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Warren: Canceling $50K in student debt could ‘transform an entire generation’

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is reigniting her push for canceling $50,000 in student debt per borrower, arguing the move could “transform an entire generation.””It would help nearly everyone w…

Source: https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/564388-warren-cancelling-50000-in-student-debt-could-transform-an-entire-generation
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Mychael Schnell

Who is the ‘pizza king’? The secret language being used by anti-vaccine groups to skirt detection

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Some anti-vaccination groups on Facebook are changing their names to euphemisms like “Dance Party” or “Dinner Party,” and using code words to fit those themes.

Source: https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/anti-vaccine-groups-changing-dance-parties-facebook-avoid-detection-rcna1480
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny

White House blames China for Microsoft Exchange cyberattacks

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The Biden administration isn’t hesitating to blame China for a string of Microsoft Exchange cyberattacks. The White House has declared “with a high degree of confidence” that hackers linked to China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) were responsible for a digital espionage campaign using the Exchange vulnerabilities. Officials have confronted senior Chinese leadership with this and “broader” hostile online activity, the White House said.

The US further accused China of running an intelligence operation that relied on “contract hackers” who frequently launched attacks meant solely for profit, such as ransomware schemes and crypto jacking. The Chinese government’s reported unwillingness to tackle these abuses is believed to hurt businesses, governments and infrastructure with “billions of dollars” in damage, the White House said.

Accordingly, the Justice Department has revealed indictments of four MSS-affiliated Chinese men for allegedly conducting an extended hacking campaign meant to steal intellectual property and trade secrets, including health research. The initiative, which ran between 2011 and 2018, reportedly saw Ding Xiaoyang, Cheng Qingmin, Zhu Yunmin and Wu Shurong compromise comptuers worldwide to grab information ranging from autonomous vehicle technology and chemical formulas through to research on Ebola, AIDS and other diseases.

Biden’s administration has already taken multiple actions in response to attacks, including “proactive network defense actions” like deleting backdoors on compromised Exchange servers. It added private companies to its Unified Coordination Group to bolster its security incident response. CISA, the FBI and the NSA also released an advisory outlining China’s strategy for compromising US and ally networks using the Exchange holes and other methods.

This comes on top of stricter security rules for pipeline companies as well as a pilot to tackle vulnerabilities in sectors like electricity and water supply.

China has historically denied involvement in attacks like these, and it’s doubtful the country will have a change of heart after this. The White House effort is more of a warning — the US will not only pin attacks on China, but respond to them in kind.

Source: https://www.engadget.com/white-house-blames-china-for-exchange-cyberattacks-132053693.html?src=rss
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Jon Fingas

Virginia will use a $700 million grant to roll out statewide broadband

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Virginia will use $700 million in American Rescue Plan funding to expedite broadband buildouts in underserved communities throughout the state, Governor Ralph Northam announced on Friday. With the investment, Virginia says it’s on track to become one of the first states in the US to achieve universal broadband access.

An estimated 233,500 homes and businesses throughout the Commonwealth fall under what the Federal Communications Commission would consider an underserved location. They don’t have an internet connection that can achieve download speeds of 25Mbps down. The state estimates the additional funding will allow it to connect those places to faster internet by the end of 2024, instead of 2028, as previously planned. What’s more, the “majority” of those connections will be completed within the next 18 months.

“It’s time to close the digital divide in our Commonwealth and treat internet service like the 21st-century necessity that it is — not just a luxury for some, but an essential utility for all,” Governor Northam said.

Across nine provisions, President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan provides approximately $388 billion in funding for state and local governments to address the digital divide in their communities. Virginia is only one of the states across the country that plans to use that money to build faster internet infrastructure. In May, California Governor Gavin Newsom proposed a $7 billion investment in public broadband.

Source: https://www.engadget.com/virginia-700-million-american-rescue-plan-funding-204544367.html?src=rss
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Igor Bonifacic

GOP’s Big Tech plan ignores consumers, targets “censorship” of Republicans instead

The Republican Party elephant symbol seen in a conference hall.

Enlarge / The Republican Party elephant symbol at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

Congressional Republicans released an antitrust plan for Big Tech yesterday with an announcement that made it clear their focus is not on boosting competition or reducing harms to online consumers but on alleged “censorship” of conservatives.

