Other Developments, Further Reading, and Coming Events (21 June 2021)

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Other Developments

  • The Senate confirmed Lina Khan to serve on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and then President Joe Biden designated her the chair of the FTC, giving the agency a full complement of commissioners until Commissioner Rohit Chopra is confirmed to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Khan wrote a seminal paper about Amazon and antitrust law and served on the House Judiciary Committee staff during its investigation of digital markets. In a press release, the FTC stated:
    • Lina Khan was sworn in today as Chair of the Federal Trade Commission. President Biden named Khan, a Democrat, to a term on the Commission that expires September 25, 2024, and designated her as Chair. Khan was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on June 15, 2021.
    • Prior to becoming Chair of the FTC, Khan was an Associate Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. She also previously served as counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, legal adviser to FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra, and legal director at the Open Markets Institute.
  • The Biden Administration unveiledkey findings from the reviews directed under Executive Order (E.O.) 14017 “America’s Supply Chains,” as well as immediate actions the Administration will take to strengthen American supply chains to promote economic security, national security, and good-paying, union jobs here at home.” The White House stated:
    • On February 24, 2021, the President signed E.O. 14017, directing a whole-of-government approach to assessing vulnerabilities in, and strengthening the resilience of, critical supply chains. Stemming from that effort, the Biden-Harris Administration has already begun to take steps to address supply chain vulnerabilities:
      • The Administration’s COVID-19 Response Team has drastically expanded the manufacture of vaccines and other essential supplies, enabling more than 137 million Americans to get fully vaccinated.
      • The Administration has also worked with companies that manufacture and use semiconductor chips to identify improvements in supply chain management practices that can strengthen the semiconductor supply chain over time.
      • The Department of Defense (DOD) has announced an investment in the expansion of the largest rare earth element mining and processing company outside of China to provide the raw materials necessary to help combat the climate crisis. 
      • And the Biden-Harris Administration is working to address critical cyber vulnerabilities to U.S. supply chains and critical infrastructure, including issuing E.O. 14028 on “Improving the Nation’s Cyber Security” just last month. 
    • Today, building on these efforts, the Administration released findings from the comprehensive 100-day supply chain assessments for four critical products: semiconductor manufacturing and advanced packaging; large capacity batteries, like those for electric vehicles; critical minerals and materials; and pharmaceuticals and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). The Administration is taking immediate action to address vulnerabilities and strengthen resilience with the launch of a new effort aimed at addressing near-term supply chain disruptions. And, pursuant to E.O. 14017, it is crafting strategies for six industrial bases that underpin America’s economic and national security, which will be completed within a year. The supply chain reviews reinforce the need for the transformative investments proposed in the President’s American Jobs Plan.
  • Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced the “Promoting Rights and Online Speech Protections to Ensure Every Consumer is Heard (PRO-SPEECH) Act” (S.2031). Wicker asserted:
    • The bill would establish baseline protections to prohibit Big Tech from engaging in unfair, deceptive, or anti-competitive practices that limit or control consumers’ speech. 
    • The PRO-SPEECH Act would:
      • Preserve consumers’ ability to access lawful content, applications, services, or devices that do not interfere with an internet platform’s functionality or pose a data privacy or data security risk to a user;
      • Prohibit internet platforms from taking any actions against users based on racial, sexual, religious, partisan, or ethnic grounds;
      • Prohibit large internet platforms from blocking or discriminating against competing internet platforms by declaring such actions presumptively anti-competitive;
      • Require an internet platform to disclose to the public accurate information regarding the platform management practices, performance characteristics, and commercial terms of service of any app store, cloud computing service, operating system, search engine, or social media network it owns; and
      • Authorize the Federal Trade Commission to enforce the Act under Section 5 of the FTC Act notwithstanding any other provision of law.
  • The European Commission (EC) is pursuing infringement actions against European Union (EU) member states “for failing to comply with their obligations under EU law” including for “the incorrect implementation of the Directive on Attacks against Information Systems (Directive 2013/40/EU).” The EC stated:
    • Fight against cybercrime: Commission calls on AUSTRIA, BELGIUM, CZECHIA, ESTONIA, LUXEMBOURG, POLAND and SWEDEN to comply with the EU Cyberattacks Directive. Today, the Commission decided to open infringement procedures by sending letters of formal notice to Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Estonia, Luxembourg, Poland and Sweden concerning the incorrect implementation of the Directive on Attacks against Information Systems (Directive 2013/40/EU).
