 

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

The contentious unionization vote at Amazon’s Alabama warehouse is pushing forward with ballots set to be tabulated starting this week. Fallout from what has become known as the SolarWinds breach continued with news of hackers reportedly breaching email accounts of top Department of Homeland Security officials. Meanwhile, a former Google executive on Monday launched a new tech coalition backed by some of the top companies in the industry amid mounting scrutiny from Washington. 

ADVERTISEMENT

TALLY THEM UP: Ballots will start being counted this week in the unionization vote at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., marking a critical step in one of the most significant union elections of the last decade. 

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will start tabulating the ballots cast by more than 5,800 workers from the warehouse on Tuesday, but the final vote tally may take a week or more to be tabulated and any party is allowed to file objections within five days of the vote count which may delay the issuance of a final tally of ballots.

Amazon has largely fended off unionization challenges in the U.S., but the battle in Bessemer — which has garnered a spotlight in Washington since ballots went out in early February — could lead to the first Amazon union in the U.S.

Amid the unionization push, Amazon has publicly defended its working conditions. Much of the company’s messaging has centered on the $15 wage it has offered workers since 2018, which is above the federal minimum wage.

“Our employees know the truth — starting wages of $15 or more, health care from day one, and a safe and inclusive workplace. We encouraged all of our employees to vote and hope they did so," Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener said in a statement.

Read more about union vote count

MORE BAD CYBER NEWS: Hackers involved in what has become known as the SolarWinds breach accessed email accounts of top officials at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) along with other personal information of senior federal officials, The Associated Press reported Monday. 

ADVERTISEMENT

According to the AP, former acting DHS Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfIntel heads to resume worldwide threats hearing scrapped under Trump Sunday shows preview: Democrats eye passage of infrastructure bill; health experts warn of fourth coronavirus wave Russia suspected of massive State Department email hack: report MORE's email account was breached as part of the wide-reaching effort by suspected Russian hackers, along with the email accounts of DHS employees responsible for carrying out cybersecurity activities. 

The incident, which is one of the largest cybersecurity breaches in U.S. history, also reportedly allowed the hackers to access the private schedules of former Energy Secretary Dan Brouilette and other senior officials at the agency. A spokesperson for the Department of Energy told The Hill the agency "has found no evidence the network that maintains senior officials’ schedules was compromised."

A spokesperson for DHS did not directly confirm the extent of the breach Monday, but told The Hill in a statement that “a small number of employees’ accounts were targeted.”

The Biden administration has been quick to emphasize the importance of cybersecurity. Emily Horne, spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council, said in a statement provided to The Hill on Monday that “cybersecurity is a top priority for the Biden administration.”

Read more here. 

TECH’S NEW COALITION: A former Google executive is launching a new tech coalition that brings together some of the nation’s top companies amid increased regulatory scrutiny in Washington.

The new group called Chamber of Progress includes tech giants such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Buer and Grubhub. It was launched by Google’s former public policy head Adam Kovacevich. 

“It's pretty clear that the tech industry's political honeymoon is over — and there are some big questions for policymakers about how do you make sure that all Americans benefit from high tech advancements and how do we make sure the tech industry operates fairly and responsibly,” Kovacevich told The Hill. “Another way of putting that is, will tech's future be as progressive as its past? That's the big question that our organization will be focused on.”

Kovacevich described the industry coalition as “center-left.”

“What it means is that we care about progressive goals, and we're not reflexively anti-business,” he said.

Read more about the coalition. 

UNDERSEA INVESTMENT: Facebook and Google are investing in new undersea internet cables that will run between California and Southeast Asia in an effort to boost internet speed and reliability, the companies announced Monday. 

Facebook said it will invest in two new subsea cables, Echo and Bifrost, and Google said it will be investing in Echo. The projects are subject to regulatory approvals.

Echo and Bifrost will connect Singapore, Indonesia and North America. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The two companies touted the projects as helping to bring reliable internet access around the world. 

Read more here

 

Lighter click: Maybe in another two

An op-ed to chew on: To build lasting digital equity, look to communities 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

‘Vaccine passports’ are on the way, but developing them won’t be easy (The Washington Post / Dan Diamond, Lena H. Sun and Isaac Stanley-Becker) 

ADVERTISEMENT

Former prisoners struggle to re-enter society. What happens when society moves online? (NBC / Alexandra Marquez) 

Why This Teen Walked Away From Millions of TikTok Followers (Motherboard / Samantha Cole) 

Big Tech defenders dominate the country’s top group of antitrust lawyers (Protocol / Emily Birnbaum) 

Australia investigates reported hacks aimed at Parliament, media (CyberScoop / Shannon Vavra)