Hillicon Valley — Statewide candidates fuel election security concerns

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Hundreds of candidates for positions with authority over elections have embraced false claims about the 2020 election, setting up the potential for threats to the ballot from the very people tasked with protecting access to it.

A bill to provide the semiconductor industry with more than $50 billion dollars is set to receive a vote soon.

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.

‘Insider’ election threat looms

Former President Trump’s campaign to undermine the 2020 election is fueling concerns over midterm election security, with experts warning of “insider” threats from the very officials charged with guarding the vote.

Hundreds of GOP candidates in federal and state races have embraced his false claims about the election, including at least 20 Republican candidates running for secretary of state, according to an NPR analysis.

Trump’s election denial movement has raised concerns among U.S. officials and experts who fear the conspiracy theories could undermine the legitimacy of future elections.

“I think that’s kind of a new element to the threat landscape of elections,” said William Adler, a senior technologist in elections and democracy at the Center for Democracy & Technology. “I think that the new risk is the risk of insider threats.”

Read about the states at risk.

Schumer moves semiconductor bill

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) plans to hold a vote soon on a bill to provide $52 billion to $54 billion in assistance to the domestic semi-conductor manufacturing industry and a tax credit for semi-conductor manufacturers, according to Senate sources. 

Schumer has told senators to expect a floor vote as early as Tuesday of next week. 

  • The slimmed-down CHIPS bill, intended to improve competitiveness with China, at a minimum will include emergency funding for semi-conductor manufacturers and the investment tax credit from the Facilitating American-Built Semiconductors (FABS) Act.   

  • The legislation is not expected to include a package of trade provisions that Republicans insisted be attached to the Senate version of the bill that passed last year.   

  • A source familiar with the negotiation, however, said additional pieces could be added if they are ready in time. 

Read more.


Local officials are increasingly turning to a gunshot detection technology to help address gun violence, despite serious concerns over its accuracy and potential side effects.

More than 130 cities and towns across the country have now installed the ShotSpotter systems, according to a report released Thursday from the group Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP). That’s up from about 85 cities in 2018.

That expansion has been aided by federal funding, with several cities including Detroit, New Haven, Conn., and Albuquerque, N.M., signing big contracts with ShotSpotter using money from the American Rescue Plan Act. The increase could accelerate with new funding that’s been allocated for school safety after the recent shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

“At a time when elected officials are facing more pressure than ever to combat gun violence and we see cities spending hundreds of millions of dollars on gun prevention tech, including all the new money that Congress authorized after Uvalde, we have to look at the fact that this technology — ShotSpotter — is expensive, dangerous and just doesn’t work,” Albert Fox Cahn, STOP’s executive director, said in an interview.

Read more about the technology.


More than 500 female passengers have filed a lawsuit against U.S.-based rideshare transportation service Uber, alleging that they were sexually assaulted by contracted drivers.

In a complaint filed by San Francisco-based law firm Slater Slater Schulman LLP on Thursday, the women allege that they were “kidnapped, falsely imprisoned, stalked, harassed and raped,” among other incidents, by drivers on the transportation platform.

The lawsuit also claims that Uber, founded in 2009, was aware of the severity of the reported incidents of misconduct of some of the drivers on their platform since 2014, Bloomberg News reported.

In a statement to the media outlet, Slater Slater Schulman partner Adam Slater said that Uber’s approach to reported incidents was “slow and inadequate,” noting that the company could’ve adapted more ways to address the issue.

Read more.


The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sent a letter to billionaire Elon Musk last month asking for more information about a May tweet of his saying he “cannot move forward” with a purchase of Twitter.

The SEC letter was sent before Twitter sued Musk on Tuesday in a bid to force him to complete his purchase of the social media company, which he backed out of last week.

SEC agents are inquiring about a May 17 tweet in which Musk wrote the Twitter deal “cannot move forward” because of his concerns about how many bots are active on its platform.

According to the SEC, the tweet may have violated policies around the document that must be filed with the federal agency before the purchase of more than 5 percent of the shares of a public company.

Read more.


State-sponsored hackers from China, North Korea, Iran and Turkey have been regularly spying on and impersonating journalists from various media outlets in an effort to infiltrate their networks and gain access to sensitive information, according to a report released on Thursday by cybersecurity firm Proofpoint.

The report reveals that government-backed hackers used various tools to target journalists, including sending phishing emails to gain access to reporters’ work emails, social media accounts and networks.

The report also suggested that state-sponsored hackers routinely pose as members of the media because of the “unique access and information they can provide,” to those countries’ governments.

The hackers could potentially use information they obtained from compromised accounts to spread pro-state propaganda and influence “a politically charged atmosphere.”

“A well-timed, successful attack on a journalist’s email account could provide insights into sensitive, budding stories and source identification,” the report said.

Read more.


An op-ed to chew on: Spectrum auction authority must be extended

Notable links from around the web:

Amazon Secretly Funds New Coalition Opposing Tech Regulation (Bloomberg / Emily Birnbaum)

The nonstop scam economy is costing us more than just money (The Washington Post / Heather Kelly)

Ex-CIA Hacker Convicted for ‘One of the Most Damaging Acts of Espionage in American History’ (Motherboard / Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai)

Lighter click: Legacy defining moment

One more thing: Time-intensive weakness

A vulnerability in software that governments and companies around the world use could take years to eliminate, according to a report from a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) review board.

The analysis states that a security engineer from the Alibaba Cloud Security team in China first reported the vulnerability to the Apache Software Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides support for Log4j, the software.

The software collects and maintains information about system activity.

The DHS’s Cyber Safety Review Board concluded that the vulnerability will be “endemic” and may remain in systems for up to a decade or more.

Read more about the vulnerability.

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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