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Politics Hillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close

01:40  26 september  2020
01:40  26 september  2020 Source:   thehill.com

Hillicon Valley: McConnell accuses Democrats of sowing division by repeatedly voicing election security concerns | FBI chief says Russia is trying to interfere in election to undermine Biden | Treasury Dept. sanctions Iranian government-backed hackers

  Hillicon Valley: McConnell accuses Democrats of sowing division by repeatedly voicing election security concerns | FBI chief says Russia is trying to interfere in election to undermine Biden | Treasury Dept. sanctions Iranian government-backed hackers 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 our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech reporter, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills), for more coverage.FBI CHIEF HAS ELECTION SECURITY CONCERNS: FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday said that Russian agents were trying to undermine Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in the lead-up to the November election.

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.

a man sitting at a table using a laptop computer: Hillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close © iStockphoto Hillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close

Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech reporter, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills), for more coverage.

Voting By Mail? Here Are the Deadlines in Every U.S. State

  Voting By Mail? Here Are the Deadlines in Every U.S. State Voting By Mail? Here Are the Deadlines in Every U.S. StateBefore the pandemic, five states—Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah—already held all-mail elections, meaning every active registered voter automatically received a ballot in the mail that would allow them to bypass a physical polling place. Due to COVID-19, several more states, including California and New Jersey, are adopting this model for the 2020 election. Twenty-nine states and Washington D.C. already allowed for “no excuse” mail-in absentee ballots, meaning voters can request a mail-in ballot without having to meet certain qualifications.

WORK FROM HOME FATIGUE: Six months after states began issuing stay-at-home orders, many employees have settled into working-from-home routines that are likely to persist in some form beyond the pandemic.

But with that seismic shift comes concerns about productivity, fatigue and cybersecurity. Those issues are likely to become more prominent as a greater share of the labor force makes remote work a long-term practice.

A record 49 percent of Americans reported having telecommuted in a Gallup poll released last month, and the average telecommuter spent nearly 12 out of 20 days working at home, up from just below six days the year prior. Among college graduates, 76 percent reported having telecommuted.

Hillicon Valley: Murky TikTok deal raises questions about China's role | Twitter investigating automated image previews over apparent algorithmic bias | House approves bill making hacking federal voting systems a crime

  Hillicon Valley: Murky TikTok deal raises questions about China's role | Twitter investigating automated image previews over apparent algorithmic bias | House approves bill making hacking federal voting systems a crime 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 our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech reporter, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills), for more coverage.TIKTOK TUSSLE: A deal to avert a U.S. ban on TikTok appears to have been reached over the weekend, but several questions remain about the contours of the pending agreement.The most pressing is what role the short-form video app's China-based parent company, ByteDance, will have in the newly formed entity TikTok Global.

"Prior to [the pandemic], telecommuting and remote work was certainly practiced widely and was rapidly increasing, but this is a complete left turn in terms of the rapidness telework and remote work has been adopted," Timothy Golden, a professor of management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute that has been studying remote work for years, told The Hill.

Several companies have embraced that shift, especially in the fast growing technology sector.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey made waves earlier this year when he announced that Twitter and Square employees could work remotely indefinitely. Facebook, Amazon and Google have all extended work from home policies for their white-collar employees through the end of the year.

But tech isn't the only industry making changes. Deutsche Bank last week set an office return date of July 2021.

Some companies have also resisted embracing remote work.

Hillicon Valley: DOJ proposes tech liability shield reform to Congress | Treasury sanctions individuals, groups tied to Russian malign influence activities | House Republican introduces bill to set standards for self-driving cars

  Hillicon Valley: DOJ proposes tech liability shield reform to Congress | Treasury sanctions individuals, groups tied to Russian malign influence activities | House Republican introduces bill to set standards for self-driving cars 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 our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech reporter, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills), for more coverage.DOJ STEPS INTO THE SECTION 230 RING: The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday rolled out a proposal for Congress to revise the law that gives tech companies a legal liability shield for content posted by third parties.

Read more here.

TAKING MATTERS INTO THEIR OWN HANDS: A group of Facebook's most vocal critics on Friday announced the creation of a group to analyze and weigh in on the platform's moderation decisions as the company's own independent oversight board has yet to launch.

The new group, which calls itself the Real Facebook, consists of more than two dozen academics, journalists and civil rights leaders.

Its meetings will be available to the public, with the first one scheduled to be streamed on Facebook Live on Wednesday hosted by New York Times contributing opinion writer Kara Swisher.

Many members of the new group have been critical of the pace of Facebook's Oversight Board launch.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg first revealed his intentions to launch an oversight board in November 2018, but he didn't formally announce the makeup of the board until May of this year.

The board, which is meant to have final and binding say over whether content should be allowed on, or taken down from, Facebook's platforms, will consist of 20 experts who are scheduled to begin reviewing content cases in October.

