Providence Journal: R.I.’s U.S. reps, senators call on Trump to work with Congress in wake of missile strike on Syria

Providence Journal: R.I.’s U.S. reps, senators call on Trump to work with Congress in wake of missile strike on Syria

By Paul Edward Parker

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island’s U.S. representatives and senators have weighed in on President Donald Trump’s decision to launch a missile strike on a Syrian air base Thursday in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack the administration was carried out by the Syrian government, cautioning the president to work with Congress in dealing with Syria.

In separate statements issued Friday, Rep. Jim Langevin and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse explicitly supported the decision, while Rep. David N. Cicilline and Sen. Jack Reed were more circumspect. They are all Democrats; Trump is a Republican.

“I believe the response taken tonight by the United States in launching an air strike in Syria following the morally reprehensible war crimes committed by Bashar al-Assad when he deployed chemical weapons, killing innocent children and civilians, is justifiable, and I support this decision,” Langevin said in his statement.

“Moving forward, the President must consult with Congress to determine how the United States will deal with Assad’s regime and determine what our strategic objectives will be,” Langevin said. “No nation has the right to use chemical weapons against innocent civilians and the world must speak with one voice condemning the actions of President Assad.”

Whitehouse said: “We have witnessed yet another atrocious act by the Assad regime against its own people, and we are called to conscience. Last night’s military action in Syria met my standards for responding to atrocity: a limited action; with a clear objective; that is not the beginning of American ‘boots on the ground’ military operations.”

The Hill: Facebook case demonstrates gaps in data ownership laws

The Hill: Facebook case demonstrates gaps in data ownership laws

Op-Ed Written By Congressman Jim Langevin

A recent survey indicated that users have little trust in Facebook to follow privacy laws. Trust is the operative word. Privacy policies, account settings, and terms of use play a larger role than any federal law in limiting the use of personal data beyond health or financial information. We extend a great deal of trust to a company when we give them our personal information – trust that they will take care of our data and abide by the contracts that govern our relationship. But after three decades of explosive growth in data harvesting, recent events make it clear that trust may be misplaced.

Facebook’s conduct with the underhanded campaign consultancy firm, Cambridge Analytica, has laid bare the limits of data protection law. Facebook users are the victims in this case – yet the company may only be liable under federal law if it also violated one of its written contracts with users. The innovations of the Information Age have outstripped the U.S. legal system’s protections for individual control over how our personal information is shared and used. It is time for that to change.

As the complexity of data sharing increases, so does the possibility that our information will be used in ways we never intended or authorized. Take the Facebook case. I challenge anyone to find a single one of the millions of affected users who provided information to Facebook with the expectation that Cambridge Analytica would use it to develop “psychographic” voting profiles for targeted political ads.I fully expect the players in the Cambridge Analytica case to come before Congress to testify, which CEO Mark Zurckerberg is scheduled to do next week, and which I called for following news reports in The New York Times and The Sunday Observer. More transparency is essential for policymakers to fully grasp the implications of this incident, and Facebook owes its users and shareholders – both of which I am – a full accounting of its actions. However, the available reporting is enough to provide a framework to explore policy options for strengthening controls on data usage.

Facebook reportedly learned that Cambridge Analytica had acquired millions of users’ profiles two years ago. At the time, Facebook sent letters to Cambridge Analytica and an associated researcher insisting that they delete the information. However, two important things did not happen: Facebook did not positively verify disposal of the data through an audit, and no individuals were notified that their private information had been used in a way they had not authorized. There were no federal requirements that either happen, just trust in the parties involved. Having seen that trust doubly betrayed, we may need new law to impose rigorous notification and disposal requirements when users’ data is shared improperly.

Facebook has stated that it was a violation of their agreements with Aleksandr Kogan, the Cambridge University researcher who initially collected the data, for him to sell or license it to Cambridge Analytica. This defense misses the point that granting unfettered access to raw data makes it technically and legally difficult to enforce limitations on data usage and sharing. Facebook extended trust to the researcher, on behalf of its users and without their knowledge, that the data would be used and protected in accordance with its terms. Those terms also allowed apps like the researcher used to collect data not only about users who explicitly authorized the app to do so, but also about their friends. While Facebook revoked that policy in 2014, there remains no legal requirement that users directly consent to sharing.

