Hillicon Valley — Presented by Nokia — Secret Data Collection Program Exposed


Today is Tuesday. Welcome to Hillicon Valley, detailing everything you need to know about tech and cyber news, from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

Follow The Hill technical team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@millsrodrigo) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_)and cyber reporter Ines Kagubare (@ineskagubare) for more coverage.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said the Department of Homeland Security obtained millions of financial transaction records from people without a warrant.

Meanwhile, gig businesses are teaming up to form a new trade association, and intelligence officials say Russian President Vladimir Putin should “double down” on Ukraine.

Let’s get to the news.

What privacy?

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is seen during a nomination hearing for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday, October 19, 2021.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is seen during a nomination hearing for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday, October 19, 2021.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has obtained the financial transaction records of millions of people without warrant as part of a secret surveillance operation, according to a lawmaker.

The program, run by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, collected data on money transfers over $500 sent to and from Mexico, Sen. Ron wyden (D-Ore.) said in a letter to the DHS Inspector General released Tuesday.

Wyden is now asking for an investigation into the collection of records, which DHS has now pledged to stop asking for.

“Law enforcement has ample authority to subpoena financial information about individual or specific transactions they believe to be related to illicit activity,” he wrote to DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari.

“Instead of wasting resources collecting millions of transactions from people simply because they live or do business with people in a handful of southwestern states or have relatives in Mexico, HSI and other agencies should focus their resources on people who are actually suspected of breaking the law.”

Agents from ICE’s national arm, Homeland Security Investigations, compelled two money transfer companies to provide information on every movement over $500, to and from California, Arizona, New Mexico , Texas and Mexico. Two dozen other money transfer companies voluntarily passed on the information.

The transaction data was then shared with federal, state and local agencies who were able to access it without a warrant. It could not be determined how these agencies then used the data.

Read more.

Gig companies join forces

Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and other app-based companies on Tuesday unveiled a new professional association it will push back against Democratic efforts to allow gig workers to unionize.

The lobby group, dubbed Flex, kicked off with a seven-figure ad buy in Washington, D.C., which depicted the flexibility enjoyed by gig workers and said American delivery and delivery drivers work in average 8 hours per week.

“Whether it’s getting around town, ferrying the kids to school, or simply connecting people with the dinner or groceries they need, our member companies help seamlessly fill the gaps of our daily lives,” said Flex CEO Kristin Sharp, a former senior executive. for Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), said in a statement. “That’s why it’s so important for Flex to champion the everyday heroes who are driving this economic evolution.”

Flex, whose members include GoPuff, Grubhub, HopSkipDrive and Instacart, will push back against Democrats’ PRO Act, a sweeping pro-labour bill that aims to reclassify some gig workers as employees rather than contractors , giving them the right to form a union.

Read more.


Intelligence Experts Tuesday paint a picture of an increasingly determined group Vladimir Poutine ready to “double down” on its invasion of Ukraine despite being poorly prepared for the consequences for the Russian economy and with little prospect of long-term success.

“I think Putin is angry and frustrated right now. He’s likely to double down and try to crush the Ukrainian military regardless of civilian casualties,” the CIA director said. Guillaume Burne told House Intelligence Committee lawmakers at the annual Global Threats Hearing.

“But the challenge he faces, and it’s the biggest question that has loomed over our analysis of his planning for months now… is he doesn’t have a lasting political end game in the face of what’s to come. continue to be fierce resistance from Ukrainians.”

Read more


google plans to acquire Mandiantthe cybersecurity firm that uncovered the $5.4 billion SolarWinds hack, the tech giant announced on Tuesday.

Mandiant will join Google’s cloud business after the acquisition closes, according to the announcement.

Bloomberg reported Microsoft was also reportedly interested in Mandiant, but the company pulled out of talks more than a week ago.

“Organizations around the world are facing unprecedented cybersecurity challenges as the sophistication and severity of attacks that were once used to target large governments are now being used to target businesses across all industries,” said Thomas Kurian. , CEO of Google Cloud, in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming Mandiant to Google Cloud to further enhance our security operations suite and consulting services, and help our customers solve their most important security challenges.”

Learn more here.

Temporary silence: Spotify, Discord disabled

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Spotify and Discord were experience problems Tuesday afternoon, with many users unable to access online platforms.

The music streaming service confirmed that it is looking into the issue.

“Something is wrong, and we are thinking about it,” the Spotify status account tweeted. “Thank you for your reports!”

“We are aware of an issue causing message failures and are working on a fix,” tweeted instant messaging app Discord. “Apologies for the inconvenience and thank you for holding on!”

Read more.


A chewable editorial: The CDC needs a thorough review to restore Americans’ trust in science

Lighter click: Never been so easy to snack on

Notable Web Links:

Tens of thousands of Russian workers left behind as tech platforms retreat (The Washington Post / Nitasha Tiku and Gerrit De Vynck)

“Constantly afraid”: immigrants on life under US government surveillance (The Guardian / Johan Bhuiyan)

Amazon workers in Alabama Are worried A union victory will make their lives worse (BuzzFeed News/Caroline O’Donovan)

How? ‘Or’ What Wrongful arrests Based on AI Derailed 3 Men’s Lives (Wired/Khari Johnson)

One last thing: VOA broadcast on shortwave

A microphone and headphones are seen in a radio studio

A microphone and headphones are seen in a radio studio

Local funding the effort is underway to raise funds to transmit Voice of America programming to Eastern Europe via shortwave radio, an older form of technology that can circumvent Russia’s crackdown on tech companies.

The United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM), the parent agency of Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free America chose not to carry programming in the region.

But organizers behind a crowdfunding campaign have already secured a station in Florida to share VOA’s daily English programming on Ukraine within days of the effort’s launch.

Learn more here.

That’s all for today, thanks for reading. Discover The Hill’s Technology and cyber security pages for breaking news and coverage. We’ll see you Tuesday.


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