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Hillicon Valley: Court dismisses FTC, state antitrust cases against Facebook | YouTube ‘mistakenly’ suspends Right Wing Watch | Report finds costs of cyberattacks could exceed natural disasters

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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 and Happy Monday! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage. 

Washington’s crackdown on the market power of Big Tech hit a roadblock Monday, after a D.C. federal court dismissed two antitrust cases brought against Facebook. The update comes after the House Judiciary Committee last week advanced six bills aimed at giving regulators more authority to rein in the power of the tech companies, and supporters of the bills are using the dismissal to boost the bills as they head to a full floor vote (see top Republican on the House antitrust subcommittee Colorado Rep. Ken Buck’s reaction here).

Meanwhile, YouTube reinstated the Right Wing Watch channel after it was “mistakenly” suspended, and a new report estimated the cost of potential major cyberattacks could exceed that of natural disasters such as hurricanes. 


CASE DISMISSED: A D.C. federal court on Monday dismissed two antitrust cases brought against Facebook last year in a major setback for federal and state regulators.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will have an opportunity to file an amended complaint, but the challenge from a coalition of state attorneys general led by New York’s Letitia James (D) has been dismissed entirely.

The regulatory agency had argued that Facebook stifled competition by acquiring nascent competitors. The case called for the unwinding of WhatsApp and Instagram.

Judge James E. Boasberg, an Obama-era nominee, dismissed the FTC’s complaint as presented, but not the argument that Facebook may have a monopoly on “personal social networking.” He said the regulatory agency provided insufficient evidence to prove that Facebook controls over 60 percent of the market — as the case alleges — but that conceivably it could do so.

What’s next: The FTC has until July 29 to file an amended complaint.

The court also determined Monday that the state AG case was filed too late. The lawsuit, filed last year, had challenged Facebook’s acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram, which were completed in 2014 and 2012 respectively. 

What Facebook thinks: A company spokesperson said Facebook is “pleased” by Monday’s rulings.

“We compete fairly every day to earn people’s time and attention and will continue to deliver great products for the people and businesses that use our services,” they added in a statement.

The social media giant hit a market cap of $1 trillion for the first time Monday shortly after the rulings.

Read more here.


OOPS: YouTube reinstated the channel Right Wing Watch on Monday, saying it “mistakenly” suspended the account, which focuses on monitoring conservative groups and figures.

“Right Wing Watch’s YouTube channel was mistakenly suspended, but upon further review, has now been reinstated,” a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement. 

Right Wing Watch tweeted screenshots Monday from YouTube messages notifying the group that its channel had been suspended over community guideline violations, and that an appeal to the suspension had been denied. 

“Our efforts to expose the bigoted view and dangerous conspiracy theories spread by right-wing activists has now resulted in @YouTube banning our channel and removing thousands of our videos,” the group tweeted. 

Read more here


MONEY, MONEY, MONEY: The cost of a major cyberattack on a critical major U.S. utility or service provider could rival that of a natural disaster such as a hurricane, a report released Monday found.

The report, put together by experts from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and insurance group Intangic, used a risk-rating system developed by Intangic to estimate the impact of two types of disruptive cyberattacks.

The findings estimated that a three-day cyber disruption of a managed service provider giving IT services to hundreds of customers across a variety of critical fields could lead to an economic loss of almost $80 billion, more than the $65 billion cost of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. 

“Cyber vulnerabilities pose a systemic risk to the U.S. economy,” the report reads.

Read more about the findings here.


ICYMI: CAMPAIGNS IN THE CROSSHAIRS: Political campaigns are ramping up their protections, worrying the next in a rising number of ransomware attacks could target them.

Cyber criminals have gone after an ever-increasing number of targets, from Colonial Pipeline to JBS USA. And political campaigns are painfully familiar with risks after the 2016 attacks on the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

“I think we have already seen Armageddon in what happened in 2016 at the DNC,” said Jesse Thomas, senior director of impact and mobilization of the Democratic firm Bully Pulpit Interactive. 

Russian hackers leaked thousands of Democratic National Committee emails ahead of the 2016 presidential election, doing damage to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“That was absolutely as bad as it could possibly get to have full penetration of the network and then having your internal documents used and weaponized,” Thomas added. 

Read more about threats to campaigns here.

On tap this week:

-A House Armed Service Committee subcommittee is holding a hearing Tuesday on the Department of Defense’s information technology and cybersecurity outlook over the upcoming year.

-The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on securing wireless networks and supply chains, during which lawmakers will consider multiple pieces of legislation 

-A House Oversight and Reform Committee panel will hold a hearing Wednesday on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on state and local information technology.

An op-ed to chew on: New Pentagon report sheds little light on UFOs

Lighter click: Thank you 🙂


Fired by Bot at Amazon: ‘It’s You Against the Machine’ (Bloomberg / Spencer Soper)

Russian hackers breached Microsoft customer support to try phishing targets in 36 countries (CyberScoop / Jeff Stone) 

The broadband gap’s dirty secret: Redlining still exists in digital form (CNET / Shara Tibken)

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