Finally, central to this case is the data that the affected users gave to Facebook in the first place. As a condition of joining the social network, users were required to agree to a privacy policy – whether or not they read and understood it – and could only modify the privacy settings Facebook chose to make available. As remarkable as it may sound, this is standard practice. The companies we do business with decide what they can do with our data and what control over those uses they offer to us; we don’t get to choose. Our only alternative is not to use a service at all, and that is less and less of an option in our Internet-enabled economy. Congress could change the law to require that companies give users granular control of their data and codify the right to know how, when and with whom that data is shared.

As long as data sharing adheres to published terms of use, the law does not prohibit most companies from selling or licensing access to your data, for virtually any purpose or duration, without notice to you. They have no obligation to verify that recipients of your data are not abusing it. Without laws to the contrary, we are left to trust service providers that our data will not be misused, misplaced, or misappropriated. Facebook violated that trust, and Congress must take action to update the law to put control of digital identities in more trusted hands – our own.

Langevin represents Rhode Island’s 2nd District. He is co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus.

 

Portsmouth Daily Times: Joint letter urges forgiveness of loans

Portsmouth Daily Times: Joint letter urges forgiveness of loans

By Staff Writers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – If Congressional lawmakers are able to persuade U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to see things their way, parents of students who borrow money and then become totally and permanently disabled may have their loan debt erased.

U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) have sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos requesting the discharge of Parent PLUS Loans taken out on behalf of students who become totally and permanently disabled. They were joined by Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Congressmen Peter Roskam (R-IL), Ron Kind (D-WI) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL).

“Federal law already recognizes that the difficulties that befall someone who sustains a total and permanent disability necessitate a pathway to student loan forgiveness. Parents also deserve access to this debt relief,” the lawmakers wrote. “When a child becomes totally and permanently disabled, parents should not be forced to continue bearing the burden of student loan debt.”

When a student borrower becomes totally and permanently disabled, they are discharged from having to repay most federal loans. Parents who borrow funds on their child’s behalf, however, remain liable for the debt even when their child sustains a total and permanent disability. The average Parent PLUS loan in 2016-2017 was $15,880, an immense cost for parents to bear while also caring for their disabled child.

Last December, Portman introduced Domenic’s Law (S. 2258), legislation to allow a parent whose child develops a total and permanent disability to qualify for student loan discharge. In May 2017, Langevin introduced the bipartisan PLUS Loan Disability Forgiveness Act (H.R. 2270), a similar bill in the House.

Homeland Preparedness News: Congressional Task Force on Election Security releases 10 recommendations to secure elections

Homeland Preparedness News: Congressional Task Force on Election Security releases 10 recommendations to secure elections

By Aaron Martin

The Congressional Task Force on Election Security released a report on Wednesday that outlines 10 recommendations to protect state election systems for cyberattacks, including allocating funds, more training, minimum requirements for voting machines, and threat assessments.

The task force was established in June 2017 in response to Russian hackers targeting 21 states’ voting systems and voter databases during the 2016 election. Members of the task force also introduced legislation that incorporates the recommendations of the report.

Wednesday’s report recommends that Congress appropriate $400 million in remain funds under the Help America Vote Act to help states update and secure voting machines, provide ongoing funding to secure state IT systems and voter databases, adequately fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Election Assistance Commission, and require manufacturers of voting machines to adhere to minimum cybersecurity standards and require notification in the event of breaches.

U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), co-chairman of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, said he was pleased with the task force’s work and recommendations.

“With the 2018 elections just months away, Congress must act now to bolster our election cyber security especially as intelligence leaders are confident that Russian interference will not stop,” Langevin said. “The report recommendations and corresponding legislation are important first steps in restoring the American people’s trust in our democratic system and securing our elections for years to come.”

The task force also called for the development of a National Strategy to Counter Efforts to Undermine Democratic Institutions, for the intelligence community to conduct election security assessments six months before elections, for DHS to maintain the “critical infrastructure” designation for election infrastructure and to expedite security clearance for the top election official in each state.

The report also called for states to conduct risk-limiting assessments, to prioritize training for state election officials and IT staff.

The Hill: Progress made by ADA is under attack by Congress

The Hill: Progress made by ADA is under attack by Congress

Op-Ed Written By Congressman Jim Langevin

As the first quadriplegic to serve in Congress, I’ve spent the last 17 years navigating the hallways of our nation’s Capitol Building in a wheelchair. My ability to enter the House chamber, cast my vote, and carry out my responsibilities as a member of Congress was made possible by extraordinary leaders who fought for passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the civil rights law that protects Americans from discrimination due to a disability and promotes inclusion within our society.

