Overnight Technology

Hillicon Valley — Google’s ad dominance in the crosshairs

Google’s primary moneymaker is the target of a new bill introduced by a bipartisan group of senators Thursday. The legislation would block dominant firms from owning both digital ad exchanges and platforms used by buyers or sellers. 

In other tech news, Texas’s new law on social media content moderation has brought together an unlikely collection of groups.

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 KlarChris Mills Rodrigo and Ines KagubareSubscribe here.

New antitrust bill targets online ads 

A bipartisan group of senators on Thursday introduced legislation that would force Google to break up its digital advertising business. 

The Competition and Transparency in Digital Advertising Act would prohibit large companies from owning more than one side of the online ad ecosystem if they process more than $20 billion in ad transactions. 

Functionally, that would mean that a company like Google would have to choose between operating an ad exchange or a supply- or demand-side platform. 

Facebook would also be forced to divest some of its advertising business if the legislation becomes law. 

“Digital advertising is the lifeblood of the internet economy,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said in a statement. 

Read more. 

Tech industry takes on Texas law

An unlikely group of allies — made up of tech industry groups and advocacy organizations that are usually on opposing battle lines — is forming a joint front to push back on a newly instated Texas law that hinders social media companies’ ability to remove content and users that violate platform rules.  

Tech industry groups, civil society organizations and even a conservative think tank are asking the Supreme Court to intervene and block the Republican-backed law after an appeals court last week reinstated it even as litigation remains pending on its ultimate fate. 

The request to the Supreme Court is being led by NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association, and amicus briefs have been filed with support from the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the libertarian Cato Institute — and dozens more. 

Read more here


The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday announced that it would reverse its policy on issuing charges for violations of a federal computer fraud law, saying that it will not prosecute “good-faith security research” efforts. 

The department announced the change in enforcement of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, defining good-faith research as “accessing a computer solely for purposes of good-faith testing, investigation, and/or correction of a security flaw or vulnerability” without any intention of harming the public.  

The new policy replaces the earlier one that was issued in 2014.   

“Computer security research is a key driver of improved cybersecurity,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in the DOJ’s release. 

Read more here


Twitter on Thursday announced a new approach to how it handles misinformation during crisis situations aimed more aggressively at targeting false allegations. 

The platform will stop amplifying or promoting content about crises as soon as it has evidence that a claim may be misleading. 

Tweets that violate the new policy will have an interstitial warning placed on them but not immediately be removed. 

“In times of crisis, misleading information can undermine public trust and cause further harm to already vulnerable communities,” Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of safety and integrity, wrote in a blog post.  

Read more.


Russian-backed actors have launched numerous disinformation campaigns intended to demoralize Ukrainians and incite internal unrest, according to a report released on Thursday by cybersecurity firm Mandiant. 

In one of the campaigns, referred to as “Secondary Infektion,” the actors falsely claimed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky killed himself in a military bunker in Kyiv because of his failure to keep his country safe. 

In another campaign led by Secondary Infektion in April, the operatives said that Ukraine’s Azov regiment, a Ukrainian special operations unit within the country’s National Guard, was seeking vengeance against Zelensky for abandoning his troops in Mariupol. 

“While some of this activity is known, or already been reported on, this report captures how known actors and campaigns can be leveraged or otherwise refocused to support emerging security interests, including large-scale conflict,” Alden Wahlstrom, senior analyst at Mandiant, said in a statement. 

Read more here.


An op-ed to chew on: Before we regulate Big Tech, let’s make sure we don’t hurt national security 

Lighter click: Time to redistribute! 

Notable links from around the web

The Enduring Afterlife of a Mass Shooting’s Livestream Online (The New York Times / Ryan Mac, Kellen Browning and Sheera Frenkel) 

How Fears Of Electromagnetic Radiation Spawned A Snake-oil Industry (The Verge / Jordyn Haime) 

Sweden, Finland Weigh Cyber Risks Stemming From NATO Applications (The Wall Street Journal / Catherine Stupp) 

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.


Tags antitrust legislation cybersecurity disinformation Google Mike Lee Twitter Volodymyr Zelensky

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