ITI Daily News Roundup

05/22/2013

Key Issues

Workforce

Senators reach deal on high-tech visas.  Senators working to resolve a key issue on immigration legislation have agreed to a compromise covering expansion of a high-tech visa program.  Robert Hoffman, senior vice president for government affairs at the Information Technology Industry Council, welcomed the deal. ‘‘We obviously want to keep moving the bill forward and building support for the legislation, and this agreement allows us to do so,’’ he said.  (AP)

Unions rip Schumer’s deal on H-1B visas.  A deal struck Tuesday to secure Republican support for the Senate immigration bill has set off a war of words between labor unions and the tech industry.  “We think what Sens. Hatch and Schumer have agreed on strikes a fair balance, and when it does, it’s good for the economy. That means the economy wins,” said Robert Hoffman, senior vice president for the Information Technology Industry Council. “This agreement, in our view, helps bring jobs and opportunities to the U.S.”  (The Hill)

Senate panel passes immigration bill; Obama praises move.  A Senate panel on Tuesday approved legislation to give millions of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, setting up a spirited debate next month in the full Senate over the biggest changes in immigration policy in a generation.  (Reuters)

Tech Industry Drafts Own Rules for U.S. Visas.  After the 2007 loss, the industry took a new tack. Tech leaders helped write legislative drafts spelling out what they wanted; they broadened their pitch about immigration to include legalizing undocumented immigrants in the country; and they now are using social media to press their case.  “We knew we had to get into the game early and go strong,” said Robert Hoffman, senior vice president of government relations for the Information Technology Industry Council, which lobbies for technology companies. “We knew we had to think several steps down the road.” (Bloomberg)

Senate Judiciary panel approves Hatch-Schumer compromise on H-1B visas.  A compromise on a package of amendments by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on H-1B visas was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday during its markup of the Gang of Eight's immigration bill.  (The Hill)

Tax

Apple CEO, Lawmakers Square Off.  Apple's tax strategies came under scrutiny in the Senate, where lawmakers are finding it far easier to call for a simpler tax code than to produce one.  (WSJ)

Congressional panel grills CEO Tim Cook on Apple's tax practices.  Apple may face some heightened scrutiny from the IRS but isn't likely to face legal actions as a result, tax law experts said.  (San Jose Mercury News)

Congress creates massive tax loopholes, shocked Apple uses them.  Let’s be clear: The people who have failed this nation on the issue of corporate taxes were on the wrong side of the inquisitors table this morning.  Apple was taking advantage of the very loopholes Congress wrote into the tax code, if only a little more creatively and brazenly than its peers. If Congress wanted to act on its issue, it’s had all the information needed to enact thoughtful reforms for years.  (San Francisco Chronicle)

The Irish loophole behind Apple's low tax bill.  Apple's ability to shelter billions of dollars of income from tax has depended on an unusual loophole in the Irish tax code that helps the country compete with other countries for investment and jobs.  (Reuters)

Even Before Apple Tax Breaks, Ireland’s Policy Had Its Critics.  Other countries have long been annoyed by Irish tax laws, but the benefit to the struggling country’s economy means the rules are unlikely to change.  (NYT)

Disarming Senators, Apple Chief Eases Tax Tensions.  Tim Cook came to Capitol Hill prepared to face down senators furious over evidence that Apple had avoided paying billions in taxes, but he left having won many of them over.  (NYT)

The Apple Tax Diversion.  You almost have to admire Carl Levin's timing. Amid a furor over politicized IRS tax enforcement, the Michigan Democrat on Tuesday tried to change the subject to a hardy Washington perennial—corporate tax loopholes. Too bad his designated business pinata, Apple, demonstrates instead the insanity of the tax code that Mr. Levin has done so much to write.  (WSJ editorial)

Rotten to the core.  Apple’s tax hijinks demonstrate the unfairness of the tax code — or at least its hopeless complexity.  (Washington Post editorial)

For U.S. Companies, Money ‘Offshore’ Means Manhattan.  In the convoluted world of corporate tax accounting, corporate money that is technically overseas is often held in American banks.  (NYT)

Google Joins Apple Avoiding Taxes with Stateless Income.  Similar practices by an assortment of companies -- from Google Inc. (GOOG), owner of the world’s most popular Internet search engine, to Forest Laboratories Inc. (FRX), the maker of antidepressant drug Lexapro -- are drawing increased scrutiny from regulators in the U.S. and around the world, particularly as European nations face a backlash against austerity measures.  (Bloomberg)

UK opposition party leader says Google tax behavior 'wrong.'  Google Inc's tax affairs will come under renewed scrutiny in Britain on Wednesday when the leader of the opposition Labor party accuses the Internet company of wrongly going to "extraordinary lengths" to avoid paying tax.  (Reuters)

