Hillicon Valley: Democrats urge Facebook to abandon 'Instagram for kids' plan | 'Homework gap' likely to persist after pandemic

Hillicon Valley: Democrats urge Facebook to abandon 'Instagram for kids' plan | 'Homework gap' likely to persist after pandemic
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Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.

A group of congressional Democrats on Tuesday called on Facebook to abandon a plan to create an Instagram for kids platform, further amplifying criticism of the plan. Meanwhile, advocates are expressing concerns that the “homework gap” created by digital learning during the COVID-19 pandemic may continue once students return to in-person classes, and Colonial Pipeline said it was experiencing some technical issues a week after service resumed after a devastating ransomware attack. 

FACEBOOK’S NOT-SO-POPULAR PLAN: A group of congressional Democrats ramped up calls for Facebook to abandon a plan to create an Instagram for kids platform, alleging that the company failed to adequately address concerns the lawmakers raised. 

The controversial plan, which has drawn the ire of advocacy groups and bipartisan attorneys general nationwide, was also the target of questioning from senators across the aisle at a Tuesday Senate Commerce Committee hearing on children’s online data privacy and manipulative marketing. 

“I have no trust, none, that Facebook will keep these young users safe. It has failed far too often,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said at the hearing. 

“Facebook should stop this additional intrusive and potentially dangerous interference in kids' lives and abandon plans for Instagram kids,” he added. 

Read more about the pushback

 

POST-PANDEMIC PROBLEMS: The digital divide in education that was exposed by remote learning during the pandemic is likely to persist even when students return to classrooms, advocates warn.

The “homework gap” — the divide between students who have home access to the internet for educational purposes and those who don’t — has proven challenging for educators in rural and even some urban areas where broadband is not available or affordable. Many teachers are also affected.

While efforts are underway to provide students with adequate internet access, advocates say the problem is unlikely to go away in the fall because remote learning will not completely go away when in-person classes resume.

“This is like water, as far as we're concerned,” said Titilayo Tinubu Ali, senior director of research and policy at the Southern Education Foundation. “It's a utility in the 21st century, to have access to high quality internet in your home, so that you can do your learning in a place that's convenient and comfortable.”

Read more here

 

NOTHING TO SEE HERE: Colonial Pipeline announced Tuesday that its internal servers were experiencing “intermittent disruptions," but stressed the problem was separate from the devastating ransomware attack that disrupted operations earlier this month.

“Our internal server that runs our nomination system experienced intermittent disruptions this morning due to some of the hardening efforts that are ongoing and part of our restoration process,” the company tweeted. “These issues were not related to the ransomware or any type of reinfection.”

Colonial Pipeline, which supplies about 45 percent of the East Coast’s fuel supply, noted that it was working to resolve the disruptions to the nomination system, which allows pipelines to schedule gas deliveries for customers.

“We are working diligently to bring our nomination system back online and will continue to keep our shippers updated,” the company tweeted. “The Colonial Pipeline system continues to deliver refined products as nominated by our shippers.”

Read more here. 

 

PAUSE EXTENDED: Amazon is extending its ban on police use of its facial recognition technology until further notice, the company confirmed Tuesday.

The company put the ban in place last June during protests spurred by the police killing of George Floyd.

An Amazon spokesperson declined to provide any further details to The Hill. Reuters first reported the extension.

The company initially said the moratorium was being instituted in hopes it would give “Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules” governing facial recognition technology. 

Read more.

 

WE TAKE IT BACK: The Department of Justice (DOJ) retracted a grand jury subpoena earlier this year for information that would identify the person behind an anonymous Twitter account parodying Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesLawmakers spend more on personal security in wake of insurrection Tucker Carlson claims NSA leaked private emails to journalists McCarthy calls for investigation into claims NSA was spying on Tucker Carlson MORE (R-Calif.), according to a court document unsealed on Tuesday.

The filing was revealed a day after a federal court in Washington, D.C., unsealed a motion showing the Trump administration's DOJ had issued a grand jury subpoena to Twitter demanding that it turn over the identifying information regarding the user @NunesAlt.

The latest document unsealed on Tuesday shows that the U.S. Attorney's office in D.C. withdrew the subpoena in March, two months after President BidenJoe BidenOvernight Defense: Senate panel adds B to Biden's defense budget | House passes bill to streamline visa process for Afghans who helped US | Pentagon confirms 7 Colombians arrested in Haiti leader's killing had US training On The Money: Senate braces for nasty debt ceiling fight | Democrats pushing for changes to bipartisan deal | Housing prices hit new high in June Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises | Website outages hit Olympics, Amazon and major banks MORE took office.

Read more about the retraction

 

BILLS IN THE PIPELINE: Multiple bills meant to secure critical infrastructure against cyber threats were approved by the House Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday afternoon, just a week after a ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline caused fuel shortages across the nation. 

