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Hillicon Valley — Data privacy bill inches forward in House

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A House subpanel on consumer protection approved a comprehensive data privacy bill, advancing the legislation to the full committee. The bill would create national standards for how companies are able to collect and manage user data. 

Meanwhile, tech executives told lawmakers on Wednesday that the government needed to share more cyber threat intelligence with the private sector to mitigate cybersecurity risks.

This is Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Send tips to The Hill’s Rebecca Klar, Chris Mills Rodrigo and Ines Kagubare. Subscribe here.

Data privacy bill advances

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Consumer Protection subpanel voted unanimously on Thursday to advance a comprehensive data privacy bill to the full committee.   

The bill would create national standards for how companies are able to collect and manage user data. It would also allow individuals to bring cases against companies, but only four years after the law is in place and after giving notice to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and their state attorney general.  

Some members expressed some concerns over the bill, despite voting to advance it to the full committee.  

  • Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) introduced several amendments, related to preemption, private right of action and right to cure, but withdrew them and said he would be willing to work on the concerns as the legislation goes forward. 
  • Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.) said she wants to see the bill have better protection for children, including covering ed-tech vendors.  

But the bill faces a larger obstacle in the Senate.  

Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) has not backed the bill which she’s said is “riddled with enforcement loopholes.” Largely, her concerns are based around barriers in place before individuals could bring cases against companies based on privacy violations.  

Tech leaders ask for more intel sharing

Tech leaders testifying on Wednesday before a House subcommittee on cyber told lawmakers that more coordination is needed between the public and the private sector to identify security threats, including cyber, that stem from emerging technologies like quantum computing and artificial intelligence.  

Ron Green, executive vice president and chief security officer at Mastercard, said that partnership should incentivize the government to share threat intelligence to the private sector so that both sectors are able to mitigate cybersecurity risks posed by U.S. adversaries both at home and abroad. 

“Cybercrime is not constrained by borders or sectors,” Green told lawmakers. 

“Our digital world is too interconnected, and threats are too fast changing for any one organization to counter them alone,” he added. 

Read more here. 

ALEXA TO EMULATE VOICES OF LOVED ONES

Amazon will allow Alexa devices to speak through voices of users’ deceased loved ones.  

Alexa head scientist Rohit Prasad showed a video displaying the feature while delivering a keynote address during the company’s annual MARS conference in Las Vegas, San Francisco-based KRON 4 reported Thursday. 

During the presentation, Prasad showed Alexa ostensibly sounding like a boy’s deceased grandmother reading him a book. 

“Alexa, can grandma finish reading me ‘The Wizard of Oz’?” the child asks before Alexa goes into the book. 

Prasad said one thing that surprises him about Alexa is “the companionship relationship we have with it.” 

Read more here.

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: US weapons technology can help Ukraine while reassuring Russia 

Notable links from around the web: 

As Midterms Loom, Elections Are No Longer Top Priority for Meta C.E.O. (The New York Times / Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang) 

Meta Pulls Support for Tool Used to Keep Misinformation in Check (Bloomberg / Davey Alba) 

Shadowy forms of modern warfare are on full display in Ukraine (Insider / Stavros Atlamazoglou) 

TV writer Peter Kosminsky: ‘You see the effects of cyber warfare everywhere’ (The Financial Times / Gabriel Tate) 

Lighter click: Yummy patient 

One more thing: Using data to protect Puerto Rico

The Puerto Rican coastline has been receding for many decades due to rising sea levels. And as water levels rise, causing severe erosion, many coastal dwelling Puerto Ricans are left watching their homes fall into the sea. 

But a small software company in Puerto Rico called Terra Firma, founded in 2019 by island native Alejandro Mieses, is using satellite data to dynamically forecast precise erosion pain points that might help Puerto Rican city planners better protect their island in their battle against climate change. 

“The problem right now with environmental assessment is that the data is scattered across multiple federal data sets,” Mieses said. “There’s not a database that’s meant to unify them. So Terra Firma’s first mission is to actually unify that data in a way that is useable.” 

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 tomorrow.

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