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Hillicon Valley: Tech companies duke it out at Senate hearing | Seven House Republicans vow to reject donations from Big Tech

Hillicon Valley: Tech companies duke it out at Senate hearing | Seven House Republicans vow to reject donations from Big Tech
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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. 

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

It was a big day for Big Tech at the Capitol, with the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee holding a hearing featuring Google and Apple executives to look at their app store market power. And a group of seven House Republicans pledged to reject donations from some of the top tech companies. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerBiden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure Republicans welcome the chance to work with Democrats on a bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney sideshow distracts from important battle over Democrats' partisan voting bill MORE led a bipartisan group of lawmakers in rolling out legislation to invest more than $100 billion in emerging technologies. 

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ALL EYES ON APP STORES: The Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee turned into a Silicon Valley battleground Wednesday, with representatives from several app-based companies accusing Apple and Google executives at the hearing of stifling competition in their app stores and retaliating against those who speak out.

The app companies lambasted the commission fees, of up to 30 percent, that the Silicon Valley giants impose on some apps, a practice that could influence senators weighing legislative proposals aimed at curbing alleged anti-competitive behavior.

Apple’s chief compliance officer, Kyle Andeer, and Google's senior director of public policy and government relations, Wilson White, defended the app store policies as being competitive and helping to ensure data privacy and security.

But the executives representing app-based businesses dismissed those arguments. 

Read more about the hearing.

 

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LAWMAKERS EYE COMPETITION WITH CHINA: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) led dozens of bipartisan House and Senate members on Wednesday in rolling out legislation that would invest more than $100 billion in emerging technologies in an effort to put the U.S. on a level playing field with China. 

The Endless Frontiers Act, first introduced last year, would establish a Technology and Innovation Directorate at the National Science Foundation, which would use $100 billion in federal funds over five years to research emerging technologies including artificial intelligence, quantum computing and semiconductors. 

The legislation would also appropriate $10 billion to the Department of Commerce to help support regional technology innovation throughout the nation, while a further $2.4 billion would go toward expanding and enhancing U.S. manufacturing capabilities in key technologies. 

The bill is primarily co-sponsored by Sen. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungSenate Democrats ramp up push to limit Biden's war powers US Olympic Committee urges Congress not to boycott Games in China Senate panel approves bill that would invest billions in tech MORE (R-Ind.) and Reps. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaSenate panel approves bill that would invest billions in tech GOP downplays Jan. 6 violence: Like a 'normal tourist visit' House conservatives take aim at Schumer-led bipartisan China bill MORE (D-Calif.) and Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherGOP lawmaker calls for Wuhan probe to 'prevent the next pandemic' Lawmakers introduce bill to protect critical infrastructure against cyberattacks Senate panel approves bill that would invest billions in tech MORE (R-Wis.), with almost two dozen other bipartisan House and Senate members also signing on as sponsors. 

White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiLawmakers bicker over how to go after tax cheats Colonial breach underscores concerns over paying hackers French police deploy tear gas on protestors supporting Palestinians in Paris MORE said in a statement Wednesday that the administration welcomed the legislation, describing it as “one more encouraging sign of the bipartisan support for investing in America’s competitiveness.”

Read more about the legislation here.

 

KEEP YOUR MONEY: Seven House Republicans on Wednesday pledged to reject donations from some of the top tech companies in the U.S. amid mounting scrutiny over the market power the tech giants hold. 

Rep. Ken BuckKenneth (Ken) Robert BuckSpace Force commander removed after comments on podcast GOP votes to replace Cheney with Stefanik after backing from Trump Cheney to any Trump-backed challenger: 'Bring it on' MORE (Colo.), the top Republican on the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, led the pledge to reject campaign donations from Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple and Twitter. 

