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Hillicon Valley: TSA formally directs pipeline companies to report cybersecurity incidents in wake of Colonial attack | Tech trade groups sue Florida over new social media law

Hillicon Valley: TSA formally directs pipeline companies to report cybersecurity incidents in wake of Colonial attack | Tech trade groups sue Florida over new social media law
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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.

The Transportation Security Administration issued a security directive Thursday to strengthen federal cybersecurity oversight of pipelines following the attack on the Colonial Pipeline. Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee announced a series of hearings slated for the summer, and tech trade groups are suing Florida over a bill that aims to prohibit social media companies from banning politicians. 

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IT’S OFFICIAL: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) formally issued a security directive Thursday to strengthen federal cybersecurity oversight of pipelines, weeks after a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline led to fuel shortages in multiple states. 

The directive, released two days after The Washington Post first reported on its existence, requires pipeline companies to report cybersecurity incidents within 12 hours of them occurring to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Both CISA and TSA are part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 

The directive also requires pipeline owners and operators to designate an individual who is available 24/7 to coordinate with officials at both TSA and CISA in the event of a cyber incident, and for owners and operators to carry out assessments of existing cybersecurity practices to identify potential gaps and report their findings to TSA and CISA within 30 days. 

“The cybersecurity landscape is constantly evolving and we must adapt to address new and emerging threats," DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement on Thursday. “The recent ransomware attack on a major petroleum pipeline demonstrates that the cybersecurity of pipeline systems is critical to our homeland security. DHS will continue to work closely with our private sector partners to support their operations and increase the resilience of our nation’s critical infrastructure.”

Read more here.

 

Y’ALL HEAR ABOUT THIS?: The top two lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust on Thursday announced a set of three hearings scheduled for the summer.

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Subcommittee Chair Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHouse unveils antitrust package to rein in tech giants Democrats reintroduce bill to create 'millionaires surtax' Senate Democrats befuddled by Joe Manchin MORE (D-Minn.) and ranking member Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeGOP senators press Justice Department to compare protest arrests to Capitol riot Matt Stoller says cheerleading industry shows why antitrust laws are 'insufficient' Senate chaos: Johnson delays exit as votes pushed to Friday MORE (R-Utah) are two key figures in attempts to turn the appetite for antitrust reform, especially with regards to Big Tech, into policy. 

The first hearing will focus on “competition concerns” in the world of smart home technologies, which have exploded in popularity over the last few years.

Concentration in the market is already being scrutinized by the European Commission, which opened an investigation into the broader "Internet of Things" — simply understood as devices connected to the internet — last summer. 

Google’s role in particular in the smart speaker market has been mentioned as an antitrust concern in lawsuits filed against the Silicon Valley giant by state attorneys general. 

Read here.

ABOUT THAT BILL: Two tech grade groups filed a lawsuit Thursday against Florida over a newly signed law that would fine social media platforms that try to permanently ban political candidates. 

The complaint filed by NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) allege the Florida bill infringes on free speech protections and has a “political motive” to target companies based on the state’s opinion on companies’ content moderation decisions. 

“Rather than preventing what it calls ‘censorship,’ the Act does the exact opposite: it empowers government officials in Florida to police the protected editorial judgment of online businesses that the State disfavors and whose perceived political viewpoints it wishes to punish,” the complaint states

Florida Gov. Ron Desantis (R) signed the bill Monday. It would prohibit most tech companies, with an exception for companies that own and operate theme parks, from banning politicians in the state.

Christina Pushaw, a spokesperson for DeSantis, defended the law in response to the suit. 

"We are confident that this new legislation has a strong legal basis and protects Floridians’ constitutional rights,” Pushaw said in an email. 

Read more about the lawsuit

 

ON THE DECLINE: Engagement with disinformation on Twitter and Facebook dropped in the first three months of 2021 compared to historic highs the year before, according to an analysis released by the German Marshall Fund’s Digital New Deal initiative Thursday. 

The analysis found a 60 percent quarterly decline in the sharing of content from “deceptive sites” by verified accounts on Twitter, and a smaller 15 percent decline on user interactions with content from deceptive sites on Facebook. 

Karen Kornbluh, director of the fund's digital innovation and democracy initiative, attributed the decline to actions the platforms took to combat disinformation in recent months. 

“This encouraging decrease shows that they do in fact have effective tools to tackle disinformation at the source. We encourage platforms to continue taking proactive measures instead of resorting to ineffective, whack-a-mole efforts against content that has already gone viral,” Kornbluh said in a statement. 

Read more about the analysis

 

UYGHURS TARGETED: Members of the Uyghur Muslim community in China and abroad are being targeted in a surveillance efforts by likely "Chinese-speaking" hackers through the use of fake emails from the United Nations (U.N.) and a human rights group, cybersecurity researchers announced Thursday. 

The findings were part of a joint collaboration between cybersecurity groups Check Point Research and Kaspersky’s Global Research & Analysis Team, which concluded with “low to medium confidence” that the effort was carried out by Chinese-speaking hackers.

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The researchers found that the hackers were targeting Uyghurs in both China and Pakistan using malicious emails designed to trick individuals into installing a back door into Microsoft Windows software to allow the hackers to collect information and carry out further attacks. 

Read more here.

 

PARTY BANS: Airbnb is extending its “party ban” on rentals through the end of the summer in the interest of public health, the company announced Thursday.

The update extends the ban the house rental company put in place last August on all parties and event listings on its platform.

“At the time of the August 2020 policy change, COVID-19 cases were spiking, and vaccines were not yet approved. As we said then and still believe now, this indefinite ban was in the best interest of public health,” Airbnb said in a blog post.

Read more about the update

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Lighter click: Y’all got the new Shailene?

An op-ed to chew on: 5G's segmentation may create another digital divide

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

'FIND THIS FUCK:' Inside Citizen’s Dangerous Effort to Cash In On Vigilantism (Motherboard / Joseph Cox and Jason Koebler)

South Korea’s elderly conservatives turn to YouTube, and conspiracy theories (Rest of World / Grace Moon)

Why Are Israeli Defense Forces Soldiers Posting Thirst Traps on TikTok? (Rolling Stone / EJ Dickson)

Facebook Employees Are Accusing Their Own Company Of Bias Against Arabs And Muslims (BuzzFeed News / Ryan Mac)