Technology & Innovation

Khanna Writing Internet Bill of Rights
Comes after news that Facebook allowed political consulting firm to harvest users’ data

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., has been tapped to write an “Internet Bill of Rights” by Democratic leadership. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

California Rep. Ro Khanna has been tapped by Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to write legislation defining Internet users’ rights to their data.

In an interview with the San Jose Mercury News, Khanna said he was frustrated after Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s hearings on Capitol Hill showed many members did not understand basic concepts about the internet.

Fearing New Government Rules, Tech Titans Promise Security Vigilance
Lawmakers also may be likely to push for new legislation

Cutouts of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stand on the East Lawn of the Capitol ahead of his testimony on the Hill on April 10. The tech industry increasingly is questioning its security practices. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

SAN FRANCISCO — New European privacy rules, the spotlight on Facebook’s role in the 2016 elections, and the potential that cyberattacks targeting devices could harm consumers in their homes are propelling the tech industry to question its security practices and prompting top executives to promise to make amends.

During five days at the annual RSA Conference last week in San Francisco, top executives from the world’s largest technology companies, including Google, Microsoft, IBM, CISCO, McAfee and Symantec, said they took the scrutiny seriously and would not only step up to make their own devices and software safer but also work with thousands of vendors worldwide urging them to do the same.

Opinion: Virtually Safe? Not Until We Root Out Online Terrorism
As lawmakers grill tech CEOs on data, extremists still have their virtual safe havens

A policeman stands guard in Times Square not far from the site of a pipe bomb explosion on Dec. 11. Virtual safe havens make it harder to counter terrorism, Misztal and Michek write. (John Moore/Getty Images file photo)

The bomber who shut down Times Square last December reportedly found instructions online and read Inspire, al-Qaida’s digital magazine. One of the men who opened fire on a free-speech event three years ago in Texas had been in contact with terrorists abroad using Twitter and Surespot, an encrypted messaging application.

Terrorist groups are thriving online — recruiting followers, disseminating propaganda, planning attacks. While lawmakers are looking at the dangers that lurk on the internet, from Russian interference to Facebook data scrapes, they should be paying more attention to countering terrorism in the digital realm.

Analysis: For Trump, Wins and Losses During Abe Summit
‘The body language on trade was just really startling,’ expert says

President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a news conference at the former’s West Palm Beach, Fla., resort. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

White House aides set a low bar for their boss ahead of his two-day summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — and President Donald Trump often cleared it with ease. But experts say there were a few stumbles too.

Trump aides made clear they had no “deliverables” in mind ahead of the Tuesday-Wednesday talks, which touched on everything from a new round of trade talks to dealing with North Korea to their respective golf games. That diplomat-speak refers to agreements or other things the White House wants meetings with world leaders to produce.

Three Cybersecurity Bills to Hit Trump’s Desk This Year, Staffers Say
Movement on ‘Internet of things,’ intelligence and homeland security measures

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., left, and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., talk before the start of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing on “World Wide Threats” on Thursday, May 11, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

SAN FRANCISCO — Dozens of bills are filed in Congress relating to cybersecurity and data breaches but many if not most may never see a committee markup let alone a floor vote. But key congressional staffers speaking at the RSA Conference here predicted at least three bills are likely to get to the president’s desk this year. 

A House-passed measure that would reorganize the Department of Homeland Security and create a new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has also cleared the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and is awaiting Senate floor passage. 

More Republicans Ready to Push but Not Force Immigration Votes
Denham won’t commit to discharge petition on queen of the hill rule for DACA bills

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., center, flanked by Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., left, and Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, hold a news conference on the use of the “queen of the hill” rule for DACA legislation in the House on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Four dozen mostly moderate Republicans have joined Democrats in their push for a “queen of the hill” rule that would set up a series of immigration votes. But the GOP congressman leading the charge is reluctant to commit to a discharge petition that could actually force his leadership to bring it to the floor.

“You shouldn’t need a discharge petition,” California Rep. Jeff Denham said. He acknowledged that backers of the rule might discuss such a petition — which if signed by a majority of the House would force leadership to call a vote. But he refused to commit to filing one if his plan to put pressure on Speaker Paul D. Ryan fails.

Grid Cybersecurity Bills Advanced by House Energy Subcommittee
Bipartisanship crumbles for export bill

The committee advanced bills to protect the electric grid and pipeline control systems from cyber attack. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Bipartisan bills that aim to improve the government’s response to cybersecurity attacks on the electric grid advanced out of a House Energy and Commerce panel Wednesday. The action was the latest sign of heightened awareness on Capitol Hill that malicious hackers might be able to turn out the lights.

Four pieces of legislation — all focused on putting into statute coordination within the Department of Energy to prevent cyber attacks on the grid and other energy infrastructure — were advanced by the Energy Subcommittee by voice votes. The votes showed unusual unity on the often-partisan panel.