“Big Tech is out to get conservatives” is the first sentence in the “House Judiciary Republican Agenda for Taking on Big Tech.” The “conservative response” to tech-industry problems “will speed up and strengthen antitrust enforcement, hold Big Tech accountable for its censorship, and increase transparency around Big Tech’s decisions,” the opening paragraph continues. The word “competition” never appears in the two-page plan. A separate plan previously released by House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) does mention competition, but McCarthy’s plan also focuses mostly on supposed bias against conservatives.

The House Judiciary Republicans’ plan was released as former President Donald Trump sued Twitter, Facebook, and Google subsidiary YouTube for banning him, claiming that all three companies are guilty of “impermissible censorship” that violates “the First Amendment right to free speech.” Trump’s lawsuit has been widely mocked by legal experts and is almost certain to be defeated because the First Amendment does not require private companies to host speech and because Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act gives online platforms immunity from lawsuits over how they moderate user-submitted content.

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Source: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2021/07/gops-big-tech-plan-ignores-consumers-targets-censorship-of-republicans-instead/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Jon Brodkin

Experts say Trump’s social media lawsuits are likely doomed

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Legal experts and First Amendment scholars say former President Donald Trump’s class-action lawsuits announced Wednesday against Facebook, Twitter, Google, and their CEOs are unlikely to go far.

The big picture: That, according to some of these experts, suggests Trump’s chief aim is to fire up his supporters and fundraise off of their anger over what they see as censorship by Big Tech.


“This is not a lawsuit. It’s a fundraising grift,” said Evan Greer, director of Fight for the Future, a progressive advocacy group that often targets Big Tech.

  • “There is no chance Trump’s lawsuits will do any better than the dozens that have preceded it, and Trump and his lawyers surely know that,” said Eric Goldman, associate dean and professor at Santa Clara University School of Law.
  • “Which raises the obvious question: if Trump doesn’t care if he wins in court, why did he bring the lawsuits at all?”

The Trump campaign did immediately start reaching out to supporters for fundraising after the former president revealed the lawsuits in a press conference Wednesday morning.

  • Trump’s joint fundraising committee sent out a text saying, “Pres Trump: I am SUING Facebook & Twitter for UNCONSTITUTIONAL CENSORSHIP,” adding “5X-IMPACT on all gifts!”

Details: The central argument made by the plaintiff is that social media platforms are “state actors,” and thus should be bound by the First Amendment’s free speech protections. First Amendment experts quickly dismissed the claim as destined to fail.

  • “The First Amendment simply protects citizens from government censorship,” said Syracuse University associate professor Roy Gutterman. “Social media platforms exercise great power, but they are not a branch of government.”

“In what constitutional universe can it be the case that Trump wasn’t a state actor when he blocked critics from his social media accounts but the social media companies were state actors when they blocked him?,” tweeted Jameel Jaffer, director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.

  • The Knight First Amendment Institute in 2017 filed a lawsuit on behalf of several people who were blocked by Trump on Twitter. A lower court sided with the plaintiff and argued that that Trump’s Twitter account constituted” as a “public forum” under the First Amendment, so he couldn’t block people.

Trump’s suits also suggest that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a federal law that gives tech platforms immunity for material third-party users post or say on their sites, is unconstitutional. Experts say the reference to Section 230 is irrelevant to the case.

  • “Section 230 can never be a defense to Trump’s allegations of First Amendment violations,”said Goldman. “Section 230 is a statute, which cannot modify the Constitution (amending the Constitution requires a more elaborate set of procedures; Congress can’t do it alone).”
  • “So the defendants in Trump’s cases will not assert Section 230 defenses. They will instead argue that they are not state actors  The courts will agree that the services aren’t state actors. This is not a close call.”

The big picture: As Axios has previously noted, the former president has filed many lawsuits throughout his career, but he has rarely taken cases all the way to court, and hasn’t won many of the cases that he has.

  • In fact, some of his lawsuits have actually led to historic legal precedents set by courts that create stronger First Amendment protections long-term.

The bottom line: “This is not the first time social media companies have been faced with these arguments, and in the past, they have won,” said Gutterman.

