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After an unsuccessful hack of a Florida water treatment facility, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers teamed up to introduce a cyber bill that aims to protect against cyberattacks. Meanwhile, Democrats reintroduced legislation in both chambers Thursday that would invest billions in expanding internet access. In Silicon Valley, leading rideshare companies Uber and Lyft announced a partnership to share information on banned drivers after mounting scrutiny over their handling of assault allegations.
NEW CYBER BILL: A group of bipartisan House lawmakers on Thursday introduced legislation intended to protect critical infrastructure from cyberattacks in the wake of an unsuccessful hack of a Florida water treatment facility.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Industrial Control Systems Enhancement Act, spearheaded by House Homeland Security Committee ranking member John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoBiden challenged by early cyber threatsHouse-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interferenceBiden to meet with bipartisan lawmakers on infrastructureMORE (R-N.Y.), would give more authority to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to protect critical systems against attacks.
Lawmakers rolled the bill out a month after officials in Oldsmar, Fla., announced that a hacker has unsuccessfully attempted to tamper with systems at the towns water treatment facility to poison the water.
Read more about the bill here.
BILLIONS FOR BROADBAND: House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSenators introduce bill to increase oversight of carbon monoxide detectorsClyburn, Klobuchar push billion fix to digital divideHillicon Valley: House approves almost billion in cyber, tech funds as part of relief package | Officials warn of ‘widespread’ exploit of Microsoft vulnerabilities | Facebook files to dismiss antitrust lawsuitsMORE (D-Minn.) are reintroducing legislation Thursday aimed at improving internet access in impoverished communities.
The Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act would invest $94 billion in expanding broadband infrastructure and connecting Americans.
Access to broadband today will have the same dramatic impact on rural communities as the rural electrification efforts in the last century, Clyburn said in a statement.
Beyond building necessary infrastructure, the legislation requires internet providers that use the funding to offer affordable service plans.
It also authorizes an additional $6 billion for the Emergency Broadband Benefit, which gives qualifying Americans a discount on internet plans.
The legislation would also add an extra $2 billion to the $7 billion in funding for the E-Rate program that was included in the coronavirus relief package signed by President BidenJoe BidenManchin cements key-vote status in 50-50 SenateThe Memo: How the COVID year upended politicsPost-pandemic plans for lawmakers: Chuck E. Cheese, visiting friends, hugging grandkidsMORE on Thursday.
SAFETY FIRST: Amid criticism and legal challenges over how they handle allegations of assault, Uber and Lyft on Thursday announced a partnership on a safety program to share information about drivers who have been banned from their platforms for “the most serious” safety incidents.
Under the Sharing Safety Program the two ride-hailing companies will share information about drivers and delivery people who have been deactivated for incidents including sexual assault and physical assaults resulting in a fatality.
The information sharing will be administered through a third-party background screening company, HireRight, which will collect and manage data from the companies and share the information between them.
Going forward, the shared safety information will be open to other transportation and delivery networks within the U.S. that agree to a set of requirements about data accuracy and communication, according to the announcement.
Read more about the announcement.
EXPANDING OPTIONS: Facebook on Thursday announced expanded options for users to monetize content with a focus on short-form videos and broadening subscription-based features.
The update will allow creators to monetize videos as short as one-minute long, expanding on previous restrictions to monetize videos three minutes or longer. It follows the rise in popularity of TikTok, an app that limits users to posting 60-second videos.
Facebook said it will also be testing the ability for content creators to monetize their Facebook stories through ads that look like stickers. The initial test is small, but Facebook said it is looking to expand the option to more creators in the future.
The company will also be investing $7 million over the next few months in its Stars feature, according to the announcement. The feature allows users to tip content creators during live videos.
Read more here.
YOUTUBE CLEANING: The platform has taken down more than 30,000 videos containing misinformation about the coronavirus vaccine since October, a company spokesperson told The Hill Thursday.
The videos included claims about COVID-19 vaccinations that contradict local health authorities or the World Health Organization, Elena Hernandez said in a statement.
The platform has taken down 800,000 videos for general COVID-19 misinformation since February of last year.
Containing coronavirus misinformation, specifically about the vaccines that are now available to the public, has been a challenge for social media platforms.
Facebook and Twitter have instituted similar policies to remove COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, which experts say can contribute to vaccine hesitancy.
ICYMI: DONT COME BACK: Apple denied Parler re-entry to the companys App Store, after the controversial conservative-attracting social media app was ousted from the platform in January following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, according to documents cited by Bloomberg.
After having reviewed the new information, we do not believe these changes are sufficient to comply with App Store Review guidelines, Apple wrote to Parlers chief policy officer on Feb. 25, according to Bloomberg. There is no place for hateful, racist, discriminatory content on the App Store.
Apple suspended Parler from its platform in January because of the apps lack of moderation and threats of violence.
Parler in a statement on Thursday said that it expects and hopes to keep working with Apple to return to the App Store.
“Were optimistic that Apple will continue to differentiate itself from other Big Tech companies by supporting its customers choice to think different to exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms of thought, speech, and association while using Apple products, it added.
Read more here.
Lighter click: Its been a year
An op-ed to chew on: Why embedded devices are the dangerous blind spot in the SolarWinds attack
NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:
YouTube Star Tim Pools News Site Collapses Amid Allegations He Took a Cat Hostage (Daily Beast / Will Sommer)
Trophy Homes and $2.5 Million Tweets: How the Idle Rich Spent Their Pandemic Year (The New Republic / Jacob Silverman)
Companies that rode pandemic boom get a reality check (The New York Times / Steve Lohr)