Hillicon Valley: Tech groups urge Congress to 'dig deeper' on Facebook role in Capitol riot | Kaseya denies paying hackers for decryption key | Tech coalition expands tracking of extremist content

Hillicon Valley: Tech groups urge Congress to 'dig deeper' on Facebook role in Capitol riot | Kaseya denies paying hackers for decryption key | Tech coalition expands tracking of extremist content
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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. 

The day before members of a House select committee tasked with investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot are set to hold their first hearing, a group of tech accountability groups sent a report renewing their request for lawmakers to look into what they called Facebooks’s “significant responsibility” in the attack. 


Meanwhile, software group Kaseya strongly denied paying a ransom to regain access to its network and those of its customers following a ransomware attack earlier this month, which impacted as many as 1,500 companies. 


DIG DEEP: Tech accountability groups are urging members of Congress to “dig deeper” into the role Facebook played in leading up to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol ahead of Tuesday’s House hearing about the attack, according to a report shared with The Hill on Monday. 

The groups are sending the report, composed of publicly available information and the groups’ previous findings of how Facebook was used ahead of the riot, to House and Senate leadership offices, as well as members of the House select committee formed to investigate the attack.

“These facts lead to an obvious conclusion: Facebook bears significant responsibility for the events that transpired on January 6th. The Select Committee should use their investigatory powers to dig deeper on what happened on the platform leading up to the insurrection, including behind the scenes to determine who knew what and when, in order to make sure the entity is held accountable for their role in the insurrection,” the report states. 

The renewed push from the groups, Accountable Tech, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), Media Matters and the Tech Transparency Project, comes the day before the House select committee holds its first hearing and as the federal government continues to clamp down on the spread of misinformation on social media platforms. 

Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone defended the platform’s policies put in place to respond to election disinformation and the riot at the Capitol. 


Read more here


NOTHING TO SEE HERE: Software company Kaseya on Monday strongly denied paying to get access to a key to decrypt its systems following a massive ransomware attack on the company that impacted up to 1,500 organizations earlier this month.

The denial came days after a spokesperson for Kaseya told The Hill it had obtained a decryption key for its systems and those of customers from a “trusted third party,” but did not comment on which third party that was and whether it had paid a ransom.

“While each company must make its own decision on whether to pay the ransom, Kaseya decided after consultation with experts to not negotiate with the criminals who perpetrated this attack and we have not wavered from that commitment,” the company wrote in a statement released Monday. “As such, we are confirming in no uncertain terms that Kaseya did not pay a ransom – either directly or indirectly through a third party – to obtain the decryptor.”

The company was hit by a ransomware attack ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend that has been linked by cybersecurity experts to the Russia-based REvil cybercriminal group, though the federal government has not made an official attribution. 

Read more about the attack here.


TERRORISM EXPANSION: A counterterrorism organization made up of some of the biggest U.S. tech companies is expanding the kind of extremist content that it tracks.

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism — which counts Facebook, Twitter and YouTube among its 17 member companies — said it will add manifestos, PDFs of terrorist publications and certain URLs to its database, which has so far focused on United Nations-designated terrorist groups such as al Qaeda, the Taliban and ISIS.

The expansion will include a greater focus on content from white supremacists.

The organization announced the expansion of its database in a 177-page report Monday.

“Chief among the report’s findings was a widespread view among our stakeholder community that the narrow scope of the database reflects broader discrimination and bias in the counterterrorism field, specifically a disproportionate focus on Islamist extremist content rather than white supremacist content,” wrote the organization’s executive director, Nicholas Rasmussen, and chief of staff, Johannah Lowin.

Read more.


ICYMI: BIDEN GETS TOUGH ON TECH: President BidenJoe BidenHaiti prime minister warns inequality will cause migration to continue Pelosi: House must pass 3 major pieces of spending legislation this week Erdoğan says Turkey plans to buy another Russian defense system MORE’s nomination of Jonathan Kanter to head the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) antitrust division completes an unexpected sweep of picks backed by the progressive movement to break up the country’s biggest tech companies.

Along with Kanter, the administration successfully installed Lina KhanLina KhanHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Democrats press FTC to resolve data privacy 'crisis' Democrats ask FTC to fix data privacy 'crisis' Overnight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens MORE as chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and appointed Tim Wu to a White House advisory role.

The three picks are a sign of Biden’s intent to revitalize antitrust law and challenge monopolies.

Read more here


What we’re watching during a (very busy) week: 


-The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing July 27 on how the government can prevent and respond to ransomware attacks. 

-Top officials from the Department of Transportation and the Transportation Security Administration will testify before the Senate Commerce Committee during a hearing July 27 on cyber threats to pipelines.

-DHS Secretary Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasHaiti prime minister warns inequality will cause migration to continue O'Rourke slams White House's treatment of Haitian migrants: 'Didn't have to happen' Sunday shows preview: Pelosi announces date for infrastructure vote; administration defends immigration policies MORE will outline resources his agency needs to secure the nation, likely involving discussion of cyber and technology issues, during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing July 27.

-A House Oversight and Reform Committee subcommittee will examine cyber threats to the electric grid during a hearing featuring federal officials on July 27. 

-The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce will consider over a dozen bills involving the Federal Trade Commission and consumer protection during a markup July 28. 

-A House Homeland Security Committee subcommittee will hold a hearing July 29 on educating the workforce to understand cybersecurity threats. 



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