Black-owned gay bars are dwindling. Can they survive Covid?

  Black-owned gay bars are dwindling. Can they survive Covid? The coronavirus pandemic is just one of many headwinds facing the few remaining Black-owned LGBTQ bars across the country.“The first thing we thought was, ‘Oh, my gosh, we’re going to be out of business before we started this business,’” Hughes, 39, told NBC News.

But the board will not be fully operational until after the U.S. elections on Nov. 3.

Read more here.

GOOGLE ELECTION AD FREEZE: Google will bar election-related advertising after all polls close on Nov. 3, a spokesperson for the company confirmed Friday.

The move was prompted by the possibility that final election results might be delayed this year because of the high volume of mail-in voting driven by the coronavirus pandemic.

The ban will be temporary but last at least one week.

Ads referencing officeholders, candidates, political parties, ballot measures or elections will not be allowed, according to an email to advertisers obtained by The Hill.

Ads on election-related search queries will also be prohibited. Google said it will evaluate other ads on a case-by-case basis.

The search engine giant has implemented similar bans before, most recently the election in Belarus last month.

The company also placed a ban on certain advertising around the time that the coronavirus was declared a pandemic in March. Some actors, like government institutions and public health agencies, have had the ban lifted while others are still not able to advertise about COVID-19.

Read more.

QANON CONCERNS CONTINUE: Disinformation targeting Latino communities is ramping up ahead of Election Day, when the demographic is expected to play a crucial role in key battleground states.

The 7 biggest announcements from Google’s Pixel 5 event

  The 7 biggest announcements from Google’s Pixel 5 event Here’s what you missed from Google’s half-hour hardware eventIn the case of specs, the Pixel 5 isn’t trying to go up against the most powerful phones in the world. Instead of beating them when it comes to raw speed (it has a midrange Snapdragon 765G processor, but the 8GB of RAM should deliver some snappiness), Google is focused on delivering some unique features along with — for the first time — 5G support.

Advocacy groups and election security experts alike say material is circulating on social media platforms and online messaging apps that pushes false conspiracies that echo larger disinformation campaigns in English.

The misinformation efforts, some of which reflect the QAnon conspiracy theory, are especially critical in Florida, a crucial swing state where polls show Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is running behind Hillary Clinton's 2016 support among Latino voters.

Advocates said the misinformation could dissuade Latino voters, who have historically low levels of voter participation, from voting in this year's election.

One example, according to NALEO, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that facilitates Latino participation in American politics, is a Facebook page "Cubanos por el Mundo" that makes false claims that the Cuban government is planning a caravan at the southern border to create a migratory crisis before the election to sabotage President Trump.

Read more here.

A(I) SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP: The Trump administration on Friday announced that it had signed an artificial intelligence (AI) research and development agreement with the United Kingdom.

The U.S. and the U.K. formally committed to the Declaration on Cooperation in Artificial Intelligence Research and Development, which is meant to promote cooperation between the two nations on AI development along with recommending priorities for AI planning and programming, including student and researcher collaboration.

Google practically gave up on the Pixel this year

  Google practically gave up on the Pixel this year Google launched the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G phones during its hardware event on Wednesday, confirming all the rumors that said the 2020 Pixel flagship wouldn't be a true flagship this year. The $499 Pixel 4a 5G is a much better choice than the $699 Pixel 5, as the two devices practically share the same set of specs, with very few differences that matter. There are plenty of better smartphones that sell for the same $699 or are significantly cheaper than the Pixel 5.

According to the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the agreement is the result of a meeting between President Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last year, during which a U.S.-U.K. Special Relationship Economic Working Group was established to promote collaboration on economic growth.

"America and our allies must lead the world in shaping the development of cutting edge AI technologies and protecting against authoritarianism and repression," U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios said in a statement Friday. "We are proud to join our special partner and ally, the United Kingdom, to advance AI innovation for the well-being of our citizens, in line with shared democratic values."

Alok Sharma, a member of Parliament and the U.K.'s secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, tweeted his support on Friday after signing the AI declaration on behalf of the U.K.

"I look forward to collaborating with our US partners on #AI and advancing our shared vision to harness the benefits of this technology for all," Sharma tweeted.

The move follows increasing efforts by the Trump administration to ramp up investment in AI and quantum computing.

Read more here.

UNDERWOOD TAKES THE GAVEL: The House Homeland Security Committee announced Friday that Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) will take over as chair of the panel's subcommittee on cybersecurity, infrastructure protection and innovation.

Underwood, who serves as vice chair of the full Homeland Security panel, will take over the subcommittee chair position from Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.).

Richmond stepped down from the Homeland Security panel earlier this week to take a position on the House Ways and Means Committee, filling a position previously held by the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).

The cybersecurity subpanel has in the past addressed issues around election security, state and local cybersecurity needs, bolstering the cybersecurity workforce and oversight of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Science and Technology Directorate.