    • The Directive is an essential part of the EU’s legal framework in the fight against cybercrime and requires Member States to strengthen national cybercrime laws and to introduce tougher criminal sanctions, including for large-scale cyber-attacks. Member States are also obliged to designate points of contact, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week, to ensure improved cooperation between national authorities.
    • The Commission considers that Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Estonia, Luxembourg, Poland and Sweden have incorrectly transposed the measures set out in the Directive into their national laws, in particular when it comes to the provisions regarding the required penalty levels, illegal interception as well as the criminalisation of the production and use of certain tools to commit the offences referred to in the Directive. Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Estonia, Luxembourg, Poland and Sweden now have two months to respond to the arguments raised by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.
  • The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee marked up what may prove to be the House’s version of the Senate’s recently passed “United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021” (S.1260), a bill that could result in more than $250 billion to fund United States (U.S) research and development of technology to counter the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In a press release, Ranking Member Frank Lucas provided a short summary of the legislation:
    • Today, the House Science, Space, and Technology passed two landmark bills to double down on federal investment in American research and development. The bills significantly increase funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science.
    • As amended, the NSF for the Future Act reauthorizes NSF’s work, providing $78 billion over the next five years and doubling down on basic research with a focus on emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and advanced manufacturing. It strengthens our domestic science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce and protects research from foreign theft. Additionally, the bill creates a new NSF directorate dedicated to improving how we apply discoveries in the lab to solving pressing national challenges from cybersecurity to climate change.
    • The DOE Science for the Future Act is the first reauthorization of the Office of Science, and it invests nearly $50 billion over five years to scale up next-generation energy technologies like bioenergy, carbon capture, and battery storage. It invests in upgrades to the facilities and equipment that our scientists and National Labs use to conduct complex research. It also improves our quantum computing abilities, helps address public health challenges, and builds our STEM workforce.
  • Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA), Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), and Senator Angus King (I-ME) reintroduced the “Digital Equity Act of 2021” that “would create new federal investments targeted toward a diverse array of projects at the state and local level that promote “digital equity”— a concept defined by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance as the, ‘condition in which all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy and economy.’” They published a background document and a section-by-section summary on the legislation. Murray, Portman, and King claimed:
    • According to 2019 U.S. Census data, 36 million households do not subscribe to a wireline broadband service—including 8.8% of Washington state households. 26 million of these households are in urban areas. 10 million are in rural areas. The lower a household’s income, the less likely they are to consistently subscribe to a wireline broadband service.
    • To that end, the Digital Equity Act of 2021 strengthens federal support for efforts to help ensure students, families, and workers have the information technology capacity needed to fully participate in society by establishing two grant programs to be administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to promote digital equity nationwide:
      • Building Capacity within States through Formula Grants: The legislation creates an annual $125 million formula grant program for all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to fund the creation and implementation of comprehensive digital equity plans in each State.
      • Spurring Targeted Action through Competitive Grants: The legislation also creates an annual $125 million competitive grant program to support digital equity projects undertaken by individual groups, coalitions, and/or communities of interest.
      • Supporting Research and Evidence-Based Policymaking: The legislation tasks NTIA with evaluating digital inclusion projects and providing policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels with detailed information about which projects are most effective.
    • Senator Murray first introduced the Digital Equity Act in 2019 to help improve broadband adoption and bridge the digital divide. During the 2020 election, this bill was included in then-candidate Biden’s broadband platform. Earlier this year, President Biden also unveiled his American Jobs Plan, which includes a $100 billion investment to build high-speed broadband infrastructure to reach 100 percent coverage, promote transparency and competition, reduce the cost of broadband internet service and promote more widespread adoption. Senators Murray, Portman, and King will be advocating for key provisions of the bipartisan Digital Equity Act to be included in any forthcoming infrastructure package.
  • The Democratic leadership of the House Oversight and Reform Committee “sent letters to ten Inspectors General recommending they each conduct an assessment of any cyber vulnerabilities created or exacerbated by their respective departments’ and agencies’ use of telework systems during the coronavirus pandemic, and whether those vulnerabilities have been mitigated.” The Democrats are asking these Inspectors General to add metrics to their annual Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 (FISMA) evaluations. They asserted:
    • The National Institute of Standards and Technology warned in 2016 that “major security concerns” associated with telework “include the lack of physical security controls, the use of unsecured networks, the connection of infected devices to internal networks, and the availability of internal resources to external hosts.”
