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Tech News Roundup - 11/21/2017

Tech News Roundup

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11/21/2017

Key Issues

Taxes

Will your taxes go up or down? The five biggest questions on the GOP plan. The No. 1 question I get from readers lately is: How likely is the Republican tax plan to become law? (Washington Post)

Why a Republican owner of a booming business says he wants a tax cut (and what it says about the GOP's biggest goal). Douglass Henry, owner of packaging materials manufacturer Henry Molded Products, admits he could live without a tax cut. He is not going to shutter his factory and lay off his 105 workers here in Pennsylvania Dutch country if Congress fails on tax overhaul. (Washington Post)

C.E.O. Deficit Fears Dissolve With the Prospect of Corporate Tax Cuts. In mid-October 2012, Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, hosted a luncheon on the 49th floor of the firm's Park Avenue headquarters. (New York Times)

Ron Johnson Is 'Encouraged' on Taxes But Slams 'Awful Process'. Senator Ron Johnson -- the first GOP senator to voice opposition to the current tax plan -- said he's encouraged that Republican leaders have been discussing his concerns that pass-through businesses would be treated unfairly. (Bloomberg)

After House Vote on Taxes, Spotlight Shifts to Undecided Senators. The fast-moving Republican effort to overhaul the tax code now rests in the hands of a small number of fence-sitting senators with disparate concerns, like how small businesses are taxed and whether health insurance costs will spike after the repeal of the Affordable Care Act's requirement to have coverage or pay a penalty. (New York Times)

Tech Politics

How Evil Is Tech?. Not long ago, tech was the coolest industry. Everybody wanted to work at Google, Facebook and Apple. But over the past year the mood has shifted. (New York Times, Op-Ed)
Former employee says lawmakers should crack down on Facebook. A former Facebook employee is calling for the company to be strictly regulated to prevent it from abusing the mass amounts of user data it handles. (The Hill)

The pendulum of power swings back towards the state. If 2016 was the year of shock populist victories, 2017 brought a surprisingly placid response. There was plenty of anguished rhetoric. Commentators (including this one) fretted about the liberal world order. Mainstream politicians promised a reboot of globalisation that addressed the anger of left-behind voters. But in practice remarkably little changed. (The Economist)
Global Trade
Canada, Mexico to confront U.S. auto content demands at NAFTA talks. Canada and Mexico plan to confront the United States over its demand for tougher NAFTA automotive content rules, people briefed on the matter said on Monday, underlining slow progress on the trade pact's most important issues. (Reuters)

Tech trade groups cheered the updates. "The addition of algorithms recognizes that there are other important types of technology, beyond source code, as to which governments may inappropriately seek disclosure, which greatly threatens companies' intellectual property," the Information Technology Industry Council's Josh Kallmer said. He added that the update of "the objective related to non-IPR intermediary liability is critical to ensuring that the Internet remains a free and open environment for innovation and exchange." (ITI Josh Kallmer Quoted, Politico Morning Tech)

Under Trump, U.S. Companies Face a Rough Road on Trade. In October 2015, as President Barack Obama was hoping to rush the newly signed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal through Congress, he invited leaders of the pharmaceutical industry in the White House. The industry had emerged as a key obstacle to the largest free trade agreement in history, insisting that TPP didn't provide enough protection for an expensive class of nature-based drugs called biologics. (Politico)
Artificial Intelligence

AI can help hunt down missile sites in China. Intelligence agencies have a limited number of trained human analysts looking for undeclared nuclear facilities, or secret military sites, hidden among terabytes of satellite images. But the same sort of deep learning artificial intelligence that enables Google and Facebook to automatically filter images of human faces and cats could also prove invaluable in the world of spy versus spy. (Wired)

Immigration

Trump Administration Ends Temporary Protection for Haitians. The Trump administration is ending a humanitarian program that has allowed some 59,000 Haitians to live and work in the United States since an earthquake ravaged their country in 2010, Homeland Security officials said on Monday. (New York Times)

White House asks Supreme Court to allow full travel ban. The White House asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to allow President Donald Trump's latest travel ban to take full effect after an appeals court in California ruled last week that only parts of it could be enacted. (Reuters)

Congress speeds toward shutdown over Dreamers. Concern is growing in both parties that a clash over the fate of Dreamers will trigger a government shutdown this December. (Politico)

