Hillicon Valley: Trump tech chief criticizes China over surveillance | Google rethinking policy on political ads | T-Mobile previews post-merger plans | Bill Gates visits Capitol to talk climate change

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TRUMP OFFICAL TALKS CHINA THREATS: President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump encounters GOP resistance to investigating Hunter Biden Trump’s 2016 team sounds alarm as Democrats make gains Whistleblower lawyer sends cease and desist to White House over Trump’s attacks MORE‘s newly appointed Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios on Thursday criticized Chinese surveillance and censorship in his first major international remarks, ramping up the Trump administration’s intensifying battle to beat out China’s fast-growing tech industry.

Kratsios, who was confirmed as the White House’s top tech adviser in August, spent the bulk of a keynote speech in Portugal urging Europe and the U.S. to “embrace innovation and defend our free system against our adversaries.”

“If we don’t act now, Chinese influence and control of technology will not only undermine the freedoms of their own citizens, but all citizens of the world,” Kratsios said, naming China’s widespread surveillance of its citizens and censorship of online content as examples of its “authoritarian” approach to technology.

“The Chinese government has built an advanced authoritarian state by twisting technology to put censorship over free expression and citizen control over empowerment,” Kratsios, who has been serving at the helm of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy since 2017, said. 

Read more here.


GOOGLE WEIGHS IN: Google is considering changing its political ad policy, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal. The move comes just one week after Facebook and Twitter discussed their future handling of political ads.

Sources told the Journal that Google has been conducting internal meetings and plans to share information with its employees this week. The specifics and the timeline for the changes are unclear at this time.

Several Google employees suggested to the newspaper the adjustments may involve restrictions on what audiences ad buyers can target.

The Hill has reached out to Google for comment.

Last week, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that the social media platform would no longer accept political advertising. His announcement followed contentious congressional testimony from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg when he defended his company’s policy to not fact-check political ads.

Read more here. 


A CAPITAL JOB: The top Capital One security officer is moving to a new role in the wake of the bank’s data breach, a spokesperson confirmed to The Hill.

The bank on Thursday announced to employees that Chief Information Security Officer Michael Johnson will take on the role of senior vice president and special adviser to cybersecurity to focus on the bank’s response to the hack. Capital One will launch an external search for his replacement, the spokesperson said.

Capital One announced that Mike Eason, the chief information officer at its commercial bank, will take over in the interim.

The reshuffling comes in the months after the bank revealed that a hacker retained access to the data of existing customers and those who had applied for credit cards, with The Wall Street Journal reporting that approximately 106 million people were affected. An outside researcher tipped off Capital One 127 days after the hacker first tried to breach the company.

Since then, at least a dozen cybersecurity employees have left, alleging that Johnson and others did not address reported concerns about the bank’s cybersecurity, according to the Journal.

Read more here. 


T-MOBILE PREVIEWS MERGED FUTURE: T-Mobile on Thursday previewed a set of new offerings that will become available if the wireless provider’s merger with Sprint overcomes its final legal hurdle.

The announcements came two days after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) formally approved the merger of the country’s third- and fourth-largest U.S. wireless providers.

The deal is still facing a roadblock as a group of 17 state attorneys general forge ahead in their lawsuit to prevent it. 

T-Mobile CEO John Legere laid out several new programs and commitments that the company will offer if that lawsuit is resolved.

The Connecting Heroes Initiative would give free unlimited talk, text and 5G internet for law enforcement, fire and EMS services.

Project 10million, meanwhile, would aim to close the “homework gap” by investing $10 billion in providing free internet to 10 million households

The carrier also introduced its cheapest plan to date: $15 per month for unlimited talk, text and 2GB of data.

Read more here.


SPOTTED AT THE CAPITOL – BILL GATES: Microsoft founder Bill Gates was spotted in the Capitol Thursday, planning to meet with leaders of the newly formed Senate Climate Solutions Caucus.

Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsBill Gates visits Capitol to discuss climate change with new Senate caucus The Memo: ISIS leader’s death is no game-changer for Trump TYT’s Cenk Uygur rips Dems condemning Trump ‘lock him up’ chant: ‘Most feckless party’ ever MORE (D-Del.), one of the founders of the caucus, called Gates “one of the most significant innovators, entrepreneurs and business leaders of the last 50 years and who is a major player in climate change and global development and poverty issues.”

The caucus, announced last month, has already added six new members and had its first meeting with several CEOs on Tuesday to discuss federal climate policy.

Coons said the meeting has no agenda, but he’s interested to hear Gates’s thoughts on what the country should be investing in and “what he thinks are promising technologies that could contribute to battling climate change.” 

Read more here.


WAIT A MINUTE MR. DRONE: UPS made history last week after it used a drone for the first time to deliver prescription drugs.

The company partnered with CVS to deliver drugs to two customers’ homes in Cary, N.C., using the M2 drone system by UPS partner and drone systems developer Matternet. UPS and CVS plan to use more drones for deliveries in the coming months “to bring to market the speed and convenience advantages” of the tools.

“This drone delivery, the first of its kind in the industry, demonstrates what’s possible for our customers who can’t easily make it into our stores,” Kevin Hourican, president of CVS Pharmacy, said in a statement Tuesday.

“CVS is exploring many types of delivery options for urban, suburban and rural markets. We see big potential in drone delivery in rural communities where life-saving medications are needed and consumers at times cannot conveniently access one of our stores.” 

Read more here. 


A LIGHTER CLICK: It’s the same culprits every time


AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: NASA trip to Pluto won’t determine its planet status



In 2020, some Americans will vote on their phones. Is that the future? (NPR) 

Amazon’s efforts to influence Seattle’s City Council election fall short (Recode/Vox)

A flaw in Amazon’s Ring doorbells leaked customers’ Wi-Fi credentials (CyberScoop) 

The financial industry just finished its annual ‘doomsday’ cybersecurity exercise – here is what they imagined would happen (CNBC) 

Obama’s former cybersecurity advisor thinks lawmakers are right to treat TikTok as a security threat (Business Insider)

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