However, the more than quarter century legacy of the ADA is being threatened. Today, the House of Representatives will vote on the cynically named ADA Education and Reform Act (H.R. 620), harmful legislation that fundamentally weakens the protections of the ADA.

The ADA Education and Reform Act is marketed as a bill to aid ADA compliance and promote greater inclusion for people with disabilities. Make no mistake, though, this bill undermines years of progress for the disability community by preventing disabled individuals from asserting their rights under the ADA. Ironically, H.R. 620 adds legal barriers, including long court wait times, to a law that is all about bringing down barriers — and we have had more than 27 years to comply. The excessive requirements and extensive waiting periods decimate the right to public accommodations for an entire vulnerable population and set a dangerous precedent for the future. After all, justice delayed is justice denied.

The sponsors of the legislation point to some unscrupulous lawyers who have taken advantage of certain laws that allow monetary awards for violations of accessibility standards. However, these are state laws – suing for damages is not permitted under the federal law. Instead of addressing this problem at its source, proponents of the bill are opting to reduce accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities in schools, restaurants, public transportation, commercial facilities, recreational sites, sales or rental establishments and more.

I remember what it was like before the ADA became law. We did not have access to public buildings, employment opportunities were scarce, and there were no legal protections against discrimination. I remember wanting to attend certain schools, family functions, or even professional events, but my participation was always dictated by the barriers I encountered. Each lost opportunity was a reminder that I am not like everyone else. Even if our country was founded by a belief that we can celebrate our differences while finding strength in our commonalities, I – like so many people with a disability – should not be limited because I cannot have a seat at the proverbial table of life – no matter the occasion.

Despite the sea of change brought by the ADA, people with disabilities continue to face significant obstacles to meaningful inclusion. I do not wish to go back to a time where discrimination was commonplace and accepted under our laws.

We must not undermine the fundamental rights of people with disabilities by passing this misguided bill that encourages businesses to ignore the ADA. Every vote of support will be a message to people with disabilities that we are not equal or worthy of the same civil rights protections as other individuals. The stakes could not be higher for people with disabilities and everyone who looks to our elected officials to fight for what’s right and reject all forms of discrimination. After nearly three decades of amazing progress, let’s not turn back the clock.

Langevin represents Rhode Island’s 2nd District and is co-chair of the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus.

WPRI: First class of recruits graduates from RI Fire Training Academy

WPRI: First class of recruits graduates from RI Fire Training Academy

By Steve Nielsen and Shaun Towne

EXETER, R.I. (WPRI) — Fourteen recruits four Rhode Island communities made history Friday as the first graduating class of the state’s Fire Training Academy.

After nine weeks of training, the firefighters will now go to work for their respective departments.

“Our friendships will last long,” said class leader Scott Kulacz. “I’m just proud of you guys.”

More than 300 family members, friends, and local leaders were on hand to celebrate the graduation that was 15 years in the making.

“These are very special young people and we all should be grateful for their service and the service of their families,” said U.S. Sen. Jack Reed.

“We are proud of you,” said U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. “We admire you. We support you.”

Congressmen David Cicilline and Jim Langevin were also in attendance, along with state Fire Marshal Jack Chartier and Rhode Island State Police Superintendent Ann Assumpico.

In addition to the graduation, the ceremony also included a ribbon-cutting for the academy. Instead of a ribbon, however, retired Chief Deputy Fire Marshal Michael DiMascolo instead ordered firefighters to “charge the line” – or fill a fire hose with water – which was then sprayed into the air.

The academy was approved by voters back in 2002, but there were numerous starts and stops in the construction process over the years.

Before it opened earlier this year, all of the state’s 6,000 firefighters received training from their departments. Now, cities and towns can send their recruits to the academy which is not only more cost-effective, but it also ensures they’re all receiving the same training.

The academy’s second class will get underway in June.

WPRI: An inside look at a controversial civilian group patrolling Mexican border

WPRI: An inside look at a controversial civilian group patrolling Mexican border

By Abbie Burke and Diana Pinzon

NOGALES, Ariz. (WPRI) – Ever since President Donald Trump kicked off his campaign for the Oval Office, a big topic of discussion has been whether or not there’s a need for a border well.