Source: https://www.axios.com/trump-social-media-lawsuits-doomed-experts-a9a021c7-fa78-47f3-9732-b99309c464ca.html
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Sara Fischer

Russian hackers breach Republican National Committee

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A hacker group associated with the Russian government breached the computer systems of the Republican National Committee last week in a massive ransomware attack, Bloomberg first reported.

The big picture: The attack follows a separate Russia-based criminal group unleashing an attack that compromised the computer systems of at least 1,000 businesses. No connection has been established between the attacks.


What they’re saying: It is unclear what, if any, information the Cozy Bear hackers found. Danielle Alvarez, the GOP communications director, released a statement saying that while it was informed by Microsoft that their systems may had been exposed, “no RNC data was accessed.”

  • Alvarez added that it “will continued to work with Microsoft, as well as federal law enforcement officials on this matter.”
  • An RNC spokesperson told Bloomberg it is investigating the situation and has already informed the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.
  • “Over the weekend, we were informed that Synnex, a third party provider, had been breached,” RNC chief of staff Richard Walters said in a statement. “We immediately blocked all access from Synnex accounts to our cloud environment.”
  • “Our team worked with Microsoft to conduct a review of our systems and after a thorough investigation, no RNC data was accessed. We will continue to work with Microsoft, as well as federal law enforcement officials on the matter.
  • The RNC said it was aware of “few instances where outside actors have attempted to gain access, through Synnex, to customer applications within the Microsoft cloud environment,” per Bloomberg.

Zoom out: Cozy Bear, also known as APT 29, has been tied to the Russian foreign intelligence service and accused of breaching the Democratic National Committee in 2016 as well as carrying out a supply-chain cyberattack involving SolarWinds Corp., which infiltrated nine U.S. government agencies.

  • United States and United Kingdom intelligence agencies said in a report Thursday that Russian military hackers over the last three years have tried to access the computer networks of “hundreds of government and private sector targets worldwide” and warned that those “efforts are almost certainly still ongoing.”

Go deeper: U.S., U.K. intel: Russian military hacking attempts “certainly still ongoing”

Source: https://www.axios.com/russian-hackers-breach-republican-national-committee-f4d69a30-338e-45f9-8344-020b29952938.html
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Oriana Gonzalez

The newest MAGA app is tied to a Bannon-allied Chinese billionaire

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On Tuesday, Guo Wengui, an exiled Chinese billionaire who runs a Chinese-language media network with Trump adviser Steve Bannon, posted a video on his site GNEWS reminding viewers to back up their social media posts on GETTR.

“Today I have to post this video on our G-TV to inform everybody that everything is fine, because the GETTR platform is adjusting,” he said in Mandarin, according to an English translation posted on the site. “GETTR is not ours, so we should follow the instructions. Right? GETTR is cleaning up all the data and accounts. Afterwards, everybody has to re-register their accounts.”

The site was then wiped.

Two days later, Donald Trump’s former adviser Jason Miller announced that GETTR — a Chinese-language site for dissidents opposing the Chinese Communist Party — would soon launch as a pro-MAGA free-speech social media platform.

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GETTR was announced as a brand new social media platform for Trump’s fans, a social media outpost where MAGA types could post freely and, through the mere act of signing up, stick it to Big Tech. It was billed as the logical extension of the former president’s monthslong battle with the major social media companies, two of which had booted him in the aftermath of the Capitol riots on Jan. 6. And though Trump himself had not committed to being on it, it seemed like the type of place where he inevitably would end up after having launched a failed professional blog of his own.

There was one major question: Just where did GETTR come from?

A POLITICO review reveals that prior to it being revealed on Thursday, GETTR had existed for nearly a year as a Chinese-language social media network linked to Guo and G-TV Media, and on which anti-CCP content had been promoted on a regular basis.

Miller told The Daily Beast, which first reported the connection, that Guo’s “family foundation” provided GETTR with early funding. In a separate interview with POLITICO, Miller said that Guo had “no formal role,” had not “contributed any money” and was “not part of the business day to day.” Miller added that “his family foundation is part of the international consortium of investors who gave seed money.”

Previous advertising for GETTR had been posted online before news broke of Miller’s venture. And it included logos for several entities in the G-TV Media Group, a media company owned by both Bannon and Guo. One poster includes the logos for their subsidiaries, G-TV and GNEWS, two sites that have been flagged as vectors of coronavirus and anti-CCP disinformation. An account for GETTR on G-TV, which has the same torch logo as Miller’s GETTR, has been uploading content for more than a year, though much of it is content from G-TV.