    • The United States has recently been the target of several high-profile cyber attacks, including through the compromise of the SolarWinds Orion platform and on-premises Microsoft Exchange servers.  On April 20, 2021, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency announced that Pulse Connect, a remote-access software used widely by government agencies, had been breached
  • Europol announced over 800 arrests in transnational criminal activities that used encrypted communications. European law enforcement agencies worked with counterparts in the United States and Australia, the latter two of which set up a fake encrypted communications platform used by criminal groups. The agency explained:
    • The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Dutch National Police (Politie), and the Swedish Police Authority (Polisen), in cooperation with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and 16 other countries have carried out with the support of Europol one of the largest and most sophisticated law enforcement operations to date in the fight against encrypted criminal activities.  
    • Since 2019, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, in close coordination with the Australian Federal Police, strategically developed and covertly operated an encrypted device company, called ANOM, which grew to service more than 12 000 encrypted devices to over 300 criminal syndicates operating in more than 100 countries, including Italian organised crime, outlaw motorcycle gangs, and international drug trafficking organisations. 
    • The goal of the new platform was to target global organised crime, drug trafficking, and money laundering organisations, regardless of where they operated, and offer an encrypted device with features sought by the organised crime networks, such as remote wipe and duress passwords, to persuade criminal networks to pivot to the device. 
    • The FBI and the 16 other countries of the international coalition, supported by Europol and in coordination with the US Drug Enforcement Administration, then exploited the intelligence from the 27 million messages obtained and reviewed them over 18 months while ANOM’s criminal users discussed their criminal activities. 
    • This operation, known as OTF Greenlight/Trojan Shield, is one of the largest and most sophisticated law enforcement operations to date in the fight against encrypted criminal activities.  A series of large-scale law enforcement actions were executed over the past days across 16 countries resulting in more than 700 house searches, more than 800 arrests and the seizure of over 8 tons of cocaine, 22 tons of cannabis and cannabis resin, 2 tons of synthetic drugs (amphetamine and methamphetamine), 6 tons of synthetic drugs precursors, 250 firearms, 55 luxury vehicles and over $48 million in various worldwide currencies and cryptocurrencies. Countless spin-off operations will be carried out in the weeks to come.  Operation Trojan Shield/Greenlight will enable Europol to further enhance the intelligence picture on organised crime affecting the EU due to the quality of the information gathered. This enhanced intelligence picture will support the continued effort in identifying operating high-value criminal targets on a global scale.
  • The European Commission (EC) issued guidance “to strengthen the Code of Practice on Disinformation.”  The EC stated:
    • The Guidance sets out the Commission’s expectations on how platforms and other relevant stakeholders should strengthen the Code of Practice on Disinformation to address gaps and shortcomings and create a more transparent, safe and trustworthy online environment. It also lays out the cornerstones for a robust monitoring framework of the Code’s implementation. The Guidance aims at evolving the existing Code of Practice towards a co-regulatory instrument foreseen under the Digital Services Act (DSA), without prejudice to the final agreement on the DSA, and as announced in the European Democracy Action Plan. The strengthened Code offers an early opportunity to design appropriate measures to address systemic risks stemming from the functioning and use made of the platforms’ services in view of the anticipated DSA risk assessment and mitigation framework.
    • The Guidance addresses the main shortcomings and gaps identified in the Commission’s 2020 assessment of the Code, drawing also from the lessons learned from the COVID-19 disinformation monitoring programme. It calls for stronger commitments by signatories to ensure a more effective response to the spread of disinformation, a more consistent application of the Code across platforms and EU countries, a strengthened monitoring system with clear Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and an adequate mechanism for the Code’s regular adaptation. It proposes to extend the reach and scope of the Code and sets out how the Code’s commitments should be strengthened. For example, it calls for stronger measures to demonetise the purveyors of disinformation, increase the transparency of political advertising, address manipulative behaviour, empower users, improve the cooperation with fact-checkers and ensure access to data for researchers.
  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee marked up and reported out five technology bills:
    • The “Consumer Protection and Recovery Act” (H.R.2668) was introduced by Representative Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) and is cosponsored by every Democrat on the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee. The bill would amend section 13(b) of the Federal Trade Commission Act to provide the FTC with express authority to obtain both injunctive and monetary equitable relief for all violations of those laws it enforces. The bill would add a new subsection (e) to section 13 of the FTC Act that specifies types of equitable relief the FTC may pursue: restitution for losses, contract reformation and recission, money refunds, and the return of property. The new subsection (e) also provides the FTC disgorgement authority to seek court orders requiring bad actors repay unjust gains acquired in violation of law. The bill would also provide that the FTC may seek temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions without bond and that any relief sought under section 13(b) may be for past violations in addition to ongoing and imminent violations. The bill was passed by a vote of 30-22.
