Today is Friday. 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.
A major poll released Friday to round out a breakneck week in cyber and tech news found that while Americans are concerned about foreign governments spreading misinformation online, they place the blame for this far more on U.S. politicians and social media companies.
The White House also kicked off a fact-finding mission into artificial intelligence relying on biometric data, with some top advisers publishing an op-ed pushing for a new “bill of rights.”
Let’s jump in.
Americans worried about online misinformation
The majority of Americans believe U.S. politicians and social media companies spread misinformation online more than China, Russia or other foreign governments, a poll released Friday found.
According to a poll carried out by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs and the University of Chicago’s Pearson Institute, around three-quarters of respondents believe that politicians, social media companies and social media users are responsible for spreading misinformation.
Less international concerns: By comparison, only 48 percent of respondents saw the U.S. government as responsible for spreading misinformation, and just over half saw the Russian and Chinese governments as culpable for this issue. Even less, around 40 percent saw the Iranian government and other nations as responsible for misinformation online.
Splits on the issue are present however, with respondents identifying as Republican twice as likely than those identifying as Democrats to hold the U.S. government accountable for misinformation, and those over the age of 45 more likely to believe a foreign government is responsible.
It wasn’t me: The poll found that while almost all respondents see the spread of misinformation as a problem, and around three-quarters were concerned about being exposed to misinformation, more than half were not concerned with the idea they had personally spread misinformation online.
Read more about the poll here.
A MESSAGE FROM AEP
Nine-in-Ten Voters in Key Frontline Districts Support Candidates Who Ensure U.S. Tech Remains Globally Competitive
A new survey released by Ipsos in partnership with the American Edge Project (AEP) shows that voters in frontline districts want their elected officials to focus on issues of national security, jobs, and health care as opposed to breaking up tech companies.
See the poll here.
AI Bill of Rights
Two of the White House’s top science advisers called for an artificial intelligence “bill of rights” in an opinion piece published Friday on Wired.
President BidenJoe BidenArkansas lawmakers advance bill prohibiting businesses from demanding workers’ vaccine status Senate approves short-term debt ceiling increase On The Money — Presented by NRHC — Senate slowly walks back from debt disaster MORE’s chief science adviser, Eric LanderEric LanderOvernight Health Care — White House proposes B strategy for pandemic preparedness White House unveils B pandemic preparedness plan Biden administration establishes program to recruit tech professionals to serve in government MORE, and the deputy director for science and society, Alondra Nelson, cautioned of the risks posed by technologies like facial recognition, automated translators and medical diagnosis algorithms.
Critics of the technology have said that the tools depend on data sets that are often biased in ways that replicate and amplify existing societal biases.
“Data sets that fail to represent American society can result in virtual assistants that don’t understand Southern accents; facial recognition technology that leads to wrongful, discriminatory arrests; and health care algorithms that discount the severity of kidney disease in African Americans, preventing people from getting kidney transplants,” Lander and Nelson wrote.
The two also cautioned about the potential security and privacy risks from the internet-enabled devices, from smart speakers to webcams.
The influential advisers called for a set of rules using the Bill of Rights as a template to ensure that emerging technologies respect democratic values and treat everyone fairly.
GOOD NEWS FOR KIDS
President Biden on Friday signed into law legislation intended to strengthen the cybersecurity of K-12 institutions after a year in which cyberattacks aimed at schools spiked as classes moved online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The K-12 Cybersecurity Act requires the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to create cybersecurity recommendations and tools for schools to use to defend themselves against hackers after conducting a study on the cybersecurity risks facing K-12 institutions.
The bipartisan bill, approved by the House late last month following passage by the Senate, is sponsored by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary PetersGary PetersHillicon Valley — Presented by American Edge Project — TSA to issue cybersecurity directives to secure rail, aviation sectors Bill requiring companies report cyber incidents moves forward in the Senate Supply chain risk matters when it comes to cybersecurity for next-gen 911 MORE (D-Mich.) and Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenIt’s time to lower the cost of prescription drugs — my plan for nonprofit manufacturers would be a step forward House passes legislation to strengthen federal cybersecurity workforce Heller won’t say if Biden won election MORE (D-Nev.) and Bill CassidyBill CassidySenators gear up for bipartisan grilling of Facebook execs Democrats scramble for strategy to avoid default This week: Democrats hit make-or-break moment for Biden MORE (R-La.).
Rep. Jim LangevinJames (Jim) R. LangevinHillicon Valley — Presented by Ericsson — Facebook faces critics on kids’ safety House approves legislation to protect K-12 schools against cyberattacks Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon officials get grilling from House MORE (D-R.I.) primarily sponsored the bill in the House, with Reps. Doris MatsuiDoris Okada MatsuiHouse Democrats press leaders to include more funding for electric vehicles in spending plan Lobbying world Nearly 140 Democrats urge EPA to ‘promptly’ allow California to set its own vehicle pollution standards MORE (D-Calif.), Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.), Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) and Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinBiden says infrastructure bills must pass at ‘inflection point’ for US Biden meets with vulnerable House Democrats with agenda in limbo WHIP LIST: How House Democrats, Republicans say they’ll vote on infrastructure bill MORE (D-Mich.) as co-sponsors.
