Hillicon Valley — Presented by Ericsson — Biden to push tech accountability in speech | TheHill – The Hill

Today is Tuesday. Welcome to Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

Follow The Hill’s tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@millsrodrigo) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), and cyber reporter Ines Kagubare (@ineskagubare) for more coverage.

President BidenJoe Biden Defense & National Security​ — Biden sends new warning to China Energy & Environment — Interior to continue oil leasing plans Health Care — Fauci warns of cases rising again MORE will call for greater regulation around kids’ safety online during his first State of the Union address tonight. It’s a topic that has been unifying lawmakers on Capitol Hill in recent months.

Meanwhile, social media companies continue to roll out policies restricting access to Russian state-controlled media amid Moscow’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Let’s jump into the news.

Biden to take on tech 

President Biden will outline a plan to tackle the mental health crisis during his first State of the Union address on Tuesday, which will focus heavily on holding social media companies accountable for their role in it.  

The Biden administration argues that the mental health crisis among young people is “accentuated by large social media platforms, which for years have been conducting a national experiment on our children and using their data to keep them clicking—with enormous consequences,” according to senior administration officials.

In the address, Biden will call on Congress to strengthen privacy protections, ban targeted advertising to children and demand that technology companies stop collecting personal data on children. 

“The evidence is mounting that social media plays a systemic role in worsening the mental health of countless young people,” senior administration officials said. 

The strategy to address the mental health crisis is part of an overall “unity agenda” that the president will outline in the State of the Union. 

Read more here.

Tech targets Russian state-controlled media 

Multiple tech giants including Apple, Google’s YouTube and Meta have announced measures aimed at taking on Russian state-controlled media.

Meta’s update: Meta will demote posts from Russian state-controlled media accounts or linking to the outlets across Facebook and Instagram globally, executives said Tuesday.

The tech giant will make content from the pages “harder to find” across its platforms in response to growing calls from global leaders to limit access to the Russian state-controlled outlets as the nation pushes forward with its invasion of Ukraine. 

The platforms will also begin to “label these links” and “provide more information to people before they share them or click on them to let them know that they lead to state-controlled media websites,” Meta Vice President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg told reporters. 

The update comes one day after Facebook said it would restrict access to Russian state-controlled media in the European Union (EU). Read more about Meta’s update.

YouTube joins: YouTube is banning some Russian state media outlets in Europe in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

YouTube said on Tuesday that RT and Sputnik would be banned immediately from its platform. 

“It’ll take time for our systems to fully ramp up. Our teams continue to monitor the situation around the clock to take swift action,” a YouTube spokesperson stated. Read more about YouTube’s ban.

Apple’s approach: The Apple App Store has also blocked downloads of Russian state media sources RT News and Sputnik outside of Russia. 

The tech giant is halting the sales of all products in Russia amid the country’s invasion of Ukraine, a company spokesperson told The Hill Tuesday. 

“We are deeply concerned about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and stand with all of the people who are suffering as a result of the violence,” they said in a statement.  Read more about Apple’s announcement.

A MESSAGE FROM ERICSSON

RUSSIA’S PUSH

Russian officials said that the major U.S. tech companies Meta and Google should be held responsible for “inciting war” amid its ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry suggested on Tuesday that a system should be created to hold Western tech companies accountable for “inciting war.”

Google and Meta are among the few tech companies that are facing possible restrictive measures in Russia after failing to open offices and apply other measures that are required by the country’s communication law, according to Reuters. 

Russia’s state communications agency also demanded tech companies stop discriminating against Russian media in Europe, according to the report. 

Read more here.

TWITTER SUSPENDS SENATE CANDIDATE

Twitter temporarily suspended a Missouri U.S. Senate candidate’s account Monday for violating the platform’s policy against hateful conduct. 

The violative post from Rep. Vicky HartzlerVicky Jo HartzlerUkraine conflict a boon for defense industry Hillicon Valley — Presented by Ericsson — Biden to push tech accountability in speech Biden, lawmakers wear blue and yellow in support of Ukraine MORE (R-Mo.) claimed that “Women’s sports are for women, not men pretending to be women,” and included a link to an ad targeting trans University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas.

Twitter’s hateful conduct policy bars harassing or promoting violence against any group or individuals based on identity, including gender and sexual orientation. 

“This includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals,” a spokesperson for the platform told The Hill. 

“The account owner will need to delete the violative Tweet and spend 12 hours in read-only mode before regaining full access to their account,” they added. 

Read more here.  

Microsoft acquisition draws consumer focus

Fifteen labor and consumer rights groups sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Tuesday, urging the agency to investigate Microsoft’s pending acquisition of top gaming company Activision-Blizzard. 

The organizations, including Communication Workers of America and the Center for Digital Democracy, said the merger poses anticompetitive concerns in the booming gaming industry. 

“If the FTC clears this merger, Microsoft will become the third largest gaming company in the world,” the letter reads. “The gaming industry, as the commission is aware, has now outstripped revenues from the global film and US sports business combined. The proposed merger fits an alarming pattern of concentration in the gaming industry over the past several years.” 

Read more here.  

BITS AND PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: America’s competitive edge is shrinking — Congress can reverse the trend 

Lighter click: The best spy 

Notable links from around the web

How Marjorie Taylor GreeneMarjorie Taylor GreeneGOP efforts to downplay danger of Capitol riot increase The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene says she’s meeting with Trump ‘soon’ in Florida MORE and Nick Fuentes Are Easing White Power into the GOP Mainstream (MotherJones / Ali Breland) 

How Ukrainians have used social media to humiliate the Russians and rally the world (The Washington Post / Drew Harwell and Rachel Lerman) 

Russia’s war in Ukraine is raising cyber risks worldwide (Protocol / Ben Brody) 

Secretive Algorithm Will Now Determine Uber Driver Pay in Many Cities (The Markup / Dara Kerr) 

A MESSAGE FROM ERICSSON

One last thing: Tech CEO’s son dies at 26

Microsoft Corp. Executive Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella’s son has died at the age of 26. 

A spokesperson for the company told The Hill on Monday that Zain Nadella, who was born with cerebral palsy, had died. 

“Very sadly Satya’s son Zain Nadella has passed away. The Nadellas are taking time to grieve privately as a family,” the spokesperson said. 

In his book “Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone,” released in September 2017, Nadella credited his three children, including Zain, with “softening his outlook on both work and life,” according to The Wall Street Journal. 

Nadella has also been supportive of efforts by Microsoft to make products for individuals with disabilities. He applauded a prototype presented by a group of employees in 2015 that gamers with disabilities could use, according to the Journal. 

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 Wednesday.

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