Hillicon Valley: Advocacy groups target Facebook employees in push to keep Trump off platform | Senior Biden cyber nominees sail through Senate hearing | State Dept. urges Nigeria to reverse Twitter ban

Hillicon Valley: Advocacy groups target Facebook employees in push to keep Trump off platform | Senior Biden cyber nominees sail through Senate hearing | State Dept. urges Nigeria to reverse Twitter ban
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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.

More than 30 advocacy groups are organizing to encourage Facebook employees to keep former President TrumpDonald TrumpIran claims U.S. to lift all oil sanctions but State Department says 'nothing is agreed' Ivanka Trump, Kushner distance themselves from Trump claims on election: CNN Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs chairman clashes with GOP on critical race theory | House bill introduced to overhaul military justice system as sexual assault reform builds momentum MORE off the platform permanently. Meanwhile, President BidenJoe BidenSchumer vows to advance two-pronged infrastructure plan next month Biden appoints veteran housing, banking regulator as acting FHFA chief Iran claims U.S. to lift all oil sanctions but State Department says 'nothing is agreed' MORE’s nominees to hold the two most senior cyber positions in the federal government faced little opposition during their nomination hearing Thursday, and the State Department urged Nigeria to reverse its decision to suspend Twitter in the country. 


KEEP HIM OFF: Advocacy groups are targeting Facebook’s employees with an ad campaign urging the platform to keep former President Trump banned permanently. 

More than 30 advocacy groups ran a full page ad in the San Jose Mercury News on Thursday slamming the platform’s announcement last week that it would keep Trump’s suspension in place until at least 2023, leaving open the possibility of his return ahead of the 2024 election.

The ad featured a letter signed by the groups, including Media Matters for America, Accountable Tech, the Anti-Defamation League, Avaaz and the Black Lives Matter Global Network, to 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 calling it “unconscionable” to even consider giving Trump a chance to return. 

“You would be handing him the megaphone through which he incited an insurrection — all without implementing meaningful design or enforcement changes to prevent the worst from happening again,” the letter states. 

The newspaper ad is part of a six-figure ad campaign launched by Media Matters and Accountable Tech that also includes digital ads, as well as billboard and truck banners near Facebook’s corporate offices. 

Read more here

NO SWEAT: The nominees selected by President Biden to fill the top two cybersecurity positions in the federal government faced little opposition during their Senate nomination hearing on Thursday amid growing bipartisan concerns about increasing cyber threats. 


Former National Security Agency (NSA) Deputy Director Chris Inglis, nominated by Biden to fill the new position of national cyber director at the White House, and Jen Easterly, nominated to lead the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), stressed to senators Thursday the need to confront mounting cyberattacks. 

“It will not stop of its own accord, it is not a fire raging across the prairie that once it’s consumed the fuel it will simply stop and we can simply wait for that moment, we must stand in,” Inglis testified to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on cyber threats. “It will never go away completely, but we can bring it down, we can bring it to heel significantly.”

Easterly, who previously served as the deputy for counterterrorism at the NSA, stressed the need to “anticipate the unimaginable” when combating threats in cyberspace. 

“Even as we contend with the billions of daily intrusions against our networks by malicious actors, I believe that as a nation, we remain at great risk of a catastrophic cyberattack,” Easterly testified. 

While both Inglis and Easterly faced tough technical questions about their plans for the roles, no members of the committee on Thursday expressed opposition to the nominations.

Read more about the nominations here.

BATTLES ABROAD: The United States on Thursday condemned Nigeria’s move to suspend Twitter in the country after its president had a post removed by the platform.

“Unduly restricting the ability of Nigerians to report, gather, and disseminate opinions and information has no place in a democracy,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. “Freedom of expression and access to information both online and offline are foundational to prosperous and secure democratic societies.”

Twitter deleted a post by President Muhammadu Buhari last week for violating its policy on abusive behavior.

The post appeared to threaten secessionist groups in the southeast of Nigeria that had attacked government offices, which the platform determined should be taken down.