Buck was joined by Reps. Chip RoyCharles (Chip) Eugene RoyThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - What the CDC's updated mask guidance means GOP votes to replace Cheney with Stefanik after backing from Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Masks off: CDC greenlights return to normal for vaccinated Americans MORE (Texas), Greg SteubeWilliam (Greg) Gregory SteubeGaetz, House Republicans introduce bill to defund Postal Service covert operations program Hillicon Valley: Tech companies duke it out at Senate hearing | Seven House Republicans vow to reject donations from Big Tech Seven House Republicans vow to reject donations from Big Tech MORE (Fla.), Ralph NormanRalph Warren NormanA renewed voice for conservatives New bodycam footage shows Jan. 6 attack on officer: 'I got one' GOP downplays Jan. 6 violence: Like a 'normal tourist visit' MORE (S.C.), Dan Bishop (N.C.), Burgess Owens (Utah) and Andy Biggs (Ariz.) in signing onto the pledge.

“These monopolies have shown that personal liberty can be threatened by corporate tyranny just as much as by government tyranny,” the Republicans wrote. 

The pledge to reject the donations may be mostly moot for now, as Facebook is suspending all PAC contributions following the insurrection at the Capitol, and Amazon and Google said they would pause donations to lawmakers who voted against certifying the election results. 

Steube, Norman, Bishop, Owens and Biggs all supported challenges to the certification of votes. 

Read more about the pledge

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CYBER CRIMINALS BEWARE: The Justice Department this week convened a new task force to address the mounting ransomware cyberattacks on critical U.S. organizations that have spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Ransomware and Digital Extortion Task Force, first reported on Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal, will be made of officials from the agency’s National Security Division, Criminal Division, Civil Division, Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys and FBI.  

 

Acting Deputy Attorney General John Carlin announced the task force in a memo, obtained by The Hill, sent to task force members on Tuesday.

Read more here.

 

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CLOSING THE LOOPHOLE: Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenLawmakers bicker over how to go after tax cheats NFL accused of 'systemic racism' in handling Black ex-players' brain injuries Infrastructure deal imperiled by differences on financing MORE (D-Ore.) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP lawmaker calls for Wuhan probe to 'prevent the next pandemic' All congressional Democrats say they have been vaccinated: CNN Fauci on Rand Paul: 'I just don't understand what the problem is with him' MORE (R-Ky.) introduced legislation Wednesday aimed at closing a loophole that has allowed government agencies to obtain Americans' personal data without a warrant.

The Fourth Amendment is Not for Sale Act — which is co-sponsored by 19 other Senators including Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure Republicans welcome the chance to work with Democrats on a bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney sideshow distracts from important battle over Democrats' partisan voting bill MORE (D-N.Y.) and was introduced in the House by Reps. Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerMcGahn to sit for closed-door interview with House Democrats House to consider anti-Asian hate crimes bill, protections for pregnant workers this month A historic moment to truly honor mothers MORE (D-N.Y.) and Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenCapitol Police watchdog calls for boosting countersurveillance This week: Congressional leaders to meet with Biden amid GOP reckoning Capitol Police watchdog back in spotlight amid security concerns MORE (D-Calif.) — would require a court order for any purchases from third-party data brokers. 

Several reports recently have detailed how agencies like the military and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) purchase information including location data about American citizens from companies that harvest data from smartphone apps.

Read more about the legislation

 

MARKEY, CASTOR URGE INVESTIGATION: Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyRon Johnson calls cyber attacks an 'existential' threat following Colonial Pipeline shutdown Senators ask airlines to offer cash refunds for unused flight credits Civilian Climate Corps can help stem rural-urban divide MORE (D-Mass.) and Rep. Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorHillicon Valley: Tech companies duke it out at Senate hearing | Seven House Republicans vow to reject donations from Big Tech Markey, Castor urge FTC to investigate Google Play Store Lawmakers react to guilty verdict in Chauvin murder trial: 'Our work is far from done' MORE (D-Fla.) urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate if Google’s app store is misleadingly marketing children’s apps as compliant with a law aimed at protecting children’s privacy. 

