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Tech News Roundup - 12/12/2017

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Treasury Defends Tax Plan in One-Page Analysis. The Treasury Department released a one-page analysis of the nearly 500-page Senate tax bill on Mondaythat suggested the $1.5 trillion plan would more than pay for itself, assuming the economy grows much faster than any independent analysis of the bill has projected. (New York Times)

Trump administration explains details of how tax plan would pay for itself, immediately gets attacked for assumptions. For months, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said that the Republican tax plan wouldn't add a penny to the national debt, pledging that more than 100 people in his agency were "working around the clock" to calculate how much additional growth would come from the plan. (Washington Post)

Small Investors Face Steeper Tax Bill Under Senate Proposal. A little-discussed provision in the Senate tax bill could lead to a higher tax bill for millions of individual investors and cause many to unload stocks before year-end to avoid those costs. (Wall Street Journal)

Beijing Develops Plan to Counter Trump Tax Overhaul. As the U.S. prepares to take China to task over trade imbalances, economic mandarins in Beijing are focusing on a potentially more immediate threat from Washington- Donald Trump's tax overhaul. (Wall Street Journal)

As tax plan gained steam, GOP lost focus on the middle class. The GOP tax plan on the cusp of becoming law diverges wildly from the promises President Trump and top advisers said they would deliver for the middle class - an evolution that shows how traditional Republican orthodoxy swamped Trump's distinctive brand of economic populism as it moved through Washington. (Washington Post)

GOP lawmakers struggle to close gaps in tax plan. Top congressional Republicans, racing to hammer out a final tax agreement by the end of the week, have yet to make any breakthroughs on a range of key issues. (Politico Pro)

Tax Plan's Biggest Cuts Could Be in Living Standards. In the summer of 2006, as President George W. Bush was pressing to make permanent the tax cuts he had pushed through Congress in 2001 and 2003, the Treasury Department published a so-called dynamic analysis that, the administration hoped, would prove the undoubted economic benefits of the extension. (New York Times)

Tech Politics
The 'Alt-Right' Created a Parallel Internet. It's an Unholy Mess. If you've lost sleep worrying about the growing power of the alt-right - that shadowy coalition that includes white nationalists, anti-feminists, far-right reactionaries and meme-sharing trolls - I may have found a cure for your anxiety. (New York Times)

Google, Others Take Uneven Approach to Policing Extremist Content. The immigrant who tried to set off a bomb strapped to his body in one of New York City's busiest transit hubs Monday morning downloaded information from the internet on how to build such a device, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. (Wall Street Journal)

HP laptops found to have hidden keylogger. Hidden software that can record every letter typed on a computer keyboard has been discovered pre-installed on hundreds of HP laptop models. (BBC)

How email open tracking quietly took over the web. "I just came across this email," began the message, a long overdue reply. But I knew the sender was lying. He'd opened my email nearly six months ago. On a Mac. In Palo Alto. At night. (Wired)

You can log out, but you can't hide. A new study from Ghostery, an ad-tracking tool, shows that an overwhelming majority (79%) of websites globally are tracking visitors' data - with 10% of these sites actually sending user data to 10 companies or more. (Axios)

Global Trade
A Nasty, Nafta-Related Surprise: Mexico's Soaring Obesity. Few predicted when Mexico joined the free-trade deal that it would transform the country in a way that would saddle millions with diet-related illnesses. (New York Times)

Artificial Intelligence
The Future Is Bumpy: High-Tech Hedge Fund Hits Limits of Robot Stock Picking. For Michael Kharitonov, building a hedge fund based on machine learning has been a rule of threes: It was three times as hard, and it took three times as long, as anticipated. (Wall Street Journal)

DeepMind Has Simple Tests That Might Prevent Elon Musk's AI Apocalypse. You don't have to agree with Elon Musk's apocalyptic fears of artificial intelligence to be concerned that, in the rush to apply the technology in the real world, some algorithms could inadvertently cause harm. (Bloomberg)


Trump Calls for Overhaul of Immigration System After NYC Attack. President Donald Trump said Monday's attempted terrorist attack is more evidence that the country's immigration system needs a total overhaul to end immigration based on family relationships. (Wall Street Journal)


Axios Sourced: The FCC will end net neutrality. On the week the FCC is set to repeal net neutrality rules, Axios tech editor Kim Hart runs through the winners and losers of the vote and what it means for you. (Axios, Video)