Congress barreling toward explosive immigration fight. The fight over "Dreamers" is heating up as the legislative calendar winds down, setting the stage for a year-end clash that's heightening the odds of a government shutdown. (The Hill)

Watchdog says Homeland Security bottling up travel ban report. The Department of Homeland Security's official watchdog is accusing his own agency of slow-walking the public release of a report about confusion that ensued earlier this year after President Donald Trump issued his first travel ban executive order. (Politico)

Antitrust

Justice Department Files Lawsuit Challenging AT&T-Time Warner Deal. Government alleges combination could raise prices and slow innovation. (Wall Street Journal)

AT&T confident court will reject Justice Department challenge to Time Warner deal. AT&T Inc said on Monday it is confident a federal court reject the Justice Department's expected challenge to its planned $85. 4 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc. (Reuters)

The ripple effect of the AT&T merger lawsuit. The Justice Department's move to block AT&T's proposed $85 billion bid for Time Warner puts on hold a slew of media and telecom transactions that may have been in the works. And it could upend the antitrust precedent that has created some of today's biggest media companies. (Axios)

Trump tweets on CNN could muddy AT&T-Time Warner lawsuit. The Justice Department's decision to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger sets up another high-profile lawsuit in which President Donald Trump's prolific and opinionated tweets could complicate his administration's agenda. (Politico)

Government move to block AT&T merger is a bad sign for tech. The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Monday to block AT&T's planned $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, in a move that could signal tougher scrutiny for tech companies. (Wired)

Public Sector

OPM extends temporary hiring exemptions for IT modernization. The Office of Personnel Management is looking to give federal agencies a leg up in hiring temporary talent for their cloud migration and information technology modernization projects. (FedScoop)

State CIO to step down. State Department CIO Frontis Wiggins will retire from government service on Dec. 8 after a 32-year career. Principal deputy CIO Robert Adams will take over as acting CIO. (Federal Computer Week)

Leading Trump Census pick causes alarm. The Trump administration is leaning toward naming Thomas Brunell, a Texas professor with no government experience, to the top operational job at the U.S. Census Bureau, according to two people who have been briefed on the Bureau's plans. (Politico)

Broadband/Communications

FCC to Outline Plan to Roll Back Net-Neutrality Rules. Move could fundamentally reshape internet economy and consumers' online experience. (Wall Street Journal)

What to know about the FCC's upcoming plan to undo its net neutrality rules. With its final meeting of the year less than a month away, the Federal Communications Commission is expected to reveal the latest details of a plan to roll back the government's net neutrality regulations this week. (Washington Post)

Dems to FCC: Force Sinclair to sell stations for merger approval. Top House Democrats want the Federal Communications Commission to force Sinclair Broadcasting Group to sell off some television stations if the agency approves its proposed merger with Tribune Media. (The Hill)

Encryption

Apple formally asked to release Texas shooter's iCloud data. Texas authorities have recently gotten formal permission from a state judge to search the deceased Sutherland Springs shooter's seized iPhone SE and LG candybar-style phone. In addition, the Texas Rangers have also submitted a formal request to Apple in order to access Devin Patrick Kelley's iCloud data. (Ars Technica)

Internet of Things

Uber Strikes Deal With Volvo to Bring Self-Driving Cars to Its Network. No one knows what the future of self-driving cars will look like, or how long it will take to get there. But every major player in the field is striking partnerships to be ready for the day when autonomous vehicles finally become mainstream. (New York Times)
MIT looks at how humans sorta drive in sorta self-driving cars. Almost half of Americans will hop in their cars for a Thanksgiving trip this year. But if you were being very precise-if you were a team of Massachusetts of Technology researchers who study human-machine interactions-you wouldn't say that all those Americans are "driving," exactly. (Wired)

Amazon launches new cloud storage service for U.S. spy agencies. Amazon's cloud storage unit announced Monday that it is releasing a new service called the Amazon Web Services Secret Region, a cloud storage service designed to handle classified information for U.S. spy agencies. (Washington Post)

Energy

Nebraska Regulators Approve Alternative Route for Keystone XL Pipeline. Nebraska regulators on Monday allowed the Keystone XL oil pipeline to clear its final major hurdle, granting a victory to President Trump and Republicans who have for years pressed for the project. (New York Times)

