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Hillicon Valley: Intel heads to resume threats hearing scrapped under Trump | New small business coalition to urge action on antitrust policy | Amazon backs corporate tax hike to pay for infrastructure

Hillicon Valley: Intel heads to resume threats hearing scrapped under Trump | New small business coalition to urge action on antitrust policy | Amazon backs corporate tax hike to pay for infrastructure
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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 haven'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 House and Senate Intelligence panels will hold hearings to examine worldwide threats, including those in the cyber and technology spaces, next week after a two-year gap. Meanwhile, a new coalition of independent businesses is targeting Amazon as it pushes for a revamp of federal antitrust policy, and Amazon CEO Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosNASA picks Elon Musk's SpaceX to build spacecraft for manned moon missions Harvard Business community backs alumna's discrimination lawsuit against Amazon Union leader: 'Amazon left no stone unturned' in unionization fight MORE is throwing his weight behind raising the corporate tax rate to pay for President BidenJoe BidenObama, Clinton reflect on Mondale's legacy Biden, Harris commend Mondale in paving the way for female VP Mondale in last message to staff: 'Joe in the White House certainly helps' MORE’s infrastructure package. 

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ANNUAL THREATS HEARINGS RETURN: The House and Senate Intelligence committees will question leaders of five major intelligence and security agencies next week, resuming the annual tradition of a worldwide threats hearing that was abandoned under the Trump administration.

Director of National Intelligence Avril HainesAvril HainesSunday shows preview: Russia, US exchange sanctions; tensions over policing rise; vaccination campaign continues Hillicon Valley: Facebook Oversight board to rule on Trump ban in 'coming weeks' | Russia blocks Biden Cabinet officials in retaliation for sanctions Russia blocks key Biden Cabinet officials from entering in retaliation for sanctions MORE, CIA Director William BurnsWilliam BurnsIntelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats hearing Biden aide: Ability to collect daily intel in Afghanistan 'will diminish' Overnight Defense: Biden officially rolls out Afghanistan withdrawal plan | Probe finds issues with DC Guard helicopter use during June protests MORE, FBI Director Christopher Wray, National Security Agency Director Gen. Paul Nakasone and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Gen. Scott Berrier will all appear before the Senate on April 14 and before the House on April 15.

Federal law requires the intelligence community to submit an annual worldwide threats assessment, but agencies failed to do so during Trump’s final two years in office. The last worldwide threats hearings were in January 2019.

“Over the last four years, the Trump Administration discarded the tradition of open hearings on World Wide Threats, when it displeased the former president to have his preferred views of rival nations contradicted by agency heads,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOvernight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats hearing MORE (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

Read more about the upcoming hearings here. 

 

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PUSHING FOR ANTITRUST POLICY: A coalition of independent businesses launched Tuesday with the goal of urging federal policy reform to rein in the market power of top tech companies. 

The coalition, Small Business Rising, specifically takes aim at Amazon — accusing the e-commerce giant of anti-competitive tactics and harming small firms nationwide. 

The coalition is urging lawmakers to help break up and regulate the tech companies it called monopolies. 

It's also urging lawmakers to block dominating corporations from engaging in abusive tactics by strengthening antitrust laws, as well as outlawing “mega-mergers.” 

Amazon pushed back on the coalition’s criticism, saying it has in fact "empowered small and mediums-sized businesses."

Read more about the new coalition

 

BEZOS BACKS CORPORATE TAX HIKE: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced on Tuesday that the company is supportive of raising the corporate tax rate to pay for President Biden’s infrastructure package. 

Bezos released a statement that he supports the administration’s focus on infrastructure and that “it’s the right time to work together” to pass a package.

“We recognize this investment will require concessions from all sides — both on the specifics of what’s included as well as how it gets paid for (we’re supportive of a rise in the corporate tax rate),” Bezos said.

Read more here

 

UPDATE, PLEASE: Bipartisan leaders of a key Senate panel on Tuesday pressed the Biden administration for more information on its investigation into two recent, massive foreign espionage hacking incidents.

Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Gary PetersGary PetersHillicon Valley: Biden nominates former NSA deputy director to serve as cyber czar | Apple to send witness to Senate hearing after all | Biden pressed on semiconductor production amid shortage Bipartisan lawmakers signal support for Biden cybersecurity picks The Hill's Morning Report - Biden: Let's make a deal on infrastructure, taxes MORE (D-Mich.) and ranking member Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGOP Rep. Steve Stivers plans to retire Kellyanne Conway joins Ohio Senate candidate's campaign OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate confirms Mallory to lead White House environment council | US emissions dropped 1.7 percent in 2019 | Interior further delays Trump rule that would make drillers pay less to feds MORE (R-Ohio) sent letters on cybersecurity concerns to Brandon Wales, the acting director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and to Federal CISO Christopher DeRusha, who works within the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB). 

