Elizabeth Dwoskin

Federal investigators broaden focus on Facebook’s role in sharing data with Cambridge Analytica, examining statements of tech giant

Apparently, a federal investigation into Facebook’s sharing of data with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica has broadened to focus on the actions and statements of the tech giant and involves three agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission. Representatives for the FBI, the SEC and the Federal Trade Commission have joined the Justice Department in its inquiries about the two companies and the sharing of personal information of 71 million Americans, suggesting the wide-ranging nature of the investigation, apparently.

Tech didn’t spot Russian interference during the last election. Now it’s asking law enforcement for help.

Silicon Valley companies and law enforcement are starting to talk about how to ward off meddling by malicious actors including Russia on social media in the November midterms, an attempt at dialogue and information-sharing that was absent during the 2016 presidential elections.

Mark Zuckerberg was grilled. Silicon Valley took it personally.

The tech industry’s engineers and entrepreneurs saw the Facebook hearings as more than just the grilling of one of its stars.  To them, the congressional criticism against Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg felt like a referendum on the industry itself and on the social network’s growth-at-any-cost playbook that hundreds of start-ups have sought to emulate over the last decade — and that some have turned against.

Why Facebook users’ data obtained by Cambridge Analytica has probably spun far out of reach

The data on millions of Facebook users that a firm wrongfully swiped from the social network probably has spread to other groups, databases and the dark Web, experts said, making Facebook’s pledge to safeguard its users’ privacyhard to enforce. Paul-Olivier Dehaye, a privacy expert and co-founder of PersonalData.IO suspects the data has already proliferated far beyond Cambridge Analytica’s reach. “It is the whole nature of this ecosystem,” Dehaye said. “This data travels.

Russian ads, now publicly released, show sophistication of influence campaign

Lawmakers on Nov 1 released a trove of ads that Russian operatives bought on Facebook, providing the fullest picture yet of how foreign actors sought to promote Republican Donald Trump, denigrate Democrat Hillary Clinton and divide Americans over some of the nation’s most sensitive social issues. The ads that emerged, a sampling of the 3,000 that Russians bought during the 2016 presidential campaign and its aftermath, demonstrated in words and images a striking ability to mimic American political discourse at its most fractious.

Nations race to contain widespread hacking

Officials in nearly 100 countries raced May 13 to contain one of the biggest cybersecurity attacks in recent history, as British doctors were forced to cancel operations, Chinese students were blocked from accessing their graduation theses, and passengers at train stations in Germany were greeted by hacked arrival and departure screens.

Companies and organizations around the world potentially faced substantial costs after hackers threatened to keep computers disabled unless victims paid $300 or more in ransom, the latest and most brazen in a type of cyberattack known as “ransomware.” The malware hit Britain’s beloved but creaky National Health Service particularly hard, causing widespread disruptions and interrupting medical procedures across hospitals in England and Scotland. The government said that 48 of the NHS’s 248 organizations were affected, but by Saturday evening all but six were back to normal. The attack was notable because it took advantage of a security flaw in Microsoft software found by the National Security Agency for its surveillance tool kit. Files detailing the capability were leaked online in April 2017, though after Microsoft, alerted by the NSA to the vulnerability, had sent updates to computers to patch the hole. Still, countless systems were left vulnerable, either because system administrators failed to apply the patch or because they used outdated software.

Uber faces DOJ criminal probe over the secret 'Greyball' tool it used to stymie regulators

Apparently, the Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation into Uber's use of a secret software that was used to evade authorities in places where its ride-hailing service was banned or restricted. The investigation, in its early stages, deepens the crisis for the embattled company and its chief executive and founder, Travis Kalanick, who has faced a barrage of negative press this year in the wake of high-profile sexual harassment complaints, a slew of executive departures and a consequential trade-secrets lawsuit from Google's parent company.

The federal criminal probe focuses on software developed by Uber called "Greyball." The program helped the company evade officials in cities where Uber was not yet approved. The software identified and blocked rides to transportation regulators who were posing as Uber customers in an effort to prove that the company was operating illegally.

Facebook says police can’t use its data for ‘surveillance’

Facebook is cutting police departments off from a vast trove of data that has been increasingly used to monitor protesters and activists. The move, which the social network announced March 13, comes in the wake of concerns over law enforcement’s tracking of protesters’ social media accounts in places such as Ferguson (MO) and Baltimore (MD). It also comes at a time when chief executive Mark Zuckerberg says he is expanding the company’s mission from merely “connecting the world” into friend networks to promoting safety and community.

Although the social network’s core business is advertising, Facebook, along with Twitter and Facebook-owned Instagram, also makes money by selling developers access to users’ public feeds. The developers use the data to monitor trends and public events.

Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and 94 other tech companies call travel ban ‘unlawful’ in rare coordinated legal action

Silicon Valley is stepping up its confrontation with the Trump administration.

Technology giants Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Twitter, Uber and many others filed a legal brief opposing the administration’s contentious entry ban. The move represents a rare coordinated action across a broad swath of the industry — 97 companies in total— and demonstrates the depth of animosity toward the Trump ban. The amicus brief was filed with the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which is expected to rule within a few days on an appeal by the administration after a federal judge in Seattle issued late Feb 3 a temporary restraining order putting the entry ban on hold. The brief comes at the end of a week of nationwide protests against the plan — as well as a flurry of activity in Silicon Valley, a region that sees immigration as central to its identity as an innovation hub.

How a former Bill Clinton aide is rewriting Silicon Valley’s political playbook

Chris Lehane no longer plants political attacks in the news media the way he did in the Clinton White House or for Al Gore’s presidential campaign. Instead, he opts for TV spots that feature happy middle-class families promoting Airbnb, the home-sharing company where he is head of policy.

Lehane is at the forefront of a war to fight fundamental threats to the company — scores of local laws that prohibit individuals from turning private homes into hotels, and the perception that Airbnb drives up housing prices by taking units off the market. He is trying to turn a cutting-edge $30 billion company into an organized political movement — one that is about helping a battered middle class earn extra money by renting out their homes.