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Hillicon Valley: Cryptocurrency recovered from Colonial deal | Google settles French ad case | Republicans under pressure over tech donations

Hillicon Valley: Cryptocurrency recovered from Colonial deal | Google settles French ad case | Republicans under pressure over tech donations
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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.

Millions of dollars in cryptocurrency paid out by Colonial Pipeline have been recovered, American authorities announced Monday; reports have suggested that roughly $2.3 million were gotten back from the DarkSide network. In other news, Google settled an antitrust case with French authorities over its ad market dominance.

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COLONIAL NEWS: U.S. investigators have recovered millions of dollars in cryptocurrency that Colonial Pipeline paid hackers last month to end a ransomware attack on its systems.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced Monday afternoon that the Department of Justice “found and recaptured the majority of the ransom” paid to the DarkSide network, the group responsible for the attack.

Paul Abbate, the deputy director of the FBI, said the bureau successfully seized the ransom funds from a bitcoin wallet that DarkSide used to collect Colonial Pipeline’s payment.

Monaco, however, would not reveal how much money was taken from the account.

Colonial Pipeline, a network that provides around 45 percent of the East Coast’s fuel, was the target of a crippling cyberattack last month that forced it to shut down operations for several days.

Joseph Blount, the company’s CEO, later revealed in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that he authorized the company to pay the cyber criminals behind the attack the equivalent of $4.4 million in bitcoin on the day of the breach in exchange for the keys to decrypt the network.

The FBI recommends against paying the ransom, as it may encourage the hackers to go after another group, and the payment may be used for criminal operations. The Biden administration has reiterated this stance in recent weeks. 

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GOOGLE SETTLES: Google agreed to pay a fine of $270 million and make changes to its online ad tools in a settlement with French regulators announced Monday.

France’s competition watchdog investigation had focused on Google’s alleged abuse of its leading role in the digital advertising sector.

Google did not dispute the facts of the case and opted to settle while proposing changes, according to the Competition Authority.

"The decision to sanction Google is of particular significance because it's the first decision in the world focusing on the complex algorithmic auction processes on which the online ad business relies," Isabelle de Sila, the authority’s chief, said in a statement.

Google France’s legal director said that the commitments made will make it easier for ad publishers to use the platform’s data and tools. An independent observer will be assigned to monitor Google’s compliance.

And while the changes are only binding in France, Maria Gomri said Google will be testing its tweaks “over the coming months before rolling them out more broadly, including some globally.”

The settlement announced Monday is one of the first by a tech giant in an antitrust case. It’s also the first time Google has agreed to make changes to its advertising business.

Read more about the agreement.



UNDER PRESSURE: The conservative group American Principles Project is putting pressure on Republicans to be wary of groups that have financial ties with tech giants, according to a letter published Monday. 

The group warns congressional Republicans to be cautious about meeting with organizations that are accepting funds from the Silicon Valley giants.

The letter is hinged on the narrative conservatives have been pushing that tech giants are censoring content with an anti-conservative bias, though there is a lack of evidence to back up those claims.

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FACEBOOK VS. APPLE (AGAIN): Facebook won’t take a cut of revenue from creators using paid features on its platform until 2023, Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergTexas governor signs ban on outside help for election administrators Hillicon Valley: NATO members agree to new cyber defense policy | YouTube banning politics, elections in masthead ads | 50 groups urge Biden to fill FCC position to reinstate net neutrality rules Pink Floyd's Roger Waters: 'No f---ing way' Zuckerberg can use our song for ad MORE said Monday while knocking Apple over its commission fees. 

Facebook will keep paid online events, fan subscriptions badges and “upcoming independent news products” free for creators for the next couple of years, he said in a post

“And when we do introduce a revenue share, it will be less than the 30% that Apple and others take,” he added.

Facebook will also launch a new payout interface that will allow creators to see how different companies' fees and taxes are “impacting their earnings,” Zuckerberg said. 

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SEE YOU IN SPACE: Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosOvernight Energy: Lake Mead's decline points to scary water future in West | White House leads opposition to raising gas tax | Biden taps ex-New Mexico lawmaker for USDA post On The Money: Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle | White House rules out gas tax hike Democrats have turned solidly against gas tax MORE will launch into space next month on the first human flight for New Shepard, the rocket created by his space flight company Blue Origin.

Bezos, the richest person in the world, announced in an Instagram post on Monday that he will fly to space on July 20 with his brother Mark.

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“Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space. On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend. #GradatimFerociter,” Bezos wrote on Instagram, adding his company's motto, which is the Latin translation for "Step by Step, Ferociously."

Read more here

Lighter click: Me and who?

An op-ed to chew on: Ransomware attacks show we're getting clobbered on cybersecurity

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