'Running out of time': Efforts to speed up counting mail ballots stall in battleground states

  'Running out of time': Efforts to speed up counting mail ballots stall in battleground states The nation could be waiting for Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to count all its mail-ballots after Election Day.But in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, two key swing states, efforts have stalled in Republican-controlled state legislatures. And in a third crucial state, Michigan, a push to begin the counting process several days before the election is dead. Lawmakers there instead chose to give election officials just a 10-hour head-start.

Underwood said in a statement Friday that she was "honored to step into this leadership role to secure our cyber and physical infrastructure in a way that reflects American values."

She emphasized that "with the 2020 election currently underway across Illinois and the country, this committee's work is more critical than ever before."

Read more here.

NEW CYBER BILL: A group of bipartisan House and Senate lawmakers on Friday introduced legislation to increase resources to help local governments, small businesses and nonprofit groups to defend themselves against cyberattacks.

The Improving Cybersecurity of Small Organizations Act would require the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to develop and issue guidance on cybersecurity policies for small businesses, nonprofits and local governments.

Both CISA and the Small Business Administration (SBA) would be required to promote the guidance, and the SBA would additionally be required to issue a report on the state of small business cybersecurity every two years.

The bill is sponsored in the House by Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and John Katko (R-N.Y.), the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee's cybersecurity subcommittee. Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced the legislation in the Senate.

Eshoo said in a statement Friday that the legislation was necessary, as "small businesses, small nonprofits and small local governments can't afford to hire cybersecurity professionals, yet they are still vulnerable to debilitating cyberattacks."

Both Rosen and Cornyn separately praised the bill as addressing cybersecurity challenges faced by small businesses and local governments.

Read more here.

EU TO APPEAL: The European Union announced on Friday that it will appeal a July court ruling that annulled its 2016 finding that Apple owed Ireland up to 13 billion euros in unpaid taxes.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said it is appealing the EU general court's opinion to the European Court of Justice, the EU's highest court.

The commission "respectfully considers that in its judgment the General Court has made a number of errors of law," Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president of the commission, said in a statement.

The commission ruled in August 2016 that Ireland's tax treatment of Apple constituted illegal "state aid" that gave the tech giant an unfair advantage over other companies. The ruling was criticized by U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, who expressed concerns that American companies were being disproportionately targeted.

Ireland and Apple contested the 2016 ruling. In July, the EU general court ruled in favor of Ireland and Apple, finding that the commission incorrectly determined that Apple received a selective economic advantage over its competitors.

Read more here.

OBJECTION: An advocacy group for drone manufacturers and developers this week raised serious concerns around a clause in the proposed version of the annual defense spending bill that would ban Chinese and other foreign-made drones, arguing the ban could "hurt the drone industry."

A clause in the House-passed 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would prohibit federal procurement or operation of certain foreign-made drones, including those from China, due to national security concerns.

The Alliance for Drone Innovation - which represents major drone-related companies, including Chinese technology group Da-Jiang Innovations (DJI) - pushed back against the clause in a letter sent to the leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees this week.

"By imposing a ban on the procurement and operation of foreign-made drones in the final conference report, this provision would be detrimental to the U.S. drone industry," the Alliance wrote to the lawmakers. "While it may seem counterintuitive, we believe a ban on drones and drone components from outside America would actually hurt the development of the U.S. drone industry."

The Alliance argued that "manufacturing a drone simply cannot be done today without parts and knowledge from all over the world, and a country-based ban would hurt the Americans who build drones as well as the Americans who use them for recreation, business, conservation, and even saving lives."

Concerns around foreign-made drones have been tied to strong efforts by the Trump administration and members of Congress to push back hard against China, zeroing in particularly on Chinese tech groups, such as social media platform TikTok and telecommunications company Huawei.

Read more here.

Lighter click: Reminder that it's fat bear week

An op-ed to chew on: Congress should help college students bridge the digital divide

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Facebook is turning VR into a platform--but some indie developers fear its power (The Verge / Adi Robertson)

Trump's ban on diversity training sends tech companies scrambling (Protocol / Emily Birnbaum)

QAnon leaders look to rebrand after tech crack downs (NBC News / Ben Collins)

Alphabet Settles Shareholder Suits Over Sexual Harassment Claims (New York Times / Daisukue Wakabayashi)


Video: Facebook's Nick Clegg: Calling Facebook's new rules not ambitious or piecemeal is unfair (CNBC)

'Running out of time': Efforts to speed up counting mail ballots stall in battleground states .
The nation could be waiting for Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to count all its mail-ballots after Election Day.But in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, two key swing states, efforts have stalled in Republican-controlled state legislatures. And in a third crucial state, Michigan, a push to begin the counting process several days before the election is dead. Lawmakers there instead chose to give election officials just a 10-hour head-start.

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