While the debate in Washington rages on, members of the organization The III% United Patriots are taking action. Every year, men and women in the group travel hundreds of miles to volunteer to patrol the border. They say their goal is to try to stop the flow of drugs and people entering the United States illegally.

This year, their mission took them to the Coronado National Forest, just outside the border city of Nogales, Arizona.

A member of the group who goes by the name “Big Bird” explained, “I wanted to meet the rest of the national leaguers. I’m a state leader [in the group] and so I wanted to meet in person the rest of the guys and do my part.”

The group is not sanctioned by any law enforcement agency and members have no authority to make any arrests, but they do run the risk of interacting with the Mexican drug cartels, so each member uses a call sign for safety.

“What we do down here is not vigilante justice, we have no special privileges,” a member who goes by the name “.50 Cal” said. “Our job is to observe. Our job is to collect as much information as we can. Our job is to track these folks, get a location, get it to the Border Patrol and let the Border Patrol handle the arrest.”

Some members have made the trip several times, but almost every newcomer is surprised upon seeing the border for the very first time.

“It’s just strange how you can just hop it, there’s nothing to it,” said a member named “Gimli.”

On site, there were signs that people had crossed through the fence, including barbed wire that had been cut for easier access to the other side.

For 10 days the group patrolled the desert, day and night, looking for signs of life. They didn’t come into contact with anyone, by the group still considered the mission a success.

“We were told last night by the head of the station here in the Sonoita area that we have locked down a 30 mile stretch of border and that they’ve seen no activity come through since we’ve come in and put patrols out and started locking down this border,” said “.50 Cal.” “To me that’s a mission accomplished.”

While some Border Patrol Agents appreciate the presence of these men and women, Border Patrol Agent Daniel Hernandez and Public Information Officer said Border Patrol doesn’t condone anybody trying to help them out.

“Securing our nations borders is very dangerous and interdicting narcotics or deterring or apprehending individuals in the United States requires highly trained law enforcement personnel,” he said. “And we receive the training, the know-how and the resources to conduct interdiction operations with either smuggling of humans or drugs and we don’t want anybody taking that approach on their own.”

Still the U.S. Border Patrol and The III% United Patriots can’t be at the border all the time, so some people believe a wall, or at least a more substantial structure, is needed.

“It will help, it will absolutely help. It won’t stop it, but I think like I told you earlier, I’m real happy if it knocks it down by 80 percent,” said “Ghost.”

Opponents believe a wall is just a waste of money.

“When you have people that are that determined to come over, because of the poverty, the persecution, the drugs, the corruption, the gangs, that there’s no hope at all, do you think a wall is going to stop them?” asked Tony Estrada, sheriff of Santa Cruz County in Nogales.

“A wall is not going to stop them. It’s just going to be another obstacle and it may be the easiest obstacle that they have to face and they will conquer it,” said Estrada.

Congressman Joe Kennedy, a Democrat who represents Southeastern Massachusetts, said he agrees that a border wall is not the answer.

“It is the most expensive and least effective way to secure our border,” Kennedy said. He believes that a lot of today’s immigration problems could have been dealt with four years ago.

“Back in 2013 the Senate passed a bill that had a veto-proof majority, nearly 70 senators, Democrats and Republicans, on board that had enough support to pass a Republican House,” he said. “Speaker Boehner never even let us have a vote on it.”

Kennedy said the bill contained a comprehensive fix that had support from the business community, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, labor unions, faith-based organizations and immigrant activists.

“That bill created a huge economic boost that then used part of it to increase funding for our border guards, to take some of the economic gains and reinvest it on securing the border,” said Kennedy.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, more than 415,000 people were apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol in 2016 for being inside the United States illegally. So far in 2017, that number stands at 170,000 people.

“I want to build the wall. We have to build the wall. We have to stop drugs from pouring in. We have to stop people from just pouring into our country,” President Trump said recently.

Right now, miles of the border are separated by nothing more than a small metal fence – and in other areas, there’s nothing at all.

“We need to protect our border, be it a fence or be it extra border patrol officers down here, we need to do something to secure our borders,” said “Big Bird.”

Kennedy said he believes investing in additional resources, like technology, would be much more effective.

