With help from John Hendel and Clothilde Goujard
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— Blockbuster: Lawmakers are prepping for another Facebook beatdown today. This time, they’ll get to talk to the whistleblower.
— Let the games begin: Wireless carriers will compete for precious airwaves today, when the bidding process for the sale of new 5G spectrum opens.
— Quantum quandary: The post-quantum cryptography landscape is coming, the government warned Monday. Here’s what organizations need to do.
IT’S TUESDAY, OCT. 5. WELCOME TO MORNING TECH. I’m your host, Benjamin Din. Remember this scene from 2010’s “The Social Network”? “Let me tell you the difference between Facebook and everybody else: We don’t crash — ever. If the servers are down for even a day, our entire reputation is irreversibly destroyed!” (About that…)
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FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER ON THE HILL — Frances Haugen revealed her identity Sunday night, kicking off what so far has proven a horrible week for Facebook. This morning, she’ll testify before lawmakers about her experience working at the social media juggernaut, where she focused on combating election interference and misinformation.
Her appearance before the Senate Commerce consumer protection panel hearing follows that same panel’s session last week with Facebook global head of safety Antigone Davis, spurred by The Wall Street Journal’s reporting on Facebook’s internal research into the impacts of Instagram on teenage girls (leaked by Haugen). Haugen also filed whistleblower complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission, alleging that Facebook had misled investors through SEC filings, congressional testimony, online posts and media coverage. (CBS’ “60 Minutes” published some of those complaints.)
— Where lawmakers stand: Many of the panel’s members left no mystery about what they think of Haugen’s revelations: “Big tech companies have gotten away with abusing consumers for far too long,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), the panel’s ranking member, told MT in a statement. “It is clear that Facebook prioritizes profit over the well-being of our children.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said in a statement that she plans to ask Haugen “about why Facebook hasn’t taken action to fix problems on its platforms, even when its own internal research reflects massive problems.” She also hopes to cover how Facebook’s algorithms promote polarizing content, how the company profits off of children and Facebook’s responsibility in the Jan. 6 insurrection.
House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) echoed that last point on Twitter, saying the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack “will need to hear from [Haugen], and get internal info from Facebook to flesh out their role.”. (Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, told CNN on Sunday that it’s “ludicrous” to hold the company responsible for the assault on the Capitol — despite evidence that people involved in the attack had used social media platforms, including Facebook, to plan and promote it.)
One possible bright spot for Facebook: It’s dealt with an angry Congress before. Whether anything will come of lawmakers’ wrath this time is an open question.
— Transatlantic attention: Haugen has been engaging with lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic, and she’s slated to appear before the U.K. Parliament later this month. EU lawmakers are working on an invitation for Haugen to testify before the European Parliament, which is working on a flagship content moderation bill known as the Digital Services Act.
— Distraction of the day: Facebook’s worldwide outage on Monday — unusual for lasting roughly six hours — shut down its flagship platform along with Instagram and WhatsApp, cutting off communications for its billions of users worldwide. It spawned memes and jokes, but it also prompted new calls from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to “break them up.” An apology came late Monday from Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer, who said on Twitter, “To every small and large business, family, and individual who depends on us, I’m sorry.” A Facebook blog post said the company believed “a faulty configuration change” was to blame, and there was “no evidence that user data was compromised.”
TODAY: LET THE BIDDING BEGIN — Wireless carriers will today have their shot at snagging licenses for a prime swath of 5G airwaves now used by the Pentagon known as the “mid-band.” AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are among the 33 bidders who qualified to participate, per an FCC tally.
Analysts expect the sale will raise a healthy amount of revenue, if not quite the eye-popping $80 billion brought in by last year’s auction of 280 MHz of C-band spectrum. New Street Research predicts the auction launching today will raise about $25 billion and that AT&T, T-Mobile and Dish Network will emerge the big winners. LightShed Partners estimates a total of more than $30 billion. Absent congressional direction, this money will go to the U.S. Treasury to pay down debt.
— Stakes for the Biden administration: Although Trump-era officials locked down the agreement to hold the auction last year, if it goes well, that’ll boost the legacies of acting FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel, as well as top Biden officials like Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who recently touted the sale as a priority.
— One head-turner: Although many policymakers herald the FCC model of auctioning airwave licenses like this, we’ve seen tussling over whether there are better alternatives. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Rivada Networks, for instance, have suggested that the Pentagon dole out its 5G-friendly airwaves via a third-party wholesaler. Paul Wolfowitz, a deputy Defense secretary under George W. Bush, penned an op-ed backing that idea and suggesting the White House “intervene” to stop today’s sale (former FCC Chair Ajit Pai didn’t hide his exasperation).
