The Hill, Greg Nash

The long wait to complete the Democratic majority on the Federal Trade Commission ended Wednesday with the Senate voting along party lines to confirm privacy expert Alvaro Bedoya to the fifth and final seat.

Meanwhile, U.S. federal agencies and a number of international partners issued a joint advisory on the best cybersecurity practices for managed service providers to protect their customers and secure sensitive data. 

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.

Senate votes for Biden’s FTC nominee 

The Senate voted along party lines Wednesday to confirm Alvaro Bedoya, President Biden’s nominee to fill the fifth seat on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), with Vice President Harris casting the tie-breaking 51st vote. 

“With the FTC at full membership, this important agency will be empowered to drive full steam ahead in cracking down on bad actor companies who are using anticompetitive practices, inflation, and price manipulation to bilk consumers and drive up profits,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. 

Bedoya’s confirmation will break a 2-2 deadlock that has limited the FTC since the beginning of Biden’s term. 

Read more here

Feds warn third-party firms of cyber threats 

U.S. federal agencies and a number of international partners issuedjoint advisory on Wednesday on the best cybersecurity practices for managed service providers to protect their customers and secure sensitive data. 

The agencies said they expect malicious cyber actors to increase their targeting of managed service providers, third-party companies that remotely manage and update information technology systems and provide technical support to clients.  

The advisory provided several steps that organizations can take to minimize the risks of falling victim to malicious cyber activity. The recommendations include securing remote access applications, enforcing multifactor authentication, and developing and exercising incident response and recovery plans. 

Read more here

ZOOM ASKED TO STOP ANALYZING PARTICIPANT’S EMOTIONS 

A group of nearly 30 civil society groups sent a letter to Zoom Wednesday calling on the company to halt the development of any software aimed at analyzing the emotions of video call participants. 

The letter comes in response to a report in the tech publication Protocol where Zoom said it is planning to offer post-meeting sentiment analysis for hosts. 

“This move to mine users for emotional data points based on the false idea that AI can track and analyze human emotions is a violation of privacy and human rights,” the groups, including Fight for the Future, the American Civil Liberties Union and Ranking Digital Rights, wrote. 

Read more here

VIRTUAL EVENT INVITE

The Hill’s Mental Health Summit, Tuesday, May 17 at 1 p.m. ET

The pandemic and its toll on the mental health of Americans is often described as a “dual crisis.” What is being done to address the mental health crisis in our country? During Mental Health Awareness Month, The Hill hosts a discussion on policy recommendations that promote prevention and care for Americans experiencing mental illness. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), National Institute of Mental Health Director Dr. Joshua Gordon, Headspace CEO Russ Glass and more. RSVP today.

Minority mayors face higher online risk of violence 

Female mayors and mayors of colorreported higher rates of political violence directed at them both online and in person compared to their male and non-Hispanic white peers in 2021, according to a study released Wednesday.  

The survey found widespread reports of psychological violence directed at mayors across the board. Nearly 95 percent of participants reported experiencing psychological violence, defined as an act likely to harm the psychological well-being of individuals by inducing fear or harm to their sense of self-worth or well-being, at least once. 

But in addition to reporting higher levels of harassment, female mayors and mayors of color were also more likely to report certain types of attacks and threats. Threats against female mayors were more likely to target their gender and be sexual in nature, the report found, while mayors of color were more likely to be criticized based on their race. 

Read more here

GOP LAWMAKERS CONSIDER MONITORING SOCIAL MEDIA 

Republican state legislators across the country are eyeing new restrictions on the type of content that major social media companies can police. 

In the absence of federal action on tech reforms, the state-level proposals are leaving industry experts worried about a patchwork of regulations and a flood of litigation. 

Legislators in at least 18 states have considered bills that would impose penalties for censorship or content limits based on ideological viewpoints. The specifics vary, but many of the proposals would allow users who believe their views have been censored or silenced to bring lawsuits in state courts. 

Read more here

VIRTUAL CASINO RECEIVES CEASE-AND-DESIST ORDER 

Multiple state securities regulators on Wednesday filed simultaneous emergency orders against Flamingo Casino Club, a virtual casino operation accused of defrauding U.S. citizens. 

The simultaneous filings, which came from agencies in Alabama, Kentucky, New Jersey, Wisconsin and Texas, accuse the Flamingo Casino Club of starting operations in Russia in March 2022 and “fraudulently soliciting” NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which use blockchain technology to create “unique” versions of digital objects. 

Those NFTs “purportedly convey ownership of a metaverse casino and the right to share in the profits of the metaverse casino,” the regulators said in a release

Read more here

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: A nuclear Iran could create a Middle East nightmare 

Lighter click: DC metro you can do better 

Notable links from around the web

San Francisco Police Are Using Driverless Cars as Mobile Surveillance Cameras (Motherboard / Aaron Gordon) 

Ukraine war: Don’t underestimate Russia cyber-threat, warns US (BBC / Gordon Corera) 

UK pledges to back Sweden and Finland against Russian threats (The Guardian / Peter Walker) 

One more thing: Dorsey weighs in on Twitter bans

Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said he does not believe there should be permanent bans on the platform, with limited exceptions, after Elon Musk said Tuesday he would reverse Twitter’s ban of former President Trump following the completion of his acquisition. 

“Musk says @jack agrees with him that there shouldn’t be permanent bans on individual Twitter users. Reminder that Dorsey was CEO when such bans were implemented,” Dan Primack, Axios business editor, tweeted on Tuesday

Dorsey responded in his own tweet, writing, “I do agree. There are exceptions (CSE, illegal behaviour, spam or network manipulation, etc), but generally permanent bans are a failure of ours and don’t work, which I wrote about here after the event (and called for a resilient social media protocol).” 

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.

VIEW FULL VERSION HERE

Tags Alvaro Bedoya Biden Harris

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.