Hillicon Valley — Harris takes on online harassment

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Vice President Harris launched a new White House task force that aims to combat online harassment and abuse, kicking off its first meeting Thursday with administration officials and a visit from tennis champion Sloane Stephens.

In cyber news, the House Appropriations Committee approved a budget hike for the nation’s cyber defense agency.

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, Chris Mills Rodrigo and Ines Kagubare. Subscribe here.

Task force targets digital abuse, hate

A new White House task force aimed at combating online harassment and abuse will convene for its first meeting Thursday, bringing together officials across the administration to address growing concerns around online hate and the connection to gender-based violence.

The task force is being launched by Vice President Harris and will be co-chaired by the Gender Policy Council and the National Security Council, the White House announced.

Recent mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, Texas, highlighted the link between online harassment and extremist acts, an administration official said. In both cases, the gunmen were reported to have posted hateful content and laid out plans for their attacks online ahead of the shootings.

Within 180 days, the task force will provide service recommendations for how the federal government, private sector and civil society can better combat online harassment and abuse.

Read more here.

New CISA funding

The House Homeland Security appropriations subcommittee on Thursday approved a budget of $2.9 billion for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). This is $417 million higher than the White House’s original budget request for the agency and $334 million above its fiscal year 2022 allotment.

  • “Among the biggest threats to our national security is the threat of cyber-attacks and intrusions,” said Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) in her opening statement.

  • “As our world moves increasingly online and threats to our democracy grow, this bill responds by protecting our critical cyber infrastructure and communications systems with dramatically increased funding,” she added.

The funding will be allocated into various categories including cybersecurity, infrastructure security, emergency communications and risk management, among others.

Read more here.

WE HAVE SOME QUESTIONS FOR THAT ONE QUARTER

A quarter of the adult Twitter users in the United States are responsible for 99 percent of political tweets, according to a Pew Research Center study released Thursday.

The finding is in line with previous Pew surveys that found a minority of users post an overwhelming majority of tweets, both political and in general. The report is based on a survey of U.S. adults on Twitter and an analysis of English-language tweets a portion of those users posted between May 2020 and May 2021.

Americans ages 50 and older make up a quarter of all U.S. adult Twitter users but post 78 percent of all political tweets, the study found. It also found that older adults are much more likely to tweet about politics than younger adults.

A third of all tweets from U.S. adults are political, the analysis found.

Read more about the poll here.

PROCEED WITH ‘CAUTION’

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommended Congress proceed with caution in promoting artificial intelligence (AI) tools to combat online harm in a report the commissioners voted to publish Thursday.

  • The report concluded that “great caution is needed in either mandating the use of or over relying on these tools even for the important purpose of reducing harms,” according to a summary delivered by FTC staff attorney Michael Atleson at Thursday’s commission meeting.

  • “While continued innovation in this area, and research is important, Congress should not be promoting the use of these tools and to focus instead on putting guardrails on their use,” he said.

Tech companies need to be more transparent about and accountable for the use and impact of AI tools to figure out what the guardrails should be, he said.

The commission voted 4-1 to advance the report, with Republican Commissioner Christine Wilson joining the three Democrats. Republican Commissioner Noah Phillips dissented based more on concerns about the process by which the report was conducted than on its conclusions.

Read more here.

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: What China’s targeting of US telecoms means for post-quantum security

Notable links from around the web:

How a Religious Sect Landed Google in a Lawsuit (The New York Times / Cade Metz and Daisuke Wakabayashi)

Self-driving cars crash, too, but figuring out what it means requires much better data (The Verge / Andrew J. Hawkins)

Democratizing Cybersecurity (Forbes / Tony Bradley)

🎙 Lighter click: Magic moment

One more thing: Gavin ‘Truth’ Newsom

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced on Thursday that he joined former President Trump’s Truth Social platform, saying in a tweet that he would be using it to call out and debunk “Republican lies.”

“I just joined Trump’s Truth Social. Going to be on there calling out Republican lies. This could get…interesting,” he wrote on Twitter.

“My first post — breaking down America’s red state murder problem,” he said, adding a link to his Truth Social post.

In a video supplementing his announcement, he said that red states made up the majority of those with the highest murder rates.

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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