Hillicon Valley: DOJ to review cyber challenges | Gaetz, House Republicans want to end funding for postal service surveillance | TikTok gets new CEO

Hillicon Valley: DOJ to review cyber challenges | Gaetz, House Republicans want to end funding for postal service surveillance | TikTok gets new CEO
© Greg Nash

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. 

Social media giant TikTok gained a new CEO on Friday with ties to parent company ByteDance. Meanwhile, a top Justice Department official said the agency would soon undertake a cybersecurity review to improve its response to cyber threats, and the European Commission clapped back at Apple for allegedly abusing its dominant position on its App Store for music streaming apps. 


DOJ STEPS UP TO THE CYBER PLATE: The Justice Department will soon begin a 120 day review of cybersecurity challenges in the midst of escalating cyber threats. 

Newly confirmed Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced the review during virtual remarks at the Munich Cyber Security Conference, stressing that the U.S. was at a “pivot point” around how it approaches cybersecurity concerns. 

“We are launching this week, under my direction, a review of how the department is looking at exactly this set of challenges,” Monaco said. “We want to bring forth actionable recommendations in a 120 day time frame ... on what can we be doing better, working with our partners across borders, to address these threats.”

Read more about the review here. 


POSTAL SURVEILLANCE: Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzKatie Hill says 'it would take a lot' to convince her to run again for House GOP divided over bills targeting tech giants Kinzinger: Conspiracy theory FBI planned Jan. 6 example of 'legacy of Trump and Trumpism' MORE (R-Fla.) and a group of other House Republicans on Friday introduced legislation to end funding for an arm of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) that carries out online surveillance. 

The legislation was rolled out in response to a March bulletin, reported by Yahoo! News earlier this month, distributed by the USPS’s Inspection Service’s Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP). The bulletin cited iCOP concerns about potential “significant” protests planned for March 20 based on “online inflammatory material” and posts on social media platforms Parler and Telegram.

“iCOP analysts are currently monitoring these social media channels for any potential threats stemming from the scheduled protests, and will disseminate intelligence updates if needed," the agency wrote in the bulletin.

The new bill backed by almost a dozen House Republicans would prohibit federal funds from being used for iCOP. The legislation’s text accuses the organization of being “politically motivated in its target,” and the USPS of “operating a clandestine domestic surveillance program of Americans’ social media activity.”

Read more about the bill here. 


TIKTOK ON THE CLOCK: TikTok announced Friday that Shou Zi Chew, parent company ByteDance’s chief financial officer, will be the short-form video app’s new CEO.

Chew, who joined ByteDance last month, will stay on in his role at the Chinese company.

TikTok also announced that Vanessa Pappas will be the new chief operating officer after having served as the interim head since Kevin Mayer departed last year.

“The leadership team of Shou and Vanessa sets the stage for sustained growth,” ByteDance founder and CEO Zhang Yiming said in a statement.

Read more.


APPLE’S EU TROUBLES: The European Commission said Friday that Apple has abused its dominant position for music streaming apps through its App Store. 

The commission’s statement cites app developers' mandatory use of Apple’s in-app purchase system that charges developers up to 30 percent commission fees on all subscriptions bought through the app, as well as Apple’s “anti-steering provisions” which limit app developers from informing users of alternative purchasing possibilities outside of apps. 

“We can now do our shopping, access news, music or movies via apps instead of visiting websites. Our preliminary finding is that Apple is a gatekeeper to users of iPhones and iPads via the App Store,” Margrethe Vestager, the commission’s executive vice president in charge of antitrust enforcement, said in a statement. 

Apple said the commission’s “argument on Spotify’s behalf is the opposite of fair competition.”

Read more here


PRIVACY BILL BACK: Sens. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesGOP senator introduces constitutional amendment to ban flag burning Company officially nixes Keystone XL pipeline OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican | Colonial Pipeline CEO grilled over ransomware attack | Texas gov signs bills to improve power grid after winter storm MORE (R-Mont.) and Gary PetersGary PetersLawmakers rally around cyber legislation following string of attacks Absences force Senate to punt vote on Biden nominee Senate Democrats investing M in Defend the Vote initiative MORE (D-Mich.) reintroduced legislation Friday aimed at protecting personal data of Americans entering the United States on cargo vessels.

Currently, when cargo ships enter U.S. ports they are required to provide Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with manifests that can include personally identifiable information like Social Security numbers and passport information.

The Moving Americans Privacy Protection Act would direct CBP to remove that kind of sensitive information before making the manifests open to the public.

The lawmakers are concerned that releasing the information of individuals relocating back to the U.S. could open them up to identity theft, fraud or unwanted solicitations.

“Unfortunately, families and people, including servicemembers, moving from abroad to the United States face an increased risk of identity theft and the government needs to take more steps to protect them from fraud,” Peters said in a statement.

Read more.


STANDARDS-SETTING BILL: Sens. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoDemocrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal Past criticism of Trump becomes potent weapon in GOP primaries Infighting grips Nevada Democrats ahead of midterms MORE (D-Nev.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanPortman: Republicans are 'absolutely' committed to bipartisan infrastructure bill Sunday shows - Voting rights, infrastructure in the spotlight Manchin compromise proposal a 'federal takeover of the election system,' GOP senator says MORE (R-Ohio) on Friday introduced a bill to improve U.S. competitiveness against China and other nations by strengthening the nation’s ability to set standards around emerging technologies. 

The new legislation would create a task force led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to develop a long-term plan to assess standards around emerging technologies such as 5G and artificial intelligence. 

The task force would include representatives from multiple U.S. federal agencies, who would engage with both academia and the private sector. The ultimate goal would be to create a strategy to engage with international organizations on standards-setting and prevent China from dominating the standards-setting space around emerging technologies. 

The new bill was rolled out as both Congress and the Biden administration have increasingly zeroed in on competition with China and threats posed by the nation to the United States. 

Read more about the legislation here. 


TENNESSEE BROADBAND: Tennessee is moving forward with a plan to map out areas of the state with low access to broadband internet.

The decision comes after an advisory panel said earlier this year that Tennessee should not wait for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to rewrite federal maps based on data from broadband suppliers, according to The Associated Press.

Crystal Ivey, broadband director for the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development, said the plan involves collecting and validating data from providers in the state for one year.


Lighter click: :)

An op-ed to chew on: Massive school data breach shows we need better privacy policies



Wednesday, May 12 at 12:30 PM ET / 9:30 AM PT

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