— What’s on deck next: Federal officials are discussing how to share the Pentagon’s airwaves in the 3.1-3.45 GHz band next, another prime chunk, although the details haven’t been sorted out. “That’s going to be a huge lift,” DoD spectrum official Vernita Harris said last month. A Wednesday House Energy and Commerce hearing will review the Spectrum Innovation Act from Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), which proposes a flexible framework for getting these airwaves to commercial use.
TAKING A QUANTUM LEAP — Organizations need to start preparing as the world transitions to a new era of cryptography, the Department of Homeland Security warned Monday, sounding the latest alarm about advances in quantum computing technology.
“As this technology advances over the next decade, it is expected to break some encryption methods that are widely used to protect customer data, complete business transactions, and secure communications,” DHS said in its guidance, a follow-up to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ March announcement on cybersecurity resilience. Although experts disagree on the timeline for when this will happen, malicious parties can collect encrypted data now and decrypt it when the technology is ready.
— What to do: The DHS guidance, produced in partnership with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, calls on organizations to take action now so they aren’t caught by surprise. (NIST is working on a post-quantum cryptography standard, although it is not expected to be completed until 2024.) It said organizations should focus on steps such as taking stock of their cryptographic systems and identifying what data will be vulnerable to quantum attacks.
— Echoing concerns: In June, the IBM Policy Lab also warned of the looming threat posed by quantum computing technology in the hands of bad actors, especially to critical infrastructure like power grids and highways. It called for widespread adoption of quantum-safe cryptography, and for government agencies to be early adopters.
CALENDAR UPDATE — Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr is one of the witnesses slated to testify before the Senate Commerce communications panel on Thursday regarding the state of telehealth. Carr will be the first sitting FCC commissioner to testify on the Hill in more than a year.
President Joe Biden has tapped Jed Kolko, chief economist for job-hiring website Indeed, to be under secretary of Commerce for economic affairs. He was previously a researcher for the Public Policy Institute of California.
Carrianna Suiter Kuruvilla is joining DoorDash as head of federal government relations. She spent nearly eight years at the Obama-era Department of Labor in roles including deputy director and director of legislative affairs. … Ashkan Soltani has joined the California Privacy Protection Agency as executive director. Soltani is a former FTC CTO and was an architect of the California Consumer Privacy Act and the California Privacy Rights Act, which created the state’s privacy agency. … Stacia Cardille has left Twitter, after serving as director and associate general counsel for the company’s global policy legal team. She was associate counsel to President Barack Obama and Democratic chief counsel for the House E&C and Homeland Security committees. She was also a senior legal adviser at the Energy Department.
Christianné Allen is now deputy to the SVP of global engagement at GETTR, the new social media app launched by Jason Miller, per Playbook. She most recently worked for Rudy Giuliani as comms director at Giuliani Communications. … Caitlin Fennessy has been appointed the International Association of Privacy Professionals’ VP and chief knowledge officer. She was previously IAPP research director. Fennessy was Privacy Shield director at the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration and is an OMB and Senate alum. She replaces Omer Tene, who is leaving after eight years to join law firm Goodwin as a partner. Tene will still be involved as a senior research fellow. … Kim Gaedeke joins Notarize as AVP, head of government affairs.
FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington announced changes to his staff: Marco Peraza is joining his office as wireline adviser, replacing Carolyn Roddy, who will join the International Bureau. Erin Boone will become his chief of staff, while continuing in her position as his wireless adviser. … Rosenworcel announced the agenda for the FCC’s October open meeting.
Snap has announced a “Run for Office” tool, which will help Snapchat users explore opportunities to vie in elections in their communities. It will also partner with Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement to better understand what factors prevent young people from running for office and help support the next generation in doing so. … CLEAR announced that its Health Pass is now integrable with Apple’s Health app.
Under the radar: “Google, AWS, Microsoft Quietly Use 3rd Parties to Work With ICE, CBP,” Insider reports.
Opinion: The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., tasked with scrutinizing deals between parties here and abroad to ensure they don’t jeopardize American national security, is rife with transparency and accountability problems, former CFIUS official Stephen Heifetz writes in Protocol.
Keyboard warrants: “Government Secretly Orders Google To Identify Anyone Who Has Searched A Name, Address And Telephone Number,” via Forbes.
The numbers are in: Fifty-one percent of Americans don’t trust social media brands like Facebook or Twitter “much” or “at all,” Morning Consult’s “Trust in Tech” report found, while 64 percent said they trusted tech product brands like Apple and Google “some” or “a lot.”
Just say no: “Supreme Court denies Oracle appeal over JEDI protest,” via FedScoop.
Let’s work together: Senate Intelligence Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.) urged Secretary of State Antony Blinken to increase international collaboration on emerging tech issues at today’s ministerial meeting hosted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
ICYMI: “Ireland prepares to join global corporate tax deal,” POLITICO’s Bjarke Smith-Meyer reports.
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