With help from John Hendel
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— The next frontier for fake IDs: Covid vaccination cards. As proof of immunization becomes a must-have for certain activities, state attorneys general are demanding tech platforms do more to stop sales of fraudulent certificates.
— Friday follow-up: The routine is becoming all too familiar — after a domestic attack of any kind, officials and journalists mine social media for answers. What did they find about the suspect in Friday’s fatal car attack at the Capitol?
— Privacy, meet national security: Bipartisan senators want conversations around federal privacy legislation to consider how so-called real-time bidding in online advertising could pose a national security threat.
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THE NEXT ITERATION OF COVID MISINFO: FAKE VACCINE CARDS — Attorneys general from nearly every state are raising alarm about one of the newest forms of false or misleading information related to Covid: fraudulent vaccine cards purporting to be proof of immunization from the CDC. Bipartisan members of the National Association of Attorneys General are calling on Twitter, eBay and Shopify to step up policing of blank or doctored cards being sold on their sites — which the coalition says is threatening public health, undermining response and recovery efforts, and violating state laws.
— ”We are asking you to take immediate action to prevent your platforms from being used as a vehicle to commit these fraudulent and deceptive acts that harm our communities,” the legal leaders, led by the AGs of North Carolina and Tennessee, wrote to the companies’ CEOs in a letter released publicly on Friday. That includes quickly taking down relevant ads or links and collecting and preserving information about bad actors, they said. The group asked Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, eBay’s Jamie Iannone and Shopify’s Tobias Lütke to let them know by Friday how they intend to address the issue, offering to meet virtually if necessary.
— Tech world responds: Shopify’s vice president of legal, Vivek Narayanadas, said selling Covid vaccine cards violates its policies. “We have been proactively monitoring our platform for the sale of COVID vaccine cards since February, and all stores that we identified for violating our policies were actioned swiftly,” he said. eBay also said it prohibits (and is “taking significant measures to block or quickly remove”) vaccine ID cards or similar items that could be used to falsely represent a person’s immunization status. Twitter spokesperson Trenton Kennedy confirmed the company had received the letter and that it intends to respond, emphasizing the platform’s removal of “more than 22,400 Tweets” under its Covid misinformation policy.
FACEBOOK CLUES IN THE CAPITOL ATTACK — It’s becoming an increasingly familiar routine: In the wake of deadly domestic attacks, authorities and journalists dig through a suspect’s social media posts for clues on potential motives or missed signs. Such scrutiny of internet activity has only grown since the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, which was inspired and organized largely online.
— The case of Noah Green — the suspect in Friday’s Capitol car attack that left one police officer dead and another seriously injured — was no different: His recent activity on Facebook described struggles with “some of the biggest, unimaginable tests in my life” and alluded to an apocalypse, according to NYT, which reported that his final post two weeks ago described a “divine warning” that these were the “last days of our world as we know it.” (The suspect was pronounced dead on Friday.)
IS DIGITAL ADVERTISING POSING A NATIONAL SECURITY RISK? — Bipartisan senators are raising new privacy concerns with tech and telecom giants: They fear that Americans’ data shared with foreign companies for online advertising purposes could become a national security issue. In question is a process called “real-time bidding” — an auction involving scores of companies that eventually helps serve up many of the ads we see across our devices. Lawmakers worry that beyond the one winner, the long list of companies operating or participating in these auctions are also collecting sensitive data about their target audiences (including cookies, IP addresses, demographic information, and browsing and location data).
— “Few Americans realize that some auction participants are siphoning off and storing ‘bidstream’ data to compile exhaustive dossiers about them. In turn, these dossiers are being openly sold to anyone with a credit card, including to hedge funds, political campaigns, and even to governments,” a group of senators, led by Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), wrote in letters to the CEOs of Google, Twitter, AT&T, Verizon and other firms. “This information would be a goldmine for foreign intelligence services that could exploit it to inform and supercharge hacking, blackmail, and influence campaigns.”
— They call on their colleagues to address these risks in looming congressional debates over federal privacy legislation. State-level action on privacy, including movement late last week in Washington state, is intensifying pressure for Congress to enact a national standard.