Oil eases as traders, investors grow edgy ahead of OPEC. Oil prices slipped on Monday, extending recent weakness ahead of an OPEC meeting next week, while a rally in the dollar negatively affected commodities across the board. (Reuters)

Whitefish Halts Puerto Rico Work Early Over $83 Million Bill. The company that landed and then lost a $300 million, no-bid contract to rebuild Puerto Rico's storm-ravaged grid says it's halting its work early because the commonwealth's utility hasn't paid it $83 million it's owed. (Bloomberg)

Environment/Sustainability

Wake Up and Smell the Traffic? London Tries Coffee to Power Buses. The first batch of coffee-based oil added to the fuel for London's buses would be enough to run one of the vehicles for about a year. (New York Times)

Is Trump's NASA nominee ready to tackle climate change?. Science and the people who study it have taken a pretty big beating during the first year of the Trump administration. (Wired)

Elon Musk's new truck said to have a revolutionary new battery. When Elon Musk guaranteed that the new Tesla semi-truck would last 1 million miles without breaking down, experts assumed he was talking about the drive train, not the ultra-sensitive battery. But a person familiar with the truck tells Axios that he meant the battery, too. (Axios)

Tech Business
Takeovers Roar to Life as Companies Hear Footsteps From Tech Giants. Corporate deals hit a near-record $200 billion this month as CEOs battle Amazon, Facebook, Google and others. (Wall Street Journal)
Marvell Confirms $6 Billion Purchase of Chip Maker Cavium. Combined company would be better prepared to challenge larger semiconductor producers. (Wall Street Journal)

As Chip Makers Consolidate, Marvell Will Buy Cavium in $6 Billion Deal. Chip making is increasingly a competition between ever-larger companies, a trend that was highlighted by the announcement on Monday that Marvell would take over Cavium in a $6 billion deal. (New York Times)

Tencent's stellar share rally sees it surpass Facebook in market value. Tencent Holdings Ltd has racked up some impressive gains this week - becoming the first Chinese firm to be worth more than $500 billion and surpassing Facebook to be the world's fifth-most valuable company. (Reuters)

Tech Boom Creates New Order for World Markets. Shares in technology companies are outpacing other sectors this year by the widest margin since the height of the dot-com era, with a handful of key players dictating how markets are performing around the world. (Wall Street Journal)

New Venture Funds Thrive as More Investors Put Money in Tech. Longtime venture capitalist Greg Sands is no heavyweight in Silicon Valley. His young firm, Costanoa Ventures, has made unglamorous investments in business software, and its profits are almost all on paper. (Wall Street Journal)

ITI Member News

Retailers Try New Pricing Tricks to Battle Amazon on Black Friday. Best Buy offers discounts earlier in season, Target saves its deals for weekends. (Wall Street Journal)

A Google-Related Plan Brings Futuristic Vision, Privacy Concerns To Toronto. Sidewalk Labs, a unit of Google parent Alphabet, is partnering with Toronto to redesign part of the city's eastern waterfront as a high-tech urban neighborhood. (NPR)
Microsoft attempts to provide internet in Puerto Rico with unused TV frequencies. Microsoft is taking advantage of unused airwaves between TV stations - or white spaces - to provide wireless internet in Puerto Rico after its broadband infrastructure was severely damaged during Hurricane Maria. (The Hill)
The Facebook whistleblower wave. Facebook insiders with detailed knowledge of the company's priorities and operations are increasingly voicing concerns that the tech giant is putting profits ahead of its users' best interests. Their accounts come as many Silicon Valley insiders are speaking out about the negative consequences of the world they helped create. (Axios)
Eric Schmidt Says Google News Will 'Engineer' Russian Propaganda Out of the Feed. Eric Schmidt, Executive Chariman of Alphabet, says the company is working to ferret out Russian propaganda from Google News after facing criticism that Kremlin-owned media sites had been given plum placement on the search giant's news and advertising platforms. (Motherboard)
Skype Vanishes From App Stores in China, Including Apple's. One of the last foreign-run tools for online communication in China appears to be in trouble with the authorities there. (New York Times)

Today on the Hill

The House is not in session today.
The Senate will convene at 11:00 a.m. for a pro forma session.
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