The committee unanimously approved the Pipeline Security Act, introduced last week by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) and a dozen other bipartisan cosponsors, which would boost pipeline security efforts at both the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Additionally, the committee approved legislation, spearheaded by Rep. Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinHouse erupts in anger over Jan. 6 and Trump's role House passes host of bills to strengthen cybersecurity in wake of attacks Democrat unveils bill to allow only House members to serve as Speaker MORE (D-Mich.), requiring CISA to establish a National Cyber Exercise Program to test critical infrastructure readiness against cyberattacks.

Finally, the committee also approved legislation sponsored primarily by Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeBiden signs bill to bolster crime victims fund The faith community can help pass a reparations bill Hillicon Valley: Russian hacking group believed to be behind Kaseya attack goes offline | DHS funding package pours millions into migrant surveillance | Jen Easterly sworn in as director of DHS cyber agency MORE (D-Texas) to help improve the reporting of cybersecurity vulnerabilities. The legislation was previously approved by the House in 2019, but was never taken up by the Senate. 

Read more about the bills here. 

 

UNDER PRESSURE: The bipartisan leaders of the House Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday urged President Biden to ensure there is a plan in place to ensure the nation’s economy is not disrupted by a major cyberattack.

The concerns, voiced as part of a letter sent to Biden by Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonDemocrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe, eyeing new GOP reinforcements Pelosi considering Kinzinger for Jan. 6 panel: report House erupts in anger over Jan. 6 and Trump's role MORE (D-Miss.) and ranking member Rep. John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoSenators introduce bipartisan bill to secure critical groups against hackers House erupts in anger over Jan. 6 and Trump's role McCarthy yanks all GOP picks from Jan. 6 committee MORE (R-N.Y.), come on the heels of the ransomware attack earlier this month on Colonial Pipeline. 

“The attack on Colonial presented a troubling situation, halting services from the largest fuel pipeline on the U.S. East Coast,” the lawmakers wrote Tuesday. “While thankfully Colonial has begun the process to restore operations, the incident highlights the criticality and interdependencies of our nation’s critical infrastructure. We as a nation can and must do more.”

Read more about their concerns here. 

 

WASN’T RUSSIA: Russia’s spy chief is denying that his country is responsible for the cyberattack on IT group SolarWinds.

Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Director Sergei Naryshkin, a close ally of President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinKaseya obtains key to decrypt systems weeks after ransomware attack The withdrawal from Afghanistan happened too fast and will have consequences US, Germany reach deal on controversial Russian pipeline MORE, said the claims that his nation is behind the cyberattack resemble “a bad detective novel,” according to Reuters.

Last month, President Biden formally named the SVR as the culprit behind the cyberattack, which has become one of the largest cyber espionage attacks in U.S. history.

Read more here. 

 

THE FUTURE: White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiOvernight Health Care: Biden officials says no change to masking guidance right now | Missouri Supreme Court rules in favor of Medicaid expansion | Mississippi's attorney general asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade Biden administration stokes frustration over Canada White House blasts China's 'dangerous' rejection of coronavirus origins study MORE said Tuesday that President Biden is investing in electric vehicle markets because that’s where the future of manufacturing and job creation is.

“I would say to any skeptics, anyone who’s questioning why we’re investing in the electric vehicle markets or why the president’s proposing that: that’s where jobs are, that’s where the future of the auto manufacturing is. That is where the future of job creation in communities like Michigan is and that’s the message he’s going to send when he’s on the ground today,” Psaki said ahead of Biden's visit to Ford’s electric vehicle center.

Read more here

 

WEBBY WINNER:  Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: Biden officials says no change to masking guidance right now | Missouri Supreme Court rules in favor of Medicaid expansion | Mississippi's attorney general asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade Writer: Fauci, Paul clash shouldn't distract from probe into COVID-19 origins S.E. Cupp: 'The politicization of science and health safety has inarguably cost lives' MORE, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has been named Webby’s “Person of the Year.” 

The company announced the news on Tuesday, saying Fauci was given the distinction for his efforts serving as a trusted voice during the COVID-19 pandemic, by fact-checking false coronavirus claims from former President TrumpDonald TrumpNew Capitol Police chief to take over Friday Overnight Health Care: Biden officials says no change to masking guidance right now | Missouri Supreme Court rules in favor of Medicaid expansion | Mississippi's attorney general asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade Michael Wolff and the art of monetizing gossip MORE and for doing interviews with celebrities spreading information about the virus.

“By taking interviews with influencers, celebrities and YouTube creators on their platforms, Dr. FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: Biden officials says no change to masking guidance right now | Missouri Supreme Court rules in favor of Medicaid expansion | Mississippi's attorney general asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade Writer: Fauci, Paul clash shouldn't distract from probe into COVID-19 origins S.E. Cupp: 'The politicization of science and health safety has inarguably cost lives' MORE has provided authoritative information on COVID-19 and vaccine development to younger audiences across the Internet,” Webby said in its announcement. 

Read more here


Lighter click: New bird just dropped

An op-ed to chew on: It’s time for a new, secure internet 

 

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