Overnight Technology

Hillicon Valley: QAnon followers struggle to explain Biden inauguration | Trump pardons ex-Google, Uber engineer who plead guilty to stealing trade secrets | Amazon offers to help Biden with vaccine distribution

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 team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.

QHAOS: Some QAnon followers are losing hope in the conspiracy as yet another one of its predictions – that Donald Trump would remain president and arrest top Democrats for their participation in child trafficking rings – failed to pass.

Users across multiple forums and chat rooms spent the morning spinning up new theories about how Wednesday, dubbed the “Great Awakening,” would still turn out how the theory had predicted.

But as President Biden’s inauguration continued without incidence, reality began to set in for some of QAnon’s most ardent supporters.

That’s not to say the theory is losing any significant steam though – deflections and new explanation quickly emerged after Biden was sworn in.

Read more.


DRIVING AWAY WITH IT: In one of his final acts in office, former President Trump pardoned ex-Google and Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski, who was sentenced last year to 18 months in prison for stealing self-driving cars-related trade secrets.

Levandowski pled guilty a year after being indicted for 33 counts for downloading more than 14,000 engineering, manufacturing and business files from Google in the months before his departure from the company in early 2016.

“Mr. Levandowski pled guilty to a single criminal count arising from civil litigation,” the White House wrote in a statement announcing the pardon. “Notably, his sentencing judge called him a ‘brilliant, groundbreaking engineer that our country needs.’ Mr. Levandowski has paid a significant price for his actions and plans to devote his talents to advance the public good.”

Read more about the pardon here. 


AMAZON OFFERS TO LEND A HAND: E-commerce giant Amazon on Wednesday sent a letter to President Biden offering to lend a hand in coronavirus vaccine distribution as the newly sworn in president aims to vaccinate 100 million Americans in his first 100 days in the White House. 

Dave Clark, Amazon’s CEO of consumer business, said the company is willing to help by leveraging Amazon’s “operations, information technology, and communications capabilities.”

“Our scale allows us to make a meaningful impact immediately in the fight against COVID-19, and we stand ready to assist you in this effort,” Clark wrote. 

He also again pushed for Amazon’s 800,000 essential workers across its facilities to be prioritized in vaccine rollouts. 

Read more here


TWITTER TURNOVER: The platform officially transferred over the institutional White House accounts to the Biden administration on Wednesday.

President Biden will now have access to the @POTUS account and Vice President Harris will have @VP. Accounts for the White House, press secretary and spouses of the new leaders are also being transferred.

Read more.


CRACK THE CODE: President Biden’s administration is reportedly looking to draft tech experts for a federal agency through a hidden message on the new official White House site. 

The website included a message hidden in its HTML code inviting those who found it to join the U.S. Digital Service, Reuters reported Wednesday as Biden took office and the site was updated.

“If you’re reading this, we need your help building back better,” the message said, according to the news service. 

Read more here

Lighter click: When the meeting is longer than 30 minutes

An op-ed to chew on: Biden team needs some quick wins on tech policy


Meet the new tech bureaucracy (Protocol / Emily Birnbaum and Issie Lapowsky)

Technologists Use Facial Recognition on Parler Videos (Joseph Cox / Motherboard)

Right-wing extremists and their supporters use Christian website to raise funds (CNN / Majlie de Puy Kamp and Scott Glover)

A Visit From The Zune Squad (The Verge / Luke Winkie)

Tags Donald Trump Hillicon Valley

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