    • The “Cyber Sense Act of 2021” (H.R.2928) was introduced by Representatives Bob Latta (R-OH) and Jerry McNerney (D-CA). It will bolster U.S. electric infrastructure by encouraging coordination between the Department of Energy and electric utilities. The bill was passed by voice vote.
    • The “Enhancing Grid Security through Public-Private Partnerships Act” (H.R.2931) was introduced by Representatives McNerney and Latta. It directs the Secretary of Energy, in consultation with States, other Federal agencies, and industry stakeholders, to create and implement a program to enhance the physical and cyber security of electric utilities. The bill was passed by voice vote.
    • The “Pipeline and LNG Facility Cybersecurity Preparedness Act” (H.R. 3078) was introduced by Representatives Fred Upton (R-MI) and Bobby Rush (D-IL). It will strengthen the Department of Energy’s ability to respond to physical and cybersecurity threats to our nation’s pipelines and LNG facilities. The bill was passed by voice vote.
    • The “Energy Emergency Leadership Act” (H.R.3119) was introduced by Representatives Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Tim Walberg (R-MI). It will help elevate energy emergency and cybersecurity responsibilities as a core function for the Department of Energy. The bill was passed by voice vote.
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) has published a Preliminary Draft report, NIST Interagency or Internal Report (NISTIR) 8374, Cybersecurity Framework Profile for Ransomware Risk Management. NCCoE stated:
    • Ransomware is a type of malicious attack where attackers encrypt an organization’s data and demand payment to restore access. In some instances, attackers may also steal an organization’s information and demand additional payment in return for not disclosing the information to authorities, competitors, or the public. Ransomware can disrupt or halt organizations’ operations. This report defines a Ransomware Profile, which identifies security objectives from the NIST Cybersecurity Framework that support preventing, responding to, and recovering from ransomware events. The profile can be used as a guide to managing the risk of ransomware events. That includes helping to gauge an organization’s level of readiness to mitigate ransomware threats and to react to the potential impact of events.

Subscribe to my newsletter, The Wavelength, if you want updates on global technology developments four times a week.

Further Reading

  • What is a deep fake?” By Tim Biggs and Robert Moran — Sydney Morning Herald. Fake images and videos are not a new thing. For as long as photographs and film have existed, people have been fabricating forgeries designed to deceive or entertain, and this has only accelerated since the mass adoption of the internet. But now, rather than images simply being altered by editing software such as Photoshop or videos being deceptively edited, there’s a new breed of machine-made fakes – and they could eventually make it impossible for us to tell fact from fiction.
  • Huawei operating system coming to smartphones in Asia” By Zoe Kleinman — BBC News. An update of HarmonyOS, the operating system developed by Huawei, means it will now be installed in a wider range of products, including its smartphones. It was showcased in a major conference streamed worldwide on Wednesday ahead of its launch across Asia. There is no date for the operating system’s global rollout yet. Huawei also showed off a new smartwatch model, tablet, and accessories, with a focus on how HarmonyOS works across devices and home appliances. A trade ban imposed by the US last year effectively prevented Huawei devices from working fully with Google’s Android platform because it blocked access to essential apps like Gmail.
  • The M.T.A. Is Breached by Hackers as Cyberattacks Surge” By Christina Goldbaum and William K. Rashbaum — The New York Times. A hacking group believed to have links to the Chinese government penetrated the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s computer systems in April, exposing vulnerabilities in a vast transportation network that carries millions of people every day, according to an M.T.A. document that outlined the breach. The hackers did not gain access to systems that control train cars and rider safety was not at risk, transit officials said, adding that the intrusion appeared to have done little, if any, damage.
  • Amazon’s Cost Saving Routing Algorithm Makes Drivers Walk Into Traffic” By Lauren Kaori Gurley — Vice. Mike, an Amazon delivery driver in central Florida, is accustomed to jogging back and forth across three-lane highways to deliver packages. He has sprinted across busy commercial streets during rush hour, and crossed rural highways on foot at sundown. “I find the most dangerous to be smaller two-lane highways with almost no room to pull off the road,” Mike told Motherboard in May. (Mike spoke on condition of pseudonymity because he fears he could lose his job for speaking to the press.) “The speed limits on these roads will often be 50-60 mph and we’re having to pull halfway off the road and then [walk across] … oftentimes at night.”