Justices Weigh Congressional Inaction on Internet Sales Tax
Supreme Court muses about “obsolete” ruling

The Supreme Court weighed an internet tax case and seemed to want Congress to resolve the issue.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Supreme Court almost yearned Tuesday for Congress to resolve a major internet sales tax issue, if only to relieve the justices from having to make a call in a case with potential widespread effects on the nation’s online commerce.

“Is there anything we can do to give Congress a signal it should act more affirmatively in this area?” Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked near the end of an hour of oral arguments.

Homeland Security, Cybersecurity and Silos
Administration looks for ways to strengthen cyberattack defenses

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said her department is working on a new cybersecurity strategy that can be applied in both the public and private sectors. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

SAN FRANCISCO — The Homeland Security Department is working on a cybersecurity strategy that aims to strengthen the overall digital economy’s defenses against cyberattacks, Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said at a cybersecurity conference here on Tuesday.

The strategy “will bolster our digital defenses by prioritizing enhancements in risk identification, vulnerability reduction, threat reduction, and consequence mitigation,” Nielsen said without identifying when the strategy is likely to be made public. “We must be more aware of vulnerabilities built into the fabric of the internet, and other widespread weaknesses.”

A Deeper Look at 2016 Facebook Ads Targeting Pennsylvania, Wisconsin
Large volume of ads came from suspicious groups, many of them Russian in origin

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before House and Senate committees last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A forthcoming peer-reviewed study of paid political ads that appeared on Facebook in the weeks just prior to the 2016 presidential election shows that of 228 groups purchasing ads on hot-button issues, 122 — more than half — were submitted by “suspicious” groups whose identities may never be known.

The University of Wisconsin researchers, led by Professor Young Mie Kim, defined “suspicious” as meaning there was no publicly available information on who was behind the groups.

Jerry Brown Deflects Conflict With Feds Under Trump
California governor puts onus on Congress to address immigration

California Gov. Jerry Brown used an appearance at the National Press Club to address some of his state's outstanding issues with the federal government. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call)

California Gov. Jerry Brown said Tuesday he expects to reach a deal with the White House to deploy up to 400 National Guard troops on his state's border with Mexico, even as President Donald Trump hurled criticisms at the Democrat on Twitter.

Brown, who has frequently clashed with Trump on immigration issues, made the comments amid ongoing negotiations over terms of the deployment that Trump requested earlier this month to help address a recent increase in illegal border traffic. Brown is insisting that California troops do not take part in immigration enforcement operations.

Trump: ‘High Crime’ Likely in California After Gov. Brown Rejects Border Troops
Nonpartisan group rejected president’s claim about barrier being built near San Diego

Members of the Kentucky National Guard 206th Engineer battalion arrive on a C-130 Hercules transport plane in July 2006 in Tucson, Arizona, to support Border Patrol agents maintaining the U.S.-Mexican border. (Gary Williams/Getty Images file photo)

Donald Trump slammed California’s Democratic governor Tuesday, contending “high crime” will rise in the state after Jerry Brown rejected the president’s request for National Guard troops along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Brown last week indicated he would deploy California Guard troops to the border — but not for the immigration enforcement mission Trump requested. Instead, the governor told the Trump administration in a letter guardsmen and women would focus on combating transnational crime groups.

Administration Details National Guard Duties on Border
California backs out of sending own

Border Patrol Chief Ronald D. Vitiello says National Guard troops will be prohibited from anything related to law enforcement at the border. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

About 900 National Guard troops have been deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border to help carry out President Donald Trump’s border security agenda, administration officials said Monday.

An estimated 250 troops have been deployed in Arizona, 60 in New Mexico and roughly 650 in Texas, said Lt. Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, vice chief of the National Guard Bureau. Trump has said he wants 2,000-4,000 troops deployed.

On Cloud Computing Contract, No JEDI Contract Tricks
Pentagon undersecretary denies Amazon has a leg up

Aerial view of the Pentagon building photographed on Sept. 24, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With up to $10 billion at stake, industry watchers are paying close attention to the Pentagon’s cloud computing contract, which is expected to be awarded by the end of the year.

Given Amazon’s cloud computing expertise, some have speculated that the contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, is theirs to lose, President Donald Trump’s distaste for the company notwithstanding.

Congressional Gridlock Plays Central Role in Internet Tax Case
Supreme Court could reshape online commerce nationwide this term

Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., introduced a bill on the online sales taxation issue last year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday in a major internet sales tax case, and it won’t be the first or last time the justices will try to figure out whether gridlock in Congress plays a role in their decision.

But usually the gridlock is not quite on this scale. The Supreme Court could reshape online commerce nationwide when it decides this term whether to overturn its 1992 ruling that bars states from collecting sales tax from out-of-state vendors.