SPONSORED:

Hillicon Valley: Amazon worker alleges security had keys to mailbox used in union vote | Facebook loses bid to block Irish watchdog's data flow decision | Lawmakers move to defend pipelines against cyber threats

Hillicon Valley: Amazon worker alleges security had keys to mailbox used in union vote | Facebook loses bid to block Irish watchdog's data flow decision | Lawmakers move to defend pipelines against cyber threats
© Getty Images

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.

A worker at Amazon’s Bessemer, Ala. facility dropped a big allegation about security guards having access to a mailbox during the unionization election at a National Labor Relations Board hearing Friday. Meanwhile, Facebook lost a bid to block an Irish watchdog's draft decision that could suspend the tech giant’s ability to transfer data from the U.S. to the EU, and bipartisan groups of House lawmakers rolled out two pieces of legislation to protect critical infrastructure against cyberattacks following the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline. 

ADVERTISEMENT

BIG ALLEGATION ALERT: Security guards at Amazon’s Bessemer, Ala., facility had keys to a mailbox that the company recommended workers use to vote in the unionization election earlier this year, a worker at the facility alleged during a National Labor Relations Board hearing Friday.

Kevin Jackson said during the sixth day of hearings over the union’s challenge to the results that he had seen two guards use keys to open one of the thirteen slots on the mailbox.

The allegation comes after the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union, which would have represented the Amazon workers in the event of a union win, formally challenged the initial loss by a 2-1 margin last month.

The challenge included complaints about the mailbox.

Emails show Amazon pushed the United States Postal Service to install a mailbox in the Bessemer parking lot after its efforts to have an in-person election fell short.

The union argued the mailbox created the perception that Amazon was running the election rather than the NLRB, and created the impression that workers were being surveilled.

The allegation that employees connected with Amazon had access to the mailbox was not included in the complaint. It may also be difficult to corroborate, and had not been mentioned by earlier witnesses.

ADVERTISEMENT

Read more.

A BLOW TO FACEBOOK: Facebook lost a bid to block an Irish watchdog's draft decision that could suspend the Silicon Valley giant’s ability to transfer data from the U.S. to the EU, according to a decision released by the Irish High Court Friday. 

The court rejected Facebook’s procedural complaints about the Irish Data Protection Commission’s preliminary decision from August to order the suspension of Facebook’s data flow between the U.S. and the EU.

Justice David Barniville wrote in the court’s decision released Friday that Facebook “must fail on those grounds of challenge and that it is, therefore, not entitled to any of the reliefs claimed in the proceedings.”

A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement “we look forward to defending our compliance to the IDPC, as their preliminary decision could be damaging not only to Facebook, but also to users and other businesses.”

Read more about the decision

LAWMAKERS TAKE ACTION: A bipartisan group of more than a dozen House lawmakers have reintroduced legislation to defend pipelines against cyberattacks, with the bill coming on the heels of the devastating ransomware attack that forced the shutdown of Colonial Pipeline.

The Pipeline Security Act would codify the responsibility of both the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) responsibility for securing pipelines against threats. The effort is being led by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.).

It would also require TSA to update pipeline security guidelines and conduct risk assessments, create a personnel strategy for staffing its Pipeline Security Section and improve congressional oversight of TSA’s pipeline efforts. 

Read more about the legislation here. 

LAWMAKERS TAKE ACTION PART TWO: Rep. Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinDemocrats seize on GOP opposition to Jan. 6 commission Hillicon Valley: Democrats urge Facebook to abandon 'Instagram for kids' plan | 'Homework gap' likely to persist after pandemic Legislation to secure critical systems against cyberattacks moves forward in the House MORE (D-Mich.) and other bipartisan House lawmakers on Friday introduced legislation designed to protect critical systems against cyberattacks, a week after a ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline significantly disrupted the fuel supply for portions of the country.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Cyber Exercise Act would require CISA, which is the nation’s key cyber risk agency, to establish a National Cyber Exercise Program to test critical infrastructure readiness against cyberattacks.

The legislation would also require CISA to help state and local governments, along with private industry, design and implement plans to evaluate the safety and security of critical infrastructure.

Read more about the bill here. 

LUCK O’ THE IRISH: Ireland’s health care system was forced to shut down its IT systems Friday following what it described as a "significant" ransomware attack that disrupted operations.

“There has been a ransomware attack on our IT systems,” the Health Service Executive (HSE) wrote in a post on its website. “We have shut them all down as a precaution. This has caused some disruption to our services. But most healthcare appointments will go ahead as planned.”

According to HSE, the attack meant a delay in some hospital appointments, the cancellation of a portion of virtual appointments and a delay in COVID-19 test results. The Rotunda Maternity Hospital in Dublin canceled all appointments except emergencies, and the Cork University Hospital was forced to cancel all radiotherapy and most X-ray appointments Friday. 

Ambulance and emergency services were not disrupted and were continuing as normal as of Friday afternoon in Ireland, along with COVID-19 vaccine appointments. 

Read more about the attack here. 

TECH COMPANIES UNITE: A group of nearly 30 tech companies and other organizations filed a legal brief Friday to defend a program that gives work authorization to the spouses of high-skilled immigrants.

The Obama-era rule lets nearly 100,000 spouses of H1-B visa holders in the U.S. work. The rule, known as H-4 EAD, is currently being challenged in court by a group of American tech workers, Save Jobs USA, which says that visa holders and their spouses unfairly compete with American workers.

ADVERTISEMENT

The coalition of tech companies and organizations advocating for the program filed brief with the court on Friday.

In the amicus brief, the companies and organizations — including Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Twitter — say repealing the rule would “be utterly destructive for the families impacted” and hurt their businesses.

Read more.

 

Lighter click: Dakota Johnson’s influence...

An op-ed to chew on: Cybersecurity executive order is a game changer but not a panacea 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

ADVERTISEMENT

We Found Joe BidenJoe BidenMellman: Trump voters cling to 2020 tale FDA authorizes another batch of J&J vaccine Cotton warns of China collecting athletes' DNA at 2022 Olympics MORE's Secret Venmo. Here’s Why That’s A Privacy Nightmare For Everyone (BuzzFeed News / Ryan Mac, Katie Notopolous, Ryan Brooks and Logan McDonald)

Distancing from the vaccinated: Viral anti-vaccine infertility misinfo reaches new extremes (NBC News / April Glaser and Brandy Zadrozny)

SpaceX’s satellite internet service is a technological marvel — when it works (The Verge / Nilay Patel)

The Deadly Toll of Amazon’s Trucking Boom (The Information / Paris Martineau)

Employee Charges Amazon With Violating Labor Law at NYC Union Drive (Motherboard / Lauren Kaori Gurley)