Wednesday, February 21

Hillicon Valley — White House urges industry to gear up

Today is Monday. Welcome to Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Subscribe here.

Follow The Hill’s tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@millsrodrigo) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), and cyber reporter Ines Kagubare (@ineskagubare) for more coverage. 

White House officials are urging the private sector to strengthen its cyber defenses as Russia aims to target U.S. critical sectors with cyberattacks. Meanwhile, experts say the oil and gas industry needs to improve its cyber defenses as it is lagging behind compared to other energy sectors. 

Let’s jump into the news. 


Biden admin warns against cyberattacks 

The White House on Monday urged private companies to bolster their cyber defenses, citing evolving intelligence that suggests the Russian government is exploring “options for potential cyberattacks” targeting U.S. critical infrastructure.

“To be clear, there is no certainty there will be a cyber incident on critical infrastructure,” White House deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology Anne Neuberger told reporters during a briefing on Monday afternoon. 

“This is a call to action and a call to responsibility for all of us,” she said. 

Read more here 


Oil sector urged to improve cyber defenses 

As U.S. industries gear up for possible Russian cyberattacks amid the war in Ukraine, experts say the oil and gas industry is particularly vulnerable because it is not subject to government-mandated cybersecurity standards and investments. 

Unlike the power sector, which has developed sophisticated cyber defenses over the years and is heavily regulated by the government, the oil and gas industry is lagging behind in part because industry lobbyists pushed back against stricter regulations, said Peter Lund, a cyber expert and chief technology officer at Industrial Defender.  

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“Oil and gas has always been a little bit behind mostly because they’re not as friendly when it comes to regulations,” Lund said, adding that although the industry has invested in cybersecurity, it’s not at the level it should be compared to other regulated energy sectors. 

Read more here



D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D) alleged Grubhub exploited local restaurants and violated consumer protection laws through hidden fees and “misleading” marketing tactics during the pandemic, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.

Racine alleged the delivery service app ran promotions that falsely claimed to help struggling restaurants in March and April 2020, failed to disclose that prices were higher in the app than at restaurants, listed restaurants that did not sign up for the platform and misleadingly advertised “free” online ordering, according to the complaint.

“Consumers don’t mind paying for delivery fees, but Grubhub needs to be honest about those fees in the first place,” Racine said in a statement. “With this lawsuit, we are seeking to force Grubhub to end its unlawful practices and be transparent so DC residents can make informed decisions about where to order food and how to support local businesses.”

Read more here.  



Russian court Monday determined that Meta, the newly formed parent company of Facebook, was engaging in “extremist” activities, according to Russian state-owned media.

The designation means that Facebook and Instagram, which also falls under umbrella of Meta, will continue to be blocked in the country. The designation may also mean that all commercial activity and display of symbols associated with the brand could end up outlawed.

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The messaging app WhatsApp, which is hugely popular in Russia, is excluded from the decision despite also being owned by Meta.

Read more here.


Surveillance fails to make a splash 

Multiple covert government surveillance operations hoovering up Americans’ information without oversight have been exposed in the last year. Those not following closely may not have noticed. 

Recent revelations about government spying have failed to make a major splash in Congress, the media or public discourse.

Stories about surveillance have broken through before — perhaps most notably in the case of Edward Snowden’s disclosures about the National Security Agency but also in the 1970s when the Senate’s Church Committee investigated abuses by multiple intelligence agencies.

What made those cases so much more salient? And how can privacy advocates get the public’s attention more consistently?

Read more here.



Twitter suspended the account of right-leaning parody site The Babylon Bee after a tweet misgendered U.S. Assistant Health Secretary Rachel LevineRachel LevineTwitter flags Texas AG’s tweet that intentionally misgenders assistant health secretary Michigan AG: ‘Paxton is a walking hate crime’ Biden mourns loss of transgender Americans who died by violence in 2021 MORE in violation of the platform’s hateful conduct policy. 

To regain access to the account, The Babylon Bee has to delete the tweet that violates Twitter’s guidelines, a Twitter spokesperson said.

The tweet that triggered the temporary lock misgendered Levine by stating, “The Babylon Bee’s Man Of The Year is Rachel Levine,” according to a screenshot tweeted by Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon on his personal account.

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Read more here. 



An op-ed to chew on: Antitrust needs reform, but these two proposed bills miss the mark 

Lighter click: modern healthcare 

Notable links from around the web:

An Appalachian town was told a bitcoin mine would bring an economic boom. It got noise pollution and an eyesore. (The Washington Post / Kevin Williams)

Lawsuit Highlights How Little Control Brokers Have Over Location Data (The Markup / Jon Keegan and Alfred Ng)

Meta’s antitrust defense: Blizzard of subpoenas (Axios / Margaret Harding McGill)

Google Settles With 4 Engineers Over Complaint It Fired Them for Organizing (Motherboard / Lauren Kaori Gurley)


One last thing: Ukraine’s digital fight

Ukrainian leaders are sourcing power from a volunteer “IT Army,” fundraising through cryptocurrency donations and using public pleas on social media to leverage global attention as they fight an adversary adept at online attacks.

The country’s novel digital tactics are part of an “on [the] fly” approach to respond to the Russian invasion that changed Ukrainian life overnight, Ukraine’s deputy minister of digital transformation, Alex Bornyakov, told The Hill. 

“Till the last moment, we didn’t believe it was going to be a full scale war,” he said.

“Even the day before the war, we were just living the normal life and planning meetings, planning our actions — all like regular life. And once it started, we realized that we have to act completely differently than it was before,” he added. 

Read more here. 


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 Tuesday.

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