“This country has been for now decades an important signal to the vulnerable, the persecuted, the folks that are living in fear, that this is a country that will welcome, that this is a country where they can invest in themselves and a better future for their children,” Kennedy said. “If we lose that as a nation, we have lost something that you cannot just write a check for and try to win back.”

RI delegation argues wall money could be better spent

Rhode Island’s all-Democratic congressional delegation agreed with Kennedy’s stance against the border wall.

“I have long said that maintaining control of our borders is an essential part of our national security, but President Trump’s claims about a porous southern border oversimplify the challenges we face in our immigration policy,” said Congressman Jim Langevin.

“Relying on a wall to keep out undocumented immigrants is inefficient and ineffective, which is why Congress has consistently focused on using sensors and other high-tech solutions to help monitor the border,” said Langevin. “I remain hopeful that Congressional Republicans will reconsider taking up the bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in 2013, which contained provisions to strengthen border security, reform our visa programs, and help address the millions of unauthorized immigrants already in the country.”

“We need real border security and comprehensive immigration reform,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “That means thoroughly vetting anyone who seeks to come to our country and creating a pathway to citizenship for families who are already living here.”

“Unfortunately, President Trump isn’t interested in real solutions,” Cicilline continued. “He wants to spend $20 billion on a border wall that his own Homeland Security Secretary has said won’t keep us safe. The American people deserve better than Donald Trump’s half-baked ideas. They deserve a real plan.”

“President Trump’s ridiculous border wall would be a monument to lousy policy,” said U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. “It would also be a monumental waste of money, financed with funding plucked from programs that are vital to Rhode Islanders and important to our economy.”

“The real immigration solution is more complex, and it already exists in the form of the comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform we passed out of the Senate in 2013,” said Whitehouse.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed hasn’t responded to a request for comment yet, but in the past has said that he thinks there are more effective ways to control illegal immigration than building a border wall.

Warwick Post: Whitehouse, Reed, Langevin, Avedisian Call for More Coastal Infrastructure Investment

Warwick Post: Whitehouse, Reed, Langevin, Avedisian Call for More Coastal Infrastructure Investment

By Rob Borkowski

WARWICK, RI — In the event of a 100-year storm, the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council predicts parts of West Shore Road would be under water, effectively turning the Warwick Neck neighborhood into a temporary island, a local example of the need for coastal infrastructure investment Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and the RI Congressional delegation is asking for with Mayor Scott Avedisian’s support.
Whitehouse, Sen. Jack Reed, Congressman Jim Langevin and Avedisian met at Conimicut State Park Monday morning to call for public support for Whitehouse’s National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund, designed to make roads and bridges more resilient.

“Rhode Island’s infrastructure needs a lot of investment to get back to a healthy state, let alone to prepare for rising seas and increasingly severe weather,” said Senator Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “We are the Ocean State, and our way of life and economy rely on critical infrastructure in coastal communities like Warwick. Investing in infrastructure is a bipartisan issue, and I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues and the administration to create jobs, ensure safe roads, protect our communities, and lift the economy.”

Scientists predict the need for such investment is likely to increase through the next several decades.

According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), global sea level has been rising over the past century, with the rate increasing in recent years. In 2014, global sea level was 2.6 inches above the 1993 average. Sea level continues to rise at a rate of about one-eighth of an inch (3.2 mm) per year, due to a combination of melting glaciers and ice sheets, and thermal expansion of seawater as it warms.

Higher sea levels cause storm surges to push further inland than they once did, causing more frequent nuisance flooding. Nuisance flooding is estimated to be between 300 percent to 900 percent more frequent within U.S. coastal communities than it was 50 years ago, NOAA reports. Hundred-year flood events, such as the 2010 flood which struck Rhode Island and dealt the City of Warwick a harsh blow, are expected to become more frequent due to climate change and sea level rise, researchers from MIT and Princeton University predict.

In 2012, NOAA scientists concluded there is a greater than 90 percent chance that global mean sea level will rise between 8 inches and 6.6 feet by 2100. In March of this year, the Washington Post reported scientists published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences predicting the rate of sea level increase could double to 1/4 inch (6 millimeters) per year by 2040, accelerated by melting in Greenland and Antarctica.

President Donald Trump has called for $1 trillion in infrastructure spending. In January, Senate Democrats proposed a $1 trillion infrastructure improvement blueprint,which would rebuild and reinforce infrastructure while creating jobs in Rhode Island and across the country. The blueprint contains $25 billion for upgrades to make communities more resilient to natural disasters and climate change, including funding for the National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund.