The Democrats on Wednesday sent a letter to the FTC calling for the commission to launch an investigation into the Silicon Valley giant’s app store, citing recent studies that suggest apps that infringe on children's privacy, in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), are “rampant on the Google Play Store.” 

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The letter follows a similar push from two advocacy groups, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) and the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), for the FTC to look into the alleged COPPA violations. 

Read more here

 

APPLE TO (FINALLY) LAUNCH UPDATE: Apple will launch its operating system update that will include a feature that will limit the reach of targeted ads “next week,” the company said Tuesday.

Apple’s long-awaited — and delayed — App Tracking Transparency tool will require apps to get the user’s permission before tracking their data across apps and websites owned by other companies. 

Apple said in a press release about its new AirTag product launch that the iOS 14.5 operating system software updates will be available “starting next week.”

Read more here

 

EU TAKES ON AI: The European Union’s executive body on Wednesday proposed new regulations that would limit facial recognition and other “high-risk” applications of artificial intelligence.

The regulations proposed by the European Commission would prohibit law enforcement officials from using facial recognition with some exceptions for responding to terrorist attacks and finding missing children.

The technology has been roundly criticized by civil liberties and privacy groups that warn it is biased against women and people of color and even if it did work accurately would give the government overwhelming surveillance power.

Read more about the proposal

 

ICYMI: CYBER DIPLOMACY GETS A BOOST: The House on Tuesday approved bipartisan legislation aimed at elevating cybersecurity at the State Department through prioritizing and reorganizing a key department on the heels of multiple major foreign cyberattacks against the United States. 

The Cyber Diplomacy Act would require the State Department to open a Bureau of International Cyberspace Policy, which would lead the State Department’s cybersecurity efforts. This would include creating an international strategy to guide efforts by the United States to engage with other nations on cybersecurity issues and to set norms on responsible behavior in cyberspace. 

The bill, reintroduced in February, was previously passed by the House during the last Congress but failed to be considered by the Senate. It was approved Tuesday as part of a larger package of bills by the House in a vote of 355-69. 

The bill is primarily sponsored by House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulHouse lawmakers roll out bill to invest 0 million in state and local cybersecurity Asian American lawmakers say State's 'assignment restrictions' discriminate Senate Intelligence panel working on legislation around mandatory cyber breach notification MORE (R-Texas) with co-sponsors including committee Chairman Gregory MeeksGregory Weldon MeeksAsian American lawmakers say State's 'assignment restrictions' discriminate Colombia's protests are threat, test for US Pressure increases for US to send vaccines to Latin America MORE (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Jim LangevinJames (Jim) R. LangevinLawmakers roll out legislation to defend pipelines against cyber threats Lawmakers introduce bill to protect critical infrastructure against cyberattacks Feds eye more oversight of pipelines after Colonial attack MORE (D-R.I.), Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerSunday shows - Cheney removal, CDC guidance reverberate Kinzinger: 'I would love to move on' from Trump but he is the leader of the GOP Crenshaw: Republicans can't 'excommunicate' Trump MORE (R-Ill.), and Bill KeatingWilliam (Bill) Richard KeatingHillicon Valley: Tech companies duke it out at Senate hearing | Seven House Republicans vow to reject donations from Big Tech House passes legislation to elevate cybersecurity at the State Department Overnight Defense: Trump, Biden set to meet in final debate | Explicit Fort Bragg tweets were sent by account administrator | China threatens retaliation over Taiwan arms sale MORE (D-Mass.). 

Read more about the legislation here.

 

Lighter click: Respect

An op-ed to chew on: Innovation suffers when property rights are weak or difficult to enforce 

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

Hackers pose as Bloomberg employees in email scam (CyberScoop / Sean Lyngaas) 

Meet virtual reality, your new physical therapist (The New York Times / Alina Tugend) 

Google Turmoil Exposes Cracks Long In Making for Top AI Watchdog (Bloomberg / Nico Grant, Dina Bass and Josh Eidelson)