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Tech News Roundup - 12/13/2017

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Republicans Nearing Agreement on Final Tax Bill. Republicans lawmakers in the Senate and House said on Tuesday that they are coalescing around a unified tax plan and are aiming to pass a final bill as early as next week. (New York Times)

Congressional Republicans in advanced talks to reduce the tax rate for top earners to 37 percent as part of final tax bill. Senior Republican negotiators were close to reaching a deal Tuesday to reduce the tax rate for high-income households from 39.6 percent to 37 percent, blowing past political concerns about aiding the rich in order to ease passage of a $1.5 trillion tax package. (Washington Post)

Quick transition to tax reform could mean surprises for taxpayers. Republicans plan to implement their tax overhaul at the same speed they pushed it through Congress, with most provisions slated to begin taking effect Jan. 1, just days after they hope to have it signed into law. (Politico Pro)

Republicans close in on historic tax deal. Republicans are considering a 37 percent top individual tax rate and a 21 percent corporate tax rate as they start putting the final touches on a compromise tax overhaul. (Politico Pro)

Are tax cuts worth adding $1 trillion in debt?. The Republican tax plan is not going to pay for itself, and the Trump administration should stop pretending it will. (Politico Pro)

Lawmakers to meet on taxes - but real work is behind closed doors. Republicans will meet publicly Wednesday to hash out differences between the House and Senate tax bills. But the real negotiations are happening behind closed doors, making the conference committee's first open session little more than a box to be checked as the GOP rushes to complete its tax overhaul. (Politico Pro)

Republican tax writers reject European objections. Republicans rewriting U.S. tax laws on international transactions aren't losing much sleep over concerns that they could upend existing treaties and trade obligations. (Politico Pro)

U.S. corporate tax rate is high, but not as high as it looks. The United States pays higher corporate taxes than most other G20 countries, but it's not as high as it looks at first glance. Companies often pay much lower than the rate that is written into law after taking into account deductions, credits and other provisions of the tax code. (Axios)

Republicans, Closing In on Final Tax Bill, Aim for a Vote Next Week. Republican lawmakers, scrambling to reach agreement on a final tax bill that they hope to pass next week, are coalescing around a plan that would slightly raise the proposed corporate tax rate, lower the top rate on the richest Americans and scale back the existing mortgage interest deduction. (New York Times)

Trump to make final tax push as Republican negotiators near deal. U.S. President Donald Trump will make a final push on Wednesday to shepherd a Republican tax overhaul over the finish line, hosting congressional negotiators for lunch before delivering a speech in which he will make his closing arguments for the legislation. (Reuters)

For Pass-Through Businesses, Let the (Tax) Games Begin. The owner of a Dallas law firm is thinking about splitting his business in two. The chief executive of an Illinois home-health-care provider was advised to slow franchise expansion. A Maryland publisher might change from a closely held corporation that distributes all profits to shareholders. (Wall Street Journal)

Tech Politics

Are tech companies trying to derail the sex-trafficking bill?. Last month, tech companies, anti-sex-trafficking advocates, prosecutors, and legislators celebrated a hardwon compromise on a bill designed to help prosecutors and victims pursue sites such as that facilitate online sex trafficking. (Wired)

How 2017 Became a Turning Point for Tech Giants. This was a terrible year for the tech industry. (New York Times)


Congress under pressure to reauthorize surveillance law. Congress is under the gun to reauthorize a major surveillance law in a debate that has been overshadowed by other major policy fights, like net neutrality and the investigation into online Russian election meddling. (Axios)

Judge: Cruise line isn't an internet provider under surveillance law. A cruise line doesn't amount to an internet provider under a key federal surveillance law, according to a court ruling released Tuesday. (Politico Pro)

Global Trade

GOP governors to deliver stay-in-NAFTA message to Pence. The Republican governors of Tennessee, Arkansas, Michigan and Iowa will meet with Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on Thursday to advocate for the importance of NAFTA in their states and highlight the dangers of pulling out of the pact, industry sources said. (Politico Pro)

Dear World Leaders: Tear Down Your Digital Walls. The modern economy depends implicitly on the movement of digital information across borders. (ITI Josh Kallmer Paper, The German Marshall Fund of the United States)

Artificial Intelligence

Lawmakers introduce bipartisan AI legislation. Lawmakers unveiled bipartisan legislation in both the House and Senate on Tuesday aimed at bolstering the development of artificial intelligence (AI). (The Hill)

Senate Dem warns of lack of diversity in AI engineering. Sen. Brian Schatz (Hawaii), the top-ranking Democrat on the Internet subcommittee, targeted technology firms lack of diversity and the harms it could pose to minorities during a hearing about artificial intelligence on Tuesday. (The Hill)

Google launching artificial intelligence research center in China. Alphabet Inc's Google said on Wednesday it is opening an artificial intelligence (AI) research center in China to target the country's local talent, even as the U.S. search firm's products remain blocked in the country. (Reuters)