Read more here.
FACEBOOK TAKES A REAL HIT
The country’s largest Latino civil rights organization on Friday severed its ties with Facebook, returning a recent grant from the social media giant.
UnidosUS, formerly known as the National Council of La Raza, said in a statement its decision came “amid revelations on the role that the platform has played in intentionally perpetuating products and policies that harm the Latino community and undermine democratic ideals.”
“This week’s revelations from Facebook’s own internal documents confirmed what we have long suspected: Facebook has engaged with us and the civil rights community in bad faith,” said UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía.
“We have called attention repeatedly to concerns about the negative impact that the proliferation of hate and misinformation on the platform has had on the Latino community. We know now that Facebook’s failure to adequately address those concerns was deliberate and resulted in even greater levels of hate and misinformation on the site,” she added.
The Hill reached out to Facebook for comment.
Facebook has faced an avalanche of negative press over the last few weeks, starting with a series of articles in The Wall Street Journal sharing internal company research that found the platform worsening body issues for teen girls, failing to handle drug cartels and providing preferential treatment to high profile users.
Their problems compounded when the source of that research, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, appeared in a high profile interview on “60 Minutes” and then testified before Congress.
Read more about the company’s issues with Spanish language content.
CRYPTOCURRENCY CONCERNS CONTINUE
A group of Democrats on Friday urged the Biden administration to do more to confront the growing use of cryptocurrency markets in ransomware attacks, which have become an increasing national security threat over the past year.
Sens. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyOvernight Energy & Environment — Biden set to restore national monuments rolled back by Trump Lawmakers introduce bill to limit data collection at border crossings Markey: Senate must pass reconciliation package before global climate summit MORE (D-Mass.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseTaxing new plastic is the cheapest way to address its environmental impact The Supreme Court isn’t political — and reversing Roe v. Wade wouldn’t make it so Manchin opens door to deal in range of .9T to .2T MORE (D-R.I.), and Reps. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) and Ted LieuTed W. LieuLawmakers introduce bill to limit data collection at border crossings Bass receives endorsement from EMILY’s List Congress comes to the aid of Libyan people, passing bill ordering probe into war crimes and torture MORE (D-Calif.) sent a letter to the leaders of the Homeland Security, Justice, State and Treasury departments on Friday asking them to pursue “stronger coordination” between the agencies on the issue of cryptocurrency.
They pointed to a massive increase in ransomware attacks, with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center receiving reports of almost 2,500 ransomware attacks with losses over $29 million in 2020.
“The proliferation of cryptocurrency has facilitated this explosive growth in ransomware attacks, largely by offering easy, fast, and difficult to trace methods for laundering illicit gains,” the lawmakers wrote. “We believe that increasing enforcement of existing money laundering and financial crimes statutes would play an important role in deterring ransomware attacks and facilitating the recovery of cryptocurrency paid to ransomware attackers.”
Read more here.
A MESSAGE FROM AEP
Ipsos + AEP frontline district poll across 32 districts found that:
There is virtually no constituency for breaking up U.S. tech companies. Despite recent efforts to break up U.S. tech companies, just 14% support such a move, including just 15% of Democrats, 12% of independents, and 12% of Republicans.
Voters believe breaking up tech companies will harm the economy, national security, and small businesses.
The poll results make it clear that policymakers who are pushing misguided tech regulation are out of touch with voters.
See the poll here.
BITS AND PIECES
An op-ed to chew on: Ceding regulatory power to Europe will weaken the security of the free world
Lighter click: Please don’t buy this
Notable links from around the web:
Borrowed a School Laptop? Mind Your Open Tabs (Wired / Sidney Fussell)
I Designed Algorithms at Facebook. Here’s How to Regulate Them. (New York Times Opinion / Roddy Lindsay)
Facebook is drawing a bipartisan backlash from Congress, but the SEC could deliver a tougher blow (Washington Post / Tory Newmyer)
One last thing: Another outage
Facebook and its apps were inaccessible for some users Friday afternoon, less than a week after the social media network was offline for roughly five hours.
Facebook’s main app, as well as Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp were all down starting around 3 p.m. Eastern, according to the error crowdsourcing site DownDetector.com.
Friday’s outage was much shorter than the one earlier in the week, with all Facebook sites appearing to be up and running again by 4:15 p.m.
The company acknowledged on Twitter that there were issues accessing its products.
“We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible and we apologize for any inconvenience,” it wrote.
A Facebook spokesperson told The Hill that Friday’s outage was unrelated to the problems the platform had earlier this week, which was chalked up to a “faulty configuration change.”
Read more about the impact of these outages.
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 Monday.
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