Vice President Harris’ New Test: Fighting Online Abuse


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Below: Federal agents are investigating US chips found in Russian equipment in Ukraine, and Senate Democrats have a new proposal to ban the sale of location data. First:

Vice President Harris’ New Test: Fighting Online Abuse

Vice President Harris will unveil a new White House Online Abuse Task Force today, putting himself in the spotlight as the administration deploys its most significant efforts yet to combat online harassment. .

The long-awaited launch of the task force marks a key test for Harris, who rose to the nation’s second-highest job with widespread expectations that she would play a significant role in the administration’s technology initiatives. She is in a unique position in Washington to address the subject, having pursued exploitation and later introduced legislation as a senator to ban the non-consensual sharing of intimate images.

The stakes are high for Harris. The Biden administration came to Washington with widespread expectations that it would tackle the proliferation of violence and vitriol online. But 18 months into Biden’s presidency, the White House has taken limited action against Silicon Valley beyond public criticism of the companies. All the while, the abuse continues to take its toll. According Pew Research Center, 33% of women under 35 say they have been sexually harassed online, compared to 11% of men. About 7 in 10 lesbian, gay or bisexual adults have experienced online harassment.

Time is already running out for the White House to get to work.

The Biden administration’s longstanding ambitions to create an online abuse task force have taken on new urgency in the wake of the mass shootings. The alleged gunmen in the Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo shootings had a history of online misogyny and radicalization, a senior White House official told reporters in a call Wednesday night.

“We see this again and again, we see issues of extremism and how it turns into violence,” the official said.

Biden promised during the campaign trail to bring together experts to study online sexual harassment, stalking and non-consensual pornography, and the link between those abuses and mass shootings and violence against women. Once the task force is convened, it will have 180 days to develop recommendations for governments, businesses, schools and others to tackle online abuse. This timetable may go against the ambitions of the White House. Any policy recommendations made by the task force won’t be ready until later this year, and many Democrats fear their party will lose control of the House and possibly the Senate after the midterms.

Harris’ story of trying to curb online exploitation is controversial.

She was a co-sponsor of FOSTA-SESTA, a law that opened up tech companies to prosecution if they knowingly hosted sex trafficking on their websites. Opponents of the law said the measure had a chilling effect on online speech and harmed sex workers’ ability to communicate safely.

While serving as a district attorney, Harris also sponsored state legislation to prevent registered sex offenders from using social media. But the proposalI raised free speech issues among civil liberties experts.

Another administration social media initiative recently collapsed.

The administration’s most high-profile social media initiative to date — the Department of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Council — has been disbanded after a barrage of attacks. The council’s stated purpose was to “coordinate the fight against homeland security disinformation”, but it has become a lightning rod for conservative concerns about online censorship.

The White House official stressed that the online abuse task force would focus on “unlawful conduct,” including online abuse cyberstalking related to child sexual abuse material and trafficking.

“We are very mindful of First Amendment issues,” the official said. “But the ban on threatening speech is not protected by the First Amendment. So while we’ll carefully navigate these issues, we’ll also stay focused on the non-vocal aspects.

The working group will have the support of key administration officials.

The task force will be co-chaired by the White House Gender Policy Council and the National Security Council, and it includes the Attorney General, Secretary of Health and Human Services and other heads of federal agencies. and political advice.

Harris unveils the task force after signaling broader interest in the administration’s technology initiatives. She expressed her concerns during a Tuesday round table on how reproductive health data could be used if Roe vs. Wade is overthrown. She was also appointed to lead the White House’s broadband efforts.

Federal agents ask US tech companies how their chips ended up in Russian military gear

Commerce Department and FBI agents are investigating together, visiting companies to ask about chips that have been found in Russian equipment in Ukraine, Jeanne Whalen reports. It is not known which components are probed.

“A lawyer representing one of the tech companies contacted said investigators for now are weaving a “wide net,” examining a variety of different chips and electronic components to track the paths they took to the Russian army”, writes Jeanne. “Among the questions asked by federal agents: whether the technology companies sold their products to a specific list of companies, including intermediaries, who may have been involved in the supply chain, the attorney said. “

Investigators found Western electronics in Russian weapons in Ukraine. Some of these components appear to be years old, before the US government tightened export controls following Russia’s 2014 capture of Crimea.

Senators prepare to advance bill to allow news outlets to negotiate with Big Tech

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is working to plan a committee markup and a Senate aide said the bill could get three more Republican co-sponsors, the Bloomberg government Mary Curi reports. The bill would allow publishers to bargain collectively with online platforms.

“Under the updated bill, 65% of publishers’ payments from arbitration awards would be directly measured by what they invest in journalists,” Curi writes. “Publishers should report publicly on how much compensation they receive each year from platforms and how they use these funds to support news production.”

The update would also prevent “dark money organizations” like Russia Today, which is funded by the Kremlin, from reaping the benefits of the legislation, a lobbyist told Curi.

Senate Democrats propose to ban sale of ‘location and health data’

The ambitious bill would “essentially prohibit the sale of location data collected from smartphones,” Motherboard said. Joseph Cox and Liz Lander write. In a statement to Motherboard, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tied the bill to the Supreme Court’s planned strikedown of Roe vs. Wade and the right to abortion which it enshrines.

The bill is more than just a ban on selling the locate date. It “also includes other enforcement mechanisms, such as a $1 billion fund for [Federal Trade Commission] over the next decade to fulfill its existing and new responsibilities around this law, and powers for the FTC and state attorneys general to sue to enforce the law. Individuals could also sue for damages and injunctions under the bill. »

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oré.), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Sen. Sheldon White House (DR.I.); and sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) co-sponsored the bill with Warren.

Cryptocurrency exchange Kraken has suffered a ‘corporate culture war’, The New York Times reported. Journalist Erin Griffith:

Lawyer Whitney Merril:

Cybersecurity expert Eva Galperin:

Facebook changes its algorithm to tackle TikTok, leaked memo reveals (The Verge)

Once-high-profile EU privacy law faces ‘critical time’ for overhaul (Bloomberg)

US targets Russia with technology to evade Ukrainian news censorship (Reuters)

Spotify will cut hiring by 25% (The Verge)

  • NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana and President of Palau Surangel Whipps Jr. have joined the International Advisory Board of the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue.
  • Pinterest joins Technet as a member.

YouTube Music overtakes Spotify with new seasonal recap playlists (The Verge)

  • Third way hosts an event on China and the digital world order on Tuesday at 11 a.m.
  • The Pew Charitable Trusts holds its broadband access summit on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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