Democrats back away from brink on DREAMers. Democratic leaders aren't going to shut down the government to save DREAMers in December. (Politico Pro)

Republicans Led by Donald Trump Challenge Family-Based Immigration. Family relationships have long formed the core of the U.S. immigration system. These preferences are now being targeted by Republicans led by President Donald Trump, who wants to reduce legal as well as illegal immigration to the U.S. (Wall Street Journal)


Can Silicon Valley's Pro-Antitrust Congressman Navigate His Monopoly-Friendly District?. It shouldn't have been surprising when Ro Khanna, the newly elected representative of California's 17th congressional district, said the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission should review the potential impact on jobs and wages of Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods. (New York Magazine)


Net Neutrality Protests Move Online, Yet Big Tech Is Quiet. Protests to preserve net neutrality, or rules that ensure equal access to the internet, migrated online on Tuesday, with numerous online companies posting calls on their sites for action to stop a vote later this week. (New York Times)

How Reddit and others 'broke the Internet' to support net neutrality today. Net neutrality rules will be repealed by the Federal Communications Commission Thursday, barring any unlikely last-minute changes. But net neutrality advocates won't let the vote pass quietly. (Ars Technica)

This poll gave Americans a detailed case for and against the FCC net neutrality plan. The reaction among Republicans was striking. On the eve of a pivotal vote that would deregulate the broadband industry, a fresh survey from the University of Maryland shows that large majorities of Americans - including 3 out of 4 Republicans - oppose the government's plan to repeal its net neutrality rules for Internet providers. (Washington Post)

FCC chairman says social media platforms lack transparency in how they restrict conservative content. In an interview Monday about the coming FCC vote over whether to repeal landmark net neutrality rules, agency chairman Ajit Pai took aim at a different group - the Web platforms themselves. (Washington Post)

FCC chairman jokes about being a Verizon shill, days before forcing an FCC vote that would be a boon for Verizon. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai probably thought he was adhering to the stand-up comedian's precept to "know the room" when he launched himself on a jokey, self-deprecating speech last week, complete with a videotaped comedy skit. (Los Angeles Times, Column)

How Repealing Net Neutrality Could Affect Schools' Internet Access. If the Federal Communications Commission chooses to repeal net neutrality regulations, it could affect access to the Internet for schools across the country. (NPR, Audio)

Dem FCC commissioner offers 'alternative' net neutrality proposal. Mignon Clyburn, a Democratic commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission, on Tuesday offered "edits" to a proposal from the FCC's Republican chairman to repeal net neutrality rules. (The Hill)

Dems make last-minute appeal to stop net neutrality vote. Democrats are trying to pressure the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) at the eleventh hour to call off its planned vote to scrap its net neutrality regulations. (The Hill)

Net Neutrality: A Case Study With JetBlue and Amazon. If you have taken a flight recently on JetBlue Airways , you might have noticed something that looks a lot like a net-neutrality boogeyman: prioritization of Inc.'s videos over other services, such as Netflix or HBO, on the airline's in-flight Wi-Fi network. (Wall Street Journal)

Trump's infrastructure plan will pit broadband against bridges in the race for cash. The administration's much-awaited infrastructure plan will rely heavily on dollars that state and local governments raise themselves or with private backers, along with a "mode neutral" focus that means bridges could be competing against broadband for funding. (Politico Pro)

AT&T begins testing high-speed internet over power lines. AT&T Inc has started trials in Georgia state and a non-U.S. location to deliver high-speed internet over power lines, the No. 2 wireless carrier said on Wednesday, marking its latest push to offer faster broadband service to more customers. (Reuters)

Millions of People Post Comments on Federal Regulations. Many Are Fake. A comment posted on the Federal Communications Commission's public docket endorses a Trump-administration plan to repeal a "net neutrality" policy requiring internet providers to treat all web traffic the same. (Wall Street Journal)

FCC Plan to Kill Net Neutrality Rules Could Hurt Students. Nichole Williams needed a career reboot. After more than a decade as a web designer in Atlanta, she felt her career was moving backward. (Wired)

Internet of Things

Volvo kick-starts self-driving program with civilian riders. Volvo's ambitious Drive Me project is now underway, and instead of relying on researchers alone, the automaker is delivering special vehicles to a few lucky families. (CNET)

Public Sector

Trump signs Modernizing Government Technology Act into law. The highly anticipated legislation to modernize the federal government's aging information technology infrastructure is now law. (Fed Scoop)

Hurdles remain for Trump's big tech push. President Trump signed an annual defense policy bill into law on Tuesday that includes a provision pushing agencies to upgrade their old technology. (ITAPS Pam Walker Quoted, The Hill)

Hurricane Maria has made Puerto Rico a testbed for new technology. After Maria, Puerto Rico's residents have grappled with unprecedented devastation. (Quartz)

Army's first directly-commissioned cyber officers could be on duty by next May. Sometime during the next week, the Army expects to convene a selection board to pick its first-ever cadre of newly-minted service members to move directly from the civilian cyber workforce to its officer corps. (Federal News Radio)