Even before its announcement, the GETTR app on Apple had more than 1,200 reviews dating back months, primarily from users praising its anti-CCP stance. “Finally there is a platform for freely disseminating the truth. Thanks to Mr. Wengui who broke the news that the revolution has created such a free-sounding platform,” one user wrote in a review on June 17th.

In the months leading up to GETTR’s reveal, plans for Trump returning to social media frequently hinged on the idea of owning his own Twitter or Facebook-like platform. Trump associates previously told POLITICO that the quickest way to bring him back, and keep him there, would necessitate his owning a majority of the company, if not the entire enterprise. But given the steep cost of building a viable Big Tech competitor from scratch — Twitter, Trump’s biggest competition, burned through hundreds of millions of dollars from launch to profitability over nine years — people involved in Trump’s building of a network had aimed to buy a pre-existing network outright and rebrand it for a MAGA audience.

At face value, GETTR could have been that service. But the choice of Guo’s entity brought with it particularly thorny issues.

G-TV Media has had a rocky history, and was the subject of a federal probe into its fundraising, with the FBI and SEC investigating the company’s $300 million private fundraising round. The links between Guo and Bannon go back years. Famously, Bannon was arrested aboard Guo’s yacht in 2020 over fraud charges related to a separate crowdfunding project to help build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. In 2019, it was reported that Guo was a member of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club.

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Guo himself was an active promoter of GETTR, frequently posting daily video blogs onto the site over the past two months, titled “Miles Guo’s Getter” to share his views on China, the coronavirus pandemic and the Biden administration. Those GETTR videos were then cross-posted to GNews and translated into both English and French, according to the site.

In the days leading up to Miller announcing the launch of a MAGA-version of GETTR, several videos appeared on GNEWS and G-TV showing GETTR users how to save their data and eventually upload it to the new platform.

A Twitter user named Dicky Zhang, whose account identifies him as connected to G-TV and GNEWS, also reminded his followers that they needed to back up their GETTR accounts.

“Gettr will officially be launched on July 4th,” he tweeted in English on June 29th. “In order to build it into a multilingual & international platform, we will clear all the data on the platform on June 29th, Eastern US Time, including posts, photos & accounts. Sorry for the inconvenience. Save important information pls.”

Meridith McGraw contributed to this report.

Source: https://www.politico.com/news/2021/07/01/maga-app-bannon-chinese-billionaire-497767
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Tina Nguyen

No One Likes Robocalls and June 30th Might Spell the End of Them

The dialer open on a Pixel 5Cameron Summerson

Robocalls are a multi-year problem that could finally die later this month. Hopefully slowing the barrage of fake healthcare, car warranty, Amazon account, or social security scammer calls people receive daily. We’re talking about the stir/shaken technology that providers have to implement by June 30th, 2021.

Yes, the FCC is finally trying to end robocalls by forcing solutions like STIR/SHAKEN. By the end of the month, every major voice provider in the US, including AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and even cable providers, will have to implement the spam-preventing technology.

CNET reports that phone users in the United States have already received around 22 billion robocalls in the first five months of 2021, and that number could grow to 52 billion by the end of the year. Ridiculous!

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So what is stir/shaken exactly? Well, “Stir” stands for “secure telephone identity revisited” and “Shaken” for “signature-based handling of asserted information using tokens.” It’s a system and protocol aimed at curbing all those awful scammers. With the new “shaken” framework, a new database can track calls, and each one goes through a new network verification process. Essentially, every call has its caller ID “signed” and verified before it ever reaches you.

Unfortunately, this will only slow down all of the illegal calls Americans get daily. More specifically, the ones that spoof local area codes and familiar numbers, which most people are more likely to pick up. We’ll probably still get junk phone calls, but the number won’t be local, so it’s easier to spot, and ultimately, ignore.

Unless a voice provider is a tiny company, everyone from AT&T to Verizon must implement this new technology no later than June 30th. So hopefully, come July 1st, we’ll get fewer calls than before. One can hope, at least.

via CNET

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/90218/no-one-likes-robocalls-and-june-30th-might-spell-the-end-of-them/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Cory Gunther

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