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Category: #Congress (Page 1 of 2)

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Warren: Trump is ‘a danger to democracy’


Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a critic of Facebook and other tech giants, on Thursday called Donald Trump “a danger to democracy” and applauded a decision by Facebook’s Oversight Board to uphold the company’s ban on th…

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Alexander Bolton

Marjorie Taylor Greene Temporarily Suspended by Twitter as Congress Considers Expulsion


Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, commonly known as the QAnon Congresswoman, was temporarily suspended from Twitter on Friday. The social media crackdown coincided with the introduction of a resolution to expel the congresswoman from Georgia from the House, but Twitter claims its enforcement was an error.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Rhett Jones

AOC tutors Dems on mastering social media


Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who captivated millions this week with an Instagram Live monologue about her Capitol siege experience, shared her social media savvy Wednesday during a master class with her fellow Democrats.

Why it matters: One of the party’s best digital practitioners is trying to help the Congressional Progressive Caucus, in particular, become stronger, more sophisticated and prolific so it can better shape policy in the 117th Congress.

  • Progressives are feeling emboldened, and admit that the Democrats’ control of the House, Senate and White House gives them fresh bandwidth to blast out their message.
  • Ocasio-Cortez specifically urged focusing individually on key elements of the COVID relief bill, because “it’s too much to message in one week.”

Driving the news: The New Yorker spoke virtually during a Zoom call with more than 140 people, including CPC members and staff. She said President Biden’s inauguration was a turning point for the type of messaging Americans want to see from Democrats.

  • “We are now in the era of receipts. People now want to see the actual clips of legislation. They want to hear less about our stances.”
  • Axios was able to independently monitor and take notes on the meeting.

Inside the virtual room: Ocasio-Cortez acted as a creative director, of sorts, for Democratic colleagues who, by and large, are unfamiliar with how to project authenticity on social media.

  • She pitched a video series that Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) could launch to better share her personality with constituents, and talked about how the streaming platform Twitch can be used to mimic a more engaging town hall.
  • “We’re just mere mortals and we rely on our staff to do all this,” Frankel told her.
  • Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) asked what type of content Ocasio-Cortez decides to put out on her official congressional Twitter account versus her personal Twitter account.

The big picture: Democrats aren’t just trying to figure out their best message as a party; they’re desperate for strong messengers who can reach more voters by meeting them where they are — online.

  • The Zoom meeting signals a shift within the party.
  • Progressives who are natives on social media have been criticized by colleagues with the familiar refrain that “Twitter isn’t real life.”
  • Now, they’re in the driver’s seat, teaching their colleagues how to lean into their personalities to push progressive policies like the Green New Deal.

What they’re saying: Rapid response is Democrats’ biggest opportunity to improve and compete with Republicans, AOC said.

  • Republicans “want to bully you out of using your strongest resource. That’s what they do with our party and that’s what they do with our policy as well,” Ocasio-Cortez added. “They try to get us to back down before the fight.”

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Alexi McCammond

Ocasio-Cortez: Facebook, Zuckerberg ‘bear partial responsibility’ for insurrection

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Friday condemned Facebook as well as co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg for misinformation posted on the platform, arguing that both Zuckerberg and his company “bear partial…

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Celine Castronuovo

Stolen computers are the least of the government’s security worries


Reports that a laptop from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office was stolen during the pro-Trump rioters’ sack of the Capitol building has some worried that the mob may have access to important, even classified information. Fortunately that’s not the case — even if this computer and others had any truly sensitive information, which is unlikely, like any corporate asset it can almost certainly be disabled remotely.

The cybersecurity threat in general from the riot is not as high as one might think, as we explained yesterday. Specific to stolen or otherwise compromised hardware, there are several facts to keep in mind.

In the first place, the offices of elected officials are in many ways already public spaces. These are historic buildings through which tours often go, in which meetings with foreign dignitaries and other politicians are held, and in which thousands of ordinary civil servants without any security clearance would normally be working shoulder-to-shoulder. The important work they do is largely legislative and administrative — largely public work, where the most sensitive information being exchanged is probably unannounced speeches and draft bills.

But recently, you may remember, most of these people were working from home. Of course during the major event of the joint session confirming the electors, there would be more people than normal. But this wasn’t an ordinary day at the office by a long shot — even before hundreds of radicalized partisans forcibly occupied the building. Chances are there wasn’t a lot of critical business being conducted on the desktops in these offices. Classified data lives in the access-controlled SCIF, not on random devices sitting in unsecured areas.

In fact, the laptop is reported by Reuters as having been part of a conference room’s dedicated hardware — this is the dusty old Inspiron that lives on the A/V table so you can put your PowerPoint on it, not Pelosi’s personal computer, let alone a hard line to top secret info.

Even if there was a question of unintended access, it should be noted that the federal government, as any large company might, has a normal IT department with a relatively modern provisioning structure. The Pelosi office laptop, like any other piece of hardware being used for official House and Senate business, is monitored by IT and should be able to be remotely disabled or wiped. The challenge for the department is figuring out which hardware does actually need to be handled that way — as was reported earlier, there was (understandably) no official plan for a violent takeover of the Capitol building.

