Hillicon Valley — Congress takes on crypto, again

A new bipartisan bill is likely to leave the cryptocurrency community celebrating, as it would shift regulatory authority away from the SEC and to another body viewed by the industry as more friendly.

In other tech news, Yubo unveiled new policies Tuesday that it has been under pressure to put out since it was revealed that the Uvalde shooter frequented the social media platform. 

This is Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Send tips to The Hill’s Rebecca KlarChris Mills Rodrigo and Ines KagubareSubscribe here.

Senators release bipartisan crypto bill

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) introduced legislation on Tuesday that will create a regulatory framework for digital assets such as cryptocurrency.

The Responsible Financial Innovation Act (RFI) will encourage innovation in the financial sector, as well as flexibility, transparency and robust consumer protections while integrating digital assets into existing laws.  

The proposed legislation will also assign regulatory authority over digital asset spot markets to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which regulates commodities markets, creating a new advisory committee that will focus on developing guideline principles, empowering regulatory agencies and advising lawmakers on fast-developing technology. 

The lawmakers also said the RFI bill will create a workable structure for the taxation of digital assets and cryptocurrencies and will provide a regulatory sandbox for state and federal regulators to collaborate on innovative financial technologies among other provisions, according to the statement.  

This comes as lawmakers have been trying to figure out ways to regulate cryptocurrency.

Read more here.  

Yubo updates safety policies 

Yubo, a social media platform that users said the gunman in the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting used to make threatening remarks, released updated safety guidelines on Tuesday.

The platform targeted for teens is broadening its risk-detection policy, enhancing user-reporting capabilities, testing audio-moderation technology and deploying a new algorithm-based detection system, the company said in a blog post.  

“The devastating events of 24 May in Uvalde, Texas, brought to light systemic issues in society that need to be addressed. We are dedicated to doing our part by identifying and implementing safety solutions to the Yubo platform,” Yubo CEO Sacha Lazimi said in the blog post. 

The update follows numerous reports that the 18-year-old gunman who was killed by law enforcement after fatally shooting 19 students and two teachers at Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School last month exchanged messages on the platform with users saying he was going to “shoot up” an elementary school, showing off his gun and threatening to rape girls. 

Users also said they reported Ramos’s account to Yubo but he was able to remain on the platform, according to reports. 

Read more here.


A hearing on the latest bipartisan data privacy bill has been scheduled for next Tuesday, June 14.

The hearing in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s panel on consumer protection will be the first opportunity for the new American Data Privacy and Protection Act to be debated publicly. 

The legislation, led by Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), seeks to thread the needle on two key issues that have slowed progress on privacy of years: the ability of individuals to sue under the statute and how it should interact with state laws. 

The new proposal includes a limited private right of action and some standards that would preempt state rules. Despite striking a compromise on those issues, the bill has been criticized for being too little to tackle the myriad risks threatening American’s data privacy. 

Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), key figures on previous privacy efforts, have already raised concerns along those lines. 

Google slams antitrust bill

Google escalated its criticism of the bipartisan antitrust bill led by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in a blog post Tuesday

Google’s vice president of engineering for privacy, safety and security Royal Hansen said the bill would “undermine our ability to keep people safe.”  

The bill aims to keep dominant tech companies from emphasizing their own products and services over rivals. For example, it could bar Google from highlighting its own services in its search function.  

Hansen said as written the bill could keep Google from security products by default, and may “even require” Google to open its system up to “untrusted and potentially vulnerable rival services.”  

Hansen also said the bill could prevent Google from taking action against “purveyors of malicious content,” by prohibiting the company from discriminating against competitors.  

Google’s latest blog post attacking the bill aimed at reining in tech giants comes as Klobuchar pushes for a floor vote on the legislation this summer. The bill advanced out of the Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support earlier this year, and a version in the House advanced out of the committee last year.

Backlash: Klobuchar and other supporters of the bill have pushed back on the criticism that it would lead to national security concerns.  

Sacha Haworth, executive director of the Tech Oversight Project, a group backing the antitrust proposal, slammed Google’s blog post and said the proposal would benefit user safety.  

“Google’s ‘security concerns’ are not just flimsy, they insult your intelligence,” Haworth said in a statement. “Google and Big Tech companies will always put their profits ahead of security, which is why Congress needs to act to allow products and services into the marketplace that ACTUALLY put users and their privacy first.” 


An op-ed to chew on: To battle deepfakes, our technologies must track their transformations

Notable links from around the web: 

Amazon fired Chris Smalls. Now the new union leader is one of its biggest problems. (Recode / Shrin Ghaffary) 

Our Country Moves Closer to a Federal Privacy Law, and I Move Closer To Losing My Mind (Gizmodo / Shoshana Wodinsky) 

The linguistics search engine that overturned the federal mask mandate (The Verge / Nicole Wetsman) 

A PR Firm Is Paying TikTok Influencers to Promote Liberal Causes and Hype Democrats’ Middling Accomplishments (Motherboard / Anna Merlan) 

One more thing: Tech weighs in on visas

A coalition of U.S.-based tech companies sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas asking him to revamp the department’s policies for children of high-skilled visa holders.

In the letter sent on Tuesday, obtained by The Wall Street Journal, the coalition asked the Biden administration to establish “more robust aging out policies” in an effort to address the issue of children of long-term visa holders being able to continue as beneficiaries of their parents’ pending green card applications even after they turn 21.

The coalition noted that more than 200,000 children have grown up in this country under their parents’ protected visa status, which included those who are holders of H-1B visas. 

The letter was signed by tech companies such as Twitter, Uber Technologies Inc., Amazon, Google and IBM. 

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.


Author: Chris Mills Rodrigo