Hillicon Valley: House panel says Intelligence Community not equipped to address Chinese threats

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a person sitting at a table in front of a sign: Hillicon Valley: House panel says Intelligence Community not equipped to address Chinese threats | House approves bill to send cyber resources to state, local governments

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Hillicon Valley: House panel says Intelligence Community not equipped to address Chinese threats | House approves bill to send cyber resources to state, local governments

Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech reporter, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills), for more coverage.

THE IC GETS A LESS THAN STELLAR REVIEW: A House committee warned Wednesday that the U.S. intelligence community is not equipped to handle evolving threats from China in the fields of technology and politics.

The House Intelligence Committee detailed its findings in an unclassified summary of a report, approved for release by the panel by voice vote, that delves into the intelligence community’s (IC) capabilities to respond to Chinese threats.

“The United States’ intelligence community has not sufficiently adapted to a changing geopolitical and technological environment increasingly shaped by a rising China and the growing importance of interlocking non-military transnational threats, such as global health, economic security, and climate change,” the committee wrote in its summary.

“Absent a significant realignment of resources, the U.S. government and intelligence community will fail to achieve the outcomes required to enable continued U.S. competition with China on the global stage for decades to come, and to protect the U.S. health and security,” the committee added.

The report said the IC places “insufficient emphasis and focus” on “soft threats,” such as viral pandemics and climate change, and that if the IC did not modernize systems to increase focus on machine learning and artificial intelligence, national security could be undermined.

On the technological front, “China’s continued advancements in cyber and space-based systems also introduce the likelihood of entirely new domains of conflict in the event of a contingency,” which could serve to “extend the battlefield to our political discourse, mobile devices, and the very infrastructure that modern digital communication and communities rely upon,” the lawmakers wrote.

Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) acknowledged the shortcomings laid bare by the report, saying in a statement that “our nation’s intelligence agencies have a lot of work to do to fully address the challenge posed by China.”

Read more here.

MORE CHINA CONCERNS: The House GOP’s China task force unveiled its full report laying out hundreds of recommendations and legislative suggestions to combat threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party on Wednesday.

The report includes more than 400 policy recommendations to address issues ranging from national security concerns, human rights violations, problems with the supply chain, Beijing’s missteps in its handling of the pandemic and China’s overall expanding influence on the world stage.

The task force – which is made up of 15 GOP lawmakers who sit on 11 different committees – was initially slated to be bipartisan before Democrats ultimately opted out before its launch in May.

Read more here.

DRIVERS TO GET MINIMUM WAGE: Seattle’s City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a minimum pay standard for rideshare drivers.

Starting in January, companies like Uber and Lyft will be required to pay drivers an amount roughly equivalent to the city’s $16 minimum wage for large businesses.

“The pandemic has exposed the fault lines in our systems of worker protections, leaving many front line workers like gig workers without a safety net,” Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) said in a statement. “It is more important than ever that we add to the economic resilience of our community of drivers.”

The law sets per minute and per mile rates designed to fairly compensate drivers when they’re less busy. The figures were developed in collaboration with economists James Parrott from The New School and Michael Reich of the University of California Berkeley, who conducted an independent analysis of Uber and Lyft rates in Seattle.

Their research, published in July, found that after accounting for expenses, drivers were making just $9.73 an hour. The rates calculated in the study are intended to lead to hourly pay around $28.19 before expenses.

When the law takes effect, Seattle will become the second city to have set a minimum pay for Uber and Lyft drivers. New York City passed a similar law in 2018, which Parrott and Reich were also involved in developing.

Read more here.

CYBER RESOURCES ARE (MAYBE) ON THEIR WAY: The House on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation that would send cybersecurity resources to state and local governments, which have been increasingly targeted by hackers during the past two years.

The State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act, which has bipartisan support, would create a $400 million grant program at the Department of Homeland Security to provide financial resources for state and local governments to defend against and respond to cyberattacks.

The bill would also require DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to develop a strategy to shore up the cybersecurity of state, local, territorial and tribal governments.

The bill now moves to the Senate, where timing on a vote is unclear.

The legislation is sponsored by Reps. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) and Lauren Underwood, the former and current chairs of the House Homeland Security Committee’s cybersecurity subcommittee, and John Katko (R-N.Y.), the ranking member of the subcommittee.

Other sponsors include House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) and a dozen other members from both parties.

Richmond pointed to cyberattacks on city governments in Atlanta and New York, along with networks in his district in Louisiana, in calling for the defense of state and local networks.

“For too long, the Federal Government has ignored a growing national security problem – vulnerable state and local networks,” Richmond said in a statement.

Read more here.

DEEPFAKE CAMPAIGN: Several celebrities shared a new advertising campaign that uses manipulated “deepfake” videos of Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to suggest the greatest threat to democracy is voter suppression rather than foreign interference and the domestic spread of misinformation.

The anti-corruption nonprofit RepresentUs created the ads with creative agency Mischief @ No Fixed Address, with numerous celebrities, including Amy Schumer, Sia and director Adam McKay, who all promoted the campaign on social media.

“America, you blame me for interfering with your democracy, but I don’t have to,” one of the videos says, attributing the words to Putin. “Polling stations are closing, you don’t know who to trust, you are divided. There are strings we can pull, but we don’t have to. You are pulling them for us.”

Read more here.

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