Overnight Technology

Hillicon Valley: World disgusted by racist abuse toward players | Senate unanimously approves Jen Easterly to lead DHS cyber agency | WhatsApp privacy update sparks complaint from EU consumer groups


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 haven’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 (@millsrodrigo) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage. 

An onslaught of racist vitriol towards members of England’s soccer team flooded social media platforms, sparking fierce backlash. Twitter said it was taking action against the racist posts. 

Meanwhile, the U.S.’s cybersecurity leadership got a boost on Monday, with the Senate approving the nomination of Jen Easterly to serve as director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and Chris Inglis formally sworn in as White House national cyber director. The movement on the nominations came on the heels of escalating cyberattacks, most recently this month’s ransomware attack on software company Kaseya. 

WORLDWIDE OUTRAGE: The sports world is reeling Monday morning after an onslaught of racist vitriol was spewed on social media toward members of England’s soccer team following Sunday’s Euro 2020 final, in which England was beaten by Italy in penalty kicks.

Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka — who are Black — were the final three penalty kick takers for England during the shootout. 

All three missed, sealing the victory for Italy. 

It was a bitter defeat for England, which jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the game and hasn’t won an international championship since the 1966 World Cup. 

Almost instantly, Instagram and Twitter became inundated with waves of racist abuse aimed at the young stars, all of whom play for top-flight clubs in Europe.

The outpouring of hate has received widespread condemnation.

Read more about the backlash

Twitter’s response: Twitter on Monday said it is taking action on the growing score of racist posts targeting the players. 

In a statement to The Hill on Monday, the social media company condemned the “abhorrent racist abuse” directed at the players and said the attacks have “absolutely no place” on its platform. 

“In the past 24 hours, through a combination of machine learning based automation and human review, we have swiftly removed over 1000 Tweets and permanently suspended a number of accounts for violating our rules — the vast majority of which we detected ourselves proactively using technology,” a Twitter spokesperson said in the statement.

Read more here

BIG DAY FOR CYBER NOMINEES: The Senate on Monday unanimously approved the nomination of Jen Easterly to serve as director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Easterly’s nomination was approved by the Senate weeks after Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) blocked a vote on Easterly until either President Biden or Vice President Harris visited the U.S.-Mexico border. Harris visited the southern border late last month, and Scott has since lifted his hold. 

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which considered and approved Easterly’s nomination, expressed frustration Monday that she was not confirmed earlier.

“Before the Senate adjourned for the July 4th holiday, I stood right here and urged my colleagues to confirm her for this vital position,” Peters said on the Senate floor on Monday. “I warned that without confirming Ms. Easterly, we risked leaving ourselves vulnerable to cyberattacks, and in the two weeks since I last called on my colleagues to approve this critical nomination, nation state actors and criminal organizations have continued their relentless targeting of the United States.”

Read more about Easterly’s confirmation here.

Meanwhile, Chris Inglis, approved by the Senate last month to serve as the nation’s first White House national cyber director, was formally sworn into the position on Monday. 

Read more about Inglis’s position here. 

EU COMPLAINTS: European consumer groups filed a complaint against WhatsApp over a controversial privacy policy update on Monday, alleging the platform’s “intrusive” notifications pushing the update breached European Union commercial practices. 

The European Consumer Organization (BEUC), an umbrella consumers group based in Brussels, along with eight of its members in various countries, filed the complaint against the platform, owned by Facebook, arguing it failed to explain in “plain and intelligible language the nature of the changes.” 

“WhatsApp has been bombarding users for months with aggressive and persistent pop-up messages to force them to accept its new terms of use and privacy policy. They’ve been telling users that their access to their app will be cut off if they do not accept the new terms. Yet consumers don’t know what they’re actually accepting,” BEUC Director General Monique Goyens said in a statement

Read more here

ICYMI: A BRIEF TRIP TO SPACE: Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson successfully landed on Earth just after 12 p.m. ET Sunday, becoming the first billionaire to launch into space.

Branson made the trip, which lasted about 90 minutes, in a spaceplane created by his company that launched on Sunday morning after a 90-minute delay. After he exited the spacecraft, he hugged loved ones and celebrated with fans.

“What a day, what a day, what a day, what a day,” Branson said in remarks following the landing.

The launch from Virgin Galactic’s Spaceport America in New Mexico was slightly delayed on Sunday morning due to weather. It came just days before Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is set to launch into space on his own spacecraft.

Read more here

What we’re watching this week:

-A House Judiciary Committee subcommittee will examine law enforcement use of facial recognition technology during a hearing on Tuesday.  

-The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will consider multiple pieces of cyber-related legislation during a hearing Wednesday, including a bill to protect K-12 institutions against hackers. 

-The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on supply chain resiliency featuring testimony from technology experts. 

-The House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on reforming the Department of Homeland Security to meet evolving threats, which will likely include discussions of recent cybersecurity incidents. 

An op-ed to chew on: The US needs a ‘Digital Marshall Plan’ to counter China’s Digital Silk Road

Lighter click: Nightly routine 


 Hello, Content Creators Silicon Valley’s Investors Want to Meet You. (The New York Times / Taylor Lorenz and Erin Woo)  

A Pandemic Safety Feature On Uber And Lyft Is Getting Abused To Scam Drivers And Discriminate Against Passengers (BuzzFeed / Julia Reinstein) 

Elon Musk defends Tesla solar deal in court, calls opposing lawyer ‘a bad human being’ (Washington Post / Will Oremus and Gerrit De Vynck)

CTRL-ALT-Delete? The internet industry’s D.C. powerhouse vanishes (Politico / Emily Birnbaum) 

Tags Elon Musk Gary Peters Jeff Bezos Joe Biden

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