Hillicon Valley: Parler's return to Apple store poses new challenges | Biden revokes Trump-era order targeting shield for website operators

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 by clicking HERE. 

Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.

Parler is relaunching in the Apple App Store, with some additional content moderation policies in place for the new version of the controversial social media platform available for iPhones and iPads. A subsidiary group of a French Insurance giant was hit by a ransomware attack that impacted operations across Asia. Meanwhile, President BidenJoe BidenBiden’s quiet diplomacy under pressure as Israel-Hamas fighting intensifies Overnight Defense: Administration approves 5M arms sale to Israel | Biden backs ceasefire in call with Netanyahu | Military sexual assault reform push reaches turning point CDC mask update sparks confusion, opposition MORE revoked a Trump-era order that targeted a controversial law that protects tech companies from liability for content posted by third parties. 



GUESS WHO’S BACK, BACK AGAIN: Parler returned to the Apple App Store on Monday after getting kicked off more than four months ago in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The social media app popular with conservatives will look different on Apple devices now that the company has pledged to remove certain content labeled as “hate” that will still be available on other versions of the platform.

Parler, which presents itself as a free speech alternative to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, faces a battle on two fronts as it navigates a return to mainstream app marketplaces.

The platform risks losing its core set of conservative users as it toes the line with new content moderation policies, but those same policies have critics questioning whether the company will take a hard enough stance against hate speech.

Read more here



TRUMP-ERA SECTION 230 ORDER REVOKED: President Biden has revoked an order put in place by his predecessor that targeted a controversial law that shields tech companies from liability for content posted on their platforms by third parties. 

Biden on Friday revoked the order former President TrumpDonald TrumpGOP-led Maricopa County board decries election recount a ‘sham’ Analysis: Arpaio immigration patrol lawsuit to cost Arizona county at least 2 million Conservatives launch ‘anti-cancel culture’ advocacy organization MORE signed last year directing federal agencies to review Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which protects them from being held legally responsible for third party content. 

During his presidential campaign, Biden said he supported revoking Section 230 but he has largely not detailed plans moving forward regarding tech regulation. It remains unclear if Biden will take action on reforming or repealing Section 230. A spokesperson for the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Read more about Biden revoking the order


ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER ATTACK: A subsidiary group of French insurance giant AXA was hit by a ransomware attack last week that negatively impacted operations in multiple Asian countries.

The Financial Times first reported Sunday that AXA Partners, a subsidiary of the insurance group which is one of the largest in France, had been targeted by a ransomware attack in Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong and the Philippines. 

A spokesperson for AXA Partners confirmed the breach to The Hill on Monday, noting that the company’s Asia Assistance division had been “the victim of a targeted ransomware attack which impacted its IT operations in Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and the Philippines.”

Read more about the attack here.


CRYPTO CROOKS: Consumers have lost $80 million to cryptocurrency scams since last October, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said Monday.

The losses — which constitute a tenfold year-over-year increase — only include scams reported to the agency, so the true figure could be even higher. 

Consumers reported losing a median of $1,900 in the nearly 7,000 complaints filed with the FTC in the last quarter of 2020 and first quarter of 2021.

The scams took a variety of forms, according to the agency, including anonymous tips or promises to double investments from a celebrity. 


Consumers reported losing $2 million to impersonators of Tesla CEO Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskOn The Money: IRS to start monthly payments of child tax credit July 15 | One-fourth of Americans took financial hits in 2020: Fed Putting the brakes on cryptocurrencies: Well done Elon Musk Hillicon Valley: Parler’s return to Apple store poses new challenges | Biden revokes Trump-era order targeting shield for website operators MORE alone since October.  

Read more.


PRESSED ON PARODY ACCOUNT: The Trump administration subpoenaed Twitter for information on who was operating an account parodying Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesHillicon Valley: Parler’s return to Apple store poses new challenges | Biden revokes Trump-era order targeting shield for website operators Trump DOJ subpoenaed Twitter for identity behind Nunes parody account Sunday shows preview: House GOP removes Cheney from leadership position; CDC issues new guidance for fully vaccinated Americans MORE (R-Calif.), a close ally of the former president, according to court documents unsealed on Monday.

A federal judge on Monday unsealed a motion from Twitter filed on March 10 to quash the subpoena that was issued in November. In the newly-public filing, Twitter argued that it was concerned the government was aiding Nunes’ legal efforts to attack and unmask his online critics and said that the subpoena violated the First Amendment.

“It appears to Twitter that the Subpoena may be related to Congressman Devin Nunes’s repeated efforts to unmask individuals behind parody accounts critical of him,” the motion reads. “His efforts to suppress critical speech are as well-publicized as they are unsuccessful.” 

Read more here



VIDEOS CAN FIX INJURIES?: Amazon announced Monday that it is launching a new program aimed at improving the health and safety of its workers.

WorkingWell will help employees avoid workplace injuries and improve their mental health, the e-commerce giant said in a blog post.

The program was piloted in 2019 and will be expanded to all American operations by the end of the year.

It involves showing employees videos on how to do tasks without hurting themselves, mindfulness practices and signage in break rooms indicating what snacks are healthy.

Read more.



ICYMI: LINGERING CONCERNS: Colonial Pipeline’s decision to pay the cyber criminals behind a ransomware attack that forced the company to temporarily shut down operations has reignited the debate around whether victims of such attacks should pay to regain access to their networks.

The company, which provides around 45 percent of the East Coast’s fuel supply, was under intense pressure to restart its pipeline as gasoline shortages mounted after the May 7 cyberattack. Bloomberg News reported Thursday that Colonial paid nearly $5 million in cryptocurrency to unlock its network. Colonial has not publicly confirmed that it paid the ransom, but has not disputed the story.

Had Colonial not paid the ransom, it may have taken far longer to restart the pipeline. But with ransomware attacks increasing around the world against a variety of critical organizations, officials and experts are warning that paying hackers only makes the problem worse.

“Hundreds of millions of dollars are being paid to ransomware operators, and that is feeding this business model, it is causing more ransomware incidents to happen, and it is why we are in the position we are in now,” Brandon Wales, the acting director of the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), said during a virtual event hosted by George Washington University on Thursday.

Read more here. 


Lighter click: Keep the media in line Martha!

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An op-ed to chew on: Cybersecurity executive order is a game changer but not a panacea



Google Won’t Say If It Will Update Its Blurry Maps of Gaza (Motherboard / Joseph Cox)

Irish Prime Minister says government won’t pay ransom after hack forces hospitals to alter services (CyberScoop / Sean Lyngaas) 

Rural Areas Are Looking for Workers. They Need Broadband to Get Them. (The New York Times / Ben Casselman) 

Chinese businessman with links to Steve BannonStephen (Steve) Kevin BannonHillicon Valley: Parler’s return to Apple store poses new challenges | Biden revokes Trump-era order targeting shield for website operators McCarthy claims no one ‘questioning the legitimacy’ of the 2020 election The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Emergent BioSolutions – Upbeat jobs data, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions offer rosier US picture MORE is driving force for a sprawling disinformation network, researchers say (Washington Post / Jeanne Whalen, Craig Timberg and Eva Dou)