  • More Content Moderation Is Not Always Better” By Evelyn Douek — WIRED. Content moderation is eating the world. Platforms’ rule-sets are exploding, their services are peppered with labels, and tens of thousands of users are given the boot in regular fell swoops. No platform is immune from demands that it step in and impose guardrails on user-generated content. This trend is not new, but the unique circumstances of a global public health emergency and the pressure around the US 2020 election put it into overdrive. Now, as parts of the world start to emerge from the pandemic, and the internet’s troll in chief is relegated to a little-visited blog, the question is whether the past year has been the start of the tumble down the dreaded slippery content moderation slope or a state of exception that will come to an end.
  • Trump Administration Secretly Seized Phone Records of Times Reporters” By Charlie Savage and Katie Benner — The New York Times. The Trump Justice Department secretly seized the phone records of four New York Times reporters spanning nearly four months in 2017 as part of a leak investigation, the Biden administration disclosed on Wednesday. It was the latest in a series of revelations about the Trump administration secretly obtaining reporters’ communications records in an effort to uncover their sources. Last month, the Biden Justice Department disclosed Trump-era seizures of the phone logs of reporters who work for The Washington Post and the phone and email logs for a CNN reporter.
  • Facebook to end special treatment for politicians after Trump ban” By Alex Heath — The Verge. Facebook plans to end its controversial policy that mostly shields politicians from the content moderation rules that apply to other users, a sharp reversal that could have global ramifications for how elected officials use the social network. The change, which Facebook is set to announce as soon as Friday, comes after the Oversight Board — an independent group funded by Facebook to review its thorniest content rulings — affirmed its decision to suspend former President Donald Trump but critiqued the special treatment it gives politicians, stating that the “same rules should apply to all users.” The board gave Facebook till June 5th to respond to its policy recommendations.
  • U.S. to give ransomware hacks similar priority as terrorism” By Chris Bing — Reuters. The U.S. Department of Justice is elevating investigations of ransomware attacks to a similar priority as terrorism in the wake of the Colonial Pipeline hack and mounting damage caused by cyber criminals, a senior department official told Reuters. Internal guidance sent on Thursday to U.S. attorney’s offices across the country said information about ransomware investigations in the field should be centrally coordinated with a recently created task force in Washington.
  • India and Israel Inflame Facebook’s Fights With Its Own Employees” By Sheera Frenkel and Mike Isaac — The New York Times. When India’s government ordered Facebook and other tech companies to take down posts critical of its handling of the coronavirus pandemic in April, the social network complied on some posts. But once it did, its employees flocked to online chat rooms to ask why Facebook had helped Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India stifle dissent. In one internal post, which was reviewed by The New York Times, an employee with family in India accused Facebook of “being afraid” that Mr. Modi would ban the company from doing business in the country. “We can’t act or make decisions out of fear,” he wrote.
  • As Dictators Target Citizens Abroad, Few Safe Spaces Remain” By Max Fisher — The New York Times. Tahir Imin knew that romances sometimes end. So he did not expect the long arm of global authoritarianism when the woman he had been planning to marry broke things off in March. Perhaps he should have. He had fled China’s oppression of Uyghurs, a predominantly Muslim minority, in 2017. From his new home in Washington, D.C., he spoke out about Beijing’s indoctrination camps and systems of control, which he and the U.S. government have called a genocide.
  • Hackers Breached Colonial Pipeline Using Compromised Password” By  William Turton and Kartikay Mehrotra — Bloomberg. The hack that took down the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S. and led to shortages across the East Coast was the result of a single compromised password, according to a cybersecurity consultant who responded to the attack. Hackers gained entry into the networks of Colonial Pipeline Co. on April 29 through a virtual private network account, which allowed employees to remotely access the company’s computer network, said Charles Carmakal, senior vice president at cybersecurity firm Mandiant, part of FireEye Inc., in an interview. The account was no longer in use at the time of the attack but could still be used to access Colonial’s network, he said.
