Welcome to Hillicon Valley, The Hill’s newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. If you don’t already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter with this LINK.
Welcome! Follow the cyber team, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and the tech team, Emily Birnbaum (@birnbaum_e) and Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills).
LATEST ON SURVEILLANCE TALKS: House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) says Democrats are making progress in their negotiations over the reauthorization of a key surveillance bill, stating Tuesday that they are working to include more privacy protections.
Intra-party rifts have emerged in recent weeks as some progressive Democrats and libertarian Republicans push to include additional additional privacy protection amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), while others argued that a clean reauthorization bill had a better chance of making it through the Senate.
Schiff says he and his staff have been working the House Judiciary Committee as well as Reps. Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenCongress scrambles to finalize coronavirus funding, surveillance deals ACLU, FreedomWorks urge Trump to reform ‘rogue FBI’ as part of intel bill This week: House eyes vote on emergency coronavirus funding MORE (Calif.) and Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalCentrist Democrats insist Sanders would need delegate majority to win Democrats cancel surveillance vote over pushback to amendments 22 studies agree: ‘Medicare for All’ saves money MORE (Wash.) — two Judiciary Democrats who have pushed for more protections — in an effort to get the bill passed by March 15. That’s the deadline to extend three expiring provisions of the USA Freedom Act that touch on roving wiretaps, lone wolf surveillance, and a controversial program that allows the U.S. government to request access to phone metadata.
“We’re trying to find as much common ground as we can,” Schiff told The Hill. “We are trying to incorporate even more privacy protections in the hopes that we can get to an agreement in a timely way.”
Schiff said some of Lofgren’s amendments are being considered, including an amicus provision that would add an outside advocate for every FISA case in which an American is targeted as well as make it illegal for the government to collect a U.S. citizen’s metadata.
“We’re looking at expanding the amicus provisions, we are looking at limiting the period of attention to business records, what the business records provision can be used for, making sure that you can’t use the business records to get things you would need a court order for the criminal context, limiting the use of geolocation data or their usage of location information,” Schiff said.
House Democrats last week were forced to pull their bill in the Judiciary Committee and postpone a markup after Lofgren threatened to force votes on several FISA-related amendments. So far, a new markup has not been announced.
Schiff indicated an understanding has been reached on the issue of metadata, but that they are still figuring out other issues like the amicus provisions.
“We’re trying to figure out what’s the capacity of the amicus, but also how to weed out those cases that are truly routine that don’t present any novel issues, making sure that that’s a real distinction,” he said.
He said one area of disagreement is whether some provisions could overly constrain the gathering of intelligence.
“Part of the issue is whether we use the FISA process to impose constraints that are not even present in the criminal law process and that is a philosophical difference that may be driving some of the division on particular provisions,” he said.
Jayapal, when asked about the state of negotiations, also said there’s more work to be done.
“So far, we are just not there but we are continuing to talk and hope to see new proposals that address the areas we have raised,” Jayapal said, adding that she too hopes to reauthorize by the deadline.
Read more here.
TRUMP HAS ENTERED THE CHAT: President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders poised for big Super Tuesday 5 things to watch on Super Tuesday Congress scrambles to finalize coronavirus funding, surveillance deals MORE was slated to meet Tuesday with Republicans on both sides of a looming surveillance fight as lawmakers have deadlocked about how to handle soon-to-expire intelligence programs.
A White House official told The Hill that the meeting would be “broader” than just senators, also including House members as well as administration officials.
That meeting is expected to include lawmakers who support using the upcoming USA Freedom Act reauthorization to make broader changes to the court associated with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). That group is expected to include Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeTrump to meet with Republicans amid deadlocked surveillance fight Surveillance fight pits Trump allies against each other Leaving troops in Afghanistan is not the ‘winning’ Trump campaigned on MORE (R-Utah) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTrump to meet with Republicans amid deadlocked surveillance fight This week: House eyes vote on emergency coronavirus funding Surveillance fight pits Trump allies against each other MORE (R-Ky.), as well as Reps. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanTrump to meet with Republicans amid deadlocked surveillance fight ACLU, FreedomWorks urge Trump to reform ‘rogue FBI’ as part of intel bill We should now consider candidates’ governing qualities MORE (R-Ohio) and Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsTrump to meet with Republicans amid deadlocked surveillance fight The 14 other key races to watch on Super Tuesday Sanders, socialism emerge as top targets at CPAC MORE (R-N.C.) among others, several sources told The Hill.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSigns of trouble mar Trump deal with Taliban Surveillance fight pits Trump allies against each other Steyer drops out of 2020 race MORE (R-S.C.) and other GOP lawmakers who support extending the USA Freedom provisions without the broader surveillance changes are also expected to attend the White House meeting.
