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Hillicon Valley — Airlines issue warning about 5G service

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Airline executives sent a letter to the Biden administration warning that new 5G wireless service could ground flights, leading to delays on delivering goods and stranding Americans overseas.

Meanwhile, Microsoft said computer systems linked to Ukrainian government agencies were infected with malware, and Twitter is expanding a feature that lets users flag misleading content.

Let’s jump into the news.

5G could spark crisis, airlines warn 

U.S. airlines and cargo carriers on Monday warned that the new 5G wireless service set to deploy Wednesday could ground flights, potentially stranding thousands of Americans overseas and delaying the delivery of key goods.

In a letter to Biden administration officials, executives of major carriers wrote that C-band 5G causes disruptions to airplanes’ instruments that could make “huge swaths” of the U.S. fleet unusable. They noted that by Wednesday’s deadline, most of the nation’s large airports will be under 5G-related flight restrictions from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).   

“This means that on a day like yesterday, more than 1,100 flights and 100,000 passengers would be subjected to cancellations, diversions or delays,” chief executives of Delta Airlines, United Airlines, FedEx, UPS and others wrote in the letter. 

The executives urged U.S. officials to prevent 5G from being implemented within 2 miles of affected airports until the FAA figures out a way for affected airplanes to fly safely or risk a “catastrophic disruption” to passenger flights and the global supply chain. 

Immediate intervention is needed to avoid significant operational disruption to air passengers, shippers, supply chain and delivery of needed medical supplies,” they wrote in a letter to White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson and Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

Read more here.


Ukrainian government infected with malware 

Dozens of computer systems linked to the Ukrainian government, agencies and organizations were infected with malware, Microsoft announced on Saturday. 

Microsoft in a statement said the malware, which was initially detected on Thursday, was disguised as ransomware but could infect computers and make them inoperable if activated by the attacker. 

The company wrote in a separate statement that the malware was detected on “dozens of impacted systems and that number could grow as our investigation continues.” 

“These systems span multiple government, non-profit, and information technology organizations, all based in Ukraine,’ the company wrote. 

Microsoft said the malware impacted government agencies that handle executive branch or emergency response functions. It also reportedly affected an IT firm that oversees websites for public- and private-sector clients, including government agencies that were hit with a cyberattack last week that posted various messages on websites. 

“massive cyberattack” breached a number of Ukrainian government websites on Friday, according to officials, which led some agency websites to be temporarily shut down. Hackers reportedly wrote messages including “be afraid and expect worse” and “All information about you has become public, be afraid and expect worse.” 

Read more here.


Twitter is expanding a feature that lets users flag a tweet as “misleading,” offering it in more countries, the company said Monday. Twitter is bringing the test feature to Brazil, Spain and the Philippines.

The feature gives users the option of flagging a tweet as “misleading” after choosing to report the post. The platform may not take action or respond to each report in the test, but aims to use the information to better understand any trends in misinformation.  

Twitter first launched a test of the feature in August, starting in the U.S., South Korea and Australia.  

At the time, Twitter said it would be “assessing” if the tool is “an effective approach” to identify trends to “improve the speed and scale of our broader misinformation work.” 

Read more here.

Amazon eyes ‘solution’ in Visa fee dispute 

Amazon told customers Monday it is dropping its plan to stop accepting Visa cards issued in the United Kingdom.

The change was set to be implemented on Wednesday, but the company said it would be paused as it works with Visa on a “potential solution” to solve a dispute over fees. 

“The expected change regarding the use of Visa credit cards on Amazon.co.uk will no longer take place on January 19. We are working closely with Visa on a potential solution that will enable customers to continue using their Visa credit cards on Amazon.co.uk.,” Amazon said in an email to customers. 

The e-commerce giant didn’t rule out any future plans to limit Visa card use but told customers it would give them “advance notice” before any related changes.  

Read more here.


An op-ed to chew on: Mercy in the metaverse — ancient wisdom and the attention economy 

Lighter click: we can’t have it all 

Notable links from around the web: 

The Rise of A.I. Fighter Pilots (The New Yorker / Sue Halpern) 

Activision Blizzard Pushes Out Dozens of Employees Over Workplace Misconduct (The Wall Street Journal / Kirsten Grind) 

Will there be China tech IPOs to watch in 2022? (Protocol / Zeyi Yang) 


One last thing: DOJ raises the stakes 

The seditious conspiracy charges brought by the Justice Department on Thursday against the leader of the Oath Keepers and other members of the right-wing group signal the government is prepared to take on an ambitious fight to show that the defendants joined the Jan. 6, 2021, attack as part of a coordinated effort to deny President Biden the White House.

The indictment contains the first sedition charges that have been brought following the riot and mark a significant escalation in prosecutors’ efforts by drawing a connection between the physical acts of mayhem that day and the broader effort by former President Trump’s supporters to obstruct Biden from taking office. 

The arrest of Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right militia group, followed criticism that the Justice Department, despite filing hundreds of charges, was failing to go after major actors behind 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 Tuesday.

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