Overnight Regulation: Facebook faces new crisis over Cambridge Analytica data | Whistleblower gets record SEC payout | Self-driving Uber car kills pedestrian | Trump bans trading in Venezuelan cryptocurrency

Overnight Regulation: Facebook faces new crisis over Cambridge Analytica data | Whistleblower gets record SEC payout | Self-driving Uber car kills pedestrian | Trump bans trading in Venezuelan cryptocurrency
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Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill, the courts and beyond. It's Monday evening, and both the House and Senate are in session as lawmakers race to finish a $1.2 trillion funding bill before week's end. 

 

THE BIG STORY

Lawmakers are demanding answers from Facebook following a report that data from 50 million users were compromised by a third party and collected by a research firm connected to the Trump campaign. 

Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergComputer software pioneer John McAfee rips Facebook's Libra project Hillicon Valley: Facebook to remove mentions of potential whistleblower's name | House Dems demand FCC action over leak of location data | Dem presses regulators to secure health care data Warren campaign launches 'a calculator for the billionaires' after Gates criticism MORE is now facing calls to testify before Congress as renewed scrutiny falls on the tech giant's privacy practices.

Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharPress: Another billionaire need not apply Saagar Enjeti dismisses Warren, Klobuchar claims of sexism Warren on winning over male voters: I was told to 'smile more' MORE (D-Minn.) and John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) on Monday asked for the Senate Judiciary Committee to call major tech CEOs to testify about how internet platforms oversee the use of consumer data for political advertising.

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While the request included several tech firms, it was clearly triggered by the report about Facebook data being used by Cambridge Analytica.

"The lack of oversight on how data is stored and how political advertisements are sold raises concerns about the integrity of American elections as well as privacy rights," the senators wrote in a letter to Judiciary Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyFalling investment revives attacks against Trump's tax cuts Overnight Health Care: CDC links vitamin E oil to vaping illnesses | White House calls Pelosi drug price plan 'unworkable' | Dem offers bill for state-based 'Medicare for All' White House says Pelosi plan to lower drug prices 'unworkable' MORE (R-Iowa).

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDemocrats sharpen their message on impeachment White House struggles to get in sync on impeachment Hillicon Valley: Microsoft pushes for DACA fix ahead of court hearing | Twitter seeks feedback on 'deepfakes' | Trump officials unveil plan to notify public of 2020 interference MORE (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, said that the panel's Democrats want a briefing from Facebook officials about how it handled the matter.

 

Facebook's response: Facebook in a statement on Sunday said it has launched an internal review of the matter.

"We are in the process of conducting a comprehensive internal and external review as we work to determine the accuracy of the claims that the Facebook data in question still exists. That is where our focus lies as we remain committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people's information," Paul Grewal, Facebook's deputy general counsel, said in a statement.

 

Backstory: The storm around Facebook began on Friday, when the New York Times and The Observer of London jointly reported that Cambridge Analytica had obtained data on over 50 million Americans.

The data was reportedly given to Cambridge by a researcher who had developed an app, called thisisyourdigitallife, that relied on Facebook's login feature. While only about 270,000 people handed over information through the app, Facebook at the time allowed developers to tap into the entire friend networks of users. That feature, according to the report, allowed the researcher to collect the data on over 50 million people.

Cambridge Analytica was a data firm used by the Trump campaign.

The Hill's Harper Neidig has the full story.

 

Cambridge Analytica is denying the accusations, as The Hill's Brett Samuels reports: Cambridge Analytica, the data firm used by the Trump campaign, pushed back Monday against reports that it obtained the private information of millions of Facebook users without their permission and failed to destroy it.

The company said in a statement it "strongly denies" reports that it used data harvested from 50 million Facebook profiles for the Trump campaign, and said it deleted all the Facebook data it had accumulated. 

"This Facebook data was not used by Cambridge Analytica as part of the services it provided to the Donald Trump presidential campaign; personality targeted advertising was not carried out for this client either. The company has made this clear since 2016," Cambridge Analytica said.

Read more here.

 

More on Cambridge Analytica and Facebook:

The data scientist who provided data on millions of Americans to the data firm Cambridge Analytica offered Monday to testify before Congress, following reports about how that data was used to help elect President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Democrats sharpen their message on impeachment MORE in 2016.

The CEO of the British data firm Cambridge Analytica was filmed saying that his firm used bribes and sex workers to trap politicians in compromising situations, an undercover investigation by Channel 4 News in London reported Monday.