“As a coastal community with more than 39 miles of coastline we fully understand the importance of safe and secure infrastructure in our city and throughout the state,” said Mayor Avedisian. “I fully support Senator Whitehouse’s work as he aims to bring national attention to some of our most dire roadways and bridges across the state. As the Senator, along with his Congressional colleagues, work to pass legislation, it is my sincere hope that with potential funding we are able to make smart, long-term investments into our infrastructure and ultimately the future wellbeing of our communities.”

“Rhode Island’s infrastructure is in desperate need of repairs, particularly in areas affected by severe flooding brought on by extreme weather events,” said Langevin.

“We have the programs in place to effectively deploy funding at the state and local level to help address these needs. We need the President to work with us to put real money into them,” Reed said.

Providence Journal: R.I. delegation backs naming of special counsel in Russia probe

Providence Journal: R.I. delegation backs naming of special counsel in Russia probe

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., called the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel in the Russia investigation “an important first step toward hopefully ensuring that a fair, thorough, and impartial investigation is allowed to proceed.

“This should not be a political issue,” he added in a statement issued Wednesday night. “Our democracy – and not just one candidate or party – was attacked by a hostile foreign power.

“A truly independent investigation is the only way to restore the American people’s confidence in the integrity of the ongoing inquiry into connections between Russia, the President, and his campaign.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also praised the decision to appoint a special counsel.

“Russian interference in our election and the troubling actions of this White House demand the fullest accounting of the truth,” Whitehouse said in a statement. “Mr. Mueller has been granted authority to pursue whatever he deems ‘related matters.’ Those matters should include the White House’s potential misconduct in terminating Director Comey; potential obstruction of justice in the FBI investigation of General Flynn; and the involvement of Attorney General Sessions in these decisions.”

U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline, D-R.I., in a statement on Wednesday, agreed that the appointment was “a positive step forward,” and he praised Mueller as “a public servant of the highest caliber.”

“Now, it’s critical that the Trump administration make clear that former Director Mueller will have the resources and independence he needs to thoroughly conduct this investigation. He must be allowed to follow the facts where they lead and ensure that justice is served,” Cicilline said. “While this appointment is an important step, it does not eliminate the need for an independent commission to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The American people deserve answers and the peace of mind that our elections are free from foreign interference. Republicans and Democrats have a responsibility to establish an independent commission that can achieve these goals free of any interference from the Trump administration.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., also applauded the decision to appoint Mueller.

“This appointment is long overdue,” Langevin said in a statement. “Since the Attorney General recused himself months ago, it has been abundantly clear that the Administration is incapable of overseeing a fair and impartial investigation. This was thrown into stark relief yesterday with the stunning revelation that, according to multiple reports, the President pressured then FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.”

HPN: Rep. Langevin, DHS provide update on WannaCry ransomware attacks

HPN: Rep. Langevin, DHS provide update on WannaCry ransomware attacks

By HPN News Desk

A malicious ransomware software known as WannaCry has recently infected more than 200,000 computer systems across multiple nations, forcing users to pay the equivalent of $300 in the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, before users regain access to their files.

The ransomware reportedly infects systems through a series of phishing emails, which tricks users into providing sensitive information under false pretenses, such as fake websites that appear legitimate.

In response to the wave of attacks, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a series of recommendations for users to protect themselves against additional attacks. Some of the recommendations include updating systems to include the latest patches and software updates, not clicking or downloading unfamiliar links or files in emails, and backing up data to prevent possible losses.

“We are actively sharing information related to this event and stand ready to lend technical support and assistance as needed to our partners, both in the United States and internationally,” the department said in a statement. “DHS has a cadre of cybersecurity professionals that can provide expertise and support to critical infrastructure entities.”

Microsoft recently released a patch that reportedly addresses system vulnerabilities against potential WannaCry attacks, which DHS has since recommended that users install in their own computers.

U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, said while the incident was ongoing, he was thus far been impressed by the information sharing between security researchers, governments, and affected organizations.

“WannaCry is an international security challenge, and it demonstrates the vulnerabilities all connected countries share on the Internet,” Langevin said. “Law enforcement agencies around the world must work together swiftly to bring the perpetrators to justice.”