In other words, it’s highly likely that the most that will result from the theft of government computers on Jan. 6 will be inconvenience or at most some embarrassment should some informal communications become public. Staffers do gossip and grouse, of course, on both back and official channels.

That said, the people who invaded these offices and stole that equipment — some on camera — are already being arrested and charged. Just because the theft doesn’t present a serious security threat doesn’t mean it wasn’t highly illegal in several different ways.

Any cybersecurity official will tell you that the greater threat by far is the extensive infiltration of government contractors and accounts through the SolarWinds breach. Those systems are packed with information that was never meant to be public and will likely provide fuel for credential-related attacks for years to come.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Devin Coldewey

Nuclear weapons agency updates Congress on hacking attempt


The Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration, which maintains the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, told congressional staffers in several briefings this week that there is currently no known impact to its classified systems from a massive hack that targeted its networks, according to an official with direct knowledge of the briefings.

The officials told staffers, however, that the incident has proven how difficult it is to monitor the Energy Department’s unclassified systems, and acknowledged that an issue with a network extension within the Office of Secure Transportation — which specializes in the secure transportation of nuclear weapons and materials — had been discovered.

Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, DOE’s Chief Information Officer Rocky Campione, and NNSA CIO Wayne Jones all participated in the briefings to the relevant congressional oversight bodies.

The officials told congressional staffers that there was an attempt to breach Los Alamos National Laboratory and the nuclear administration’s field office in Nevada via the vulnerability in a software developed by SolarWinds — a company whose IT management tools are used across the government. The supply-chain attack has affected dozens of federal and private sector entities, who were exploited by suspected Russian hackers as early as March of this year.

The officials said they do not consider either the lab or the field office to have been compromised, and noted that all national labs have been instructed to shut down and fully remove SolarWinds products from their systems.

Still, the department’s investigation is ongoing, the officials said, and neither DOE nor NNSA has a full picture of the impact of the hack — or what it will cost to fix it. The officials said it will probably be expensive to mitigate the damage and prevent it from happening again, but that they are still determining what kind of extra funding and resources the department will need.

The internal investigation has been complex and time-consuming because the compromised SolarWinds software was used widely throughout the nuclear security administration, officials told the staffers — including at the Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore, and Sandia national labs; NNSA headquarters; NNSA’s Emergency Communication Network; NNSA’s Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, where fuel is made for reactors; the Nevada National Security Site, a disposal site; and Naval Reactors, which provides propulsion plants for nuclear powered ships.

DOE first found evidence of the hack last Monday, officials familiar with the matter said, and began coordinating notifications about the breach to their congressional oversight bodies on Thursday after being briefed by Campione, who oversees DOE’s cybersecurity. Campione told DOE officials last week that, in addition to the labs and the Office of Secure Transportation, suspicious activity had also been found in networks belonging to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which stores sensitive data on the nation’s bulk electric grid.

Shaylyn Hynes, a DOE spokesperson, said in a statement last week that an ongoing investigation into the hack had found that the perpetrators did not get into critical defense systems.

“At this point, the investigation has found that the malware has been isolated to business networks only, and has not impacted the mission essential national security functions of the department, including the National Nuclear Security Administration,” Hynes said. “When DOE identified vulnerable software, immediate action was taken to mitigate the risk, and all software identified as being vulnerable to this attack was disconnected from the DOE network.”

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Natasha Bertrand

The new stimulus bill makes illegal streaming a felony


We’ve already written several stories about the new pandemic stimulus package that Congress approved yesterday, including funding to increase broadband access and for new energy initiatives.

There are, however, other provisions that could also have serious implications for the technology and media worlds. For one thing, the bill includes a proposal from Senator Thom Tillis (a Republican from North Carolina) that would make illegal streaming a felony, with penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment.

When Tillis released a draft of his proposal earlier this month, the open internet/intellectual property nonprofit Public Knowledge released a statement arguing that there’s no need “for further criminal penalties for copyright infringement,” but also saying that the bill is “narrowly tailored and avoids criminalizing users” and “does not criminalize streamers who may include unlicensed works as part of their streams” — instead, it focuses on those who pirate for commercial gain.

The bill also includes the CASE Act, which creates a new Copyright Claims Board within the U.S. Copyright Office. This system has been compared to small claims court, with the ability to adjudicate copyright claims and order payments of up to $30,000.

When the House of Representatives was debating the CASE Act last year, proponents defended it as giving independent artists an easier way to pursue copyright infringement claims, while groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation said it could have a negative impact on individual internet users. Techdirt’s Mike Masnick argued yesterday that it will “supercharge copyright trolling exactly at a time when we need to fix the law to have less trolling.”

Now that the House and Senate have approved the bill, it’s going to President Donald Trump for his signature. Since the full text was only released yesterday, we can probably expect plenty more debate over its implications in the weeks and months to come.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Anthony Ha

AOC will return to Twitch tonight for another round of ‘Among Us’

0d662c30-30d1-11eb-beed-29fac28e49e0Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is set to make her return to Twitch tonight for another round of Among Us. She’ll join forces with MP Jagmeet Singh, the leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party, for her second live stream on the platform. Canadian Mem…

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