Read more here and check back at The Hill for the the latest.
SURVEILLANCE FIGHT GETS PERSONAL: Digital rights activists are fundraising for a billboard criticizing House Intelligence Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffCongress scrambles to finalize coronavirus funding, surveillance deals Juan Williams: Will the GOP ever curb Trump? The Hill’s Morning Report — Presented by Facebook — Washington, Wall Street on edge about coronavirus MORE (D-Calif.) over his efforts to reauthorize a surveillance bill that they say does not go far enough in reforming how the government is allowed to spy on everyday Americans.
The two groups, Fight for the Future and Demand Progress, on Tuesday launched a crowdfunding page to raise money for the billboard, which would go up in Schiff’s California district.
It’s only the latest effort by progressive and civil libertarian activists to target Schiff and other national security-minded Democrats over their support for a bill that they say would only mildly reform a trio of government surveillance authorities set to expire by March 15.
“Just a few weeks ago, Adam Schiff stood before Congress and told all of America that Donald Trump abused the power of the presidency for his personal political gain,” Dayton Young, a director with Fight for the Future, said in a statement, referring to Schiff’s role as one of the leading House managers in impeaching President Trump.
“So why does he now want to reauthorize this dangerous legislation that grants the president more powers to abuse?” Young said. “And why is he fighting other Democratic lawmakers pressing for reform? It just doesn’t make sense.”
Read more here.
EVERYTHING IS FINE: A senior official at the Department of Homeland Security expressed high confidence in the security of voting systems on Super Tuesday, saying “all systems look green” nationwide.
The top official with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) told reporters Tuesday that while there is “constant” disinformation efforts on social media directed at elections, the activity was “low level” and CISA had not seen any increase as voters head to the polls in 14 states.
“We need to mindful that there is just that chronic level of misinformation and disinformation, whether it’s the Russians or anyone else,” the official told reporters. “There is a low level here of constant activity, but at the moment, we are not seeing any appreciable increase or spike in activity.”
CISA is one of the federal agencies that works with state and local officials to boost election security protocols.
The agency on Tuesday said it was operating as a “national cybersecurity situational room” to allow for “rapid sharing of information” on threats to elections between officials at all levels of government.
The CISA official said that as of midday, there were no signs of cyber targeting or hacking of election infrastructure, and that “everything we are aware of has been resolved, more of a tech glitch than anything. All systems look green right now across the country.”
Read more here.
GET CONNECTED: Amid the mad dash to develop fifth-generation (5G) wireless technologies, Shirley Bloomfield likes to remind people that vast swaths of America have other hurdles to clear first.
“As everybody gets super excited about 5G … we just tell them in rural America we’re still waiting for 1G in some areas,” the CEO of NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association told The Hill in a recent interview.
Throughout her time at the trade association, where she represents more than 850 community-based telecommunications companies across the country, Bloomfield has only seen the interest in getting rural areas connected grow.
“It’s so funny to me because I’ve been doing this for so long, it’s like when you’re the ugly stepchild and then suddenly you’re the belle of the ball and people actually want to talk about this stuff, which is really cool and gratifying,” she said.
Bloomfield was driven to move to Washington, D.C., after working in the private sector briefly post-college by a passion for policy.
That passion landed her a staff job on the House Budget Committee, where she got exposure to a broad slate of issues.
She was eventually hired by NTCA to be a part of its policy shop.
After roughly 20 years of representing carriers, she took another stint in the private sector but found herself raring to come back to NTCA.
When the top job at the association opened in 2010, she called the headhunter charged with finding a successor immediately.
“I said, ‘That is my job, I’m coming back.’ She of course thought I was probably a lunatic,” Bloomfield told The Hill.
“I missed these guys,” she said. “The carriers I represent are so committed to what they do. Because they’re small, they’re really innovative, they try stuff … their spirit of service really resonated with me.”
Read more on Bloomfield’s work here.
SKIPPING CLASS: Tech giant Facebook on Monday announced that it would not participate in this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) festival due to coronavirus-related concerns.