EU looks to crack down on Apple-style tax avoidance schemes.  Growing concern in European capitals about aggressive tax avoidance by high-profile corporations such as Amazon, Google and Apple looks set to steal the agenda of a European Union summit in Brussels on Wednesday.  (San Jose Mercury News)

Cybersecurity & Privacy

Phone Firms Sell Data on Customers.  Big phone companies have started to sell the data they gather about subscribers' locations, travels and Web-browsing habits, providing a powerful tool for marketers but raising new privacy concerns.  (WSJ)

Power utilities claim 'daily' and 'constant' cyberattacks, says report.  U.S. Congressmen Ed Markey and Henry Waxman pen a report outlining the increased hacks on power grid computer systems, saying that one utility receives about 10,000 attempted cyber attacks per month.  (CNET)

Did the US force China to develop its online army?  Whether the US or China started the online fight, both sides are rallying forces, and with the right spark, it could end with catastrophic consequences.  (ZDNet)

HP security chief: How big data can catch hackers red-handed.  Firewalls and antivirus software bite deepest into most organisations' security budgets to the detriment of the other stages in the breach process.  (ZDNet)

Your Smartphone Under Attack: Pros.  We can thank the app economy for a boom in cyberattacks aimed at mobile devices, security experts said Tuesday.  (CNBC)

Global Trade

Business Groups Wary Of Australian Approach On SOE Disciplines In TPP.  U.S. business groups strongly oppose a new approach for disciplining state-owned enterprises (SOEs) that Australia has informally floated in the context of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Business sources argued that this approach, which reflects Australia's domestic "competitive neutrality" rules, appears unworkable in an international context and would not be effective in imposing constraints on SOEs in TPP members or potential future members like China.  (Inside US Trade)

With wary eye on the U.S., China courts India.  Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, smiling and effusive, was out to smooth ruffled feathers in India this week, promising to ease tensions and increase trade between Asia's fastest growing economies in his first trip overseas since taking office.  (Reuters)

Innovation

Quantum Or Not, New Supercomputer Is Certainly Something Else.  It's exactly the sort of futuristic thinking you'd expect from Google and NASA: Late last week, the organizations announced a partnership to build a Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab at NASA's Ames Research Center.  But questions surround the new type of computer at the lab's core. D-Wave systems, the company that makes the machine, says it is a quantum computer — a machine that runs on the strange laws of quantum mechanics. But although the computer can solve a certain type of problem much faster than conventional computers, critics say that the company's claims are not supported by scientific evidence. (NPR)

More ITI Member News

Samsung-LG Misstep on TV Screens Creates Opening for Sony.  Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. are reworking their strategies for high-end TVs after spending billions of dollars on a new display technology that’s behind schedule and costs almost $10,000 a set.  (Bloomberg)

SAP touts service that sells customer data from phone firms.  The European maker of enterprise software would serve as a kind of middleman, analyzing data gathered by various wireless operators, selling results to marketers, and sharing the profits with the wireless companies.  (CNET)

Sony to assess spin-off plan; cuts targets for cameras, smartphones.  Sony Corp cut its sales targets for digital cameras, smartphones and tablets by 13-17 percent for the year to end-March 2015, but said there were "encouraging" signs of a revival in its electronics business.  (Reuters)

Microsoft Shows Off Xbox One Console.  Microsoft unveiled a reinvented Xbox game console that demonstrated the software giant's most aggressive play yet for control of consumers' living rooms.  (WSJ)

Intel CEO shakes up units, creates 'new devices' group.  Intel Corp's new chief executive, Brian Krzanich, has launched a sweeping company reorganization and created a unit aimed at growing its market share in mobile technology.  (Reuters)

PayPal to increase marketing this year for offline push.  PayPal, the online payment operation owned by eBay Inc, will increase marketing spending to support its push into physical stores, President David Marcus said on Tuesday.  (Reuters)

Web security: Inside the secret Symantec building that keeps sites safe.  Dubbed 'the vault' by some employees, the Symantec bunkerlike operation in Mountain View bristles with guards, sensors, iris- and fingerprint-reading locks, and a room containing the most privileged data deep within its labyrinthine confines to which only five people have the combination. (San Jose Mercury News)

VMware lays out prices for hybrid cloud offering — now customers have the ball.  VMware executives shared the prices that its customers will pay to use its new vCloud Hybrid Service launching later this year, but it’s unclear if customers and partners will be happy with the offering.  (GigaOM)

Today on the Hill

Senate:  At 9 a.m. ET, the Senate resumes consideration of a farm policy bill and considers a resolution that would reaffirm Congress’s support for full implementation of U.S. and international sanctions on Iran as well as U.S. support for Israel’s right to self-defense.

House:  At 12 p.m. ET, the House begins work on a Keystone XL pipeline approval measure. The chamber also considers two measures under suspension of the rules.

1600 Penn.

There are no policy-related events on President Obama’s schedule today.  Press Secretary Jay Carney briefs at 1 p.m

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