Senate Judiciary Committee Pursues New Antitrust Legislation

Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) of the Senate Judiciary Committee are working together on antitrust legislation similar to some of the measures the House Judiciary Committee approved last month. Grassley has yet to offer specific details of proposed legislation but Klobuchar, who is chair of the judiciary panel’s antitrust subcommittee, said a focus on tech companies that offer their own version of products sold by rivals dependent on their platforms is “at the heart of two of the House proposals.” Continue reading Senate Judiciary Committee Pursues New Antitrust Legislation

Coalition Says No to Internet Company Shields in Trade Deals

Public Citizen, Color of Change and the Center for Digital Democracy are three of the 16 public interest groups that sent a letter to President Joe Biden warning that liability protections for Internet companies in trade agreements will cripple efforts to hold such companies accountable for user content. At the American Economic Liberties Project, which also signed the letter, policy director Morgan Harper said that such a ratified trade deal could confirm and propagate controversial legal protections for Internet companies. Continue reading Coalition Says No to Internet Company Shields in Trade Deals

Senators Press Ad-Auctioneers for Personal Data Sales Info

Senate Finance Committee chair Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) heads a bipartisan group of U.S. senators attempting to understand more about digital advertising auctions and their relationship to personalized ads. The group sent a letter to the largest companies that run these auctions, including AT&T, Index Exchange, Google, Magnite, OpenX Software, PubMatic, Twitter and Verizon Communications. The senators want the names of all foreign clients gaining access to user data through the auctions, citing concerns of national security. Continue reading Senators Press Ad-Auctioneers for Personal Data Sales Info

White House Names Official to Lead Probe of Expansive Hack

In December, suspected Russian hackers compromised SolarWinds Corp., a small software vendor, leveraging it to infiltrate the U.S. departments of Commerce, State and Treasury, as well as numerous private companies. An in-depth investigation revealed that the hack’s scope was larger than first known, with about one-third of those hacked having no direct connection with SolarWinds. Now, the Biden administration has selected White House National Security Council senior official Anne Neuberger to lead the response. Continue reading White House Names Official to Lead Probe of Expansive Hack

Justice Department Charges Huawei With Racketeering, Theft

The Justice Department issued a federal indictment, which was unsealed in the Eastern District of New York, accusing Huawei Technologies and its affiliates of a “pattern of racketeering activity” as well as stealing trade secrets from six U.S. firms. The six firms were not named, but a source identified them as Cisco Systems, CNEX Labs, Fujitsu, Motorola Solutions, Quintel Technology and T-Mobile. Among the reportedly stolen information were source code and manuals for wireless technology. Continue reading Justice Department Charges Huawei With Racketeering, Theft

Senate Bill Calls For Search Engines to Divulge Algorithms

For search engines such as Alphabet’s Google, their algorithms are the secret sauce that they claim gives the best results. Not all consumers agree with that, arguing that these algorithms filter their searches in a way that is tantamount to censorship. Now, a bipartisan group of legislators proposed the Filter Bubble Transparency Act, a law that would require search engines and platforms to provide an optional unfiltered search and force them to disclose the algorithms they use to rank searches. Continue reading Senate Bill Calls For Search Engines to Divulge Algorithms

Congress Calls For End to Tech Firms’ Audio Transcriptions

A bipartisan group of Congress members castigated Facebook for hiring contractors to transcribe audio clips and urged regulation to prevent it in the future. The transcriptions were made to help Facebook improve its artificial intelligence-enabled speech recognition, and are part of a move to improve the capabilities of voice assistants (Amazon, Apple and Google are among companies that have taken similar approaches). Last year, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) circulated a draft law that would impose steep fines and even prison for executives who failed to protect users’ personal data. Continue reading Congress Calls For End to Tech Firms’ Audio Transcriptions