“Due to concerns related to coronavirus, our company and employees will not be participating in SXSW this year,” Facebook spokesman Tracy Clayton told the Austin American-Statesman of the company’s plans to skip the popular festival in Texas.
A number of Facebook employees were scheduled to appear on panels at the event. The company’s withdrawal from the festival comes after Facebook already canceled two of its own conferences due to concerns over the virus that has infected more than 90,000 people worldwide.
Fellow social media giant Twitter has also announced measures related to the spread of the virus, restricting all nonessential employees from travel. CEO Jack Dorsey was supposed to speak at SXSW, but no longer will attend the event.
Officials for SXSW, which is scheduled to run March 13-22, have said that the festival will still happen.
Read more here.
MURKY VIEW: Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John Markey5 states to watch on Super Tuesday The Hill’s Campaign Report: Centrists rush behind Biden to stop Sanders Climate group endorses both Sanders and Warren MORE (D-Mass.) sent a letter Tuesday to Clearview AI, pressing the controversial facial recognition company over its marketing in the Middle East and potential violations of child privacy laws.
This is the second time the Massachusetts lawmaker has inquired about Clearview, which has compiled billions of photos by scraping social media platforms and has contracts with several law enforcement agencies.
The company last week admitted that its entire client list was hacked, and subsequent reporting from BuzzFeed News revealed that well over 2,000 public and private organizations have used the facial recognition technology, which matches individuals’ faces with ones in the expansive database.
Reporting from earlier this month also found Clearview marketing to countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
“Recent reports about Clearview potentially selling its technology to authoritarian regimes raise a number of concerns because you would risk enabling foreign governments to conduct mass surveillance and suppress their citizens,” Markey wrote in Tuesday’s letter to Clearview CEO Hoan Ton-That.
The letter also raised concerns that Clearview may be collecting and processing images of children, which could violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a law that sets restrictions on data collection from minors.
“I have grave doubts about Clearview’s ability to protect this sensitive data in light of recent reports that hackers successfully stole Clearview’s entire client list,” Markey wrote.
The chairman and ranking member of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology also sent a letter to Ton-That Tuesday expressing concern about the recent breach.
“We are deeply concerned about recent reports that indicated Clearview AI was breached and has ‘lost its entire client list to hackers,'” Chairwoman Eddie Bernice JohnsonEddie Bernice JohnsonDemocratic candidates gear up for a dramatic Super Tuesday Overnight Energy: Experts criticize changes to EPA lead, copper rule | House panel looks into plan to limit powers of EPA science advisers | Senate bill aims for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 EPA asked to justify proposal to limit power of its science advisers MORE (D-Texas) and ranking member Frank LucasFrank Dean LucasHillicon Valley: Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract in court | State antitrust investigation into Google expands | Intel agencies no longer collecting location data without warrant Bipartisan bill to secure election tech advances to House floor Hillicon Valley: Doctors press tech to crack down on anti-vax content | Facebook, Instagram suffer widespread outages | Spotify hits Apple with antitrust complaint | FCC rejects calls to delay 5G auction MORE (R-Okla.) wrote in their letter.
Read more on the letters here.
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY: The State Department on Tuesday announced that the U.S. would give Ukraine $8 million in cybersecurity assistance funds as part of a “cyber dialogue” held in Kyiv between officials from the two countries.
The $8 million will go toward funding a new cybersecurity project sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), with the project setting a goal of eventually investing $38 million over the next four years in boosting Ukraine’s cybersecurity capabilities, such as through cyber workforce development and regulatory reforms.
The U.S. previously gave Ukraine $10 million in cybersecurity assistance funds in 2017 as part of the first U.S.-Ukraine cyber dialogue summit, with officials from the two countries meeting again in 2018 to review cybersecurity projects between the two countries.
Read more here.
A LIGHTER CLICK: Fine dining
AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: Trumping ‘Big Tech’ — How the president will balance the ledger
NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:
Google pulls down political ads as candidates keep pushing limits (Bloomberg / Kurt Wagner, Mark Bergen)
Super Tuesday states lavished with $316 million in ads (AdWeek / Scott Nover)
Facebook revamps Libra plans, bowing to regulators (The Information / Alex Heath)
Google halts international travel for all employees worldwide over coronavirus concerns (Business Insider / Rob Price)