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During a House hearing on worldwide threats, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told lawmakers that improving partnership with the private sector and foreign agencies is “vital” as cyber threats continue to surge.
Meanwhile, pressure is building for Congress to regulate the cryptocurrency industry. On the antitrust front, a coalition of small business groups made a push for a key bill in lame duck — and a couple of House Democrats are also mad about Ticketmaster’s market power.
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 Klar and Ines Kagubare. Someone forward you this newsletter?
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Mayorkas: Public-private, foreign partnerships ‘vital’
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told House lawmakers on Tuesday that his agency is focused on strengthening its public-private partnerships and its collaboration with foreign partners as a way to counter rising cyber threats from nation-state threat actors and cyber criminals.
Mayorkas, who testified before the House Homeland Security Committee, said the relationships that the agency has built with the private sector and its international partners are “increasingly vital” as hostile nations expand their cyber capabilities and increasingly seek to target U.S. critical infrastructure.
“The public-private partnership, the international relationships, the sharing of information is so vital, and that is really where we are headed,” Mayorkas said.
Mayorkas was responding to a question from committee Ranking Member John Katko, (R-N.Y.), who asked the secretary what his vision was of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) as cyber threats continue to surge.
Mayorkas was joined by FBI Director Christopher Wray and Christine Abizaid, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, to discuss worldwide threats to the homeland, including foreign and domestic terrorism.
FTX collapse turns up the heat on Congress
Washington policymakers are under growing pressure to write new rules for the cryptocurrency industry and crack down on fraud after the collapse of crypto exchange FTX.
The federal government’s failure to find common ground on cryptocurrency regulation blew up in its face last week with the downfall of one of the industry’s most prominent and politically connected firms. As regulators pick up the pieces of what happened, lawmakers are going back to the drawing board to find a path forward — and point fingers.
“We expect lawmaker outrage, especially on the Democratic side, to pick up this week as Congress starts its lame-duck session,” wrote Ian Katz, director at research firm Capital Alpha Partners, in a Monday analysis.
“We sense that many are viewing this as the collapse of a large crypto company. But this is more about lack of access to accounts, which is the sort of thing that angers politicians.”
FTX, one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchanges, filed for bankruptcy on Friday after its affiliated trading firm Alameda Research blew through billions of dollars in user deposits on risky bets. While FTX was based in the Bahamas, untold thousands of Americans were able to buy, sell and trade crypto using the platform by using private internet connections.
Once worth roughly $32 billion, FTX’s value has been wiped out and its customers face a long, potentially fruitless road to getting their money back. While most banks and stock brokers have protections to ensure customers don’t lose money by no fault of their own, FTX and other major crypto firms are not federally supervised or insured.
SMALL BIZ GROUPS URGE VOTE ON ANTITRUST
A coalition of small businesses is urging congressional leaders to prioritize an antitrust bill targeting tech giants during the lame-duck session.
The letter, sent to leadership in the House and Senate Tuesday and shared exclusively with The Hill, asks lawmakers to make the bipartisan American Innovation and Choice Online Act a “top priority” in the session closing out the year.
The bill would aim to limit tech giants like Amazon, Meta, Apple and Google from preferring their own services, according to the letter organized by Small Business Rising.
It added that the legislation represents “an unprecedented opportunity to start leveling the playing field for our small, independent businesses, and the window to do so is rapidly closing.”
“While Big Tech lobbyists flood lawmakers’ offices with falsehoods and claim to have the support of the small business community, the truth is our members see little future for American small business if the tech giants continue to corner the digital markets and use their power to favor their own products and block those of smaller rivals,” the group wrote.
TARGETING TICKETMASTER (DEMOCRAT’S VERSION)
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) called for Ticketmaster and Live Nation to be broken up on Tuesday as Taylor Swift fans faced highly publicized technical difficulties in obtaining tickets to the singer’s latest tour.
“Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet, without mentioning Swift by name. “[Its] merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, and they need to be [reined in]. Break them up.”
The Ticketmaster website appeared to crash or freeze for many fans on Tuesday as they attempted to get tickets during a pre-sale. “The Eras Tour” is Swift’s first since 2018.
Ticketmaster acknowledged the issues, saying in a statement that there was “historically unprecedented demand” for the tickets. The company delayed West Coast pre-sales by several hours and delayed a Capitol One pre-sale until Wednesday in response.
The ticketing company has faced accusations of anticompetitive behavior, as well as complaints about price gouging and excessive fees, since it merged with Live Nation in 2010.
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), who attempted to get Swift tickets for his granddaughter, joined Ocasio-Cortez in criticizing the company and urged the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice to break up Live Nation and Ticketmaster to “make lots of Swifties and others happy.”
BITS & PIECES
An op-ed to chew on: Emerging US battery supply chain should be wary of China’s information ops
Notable links from around the web:
Libraries Are Launching Their Own Local Music Streaming Platforms (Motherboard / Claire Woodcock)
“I think he’s battling with his own self”: Inside Elon Musk’s brain (Vox / Peter Kafka)
FTX is in freefall. Where was the oversight? (NBC News / Jason Abbruzzese and Daniel Arkin)
🌎 Lighter click: Every last one
One more thing: Bezos say wait on major spends
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos urged Americans to wait on making big-ticket purchases ahead of the holiday shopping season amid growing concerns of a possible economic recession.
During a sit-down interview with CNN, Bezos told CNN Entertainment reporter Chloe Melas that he advises consumers to slow down on huge purchases such as new vehicles, televisions and appliances during this time period, noting that consumers should save some “dry powder” in case of an eventual economic downturn.
“What I can tell you is the economy does not look great right now,” Bezos, who was alongside his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez, told Melas in the sit-down interview that aired Monday. “Things are slowing down. You’re seeing lay-offs in many, many sectors of the economy. People are slowing down.”