Hillicon Valley — New York takes on tech after shooting

A crowd gathers as police investigate after a shooting at a supermarket on Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y.
Joshua Bessex/Associated Press

New York’s attorney general is probing social media companies after the deadly shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., ramping up pressure on the companies to take action against violent content.  

Meanwhile, the state’s human rights watchdog filed a complaint against Amazon over allegations of discrimination against pregnant and disabled workers.    

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 Kagubare. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

NY probes tech companies over shooting 

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) is launching an investigation into the role social media companies played in connection with the deadly shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., her office announced Wednesday.  

The probe will focus on Twitch, 4chan, 8chan and Discord, but will not be limited to those platforms.  

“The terror attack in Buffalo has once again revealed the depths and danger of the online forums that spread and promote hate. The fact that an individual can post detailed plans to commit such an act of hate without consequence, and then stream it for the world to see is bone-chilling and unfathomable,” James said in a statement. 

“Time and time again, we have seen the real-world devastation that is borne of these dangerous and hateful platforms, and we are doing everything in our power to shine a spotlight on this alarming behavior and take action to ensure it never happens again,” she added.  

Read more here.  

Amazon draws Empire State scrutiny

New York state’s human rights watchdog filed a complaint against Amazon on Wednesday, accusing the e-commerce giant of discriminating against pregnant and disabled workers. 

“My administration will hold any employer accountable, regardless of how big or small, if they do not treat their workers with the dignity and respect they deserve,” Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said in statement.  

“New York has the strongest worker protections in the nation and was one of the first to have protections for workers who are pregnant and those with disabilities,” she added. 

The complaint alleges that Amazon, which employs nearly 40,000 New Yorkers, has not reasonably accommodated pregnant or disabled workers who may need their job duties to be modified. 

Read more here.  

NATO HOLDS FIRST-EVER CYBER MEETING AMID WAR 

Senior cyber coordinators from NATO held their first-ever meeting in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss the cyber threat landscape following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  

The coordinators also reviewed the progress they’ve made in cyber defense, including efforts to build resilience against cyber threats. 

“Today’s North Atlantic Council meeting of senior cyber coordinators was an important step along the path to NATO’s Summit in Madrid,” said NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană. 

“There is an urgent need to step up our approach to cyber defence, and this collective effort also means engaging with our partners, including in the private sector,” he added. 

Read more here

RUSSIAN GOOGLE SUBSIDIARY FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY 

Google’s subsidiary in Russia has filed for bankruptcy amid Moscow’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.  

A Google spokesperson confirmed the move to The Hill on Wednesday, saying authorities seizing the subsidiary’s bank accounts made their office unable to function. 

“We previously announced that we paused the vast majority of our commercial operations in Russia. The Russian authorities’ seizure of Google Russia’s bank account has made it untenable for our Russia office to function, including employing and paying Russia-based employees, paying suppliers and vendors, and meeting other financial obligations,” the Google spokesperson told The Hill. 

Read more here.  

Americans say Twitter was right on Trump 

In a new poll, just over half of U.S. voters said that Twitter was right to ban former President Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, though many said that Trump should be allowed back on the platform. 

In a Politico-Morning Consult poll released Wednesday, 53 percent of voters surveyed said Twitter made the right decision when banning the former president from the platform. However, 11 percent of those respondents said that it is time to end the ban. 

In contrast, 37 percent said that the ban was wrong and that Trump should be allowed on the platform. Eleven percent said they don’t know or don’t have an opinion. 

Read more about the poll.  

NEW LAWSUIT TARGETS APPLE’S AIRPODS  

The parents of a Texas child are suing Apple after they say an Amber Alert that played while the child was wearing AirPods damaged his ear.  

Carlos Gordoa and Ariani Reyes, the parents of the boy identified as “B.G.,” said their child was watching Netflix on his iPhone with AirPods connected at a “low volume” when the Amber Alert went off, according to their legal complaint.  

The volume of the alert “tore apart B.G.’s ear drum, damaged his cochlea and caused significant injuries to B.G’s hearing,” court documents alleged. 

The complaint added that the boy “suffered sudden and permanent hearing loss in his right ear” in addition to other injuries like dizziness, vertigo, nausea and tinnitus. 

Read more here.  

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: Democrats scramble for antitrust momentum as time runs out 

Lighter click: A for effort though 

Notable links from around the web

Elon Musk, notorious Twitter troll, is now trolling Twitter itself (The Washington Post / Elizabeth Dwoskin) 

Costa Ricans scrambled to pay taxes by hand after cyberattack took down country’s collection system (NBC / Kevin Collier) 

One more thing: US made progress in cybersecurity 

U.S. cyber officials testifying before a House subcommittee on Tuesday told lawmakers that they’ve made “significant progress” in improving and securing federal networks from cyber threats.  

Christopher DeRusha, the deputy national cyber director in the Executive Office of the President, said although officials are not yet at the level they’re aiming to be, they have implemented and prioritized on security measures that have the most impact on securing federal networks. 

“We’ve made significant progress on some security measures that have immediate impact like multi-factor authentication and encryption,” DeRusha said. 

Read more here

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.

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Author: Rebecca Klar