  • Are We Waiting for Everyone to Get Hacked?” By Nicole Perlroth — The New York Times. Leon Panetta is one of the few American government officials who can look around at the nation’s rolling cyberdisasters andjustifiably say, “I told you so.” The former secretary of defense was among the first senior leaders to warn us, in the most sober of terms, that this would happen in a 2012 speech that many derided as hyperbolic. He didn’t foretell every detail, and some of his graver predictions — a cyberattack that could derail passenger trains or worse, derail trains loaded with lethal chemicals — have yet to play out. But the stark vision he described, of hackers seizing our critical switches and contaminating our water supply, is veering dangerously close to the reality we are living with now.
  • Israel’s operation against Hamas was the world’s first AI war” By Anna Ahronheim — Jerusalem Post. Having relied heavily on machine learning, the Israeli military is calling Operation Guardian of the Walls the first artificial-intelligence war. “For the first time, artificial intelligence was a key component and power multiplier in fighting the enemy,” an IDF Intelligence Corps senior officer said. “This is a first-of-its-kind campaign for the IDF. We implemented new methods of operation and used technological developments that were a force multiplier for the entire IDF.”
  • Google Seeks to Break Vicious Cycle of Online Slander” By Kashmir Hill and Daisuke Wakabayashi — The New York Times. For many years, the vicious cycle has spun: Websites solicit lurid, unverified complaints about supposed cheaters, sexual predators, deadbeats and scammers. People slander their enemies. The anonymous posts appear high in Google results for the names of victims. Then the websites charge the victims thousands of dollars to take the posts down. This circle of slander has been lucrative for the websites and associated middlemen — and devastating for victims. Now Google is trying to break the loop.
  • Is the Internet (Briefly) Breaking a Sign of Things to Come?” By Charlotte Klein — Vanity Fair. At one point during Tuesday morning’s brief global internet outage, The Guardian was covering it solely via Twitter thread. “Thus ends my uncomfortable 50 minute period of being the only person in the entire newspaper capable of publishing content,” tech reporter Alex Hern tweeted once the site came back online—at least for him, he noted, as scattered disruptions continued to plague some of the world’s biggest online news platforms, as well as the UK government’s home page, some Amazon sites, and streaming services like Hulu and HBO Max. The Verge pivoted to Google Docs to share the news with readers (and briefly forgot to restrict the document’s editing abilities, allowing random people to chime in before editors realized what was going on). “We’re all on pins and needles right now,” CNN New Day co-anchor John Berman told his colleague Brian Stelter, who popped onto the program this morning to address the baffling failure as CNN’s own website, along with several other publishers, went dark. “Right now no indication that this is a cyberware or ransomware attack, but it is one of the most widespread web outages that I have ever seen,” said Stelter, CNN’s chief media correspondent.
  • Australia’s eSafety Commissioner targets abuse online as Covid-19 supercharges cyberbullying” By Julie Inman Grant — The Strategist. It’s never easy being first. There are no playbooks to thumb through and no clear footprints to follow to let you know you’re on track, or even that you’re heading in the right general direction. Six years ago, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner became the world’s first online safety regulator following the tragic death of TV presenter Charlotte Dawson.
  • Predictive policing strategies for children face pushback” By Olivia Solon and Cyrus Farivar — NBC News. Five months after Robert Jones, a 44-year-old aerospace process auditor, moved to what he described as the “really nice” neighborhood of Gulf Harbors in Pasco County, Florida, with his wife and four kids, “seven or eight” police cars showed up at his door. Officers said they had heard about his then-16-year-old son Bobby’s school delinquency from colleagues in Pinellas County, where the family previously lived, and wanted to make sure he understood that the Pasco Sheriff’s Office did things a little differently, Jones recalled.
  • China’s Tech Clampdown Is Spreading Like Wildfire” By Stephanie Yang — The Wall Street Journal. The latest salvos in China’s campaign against its tech companies make one thing clear: Jack Ma’s businesses aren’t the only ones under the regulatory microscope. What started out as a government crackdown on anticompetitive practices among Chinese internet giants has grown into a broader effort to clean up how the country’s fast-growing—and, until recently, freewheeling—tech sector operates.
  • Tencent bans nose picking, spanking and other ‘violations’ on its WeChat livestreaming service” By Arjun Kharpal — CNBC. If you were thinking about picking your nose or putting underwear over your head while livestreaming on WeChat, think again. Tencent runs WeChat, a messaging app that is used by over a billion people. The app is an integral part of daily life in China and can be used for everything from payments to booking flights. Last year, Tencent launched a live broadcasting feature called “Channels.”
