Joe Uchill Feb 20
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Justice Department announces Cyber-Digital Task Force

Department of Justice
The DOJ announced a Cyber Digital Task Force on Tuesday. Anadolu Agency / Getty

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new, multi-agency Cyber-Digital Task Force on Tuesday. It will advise Sessions on internet and security related topics.

Between the lines: The Department of Justice listed several priorities for the force at its onset in a press release, headed by the "study of efforts to interfere with our elections." Special Prosecutor Bob Mueller announced Friday the indictment of 13 Russians for an information campaign in the 2016 election, leaving the White House scrambling to demonstrate it took the Russia issue seriously after more than a year of undercutting its importance.

Buried deep: Midway through that list of goals, the DOJ lists "the use of technology to avoid or frustrate law enforcement" as a starting focus. The wish list includes either legislation or an industry agreement that tech companies not use unbreakable encryption, which the Department believes thwarts investigation.

The details: The Task Force will include representatives from the "Department’s Criminal Division, the National Security Division, the United States Attorney’s Office community, the Office of Legal Policy, the Office of Privacy and Civil Liberties, the Office of the Chief Information Officer, the ATF, FBI, DEA, and the U.S. Marshals Service," plus additional members at the deputy attorney general's discretion.

Other topics of focus: The group will also look at critical infrastructure security, data theft, and botnets that "attack American citizens and businesses."

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Spending bill will include gun background checks

girls hold sign that says "gun control now!"
Photo: Xinhua / Wang Ping via Getty

The large spending bill being voted on in Congress this week includes the Fix NICS bill, the bipartisan bill to strengthen existing gun background checks, as well as additional funding for school safety, according to two senior GOP aides.

Why it matters: The outcome is likely to disappoint the survivors of the Parkland school shooting and gun control advocates who were pushing for tougher measures, like a ban on assault weapons. We're sure to hear more about this at the March for Our Lives rally taking place this weekend.

Erica Pandey 9 hours ago
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Hyperinflation strangles Venezuela's economy

Venezuelan Bolivars
A man counts Venezuelan Bolivars. Photo: Wil Riera / Bloomberg via Getty Images

As Venezuela's economy descends into chaos, its currency, the bolivar, has taken a big hit, with one town inventing its own money to get around hyper-inflation and the government developing a state-issued cryptocurrency to evade U.S. sanctions.

In perspective: The black market exchange rate currently sits at 230,941 bolivars to one U.S. dollar, per DolarToday. And Bloomberg is tracking inflation in Venezuela by using the price of a cup of coffee as an indicator. One café con leche is now priced at 80,000 Bolivars, reflecting 4,344% inflation over the last year.