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The committee leaders questioned Wales and DeRusha about the progress the administration has made garnering information about the SolarWinds hack, which U.S. intelligence agencies assessed in January was “likely” carried out by Russian hackers, and compromised at least nine federal agencies and 100 private sector groups.

The senators also asked questions about recently discovered vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s Exchange Server, which the company said last month was actively exploited by at least one state-sponsored Chinese hacking group to gain access to thousands of organizations around the world. 

“There is no easy solution to advanced persistent cyber threats,” the senators wrote.

Read more about the senators’ concerns here. 

 

YOUTUBE KIDS : Rep. Raja KrishnamoorthiSubramanian (Raja) Raja KrishnamoorthiA proposal to tackle congressional inside trading: Invest in the US Instagram sparks new concerns over 'kidfluencer' culture Hillicon Valley: Intel heads to resume threats hearing scrapped under Trump | New small business coalition to urge action on antitrust policy | Amazon backs corporate tax hike to pay for infrastructure MORE (D-Ill.), chair of the Oversight and Reform subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, sent a letter to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki requesting documents about YouTube Kids amid concerns over the content and advertisement practices for children.

Krishnamoorthi wrote that YouTube Kids “appears to be serving up inappropriate, low-education, highly commercial content.” 

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“I believe that may be ascribable to your advertisement-based business model and reliance on free uploads of user-generated videos without adequate quality control. YouTube profits from this disservice of children with more paid ads and more corporate revenue,” he wrote.

Read more about the letter

 

FACEBOOK TAKES ACTION: Facebook on Tuesday announced that during March it removed more than 1,100 accounts tied to spreading deceptive content in a variety of countries as part of its effort to root out domestic and international disinformation efforts. 

The social media giant reported that it had also removed almost 300 Instagram accounts, over 250 Facebook pages, and 34 Facebook groups tied to 14 coordinated influence operations over the past month. 

The over a dozen networks were based around the world, including five in Mexico along with networks in Israel, Comoros, Georgia, and Benin that were targeting domestic audiences within each country. 

One network based in Israel was targeting Iranian audiences, while the remaining networks in Spain, El Salvador, Argentina, Albania and Iran were all targeting groups in various other countries.  

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Read more about the takedowns here. 

 

GOOGLE RESEARCHER STEPS DOWN: A Google researcher who oversaw the company’s artificial intelligence (AI) ethics group resigned on Tuesday following the controversial dismissal of two of his former colleagues on the research team, Bloomberg reported

The researcher, Samy Bengio, announced he would be leaving in an email to staff obtained by Bloomberg. Bengio’s last day will be on April 28, the outlet reported. 

“While I am looking forward to my next challenge, there’s no doubt that leaving this wonderful team is really difficult,” Bengio reportedly wrote in the email. 

In his message, Bengio did not refer to Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell, two of his former colleagues leading Google’s work on ethical AI that were ousted in recent months, according to Bloomberg.

Read more here

 

BEZOS TOPS BILLIONAIRE LIST, AGAIN: Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has topped Forbes’s annual world’s billionaire list for the fourth consecutive year.

This year’s billionaires are worth a combined $13.1 trillion, up from $8 trillion last year, according to Forbes. This year’s list has 493 newcomers, including dating app Bumble’s CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd. 

Tesla CEO Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskNASA picks Elon Musk's SpaceX to build spacecraft for manned moon missions Why does Bernie Sanders want to quash Elon Musk's dreams? Hillicon Valley: Intel heads to resume threats hearing scrapped under Trump | New small business coalition to urge action on antitrust policy | Amazon backs corporate tax hike to pay for infrastructure MORE comes in second on the list, jumping from the 31st spot last year. Rounding out the top five are LVMH CEO Bernard Arnualt, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerburg. 

Read more here

Lighter click:  Top notch lifeguarding 

An op-ed to chew on: Biden’s infrastructure proposal is good for America’s national security too 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

I Called Off My Wedding. The Internet Will Never Forget (Wired / Lauren Goode) 

European institutions targeted in a cyber-attack last week (Bloomberg / Alberto Nardelli and Natalia Drozdiak) 

The NYPD Has Misled The Public About Its Use Of Facial Recognition Tool Clearview AI (BuzzFeed News / Caroline Haskins)

End racism. Make money. Finney says Black entrepreneurs can do both. (Protocol / Megan Rose Dickey)