DHS cyber reorg bill passes House. A reorganization of the Department of Homeland Security's cyber shop is one step closer to reality after the House passed a bill by voice vote Dec. 11. (Federal Computer Week)

Pentagon's Next Cloud Contract Could Be Worth Billions. The Defense Department's developing cloud strategy has put the tech industry on edge. (NextGov)

CPS, City Colleges expand coding programs with help from Apple. Starting this spring, more Chicago Public Schools students will have a new language to learn: the one spoken by iPhone apps and Apple's iOS operating system. (Chicago Tribune)


Need Stretchy Pants? China's Energy Squeeze May Mean Higher Prices. Homes, businesses and even hospitals across northern China are running short of natural gas. Some schoolchildren are shivering. (New York Times)

Rising Coal Exports Give Short-Term Aid to an Ailing Industry. A shake-up in global coal trading has delivered some oxygen to the struggling American mining industry, driving up exports to energy-hungry countries. But the relief may not last. (New York Times)


PepsiCo makes biggest public pre-order of Tesla Semis: 100 trucks. PepsiCo Inc has reserved 100 of Tesla Inc's new electric Semi trucks, the largest known order of the big rig, as the maker of Mountain Dew soda and Doritos chips seeks to reduce fuel costs and fleet emissions, a company executive said on Tuesday. (Reuters)

Hyundai Bolsters Electric Car Lineup to Narrow Gap With Rivals. Hyundai Motor Group, which is lagging behind rivals in the introduction of newer electric-vehicle models, is stepping up plans for battery-powered cars as governments around the world crack down on polluting fossil fuels. (Bloomberg)

Macron Holds a Climate Summit, and Trump Casts a Shadow. Money was on everybody's mind at the climate summit meeting organized here on Tuesday, as President Emmanuel Macron of France tried to shore up support for the Paris climate deal by urging heads of state, chief executives and investors to commit more funding to the fight against global warming. (New York Times)

Tech Business
Irish start-up helps local shops compete with online giants. Pointy, a Dublin-based firm with Silicon Valley backers, is solving the problem of how to make it easier for people to find products they want close to home, as shopping online gets easier but locating what you want locally remains elusive. (Reuters)

Toshiba Settles Fight With Western Digital That Imperiled a Major Deal. Toshiba has cleared one of the last remaining hurdles to a planned sale of its microchip subsidiary and moved a step away from the financial brink. (New York Times)

ITI Member News

He Got Rich by Sparking the Fake News Boom. Then Facebook Broke His Business. Cyrus Massoumi spent the last few years building exactly what he thought would thrive on Facebook: A series of inflammatory conservative websites, finely tuned to produce the most viral and outrageous version of the news. The social network rewarded him with an audience. (Bloomberg, Video)
Facebook to Give Countries a Chance to Tax Its Profits From Local Ads. Facebook Inc. plans to book more revenue in the countries where it sells ads, becoming the latest U.S. tech giant to bow to pressure from foreign governments to simplify its tax structure and potentially pay more income tax overseas. (Wall Street Journal)
Facebook to overhaul how it pays tax worldwide. Facebook said Tuesday that it will change how it pays tax on its global operations, in a move that may result in the social networking giant contributing more to national budgets across Europe and farther afield. (Politico Pro)
Facebook to Start Paying Taxes Locally, Instead of Through Ireland. Facebook Inc. is changing its tax structure so that it will pay taxes in the country where sales are made, rather than funneling everything through its Irish subsidiary. (Bloomberg)
Facebook will no longer use Ireland as a global tax and revenue base. Tech giant will in future book revenues in the countries in which they were earned - shrinking the firm's Irish tax bill. (The Irish Times)
Former Facebook VP says social media is destroying society with 'dopamine-driven feedback loops'. A former Facebook executive is making waves after he spoke out about his "tremendous guilt" over growing the social network, which he feels has eroded "the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other." (Washington Post)
Facebook responds to former VP who said social media is destroying society. Facebook has taken the unusual step of directly responding to a former employee who recently excoriated the biggest social networks for "ripping apart the social fabric of how society works." And the company's retort might surprise some people. (The Verge)
Tech firms could be held liable for extremism and abuse. Google, Facebook and Twitter should be held liable for illegal and dangerous content on their platforms, an ethics body has said. (BBC)
Google and NASA to reveal mysterious new space find. The leaders in space and search are teaming up to announce they've found something in the search for other Earths beyond our solar system. (CNET)
Anyone can now build augmented reality face masks inside Facebook. Earlier this year, Facebook announced that it would give some hand-selected outside developers permission to build augmented reality features for Facebook's in-app camera. (Recode)
Twitter to let users make tweet threads more easily. Twitter said on Tuesday it would add a pair of buttons that will allow users to more easily see and add new tweets to existing ones on the same topic. (Reuters)

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 votes expected: 2:15 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. Last votes expected: 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
The Senate will convene at 12:00 p.m. and proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the nomination of Don R. Willett to be a Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
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