On Friday, the government announced via Twitter that the platform would be suspended. The next day the country’s attorney general announced that Nigerians dodging that ban would be prosecuted. 

Read more.

NOT SO FAST: Sweeping legislation to bolster U.S. technology manufacturing in an effort to make the nation more competitive with China is on track to be one of the few major bipartisan achievements this year — but not without overcoming additional hurdles in the House.

Following Senate passage on Tuesday after a grueling few weeks of negotiations, House members are preparing to advance their own measures to boost scientific research and exert diplomatic pressure on Beijing on issues like climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The House is moving forward with legislation separate from the Senate-passed measure that ultimately garnered bipartisan support in a 68-32 vote. That means it could be weeks or even months before the two chambers can reconcile any differences and get a final bill to the White House.

Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats urge Biden to extend moratorium on student loan payments White House draws ire of progressives amid voting rights defeat Murkowski to vote 'no' on voting rights bill MORE (D-N.Y.) acknowledged on Wednesday that “the House could bring in additional priorities,” but added he was “intent on seeing the major thrust of this legislation become law.”

“The bill is so important to the future of America that the House and Senate must come together and send President Biden a bill that he is very, very eager to sign,” Schumer said.

Read more about the legislation here. 

AMAZON’S INITIATIVE: Amazon created a $12 million workplace injury initiative in partnership with the National Safety Council aimed at researching and reducing the most common workplace injuries, the council said Thursday

The partnership comes as the Seattle-based e-commerce giant has committed to maintain its productivity targets for warehouse workers despite Washington state’s safety regulator determining last month the pressure is causing injuries and violating the law. 

The initiative will seek to find “innovative solutions” to prevent the most common workplace injury: musculoskeletal disorders, or injuries involving nerves, muscles, joints and other body parts.


Read more about the effort

PAY UP: A European Union privacy regulator has reportedly proposed issuing a more than $425 million fine against Amazon over alleged violations to European data privacy laws. 

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that people familiar with the matter said that Luxembourg’s National Data Protection Commission, or the CNPD, had circulated a draft petition for fines to be imposed on Amazon across the EU’s 27 countries. 

The CNPD serves as Amazon’s lead privacy regulator in the EU, with the multinational tech giant’s European headquarters located in the country’s capital of Luxembourg City. 

Read more here

NEWS FROM ACROSS THE POND: President Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday announced an update to the Atlantic Charter, a World War II-era document that laid out shared commitments from the U.S. and United Kingdom.

The renewed document contains eight key pledges that cover commitments to the NATO alliance, efforts to improve health systems amid the pandemic, tackle climate change and defend democratic institutions from malign actors.


The leaders also vowed in the charter to strengthen laws and norms that sustain international cooperation; oppose interference through misinformation or other malign influence, including election interference; and invest and develop new technologies to both open new economic markets and foster global cooperation. 

Read more about the agreement here. 

ICYMI: NO SURPRISE HERE: Major meat producer JBS USA said it paid the equivalent of $11 million to hackers to resolve a ransomware attack that forced the company to shut down its beef plants.

The company said in a statement on Thursday that it made the decision to “mitigate any unforeseen issues related to the attack and ensure no data was exfiltrated.”

Andre Nogueira, CEO of JBS USA, told The Wall Street Journal that the company paid the ransom in bitcoin. 

“This was a very difficult decision to make for our company and for me personally,” Nogueira said in the company's statement. “However, we felt this decision had to be made to prevent any potential risk for our customers.” 

The statement comes a week after JBS was forced to temporarily halt production at its plants following the cyberattack that affected servers in both North America and Australia.

Read more about the decision here. 

Lighter click: The absolute worst feeling

An op-ed to chew on: Ransomware ‘wake-up calls’: We keep sleeping through the threats


Uber offers to pay drivers’ health insurance, and then yanks it away (The Verge / Andrew J. Hawkins)

Justice Department, international law enforcement disrupt major marketplace for cybercriminals (CyberScoop / Tonya Riley) 

Google Seeks to Break Vicious Cycle of Online Slander (New York Times / Kashmir Hill and Daisuke Wakabayashi)