FCC chair still refuses to help investigate net neutrality comment fraud. The Federal Communications Commission has again refused to help New York's attorney general investigate impersonation and other fraud in public comments on the FCC's net neutrality repeal. (Ars Technica)

U.S. agency prepares to hand over internet oversight to FTC. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission plans to turn over oversight of internet service providers to another federal agency as it plans to vote on Thursday to revoke the landmark 2015 "net neutrality" rules. (Reuters)

Net neutrality repeal based on false description of Internet, inventors say. The Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality repeal "is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology," a group of inventors and technologists told members of Congress and the FCC in a letter today. (Ars Technica)

FCC, FTC pledge cooperation following net neutrality repeal. The FCC and FTC said today they would work together to protect consumers following the FCC's planned repeal of the net neutrality rules this week - an announcement one FCC Democrat called a "smoke and mirrors PR stunt."(Politico Pro)

Activists, Dems plan net neutrality rally outside FCC. Activists are planning a protest outside the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Thursday as the agency is expected to vote to repeal its landmark net neutrality rules. (The Hill)

Want to See a World Without Net Neutrality? Look at These Old Cellphone Plans. With the rules governing internet services set to be rolled back this week, service providers and their detractors are envisioning new models that could translate into a wider range of fees-both lower and higher. (Wall Street Journal)

FCC explains how net neutrality will be protected without net neutrality rules. The Federal Communications Commission is still on track to eliminate net neutrality rules this Thursday, but the commission said today that it has a new plan to protect consumers after the repeal. (Ars Technica)

More than 100 Million Americans Can Only Get Internet Service from Companies That Have Violated Net Neutrality. When I moved to New York City from Toronto, I was shocked to learn that there was only one internet service provider serving my Manhattan neighborhood. (Motherboard)

Public Sector

Are the stars aligning for IT transformation?. Cloud-first mandates, cyber vulnerabilities in legacy systems and the budgetary drain of keeping old systems running have combined to make IT modernization a central emphasis throughout 2017. (Federal Computer Week)

7 years after cloud-first policy, agencies turns up speed to adoption. The Defense Department's request for information for cloud computing in late October is giving industry heartburn. (ITAPS Trey Hodgkins Quoted, Federal News Radio)

HHS Turns to Citizen Coders to Curtail Opioid Epidemic. The Health and Human Services Department thinks a solution to the opioid epidemic may lie in big data, and last week the agency called on programmers to help find it. (Next Gov)

Mike Wons, Architect of Illinois' Technology Modernization, Returning to Private Sector. Mike Wons, Illinois' chief technology officer (CTO) and a key architect of its ongoing tech modernization, is stepping down, he confirmed to Government Technology Dec. 11. (Government Technology)

Internet of Things

Trying to Bypass Anxiety on the Road to Driverless Cars. One of the big unknowns about self-driving cars is how human drivers will react once they can hand off the tasks of steering, braking and avoiding obstacles to a combination of unseen sensors, software and computer chips under the hood. (New York Times)


FBI director again laments strong encryption in remarks to Congress. In recent testimony before Congress, the director of the FBI has again highlighted what the government sees as the problem of easy-to-use, on-by-default, strong encryption. (Ars Technica)

Hackers hit U.S., Russian banks in ATM robbery scam: report. A previously undetected group of Russian-language hackers silently stole nearly $10 million from at least 18 mostly U.S. and Russian banks in recent years by targeting interbank transfer systems, a Moscow-based security firm said on Monday. (Reuters)
U.S. tech firm settles probe of Russian work on defense project. Netcracker Technology Corp will not face criminal charges for allowing Russian nationals without security clearance to work on a U.S. defense project after it agreed to adopt enhanced cyber security measures, authorities said on Monday. (Reuters)
Drone cybersecurity policy still up in the air. The internet-of-things ecosystem poses new challenges for supply chain and data security, but experts say cybersecurity assessments should focus more on hard facts than suspicions about a particular country of origin. (Federal Computer Week)


Robot cars may kill jobs, but will they create them too?. Barreling through California's Central Valley, his big rig's 48-foot refrigerated trailer loaded with lettuce, peppers and tomatoes, Brett Goodroad acknowledged that he's probably among the last generation of long-distance truckers. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Oil Prices Climb as Key Pipeline Shuts Down for Repair. Global oil prices jumped to their highest level since 2015 as the shutdown of a key European pipeline sapped more crude from a market where supply has already tightened due to production cuts. (Wall Street Journal)