Senators Introduce 5G Security Bill for Next-Gen Networks

Senior U.S. senators proposed the Secure 5G and Beyond Act to guide the development of a domestic security strategy for next-gen networks. Senators John Cornyn, Richard Burr and Mark Warner, with co-sponsors Susan Collins, Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio and Michael Bennet reached across the aisle to pen an act reflecting concern over the security of the U.S. telecommunications system. The act would prevent President Trump from recommending that 5G or other future telecom networks be nationalized, which his advisors recently proposed. Continue reading Senators Introduce 5G Security Bill for Next-Gen Networks

Congress Introduces IoT Bill to Protect Connected Devices

Congress introduced the Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act yesterday, in an effort to position legislative power behind securing connected devices. Defense Intelligence Agency director Lieutenant General Robert Ashley told lawmakers last year that IoT devices are considered one of the “most important emerging cyberthreats” to national security. Without a national standard for IoT security, we need to rely on steps taken by individual companies. The legislation, which was first introduced in 2017, would require security standards for IoT devices used by the federal government. Continue reading Congress Introduces IoT Bill to Protect Connected Devices

Facebook Solicited Teens to Download Its Surveillance Tool

An investigation reveals that Facebook has been secretly paying users ages 13 to 35 since 2016 to install an iOS or Android “Facebook Research” app that gives the company access to all of their smartphone and Internet activity. The Research app is similar to Facebook’s Onavo Protect app that Apple banned in June and may also be a violation of Apple policy. Legislators on both sides of the aisle were infuriated at the news, decrying the surveillance technology. Facebook’s earlier Onavo app was also criticized as spyware.

Continue reading Facebook Solicited Teens to Download Its Surveillance Tool

Facebook Reveals Another Attack on its Computer Network

In its third security breach reported since June, Facebook announced on Friday that hackers had leveraged a security vulnerability in order to attack its computer network and access the personal accounts of about 50 million of its social platform users. In the two other breaches, hackers unblocked individuals that had been previously blocked by Facebook users, and users’ share settings were manipulated without permission. As a result of this latest breach, “the attackers could use the account as if they are the account holder,” according to Guy Rosen, VP product management for Facebook. Continue reading Facebook Reveals Another Attack on its Computer Network

Facebook and Twitter Execs Answer Questions on Capitol Hill

In Washington DC, as Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey were concluding testimony on efforts to repel foreign interference ahead of the midterm elections, Attorney General Jeff Sessions dropped a bombshell. He stated plans to convene state attorneys general on September 25 to look at what the Justice Department said is the intentional “stifling [of] the free exchange of ideas on their platforms.” Google, which had been invited to testify, did not send a representative. Continue reading Facebook and Twitter Execs Answer Questions on Capitol Hill

Senate Intelligence Committee to Question Tech Execs Today

Senate Intelligence Committee hearings will begin today to examine a host of issues regarding big technology firms, including Facebook, Twitter and Google, and weigh whether the issues might be addressed by legislative or executive actions. Those companies already stand accused of not controlling the use of their platforms to disseminate misinformation and, in general, not taking enough responsibility for content. Meanwhile, conservatives accuse the platforms of bias in policing content. Continue reading Senate Intelligence Committee to Question Tech Execs Today

Facebook Removes Fake Accounts Linked to Iran and Russia

Facebook identified and removed 652 fake accounts, pages and groups from Iran and Russia that were attempting to sow misinformation in several countries. Such campaigns in the past — most notably leading up to the 2016 presidential election — targeted the U.S., but these accounts targeted the U.K., Latin America and the Middle East as well. This discovery is dramatically larger than the 32 pages and accounts that Facebook removed last month. The Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency was indicted for the 2016 campaign. Continue reading Facebook Removes Fake Accounts Linked to Iran and Russia

Facebook Deletes Fake Accounts in Windup to Next Elections

Stating that it had detected a political influence campaign potentially targeting the midterm elections, Facebook removed 32 pages and fake accounts that were active around contentious issues across the political spectrum. One was a sequel to last year’s “Unite the Right” rally and another was a campaign to abolish ICE. Facebook was not able to link the pages to Russia, but officials did say that “some of the tools and techniques” were similar to those used by the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency (I.R.A.). Continue reading Facebook Deletes Fake Accounts in Windup to Next Elections