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Hillicon Valley: US has made progress on cyber but more needed, report says | Democrat urges changes for ‘problematic’ crypto language in infrastructure bill | Facebook may be forced to unwind Giphy acquisition

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

In the wake of a string of cybersecurity attacks, a report issued Thursday found the federal government is making progress against threats. But the committee behind the report said there is still work to be done.

And concerns over cryptocurrency regulation laid out in the infrastructure bill that plagued the Senate in recent days are making their way to the House. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) wrote a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) calling for the language to be amended after a bipartisan effort in the Senate failed. Meanwhile, Facebook is facing more trouble across the pond on the antitrust front.

MAKING PROGRESS: The federal government has made “significant” progress on strengthening the United States against cyber threats over the past year, but more work remains, a congressionally-established bipartisan committee concluded in a report published Thursday. 

The Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC) — a group composed of members of Congress, federal officials and industry leaders — found in its 2021 implementation report that around three-quarters of its recommendations for defending the U.S. against cyber threats have been implemented since March 2020. 

The CSC was charged by Congress with submitting recommendations for strengthening the nation’s cyber defense, with the CSC publishing 82 recommendations last year. Among those implemented include the creation of a national cyber director position at the White House, with Chris Inglis confirmed by the Senate to the position last month, and strengthening the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

More than two dozen of the CSC’s recommendations were included in the most recent National Defense Authorization Act, most with bipartisan support. 

But the report Thursday stressed that in the wake of a year of escalating attacks, such as the ransomware attacks on Colonial Pipeline and meat producer JBS USA, more remains to be done.

Read more about the report


CRYPTO CRITICISM HEADS TO THE HOUSE: Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) is joining the growing chorus calling for an amendment to language in the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill imposing new regulations on the cryptocurrency industry. 

Eshoo sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Thursday urging her to amend “the problematic broker definition” in the Senate-passed bill that now faces the lower chamber. 

“I share the goals of the underlying provision to address tax evasion in the cryptocurrency market, but the House should amend it, as the bipartisan compromise amendment would have, to meet this goal without stifling innovation in a nascent industry by imposing unworkable regulations,” Eshoo wrote. “I stand ready to work with you to ensure the infrastructure legislation addresses tax evasion to pay for its investments without unduly threatening a growing sector of our economy.”

According to a leadership aide, the final language in the infrastructure bill will be reviewed. 

Read more about the letter


GIPHY GOOF?: Facebook’s acquisition of the animated image search engine Giphy may harm competition and potentially should be unwound, regulators in the United Kingdom said Thursday.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) provisionally found that the takeover would negatively impact competitiveness in the social media market.

“Millions of posts every day on social media sites now include a GIF,” the agency wrote in a blog post. “Any reduction in the choice or quality of these GIFs could significantly affect how people use these sites and whether or not they switch to a different platform, such as Facebook. As most major social media sites that compete with Facebook use Giphy GIFs, and there is only one other large provider of GIFs – Google’s Tenor – these platforms have very little choice.”

The CMA also determined that Facebook and its assets Instagram and WhatsApp may account for over 70 percent of time people spend on social media.

The regulatory body will now accept responses from relevant parties to its early findings before issuing its final report and recommendations by Oct. 6.

Read more.


READY TO RUMBLE: Video platform Rumble, which has grown in popularity among conservatives as an alternative to YouTube, has reached agreements with eight “thought leaders” to provide content, including former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and journalist Glenn Greenwald.

“These prominent new voices add to Rumble’s deep pool of content talent and further enhance the platform’s breadth and depth of offerings to our viewers,” the company said in a blog post Thursday.

The platform said it had also reached agreements with comedian Bridget Phetasy, satirist Matt Orfalea, former Washington Examiner writer Siraj Hashmi, Twitter personality Mujahed Kobbe, writer Shant Mesrobian and journalist Zaid Jilani for original content.

“Although very diverse, this group of individuals does share one characteristic: a commitment to challenge the status quo, seek the truth, and share it,” Rumble added.

Rumble has exploded in popularity in the last year, becoming a haven for conservative voices that frequently violated content moderation policies of more mainstream platforms.

As part of the agreement, the creators will get new resources from Rumble to produce videos that will be available exclusively on the platform for some period of time.

Read more.


DELTA WOES: Facebook joined several major companies Thursday in pushing back its full return to office date amid a surge of coronavirus cases driven by the delta variant.

“Data, not dates, is what drives our approach for returning to the office,” spokesperson Tracy Clayton told The Hill in a statement. 

“Given the recent health data showing rising Covid cases based on the Delta variant, our teams in the US will not be required to go back to the office until January 2022,” he added. “We expect this to be the case for some countries outside of the US, as well.”

The Silicon Valley giant started opening up its American offices earlier this year and was planning to ratchet up to 50 percent capacity next month with plans to fully reopen in November.

The company last month began requiring vaccinations for employees interested in returning to the office.

Masks are currently required in all Facebook offices.

Read more.


$600M LOST ‘FOR FUN’: A person claiming to be behind the massive $600 million cryptocurrency breach said on Thursday they stole the digital tokens “for fun.”

Decentralized finance platform Poly Network on Tuesday said it had been breached, resulting in the loss of more than $600 million worth of digital currency.

“The amount of money you hacked is the biggest one in the defi history. Law enforcement in any country will regard this as a major economic crime and you will be pursued. It is very unwise for you to do any further transactions,” the network said in a statement to the hacker or hackers.

Read more here


ICYMI: CRYPTO’S MOMENT: Cryptocurrency leaders say that even though they failed to change language related to the regulation of their industry in the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill, the heated floor fight over it underscores their growing power in Washington.

They’re gearing up to use that momentum to push back on the bill in the House and take the lead on future cryptocurrency rules.

“I think we were an unexpected force to be reckoned with,” said Kristin Smith, executive director of the BlockChain Association.

The industry group, along with cryptocurrency companies and digital rights advocacy groups, created a joint front to push back on a provision in the bill that they argued included an overly broad definition of “broker” that would sweep in regulations for software developers and so-called miners.

Read more here


An op-ed to chew on: The price of liberty is a QR code 

Lighter click: just a bat and their banana



Rumble, a YouTube rival popular with conservatives, will pay creators who ‘challenge the status quo’ (Washington Post / Drew Harwell) 

The Congresswoman Behind FOSTA Is Coming for OnlyFans (Motherboard / Samantha Cole)

How Private Is My VPN? (The Markup / Alfred Ng)

Tags Anna Eshoo Nancy Pelosi Tulsi Gabbard

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