Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order to protect US networks from Chinese tech | Huawei downplays order | Trump declines to join effort against online extremism | Facebook restricts livestreaming | FCC proposes new tool against robocalls

May 20, 2019

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Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order to protect US networks from Chinese tech | Huawei downplays order | Trump declines to join effort against online extremism | Facebook restricts livestreaming | FCC proposes new tool against robocalls
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TRUMP SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER ON CHINESE TECH: President Trumpon Wednesday signed an executive order declaring a "national emergency" that would empower his administration to block foreign tech companies from doing business in the U.S. if they are deemed a national security threat.

The order does not name any countries or companies, but the administration has launched a global campaign to keep the Chinese telecom giant Huawei from helping U.S. allies develop next-generation wireless infrastructures.

The measure will empower the Department of Commerce to block transactions that it deems to be a threat to national security.

 

"This Executive Order addresses the threat posed by foreign adversaries to the nation's information and communications technology and services supply chain," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement. "Under President Trump's leadership, Americans will be able to trust that our data and infrastructure are secure."

HUAWEI SAYS 'BRING IT ON': Senior executives for Chinese telecommunications group Huawei said Wednesday they would "welcome" the U.S. banning use of technology deemed a national security risk, as President Trump considers signing an executive order on the matter.

"Making America safer from a national security perspective, we welcome it," Andy Purdy, the chief technology officer for Huawei Technologies USA, told The Hill in an interview.

Purdy's comments came shortly before the president signed the executive order on Wednesday afternoon.

Don Morrissey, the head of congressional, state and local governmental affairs for Huawei, told The Hill that it's Huawei's "firm desire to be able to talk to the government and look at solutions on cybersecurity that cover all vendors, that look at risk mitigation."

Scrutiny from the Senate: Huawei's potential impact on the rollout of fifth generation wireless technology, or 5G, was a focus of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday on national security threats stemming from 5G. Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) suggested that the U.S. should consider severing business ties with other countries that use Chinese technology, telling reporters that "until China stops being a communist dictatorship, we are not going to support working with a country that uses their technology."

Huawei executives pushed back on those comments, with Purdy saying the Senate hearing "really manifested a misunderstanding or lack of understanding of the role of equipment vendors and the role of the network operators and how those relationships are managed, how risk is managed. They misunderstand the relationship of the equipment vendor like Huawei with customer data."

During Tuesday's Senate hearing, there appeared to be bipartisan support and an understanding of the dangers posed by allowing Chinese companies access to 5G networks in the U.S., or to those of the American allies.

"If our allies decide to trust Huawei, they are deciding to trust the Chinese government with their big data," Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said.

IT'S A NO FROM US: The White House on Wednesday said it declined to sign on to a global call to fight online extremism, citing concerns about freedom of speech.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron are meeting in Paris on Wednesday to rally support for the "Christchurch call," a pledge to coordinate efforts to crack down on online terrorist content following the March attack on worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The shooting was livestreamed on Facebook and appeared on all of the major social media platforms.

What the White House says: The White House said in a statement that while it stands with the international community in "condemning terrorist and violent extremist content online," it is not currently "in a position to join the endorsement."

The White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy said in the statement that it believes the "best tool to defeat terrorist speech is productive speech."

"We maintain that the best tool to defeat terrorist speech is productive speech, and thus we emphasize the importance of promoting credible, alternative narratives as the primary means by which we can defeat terrorist messaging," the statement reads.

"We encourage technology companies to enforce their terms of service and community standards that forbid the use of their platforms for terrorist purpose," it added.

The pushback: The decision could open up the Trump administration to criticism it is not doing enough to combat white supremacists.

Trump was widely condemned for saying there were "very fine people on both sides" of a 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., where a counterprotester was killed. It also ended a Department of Homeland Security program designed to combat domestic terrorism.

What the pact means: The Christchurch call asks the top social media companies to step up their efforts to investigate and remove toxic online content from their platforms and asks them to commit to share more information about online terrorism with government authorities.

Top executives with Google, Facebook and Twitter are scheduled to attend the summit. Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter are expected to sign the nonbinding agreement.

LIVESTREAM CRACKDOWN: Facebook will start restricting the use of its livestreaming feature for users who violate its content policies in a new shift that comes in response to the mosque attacks in New Zealand earlier this year that were livestreamed and quickly spread across social media.

The company announced in a blog post on Tuesday that users who break rules involving terrorism, hate speech and violence will not be allowed to use Facebook Live for a certain amount of time.

"For instance, someone who shares a link to a statement from a terrorist group with no context will now be immediately blocked from using Live for a set period of time," Guy Rosen, Facebook's vice president of integrity, wrote in the post. "We plan on extending these restrictions to other areas over the coming weeks, beginning with preventing those same people from creating ads on Facebook."

The social media company has struggled to respond to the withering criticism from New Zealand officials after the shooter broadcasted the attack that left 50 people dead.


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