Overnight Cybersecurity

Hillicon Valley — FCC proposes $300 million fine for robocalls

The Federal Communications Commission is recommending a $300 million fine following the biggest robocall operation the agency has ever investigated. 

Meanwhile, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried will be released from jail after securing a $250 million bail as he awaits trial.  

This is Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Send tips to The Hill’s Rebecca Klar and Ines Kagubare. Someone forward you this newsletter? Sign up here or in the box below.

Largest robocall fine in history proposed

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Wednesday proposed a record-breaking fine of nearly $300 million for an alleged robocall scheme that involved billions of calls about auto warranties. 

The agency said its proposed $299.997 million fine follows the largest robocall operation the FCC has ever investigated, alleging Roy Cox Jr. and Michael Aaron Jones made more than 5 billion robocalls designed to sell vehicle service contracts deceptively marketed as car warranties. 

“Maybe it happened to you this last year,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. “You picked up the phone and someone you don’t know, who you didn’t ask to call, tells you they have been trying to reach you about your car’s extended warranty. It’s a scam.” 

  • The commission claimed the two individuals, through their Sumco Panama company, violated federal anti-robocalling and spoofing laws. 
  • The pair allegedly began making the calls as early as 2018, placing 5.19 billion calls to 550 million phone numbers between January 2021 and March 2021. 

Read more here

FTX founder released on $250 million bail

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried can be released on a $250 million bail and placed on home detention as he awaits trial in a sprawling fraud case, a New York judge ruled on Thursday. 

At the request of prosecutors, Manhattan U.S. District Court Judge Gabriel Gorenstein agreed to the bond price and said Bankman-Fried can reside at his parent’s home in Palo Alto, Calif., ahead of the trial, according to The Associated Press. 

Bankman-Fried, 30, was expected to be freed on Thursday. He will wear an electronic monitoring bracelet as part of the deal. 

  • Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos told the judge an important reason for allowing Bankman-Fried out on bail was that he agreed to be extradited from the Bahamas on Wednesday, The Associated Press reported. 
  • Bankman-Fried, who was arrested in the Bahamas earlier this month before his extradition Wednesday night, faces several charges at trial, including campaign finance violations, money laundering and wire fraud. 

Read more here


Employees with the Chinese parent company of video-sharing platform TikTok inappropriately gained access to the user data of American citizens, according to internal emails reviewed by The New York Times. 

ByteDance explained in the emails that an internal investigation found the employees gained access to the data of two U.S. journalists and people associated with them over the summer. 

The employees, who were part of a monitoring program at the company, were probing the journalists, one now at Forbes and the other at the Financial Times, to find the sources of suspected leaks, according to The Times.  

Forbes reported on Thursday that two additional journalists with the company were tracked by ByteDance employees.  

All three Forbes journalists were formerly at BuzzFeed News, which reported in June that ByteDance has repeatedly accessed the user data of American citizens. 

Read more here


Elon Musk has announced on Twitter that the platform will be rolling out a “view count” feature, in which users will be able to see how many people have viewed their tweet. 

Musk said that the decision was made because “over 90% of Twitter users read, but don’t tweet, reply or like, as those are public actions,” and that it will show how “alive” Twitter is. 

The Twitter owner and CEO compared the feature to that of video view counts on Twitter and other platforms. Musk also stated that the view count feature will be called “impressions”. 

Read more here.


An op-ed to chew on: Strategy, not economics, should govern high-tech trade with China 

Notable links from around the web: 

Insiders worry CISA is too distracted from critical cyber mission (CyberScoop / Suzanne Smalley, Nihal Krishan and AJ Vicens) 

Sam Bankman-Fried’s arrest is the culmination of an epic flameout (Vox / Whizy Kim) 

Microsoft Gambles on ‘Nice Guy’ Strategy to Close Activision Megadeal (The New York Times / Karen Weise and David McCabe) 

One more thing: FTX execs plead guilty

Two senior executives associated with cryptocurrency exchange FTX pleaded guilty to criminal charges on Wednesday. 

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in the Southern District of New York announced that both Caroline Ellison, the former CEO of Alameda Research, and Gary Wang, a co-founder of FTX, had pleaded guilty to charges related to their roles in the collapse of the company. 

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 tomorrow.


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