Trump cedes green energy jobs and leadership to China. Through abandoning the commitments we made in the Paris climate accord and similar policies, we have abandoned our leadership of the green economy, with all its rewards, to China. (Chicago Tribune, OpEd)
To Test for Climate Disasters: Burn, Bash and Hurl Wood at 100 M.P.H. A team of researchers is destroying things - with wind, water and fire - to help insurers manage the increasing risks of extreme weather. (New York Times)
Workhorse Group applies for $250M gov't manufacturing loan. Developing and building a brand-new vehicle is a very expensive proposition, even if it pays off down the road. That's why Workhorse Group is getting a little help from the feds. (CNET)
Chinese electric car maker to put 'Weltmeister' on road next year. WM Motor Technology Co, one of a new breed of Chinese electric car companies, will use its company name "Weltmeister" as its brand and plans to start taking orders for its first product, a sport-utility vehicle, from April. (Reuters)
'People are freaking out.' Will electric vehicles doom your neighborhood auto mechanic?. Craig Van Batenburg began his career as an auto mechanic in 1970 after falling in love with the internal combustion engine. (Washington Post)
The US flirts with geoengineering to stymie climate change. The thing about humans is, for all our faults, we're actually pretty good at fixing things we know we've screwed up. (Wired)
Climate change could take the air out of wind farms. Big offshore wind farms power Europe's drive for a carbon-free society, while rows of spinning turbines across America's heartland churn enough energy to power 25 million US homes. But a new study predicts that a changing climate will weaken winds that blow across much of the Northern hemisphere, possibly leading to big drops in clean wind energy. (Wired)
Apple and Wal-Mart Are Helping China Crack Down on Polluters. Ma Jun's years as an environmental activist taught him one lesson: if you want factories to clean up their act, shaming then in front of Apple Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. works better than government fines. (Bloomberg)

Tech Business
Apple Buys Shazam to Boost Apple Music. Apple Inc. agreed to acquire music-identification service Shazam, taking ownership of one of the first apps to demonstrate the power of the iPhone, recognizing songs after hearing just a few bars of a tune. (Bloomberg)
As the Fed Deliberates, Amazon Is Making Its Job More Difficult. Holiday shoppers with smartphones can retrieve instant price comparisons that make bargain hunting easier-and the Federal Reserve's job tougher. (Wall Street Journal)
Toshiba and Western Digital Resolve Dispute Over Chip Unit. Toshiba Corp. and Western Digital Corp. agreed to settle a dispute over Toshiba's planned sale of its memory-chip unit, people involved the discussions said, clearing a major hurdle to the nearly $18 billion deal. (Wall Street Journal)

ITI Member News

Europe's Thirst for Cheap Labor Fuels a Boom in Disposable Workers. As dusk settled over the rambling Czech countryside, a group of haggard workers emerged from a dank three-story concrete dormitory and jammed into buses. The evening shift was about to begin at two nearby factories owned by Foxconn and Panasonic. (New York Times)
The Galaxy S9 could get a more secure iris scanner, says report. The new scanner could help make mobile banking transactions more secure. (CNET)
Apple's pushing into gyms with GymKit: What you need to know. The Apple Watch can now tap-to-pair with new connected fitness machines. Here's how it works. (CNET)
Google is sending more traffic than Facebook to publishers - again. Facebook sent 25 percent less traffic to publishers this year, while Google increased its traffic by 17 percent, according to (Recode)
Apple removes app after MyEtherWallet complaint. IPhone maker Apple Inc said on Monday it had removed a paid iOS application from its App Store after MyEtherWallet, a free service for storing digital currencies, complained that the program was improperly using its name. (Reuters)
When your activity tracker becomes a personal medical device. Fitbit spent its first decade selling activity trackers. With its latest moves, the company is starting to look less like a gear maker selling pricey accessories to fitness buffs and more like a medical-device company, catering to hospitals, patients, and health insurers. (Wired)
Qualcomm is being challenged on all sides. Broadcom on Monday took the next step in its hostile takeover attempt for rival chipmaker Qualcomm, filing preliminary proxy materials in relation to a slate of 11 people it would like elected to Qualcomm's board of directors. (Axios)
Microsoft Takes Path Less Traveled to Build a Quantum Computer. Software giant releases a quantum programming language and simulator, but still has no working computer. (Bloomberg)

Today on the Hill

The House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business. First and last votes expected: 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
The Senate will convene at 10:00 a.m. and proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the nomination of Leonard Steven Grasz, of Nebraska, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Eighth Circuit.
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