  • My trip to Europe is about America rallying the world’s democracies” By President Joe Biden — The Washington Post. On Wednesday, I depart for Europe on the first foreign travel of my presidency. It is a trip stacked with meetings with many of our closest democratic partners — including the Group of Seven nations, our NATO allies and the leadership of the European Union — before concluding by meeting with Vladimir Putin. In this moment of global uncertainty, as the world still grapples with a once-in-a-century pandemic, this trip is about realizing America’s renewed commitment to our allies and partners, and demonstrating the capacity of democracies to both meet the challenges and deter the threats of this new age.
  • DOD-NTIA Open 5G Challenge Could Lead to New Requirements” By Mariam Baksh — Nextgov. The Defense Department and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration partnered on a challenge to validate the technology behind the government’s main strategy to compete with China on fifth-generation networks, according to an official. The government is betting big on open radio access network, or O-RAN, technology, which would use software to allow different components of 5G networks to work together. Such software would create an alternative to the hardware-based proprietary models that tie operators to only four “kit” providers—two of which are Chinese equipment providers Huawei and ZTE.
  • Why Amazon Is Confronting the Richest Man in India” By Aman Sethi — The New York Times. Amazon and one of the world’s richest men are engaged in a multibillion-dollar, politically fraught clash over Rani Pillai’s favorite place to buy groceries. Ms. Pillai, a 47-year-old retired nurse, is a regular shopper at Big Bazaar, a low-slung supermarket nestled beneath a metro station in a middle-class neighborhood in east Delhi. She tried online shopping last year, during India’s coronavirus lockdown. It didn’t compare to Big Bazaar, where jars of mango pickle jostle for space with pasta sauce, while family packs of instant noodles are stacked near giant sacks of basmati rice.
  • How Snapchat became the forgotten social platform” By Terry Nguyen — Vox. Caren Babaknia has a lot of silly videos saved on Snapchat. Since high school, the 24-year-old has stored thousands of random, short clips under his Memories tab. He never thought they would be viewed by anyone or worth anything. That changed last November when Snapchat launched Spotlight, a TikTok-like short video feature, and established an initiative that paid users to post. The company distributed up to $1 million a day to users with the most popular Spotlight videos.
  • Judge Chooses Timeline for JEDI Cloud Case” By Frank Konkel — Nextgov. Days after attorneys for the Pentagon, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services proposed competing schedules for moving forward in ongoing JEDI litigation, Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith selected AWS’ proposed schedule through at least July.
  • Trojan Shield: How the FBI Secretly Ran a Phone Network for Criminals” By Joseph Cox — Vice. For years the FBI has secretly run an encrypted communications app used by organized crime in order to surreptitiously collect its users’ messages and monitor criminals’ activity on a massive scale, according to a newly unsealed court document. In all, the elaborate operation netted more than 20 million messages from over 11,800 devices used by suspected criminals.
  • Apple Did Business With A Wind Energy Company That Has Close Ties To Xinjiang” By Megha Rajagopalan — BuzzFeed News. Apple and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway have done business with a Chinese wind energy giant linked to controversial government and labor programs in Xinjiang, where the US and other countries say China is carrying out a genocide of Muslim minorities. Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology, China’s largest wind turbine maker, on at least one occasion entered talks to receive “labor exports” from the Hotan prefecture in Xinjiang to a facility hundreds of miles away, new research from the Tech Transparency Project has found. Hotan officials traveled to a Goldwind plant to “coordinate” the labor exports, as part of an effort to strengthen the “organizational and disciplinary education” of workers, according to an archived local government media report uncovered by the Tech Transparency Project.
  • Record labels sue another ISP, demanding mass disconnections of Internet users” By Jon Brodkin — Ars Technica. The major record labels yesterday filed another lawsuit demanding that an Internet service provider terminate many more subscribers for alleged copyright violations. Universal, Sony, and Warner sued Frontier Communications in US District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleging that the DSL and fiber ISP with 3.5 million subscribers “received hundreds of thousands of copyright infringement notices from copyright owners” but “provided known repeat infringers with continued access to and use of its network and failed to terminate the accounts of, or otherwise take any meaningful action against, those subscribers. In reality, Frontier operated its network as an attractive tool and safe haven for infringement.” Frontier “chose not to act on those notices and address the rampant infringement on its network,” the companies claimed.
