Hillicon Valley: DHS issues new warning on Jan. 6

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On the one-year anniversary of the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) put out a memo warning of an uptick in chatter on extremist online platforms.  

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Meanwhile, Facebook is facing a lawsuit based on allegations about the platform’s algorithm, and French regulators fined two U.S. tech giants a combined $226 million.  

Let’s jump into the news. 

Feds see uptick in online extremist chatter 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned partners it has seen an uptick in chatter on extremist online platforms, according to a memo obtained by The Hill. 

‘New content’: “While we still have no indication of a specific and credible plot, DHS and FBI have identified new content online that could inspire violence, particularly by lone offenders, and could be directed against political and other government officials, including members of Congress, state and local officials, and high-profile members of political parties,” including outside of Washington, John Cohen, DHS’s head of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, wrote in a memo. 

The update comes as lawmakers, primarily Democrats, are gathered at the Capitol to remember the Jan. 6 attack. 

One year later: One online posting references the anniversary as “an appropriate day to conduct assassinations against named Democratic political figures, including POTUS, because of the perceived fraudulent election.”  

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Also among the examples listed in the memo was an anonymously shared video listing 93 members of Congress it claimed were involved in certifying the “fraudulent” 2020 election. 

“The video also called for the Congresspeople to be hung in front of the White House. It was posted on a forum known to host QAnon-related content and reposted by various users to multiple Telegram and web sharing blogs,” Cohen wrote. 

Read more here.  

More legal trouble for Facebook

The sister of a slain federal officer is suing Facebook’s parent company Meta, accusing the tech giant of radicalizing her brother’s alleged shooter through its algorithm.  

The complaint: Angela Underwood Jacobs filed the wrongful death lawsuit Thursday in Alameda County State Court in California alleging Facebook is aware of and knowingly failed to warn users about the role its algorithm plays in boosting extremist content, including around the “boogaloo” movement that authorities said her brother’s alleged shooter was tied to.  

Jacobs’ brother, Department of Homeland Security Officer Dave Patrick Underwood, was fatally shot in May 2020 while providing security at a federal courthouse in Oakland, Calif., during a rally to protest the killing of George Floyd. 

In June, authorities charged Steven Carrillo with murder and attempted murder. They also charged Robert Alvin Justus Jr., who allegedly drove the vehicle from which Carrillo fired from, with aiding and abetting the murder.  

‘Boogaloo’ ties: A federal complaint linked Carrillo to the “boogaloo” movement. According to the complaint, Justus and Carrillo connected on Facebook and used the platform to make plans to meet on the day of Underwood’s killing, according to a federal complaint.  

The “boogaloo” movement is a loosely organized far-right, anti-government extremist movement. On June 30, 2020, Facebook said it would designate the movement as a dangerous organization and ban it from the platform

Read more here.  

 

FINES FROM THE FRENCH

French regulators fined Google and Facebook a combined 210 million euros, or $237 million, saying the tech giants made it easier to users to accept being tracked online than to opt out. 

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An investigation found the sites "offer a button allowing the user to immediately accept cookies" but they do not provide an option to "easily refuse the deposit of these cookies," the CNIL data privacy watchdog announced on Thursday. 

CNIL said that it would fine Google 150 million euros ($169 million) and fine Facebook 60 million euros ($68 million) because of the investigation's findings. 

"Several clicks are required to refuse all cookies, against a single one to accept them," the group said. 

"The restricted committee considered that this process affects the freedom of consent: since, on the Internet, the user expects to be able to quickly consult a website, the fact that they cannot refuse the cookies as easily as they can accept them influences their choice in favor of consent," it added. 

Read more here.  

HACKERS HIT PORTUGUESE MEDIA

One of Portugal's top media groups said it was hacked by an organization known as Lapsus$. 

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Grupo Impresa said the hackers gained access to the company's Amazon Web Services account, then contacted its subscribers, took down its websites and affected its other online services, according to The Associated Press

Hackers sent one message to subscribers that said, “Breaking: President removed and accused of murder: Lapsus$ is Portugal’s new president,” the AP reported. 

However, the hackers did not demand payment, nor did any evidence indicate that they accessed subscribers’ passwords or credit card information. 

The attack took place on Sunday, and the company restored its control of the cloud system later that day. However, Expresso, the company's flagship newspaper, was still operating under a temporary site on Thursday, as were TV channels run by the company's broadcaster, the wire service said. 

Read more here.  

Race to space

China will complete its orbital space station by the end of 2022 and will launch up to 40 space flights this year as a sign of the nation's ongoing effort to lead exploration of the cosmos. 

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The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) announced the anticipated completion of its space station and more crewed space missions and cargo flights this year, as well as the launch of the Space Launch System, a 332-foot rocket designed to reach the moon, according to The Associated Press, citing Chinese state-run news media. 

The Tiangong space station, first launched last April, is China's rival to the International Space Station (ISS), which the U.S. had locked its adversary out of. Its completion this year will mark a major milestone for China's military-run space programs. 

Read more here.  

 

BITS AND PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: Virtual realities may solve Fermi’s paradox about extraterrestrials 

Notable links from around the web: 

The Boy King of YouTube (The New York Times / Jay Caspian Kang) 

Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks, Senate balks Airlines suspend US flights in response to 5G deployment AT&T, Verizon to delay 5G rollout near certain airports MORE is racing to keep up with self-driving cars (The Verge / Nilay Patel and Andrew J. Hawkins) 

Division reigns a year later

The Capitol is seen from the East Front Plaza during sunset on Wednesday, January 5, 2022.

On Jan. 6, 2021, a violent mob of rally attendees, fresh from hearing President TrumpDonald TrumpPredictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure A review of President Biden's first year on border policy  Hannity after Jan. 6 texted McEnany 'no more stolen election talk' in five-point plan for Trump MORE speak near the White House, marched to the Capitol, forced their way past barricades and a line of police officers and stormed the building, interrupting the certification of President BidenJoe BidenPredictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure A review of President Biden's first year on border policy  Vilsack accuses China of breaking commitments in Trump-era trade deal MORE’s electoral victory. 

It’s a series of facts and details that have since been disputed, politicized and muddied, leaving the nation bitterly divided on partisan lines and complicating the work of the select committee exploring the day’s events and what preceded it. 

While one day after the attack many Americans were united in revulsion to the ugly scenes that played out on their television screens, a year later people hold deeply different views on the gravity of the day, who is responsible for what happened and even the value of analyzing the attack. 

Read more here 

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s technology and cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you Friday.