Hillicon Valley: Google denies allegations in DOJ antitrust complaint | Biden faults Trump after hack | Biden campaign says Twitter will wipe POTUS account’s followers

Eufemia Didonato

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 with this LINK. Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech […]

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 with this LINK.

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

DENY, DENY, (PARTIALLY) DENY: Google formally responded to the Department of Justice’s antitrust complaint against it Monday night, denying or partially denying nearly all of the 200 allegations in the lawsuit.

The filing is Google’s first major legal response to the wave of challenges it has faced over the past few months.

Since the DOJ first unveiled the charges it was pursuing against Google, two separate groups of state attorneys general have also filed cases challenging the company’s control over search and advertising technology.

The group focused on search has asked for their case to be combined with the federal lawsuit.

Read more.


BIDEN FAULTS TRUMP FOLLOWING HACK: President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenCongress passes .3T coronavirus relief, government funding deal House conservatives huddle at White House to plan challenging election results House passes massive spending deal, teeing up Senate vote MORE on Tuesday accused the Trump administration of failing to prioritize cybersecurity in the wake of a far-reaching breach of private and government systems and promised a serious response when he takes office.

“This attack constitutes a grave risk to our national security. It was carefully planned and carefully orchestrated. It was carried out by using sophisticated cyber tools. The attackers succeeded in catching the federal government off guard and unprepared,” Biden said during remarks in Wilmington, Del. “The Trump administration failed to prioritize cybersecurity.”

Biden said that the attack had the hallmarks of Russian cyber operations but called on the Trump administration to make a formal attribution in order to hold the actors accountable. His remarks came after President TrumpDonald TrumpMcConnell: Senate to return Dec. 29 for potential Trump veto override vote Congress passes .3T coronavirus relief, government funding deal No. 2 GOP senator: Efforts to overturn election would ‘go down like a shot dog’ MORE downplayed the hack and questioned whether Russia was behind it, after Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoHillicon Valley: Barr says Russia appears to be behind massive hack | billion for broadband in end-of-year package | Apple to close California stores Pompeo pressed against labeling Houthis a terrorist group China knocks Trump over suggestion it was behind cyberattack MORE attributed the hack to Moscow.

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CLEAN SLATE: President-elect Joe Biden’s team said Twitter told them they will wipe followers from the official POTUS and WhiteHouse accounts before transferring them to the new administration, breaking from what the social media giant did four years ago. 

“In 2016, the Trump admin absorbed all of President Obama’s Twitter followers on @POTUS and @WhiteHouse — at Team 44’s urging,” Flaherty tweeted Tuesday. “In 2020, Twitter has informed us that as of right now the Biden administration will have to start from zero.”

Twitter later released a statement confirming that the WhiteHouse and POTUS accounts will not automatically retain their existing followers after they are transferred to the Biden administration on Inauguration Day. 

The POTUS account has 33.2 million followers, but it pales in comparison to President Trump’s personal account’s 88.5 million followers. When Trump leaves office, however, he may face greater challenges from Twitter on his personal account. 

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GOOGLE FITBIT DEAL MIXED: Google’s proposed acquisition of health wearables company Fitbit is getting a varied reception from overseas regulators.

The Europe Commission’s antitrust enforcer approved the deal last week after Google said it would not use any data collected from the fitness trackers for targeted advertising for at least 10 years.

However, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) declined to approve the deal Monday, saying it will continue its investigation and make a final decision by late March.

On the domestic front, Democratic lawmakers in Congress have called on the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission to conduct a thorough investigation of the potential acquisition.

Read more.


ICYMI: WYDEN WEIGHS IN: Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate Democrat says cyberattack on Treasury ‘appears to be significant’ Hillicon Valley: Barr says Russia appears to be behind massive hack | billion for broadband in end-of-year package | Apple to close California stores Coronavirus relief package includes billion for broadband MORE (D-Ore.) said on Monday that a cyberattack at the Department of Treasury reported by media outlets last week “appears to be significant.”

Wyden, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, released the statement after the committee’s staff was briefed by the Treasury Department and the IRS about the hack of the IT company SolarWinds. 

The Oregon senator said the IRS reported “no evidence that IRS was compromised or taxpayer data was affected,” but he added, “The hack of the Treasury Department appears to be significant.”

The Oregon Democrat’s statement follows reports from media outlets that several federal agencies were hacked this year through the cyberattack on SolarWinds. 

Read more here


CUOMO SIGNS FACIAL RECOGNITION BILL: New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoWashington governor to require 14-day quarantine for travelers arriving from UK, South Africa White House mulls requiring UK travelers to provide negative coronavirus test: report Overnight Health Care: Congress to pass deal with 0 stimulus checks | House panel subpoenas for Azar, Redfield CDC documents | Fauci, Azar to receive COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday MORE (D) signed legislation Tuesday pausing the use of facial recognition technology at K-12 schools in the state for two years.

As part of the agreement to sign the bill, the New York state legislature will pass a bill next session to study facial recognition technologies and the concerns about them.

The technology has received more scrutiny over the last year or so because of racist and sexist inaccuracies.

Read more.


DOZENS OF FIRMS USED TARGETED SOFTWARE: Several major technology and accounting firms are among 24 U.S. organizations that used software targeted by Russian hackers in a cyberattack that breached federal agencies, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The newspaper’s analysis found that Cisco Systems, Intel Corp. and accounting company Deloitte used the SolarWinds network monitoring software, along with Kent State University and the California Department of State Hospitals.

Activity related to the hack dates back to October 2019, according to SolarWinds.

Read more here


APPLE’S AV GOALS: Apple is aiming to have its own self-driving car on the market by 2024 that could include a new battery design optimized for longer ranges, sources familiar with the plans told Reuters.

Two unnamed sources told the news service that Apple’s so-called Project Titan aims to have a product ready for consumers within just a few years that would feature Apple’s own design for a battery which one source said would “radically” reduce the cost of automobile batteries.

Central to the project is the development of a “monocell” battery meant to save space with a more efficient design, allowing the company to create a potentially longer-lasting device. One source also indicated that Apple was pursuing a material known as lithium iron phosphate in the hopes of developing batteries with lower risks of overheating.

Read more here

Lighter click: Come back Amelia Bedelia

An op-ed to chew on: Biden should bet on virtual and augmented reality to ‘build back better’


U.S. vs. Facebook: Inside the tech giant’s behind-the-scenes campaign to battle back antitrust lawsuits (Washington Post / Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin)

New ‘felony streaming’ measure is aimed at piracy services, not Twitch streamers (The Verge / Makena Kelly)

Inside the Whale: An Interview with an Anonymous Amazonian (Logic Magazine)

Can a Worker-Owned App Pull Drivers From Uber and Lyft? (Curbed / Sarah Jones)

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