 

ON TAP FOR TUESDAY

Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossTrump trade adviser pushes back on reports of US-China tariff deal China, US agree to reduce tariffs amid trade talks, Beijing says Income for poorest Americans fell faster than previously thought: study MORE testifies at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on his department's fiscal 2019 budget request.

A House Appropriations subcommittee holds a hearing on the budget request for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonTrump launches effort to boost support among black voters Zoning is not the answer to all our housing problems Freer housing is 'fairer housing' — HUD should tie funding to looser zoning MORE testifies.

A House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee holds a hearing on the Drug Enforcement Agency's role in combating the opioid epidemic. DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson testifies.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosDeVos forgives 1,500 student loans amid federal lawsuit Warren campaign launches 'a calculator for the billionaires' after Gates criticism Education Department finalizes new regulations to relax college-accreditation requirements MORE testifies at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the department's fiscal 2019 budget.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee holds a hearing on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's budget.

A House Financial Services subcommittee will hold a hearing on "Exploring the financial nexus of terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime."

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hears from Energy Secretary Rick PerryRick PerryOvernight Energy: BLM may boost staff numbers at new Colorado headquarters | Perry backers reportedly got Ukraine gas deal after he met with president | Paris exit toughens US path to green future Perry backers secured lucrative Ukraine gas deal after his meeting with new president: report The Hill's Morning Report - Impeachment drama will dominate this week MORE on his department's budget.

A Senate Commerce Subcommittee will hold a hearing on efforts by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and automakers to repair defective Takata air bags.

 

REG ROUNDUP

Health care: A bipartisan deal to stabilize ObamaCare markets is in serious danger of collapsing because of a dispute over abortion, with hardly any time to resolve the dispute.

Republicans are insisting that the Hyde Amendment, which restricts federal funds from being used to pay for abortion, be applied to the new ObamaCare funds, which are aimed at lowering premiums.  

Democrats say this would expand the Hyde Amendment and have rejected the language.

The measure stabilizing the ObamaCare markets is meant for inclusion in a larger government-funding bill that must be approved by Friday. Democratic votes are needed to pass it, meaning that if there is not a deal on the abortion language, the ObamaCare measure will simply be left out of the funding bill altogether.

Peter Sullivan's got the details.

 

Courts: The Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a case challenging whether immigrants convicted of crimes are exempt from mandatory detention during removal proceedings if they aren't immediately detained by immigration officials after being released from criminal custody.

The Trump administration is appealing a lower court's ruling in favor of immigrants who brought a class-action lawsuit after they were detained and denied bond hearings years after they had served their criminal sentence and had returned to their communities.

The immigrants argue the gap in custody exempts them from mandatory detention under the Immigration and Nationality Act and makes them eligible to be released during their deportation trials.

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Theresa Nguyen agreed, saying Congress intended to protect the public from recently released criminals.

But the Trump administration argues that the San Francisco-based appeals court got it wrong.

Lydia Wheeler's story is here.

 

Courts: The Supreme Court on Monday barred Arizona from denying driver's licenses to young undocumented immigrants known as "Dreamers."

Reuters reported that justices refused to hear the state's Republican-driven challenge to President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects young people brought into the country illegally as children from deportation.

Their decision lets stand a lower court ruling that blocked the state from denying driver's licenses to DACA recipients.

Gov. Jan Brewer (R) had directed state officials to stop issuing driver's licenses to Dreamers after Obama implemented the program, Reuters reported.Morgan Gstalter's story is here.

 

Transportation: A woman has died after being hit by a self-driving Uber car in Tempe, Ariz.

The woman was reportedly struck by the car while walking through a crosswalk, according to local ABC affiliate KNXV. She was taken to the hospital but died from her injuries.

"Our hearts go out to the victim's family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident," an Uber spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

The company is also halting all self-driving car tests in Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.

Read more from Ali Breland here.

 

The death comes as are pressing for tougher rules on driverless cars...

A coalition of organizations across the country is calling on Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoDemocratic chairman presses Transportation secretary over transparency in Boeing 737 Max probe Lawmakers toast Greta Van Susteren's new show Democratic lawmaker asks for probe of reports Chao favored Kentucky officials MORE to take part in stricter oversight of driverless cars.

In a letter signed by more than 25 organizations, the group's leaders call the Transportation Department (DOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) "detached spectators instead of engaged safety regulators" on autonomous vehicles.