— Google spokesperson Julie Tarallo McAlister told MT that privacy is central to how the company’s ads services work. “We never sell people’s personal information and all ad buyers using our systems are subject to stringent policies and standards, including restrictions on the use and retention of information they receive,” she said. Twitter also confirmed receipt of the senators’ letter and that it intends to respond.
ROSENWORCEL DIALS UP 911 PRESSURE ON WIRELESS GIANTS — The FCC announced Friday that it’ll conduct an “inquiry” into whether wireless carriers are complying with agency requirements to supply more accurate intel about 911 callers’ location, which they were supposed to start doing as of this past Saturday (and would need to certify by June 2). Telecom giants AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile had earlier this year asked the FCC to waive these deadlines because of technical struggles during the pandemic and what they described as frustrations with third parties like handset manufacturers and operating system developers.
But acting FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel complained of “little progress” since the agency imposed rules in 2015. “I have consistently called on this agency to do more to ensure that our rules are delivering actionable information,” she said.
— The crux of the concern: Ensuring authorities know not only where a 911 caller is on the map, but also how high up they are — in other words, if you call 911 from a tall building, making sure first responders can tell what floor you’re on.
— Wireless trade group CTIA still refers to IDing this vertical location information as “the next challenge” for carriers. In a blog post last week, it hailed the presence of barometric pressure sensors in newer smartphones, which can yield that more precise location information, while noting that 911 call centers are continuing “to develop their technology to accept vertical locations.” AT&T, which detailed implementation roadblocks in its request for a waiver, said: “We have spent years and significant resources to improve 911 by providing public safety accurate latitude and longitude information to locate a caller’s address.”
Building the Biden administration: “President Joe Biden’s search for the Justice Department’s top trust-busting role is being bogged down by ethics concerns, both about candidates who have represented Silicon Valley’s giants and those who have represented critics of the big tech companies,” Leah Nylen reports on debates around potential appointees like Jonathan Kanter and Jonathan Sallet.
Pinterest is in talks to acquire VSCO.
John Krafcik is stepping down as CEO of Waymo; COO Tekedra Mawakana and CTO Dmitri Dolgov are becoming co-CEOs of the Alphabet-owned autonomous driving technology company, and Krafcik will stay on as an advisor. … Sunday was Shadawn Reddick-Smith’s last day as the longtime communications director for the House Judiciary Committee. … Richard Carranza, the former Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education who quit in February, was named chief of strategy and global development for Silicon Valley ed-tech company IXL Learning.
Chinese government’s questionable Facebook presence: “Facebook is blocked in China, but Beijing is a big user of the platform to spread its political views to hundreds of millions of people overseas,” WSJ reports. “Now, some Facebook staff are raising concerns … that the company is being used as a conduit for state propaganda, highlighting sponsored posts from Chinese organizations that purport to show Muslim ethnic minority Uyghurs thriving.”
Trending: Parents bullying or shaming their kids on TikTok. “Joke or no joke, child-punishment videos are a growing genre online, and child-safety experts say it’s not OK,” WSJ reports.
U.K. vs. Facebook encryption: “The UK is planning a new attack on end-to-end encryption,” WIRED reports, “with the Home Office set to spearhead efforts designed to discourage Facebook from further rolling out the technology to its messaging apps.”
Tech world wavers on return-to-work: Microsoft is delaying the full reopening of its offices from July until after Labor Day at the earliest, The Verge reports.
Opinion: “Why Silicon Valley’s most astute critics are all women,” via John Naughton in The Guardian.
ICYMI: “California regulators released a first-of-its-kind proposal [last] week to require ride-hailing companies to slash their greenhouse gas emissions and encourage drivers to switch to electric vehicles,” POLITICO reports.
Tips, comments, suggestions? Send them along via email to our team: Bob King ([email protected], @bkingdc), Heidi Vogt ([email protected], @HeidiVogt), John Hendel ([email protected], @JohnHendel), Cristiano Lima ([email protected], @viaCristiano), Alexandra S. Levine ([email protected], @Ali_Lev), and Leah Nylen ([email protected], @leah_nylen).