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Hillicon Valley — Google accused of improperly accessing data

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Today is Monday. Welcome to Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup. 

Follow The Hill’s tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@millsrodrigo) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage. 

Attorneys generals in three states and Washington, D.C., filed lawsuits against Google on Monday focused on allegations that the tech giant made misleading claims about privacy and deceived consumers into giving their location data.  

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning that Russia may pursue a cyberattack against the U.S.  

Let’s jump into the news. 

Going after Google  

Google

The attorneys general of three states and Washington, D.C., are filing lawsuits Monday alleging that Google deceived consumers into giving up their location data. 

The suits allege that the search giant made misleading promises about how much privacy it could guarantee users dating back to at least 2014. 

Google also allegedly used “dark patterns” — user interface tricks employed by websites to get individuals to do things against their will — to inadvertently make consumers share more data, the attorneys general claim. 

“Google falsely led consumers to believe that changing their account and device settings would allow customers to protect their privacy and control what personal data the company could access,” D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D) said in a statement. 

The attorneys general of Texas, Washington and Indiana are expected to file lawsuits in their own states as well. 

“Google’s founding motto is ‘Don’t Be Evil,'” Texas’s Ken Paxton (R) said. “And yet it systematically lies to millions of consumers in order to stack billions of dollars into its coffers.” 

 Google spokesperson José Castañeda said in a statement that the AGs are “bringing a case based on inaccurate claims and outdated assertions about our settings.” 

“We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data,” he added. 

Read more here 

DSH issues warning on Russia

V. Putin

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is warning that Russia may pursue a cyberattack against the U.S. as tensions escalate over Moscow’s buildup of forces near the border with Ukraine, according to multiple reports. 

The DHS bulletin, dated Sunday, outlined that Russia could launch such an attack if it perceived any U.S. or NATO response to be a threat to its own national security. 

“We assess that Russia would consider initiating a cyber attack against the Homeland if it perceived a US or NATO response to a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine threatened its long-term national security,” the agency said in the bulletin released to law enforcement partners, ABC News reported. 

Administration officials have pinned both the Colonial Pipeline attack, which shut down the flow of oil, as well as the attack on meat supplier JBS on attackers based in Russia. 

The Sunday bulletin noted Russian military assets have also launched attacks in Ukraine, pointing to attacks on the former Soviet state’s power grid in both 2015 and 2016. 

Read more here 

INFLUENCER SENTENCED TO HOME DETENTION IN JAN. 6 CASE

A social media influencer has been sentenced to three months of home detention for a charge stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. 

Brandon Straka, 45, who founded a pro-Trump social media campaign that works to steer Democrats away from their party, was sentenced to home detention, three years of probation and a $5,000 fine, according to The Associated Press. 

He pleaded guilty to one charge of disorderly conduct in October. He was initially also charged with impeding law enforcement during civil disorder, but prosecutors dropped that count. Prosecutors had recommended that he receive four months in home detention, according to the AP. 

Straka is the founder of the “#WalkAway Campaign,” which he started after his video, titled “Why I left the Democrat Party,” spread rapidly online in 2018. 

Read more here 

BITS AND PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: Why Congress should pass data privacy legislation in 2022 

Lighter click: Fact checking (Taylor’s version) 

Notable links from around the web: 

Facebook Promised Poor Countries Free Internet. People Got Charged Anyway. (The Wall Street Journal / Justin Scheck, Tom McGinty and Newley Purnell) 

Nothing Sacred: These Apps Reserve The Right To Sell Your Prayers (BuzzFeed News / Emily Baker-White) 

Amazon’s Mandatory ‘Wellness Huddles’ Tell Workers to Eat Their Vegetables (Motherboard / Lauren Kaori Gurley) 

 

One last thing: Court allows Assange to appeal 

Julian Assange can appeal a decision that said he could be extradited to the United States, the High Court in London said in a decision handed down Monday. 

Assange is wanted on a dozen espionage charges in the United States, which is pushing for his extradition. 

Late last year, a British court ruled that the WikiLeaks founder could be extradited to the U.S. over the charges. 

But London’s High Court will allow Assange to appeal the case to the Supreme Court in the United Kingdom. 

The Supreme Court, however, must accept it before it progresses any further, a process that typically takes about eight weeks, according to The Associated Press. 

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. 

Tags Julian Assange Vladimir Putin

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