Twenty-six groups signed the letter, including Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Consumer Action and the American Public Health Association.

Mallory Shelbourne has the story here.

 

Environment: The top Senate Democrat overseeing the Environmental Protection Agency's funding said Monday the EPA isn't cooperating with a high-profile spending investigation.

Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog slams agency chief after deputy fails to cooperate in probe | Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act | Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows Hillicon Valley: Twitter to refuse all political ads | Trump camp blasts 'very dumb' decision | Ocasio-Cortez hails move | Zuckerberg doubles down on Facebook's ad policies | GOP senator blocks sweeping election reform bill GOP senator blocks sweeping election reform bill MORE (N.M.) implored EPA head Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittEPA rule proposes to expand limitations on scientific studies Overnight Energy: Fight between EPA watchdog, agency lawyers heats up | Top EPA official under investigation over document destruction | DOJ issues subpoenas to automakers in California emissions pact Top EPA official under investigation in document destruction MORE to cooperate with the Government Accountability Office's (GAO) probe into the more than $43,000 the agency spent to install a "privacy booth."

Udall, who sits on the Appropriations Committee's subcommittee for EPA, said in a letter that the agency has not provided documents to the GAO, despite investigators' multiple contacts.

"I am alarmed that the EPA has failed -- for nearly three months -- to cooperate with GAO's requests," Udall wrote.

Read more from Timothy Cama here.

 

Finance: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued the largest rewards for whistleblowers under the Dodd-Frank Act, setting a new record at more than $33 million.

The SEC announced Monday that it had rewarded two whistleblowers with $50 million to be split between them and gave another roughly $33 million. The previous record for the largest whistleblower reward issued by the SEC was $30 million, set in 2014.

The Dodd-Frank Act, passed in 2010 to crack down on risky and predatory investment in the wake of the financial crisis, expanded rewards and protections for employees of financial firms who reveal illegal activity at their company.

"These awards demonstrate that whistleblowers can provide the SEC with incredibly significant information that enables us to pursue and remedy serious violations that might otherwise go unnoticed," said Jane Norberg, chief of the SEC's whistleblower office.

Sylvan Lane has the details.

 

Energy: The Interior Department's safety arm will soon increase its physical inspection time for offshore drilling.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) announced Monday that the new plan will make inspections more efficient and reduce taxpayer spending significantly -- dropping costs by nearly $20 million over 3 1/2 years.

"We streamlined how inspectors do their job offshore, while achieving a significant cost-savings," said Michael Saucier, a supervisor in the Gulf of Mexico region, in a statement. "This new process will allow BSEE inspectors to increase physical inspection time on offshore oil and gas facilities."

More from Miranda Green here.

 

Finance: President Trump on Monday imposed new sanctions against the Venezuelan government, banning U.S. citizens from dealing in the South American country's newly minted cryptocurrency.

An executive order bans "all transactions related to, provision of financing for, and other dealings in" any digital currency issued by or for the Venezuelan government.

The sanctions targeting the petro -- the digital currency announced by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in December -- have been in the works for weeks.

Trump has consistently ratcheted up sanctions against Venezuela since his inauguration, and is reportedly considering directly targeting the country's oil industry.

Rafael Bernal has the details.

 

Health care: Four former heads of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are urging Congress to abandon bills that would allow terminally ill patients access to experimental drugs not yet approved by the agency.

The "right to try" bill failed in the House last week, but is likely to come up again this week. A similar bill passed the Senate last summer.

Former Obama FDA commissioners Robert Califf and Margaret Hamburg, and former George W. Bush commissioners Mark McClellan and Andrew von Eschenbach said in a statement the bills would "erode protections for vulnerable patients."

"There is no evidence that either bill would meaningfully improve access for patients, but both would remove the FDA from the process and create a dangerous precedent that would erode protections for vulnerable patients," the commissioners wrote, according to The Washington Post.

More from Jessie Hellman here.

 

FROM THE HILL'S OP-ED PAGES

Fix the flaw in financial self-regulation

 

IN OTHER NEWS

FAA projects fourfold increase in commercial drones by 2022 -- The Wall Street Journal

Government lifts prohibition on payday lending chain's partnership with national banks -- The Wall Street Journal

G20 watchdog focuses on rules review, holds fire on cryptocurrencies -- Reuters

McDonald's proposes settlement in U.S. labor board case: source -- Reuters

The global drone regulation landscape: How laws and regulations are shaping the development of the drone industry around the world -- Business Insider