  • Hunting Leaks, Trump Officials Focused on Democrats in Congress” By Katie Benner, Nicholas Fandos, Michael S. Schmidt and Adam Goldman — The New York Times. As the Justice Department investigated who was behind leaks of classified information early in the Trump administration, it took a highly unusual step: Prosecutors subpoenaed Apple for data from the accounts of at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, aides and family members. One was a minor. All told, the records of at least a dozen people tied to the committee were seized in 2017 and early 2018, including those of Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, then the panel’s top Democrat and now its chairman, according to committee officials and two other people briefed on the inquiry. Representative Eric Swalwell of California said in an interview Thursday night that he had also been notified that his data had been subpoenaed.

Coming Events

  • On 22 June, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Communications, Media, and Broadband Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled “Building Resilient Networks” “examine ways in which the federal government can support deployment of resilient, redundant, and secure broadband and telecommunications infrastructure, and review the lessons learned from outage incidents” with these witnesses:
    • Mr. Harold Feld, Senior Vice President, Public Knowledge
    • Mr. Jonathan Adelstein, President and Chief Executive Officer, Wireless Infrastructure Association
    • Mr. Denny Law, General Manager and Chief Executive Officer, Golden West Telecommunications
    • Mr. Jeff Johnson, Chief Executive, Western Fire Chiefs Association
  • The Senate Finance Committee’s International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled “International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness” with these witnesses:
    • Wendy S. Cutler, Vice President, Asia Society Policy Institute
    • Donald Allan, Jr., President and Chief Financial Officer, Stanley Black & Decker
    • Peter A. Petri, Ph.D., Carl J. Shapiro Professor of International Finance at the Brandeis International Business School and Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution
    • The Honorable James B. Cunningham, Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council and former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Israel, and the United Nations, former Consul General of the United States in Hong Kong, Board Chair of the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong
  • On 23 June, the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Cyber Subcommittee will hold a hearing “To receive testimony on recent ransomware attacks” with these witnesses:
    • Ms. Mieke Eoyang, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy
    • Major General Kevin Kennedy, Director of Operations, United States Cyber Command
    • Rear Admiral Ronald Foy, Deputy Director for Global Operations, Joint Staff
  • On 24 June, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled “Empowered by Data: Legislation to Advance Equity and Public Health” that will likely include discussion of the following bills:
    • H.R. 379, the “Improving Social Determinants of Health Act of 2021”
    • H.R. 666, the “Anti-Racism in Public Health Act of 2021”
    • H.R. 778, the “Secure Data and Privacy for Contact Tracing Act of 2021”
    • H.R. 791, the “Tracking COVID–19 Variants Act”
    • H.R. 831, the “Health Standards To Advance Transparency, Integrity, Science, Technology Infrastructure, and Confidential Statistics Act of 2021” or the “Health STATISTICS Act of 2021”
    • H.R. 925, the “Data to Save Moms Act”
    • H.R. 943, the “Social Determinants for Moms Act”
    • H.R. 976, the “Ensuring Transparent Honest Information on COVID–19 Act” or the “ETHIC Act”
    • H.R. 2125, the “Quit Because of COVID–19 Act”
    • H.R. 2503, the “Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2021”
    • H.R. 3894, the “Collecting and Analyzing Resources Integral and Necessary for Guidance for Social Determinants of Health Act of 2021” or the “CARING for Social Determinants of Health Act of 2021”
    • H.R. 3969, to amend title XXVII of the Public Health Service Act to include activities to address social determinants of health in the calculation of medical loss ratios
    • H.R. ____, to require the Comptroller General of the United States to submit to Congress a report on actions taken by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to address social determinants of health
  • The House Appropriations Committee’s Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee will mark up its FY 2022 appropriations bill on 24 June, which includes funding and programmatic direction for a number of agencies including the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission.
  • On 24 June, the House Small Business Committee’s Oversight, Investigations, and Regulations Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled “CMMC Implementation: What It Means for Small Businesses.” The subcommittee explained:
    • The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is the Department of Defense’s latest initiative to increase cybersecurity preparedness across the defense industrial base. The hearing will provide Members the opportunity to learn more about this initiative, its implementation, and the compliance challenges it poses for small businesses.
    • The following witnesses will appear:
      • Mr. Jonathan T. Williams, Partner, PilieroMazza PLLC
      • Mr. Scott Singer, President, CyberNINES
      • Ms. Tina Wilson, Chief Executive Officer, T47 International, Inc.
      • Mr. Michael Dunbar, President, Ryzhka International LLC
  • On 27 July, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will hold PrivacyCon 2021.

© Michael Kans, Michael Kans Blog and michaelkans.blog, 2019-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael Kans, Michael Kans Blog, and michaelkans.blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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