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Tech News Roundup - 01/02/2018

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Tax overhaul means years of paydays for K Street. President Donald Trump just signed into law the biggest tax overhaul in a generation, but that means more work - not less - for Washington's tax lobbyists. (Politico Pro)

Democrats in High-Tax States Plot to Blunt Impact of New Tax Law. Democrats in high-cost, high-tax states are plotting ways to do what their states' representatives in Congress could not: blunt the impact of the newly passed Republican tax overhaul. (New York Times)

Last-Minute Rush to Prepay Taxes Gives Way to Confusion and Anger. In Hempstead, a Long Island town where the typical property tax bill tops $10,000, residents have lined up all week to prepay those taxes for next year. They have been trying to save thousands of dollars before the new federal tax bill, which goes into effect on New Year's Day, sharply limits deductions for state and local taxes. (New York Times)

IRS says many who prepaid property taxes may still face cap on deductions. People across the United States rushed this week to pay their 2018 property taxes early, hoping to take advantage one last time of a federal deduction that will be scaled back under the tax-code overhaul signed by President Trump. (Washington Post)

Tax Law Offers a Carrot to Gig Workers. But It May Have Costs. The new tax law is likely to accelerate a hotly disputed trend in the American economy by rewarding workers who sever formal relationships with their employers and become contractors. (New York Times)

What New Tax Law? Caterpillar Fights to Protect Its Swiss-Made Profits. More than a decade before federal agents arrived at Caterpillar Inc. in March with search warrants, an anonymous employee claimed in a letter to its chief executive that something was wrong about how the heavy-machinery maker used a subsidiary in Switzerland to shrink its tax bill. (Wall Street Journal)

A Republican deficit hawk flies alone. There are 291 Republicans in Congress, and only one voted against the GOP tax bill because he thinks it will increase the U.S. deficit. (Washington Post)

Tax Law Ushers In Higher Executive Salaries at Netflix. Netflix Inc. said Thursday that it plans to increase the annual salary for a number of its top executives in 2018. (Wall Street Journal)

Tech Politics

Five regulatory fights facing tech in 2018. Technology firms are facing tough regulatory fights in the coming year after a turbulent 2017. (ITI Andy Halataei Quoted, The Hill)

The making of a Big Tech reckoning. Some on Capitol Hill are exploring the idea that companies like Facebook and Google have designed products with the intention of getting and keeping consumers addicted to the feeling of getting likes, comments, shares, and hearts. (Axios)

Tech Firms Drawn Into Lawmakers' Battle Over Deterring Online Sex Trade. A dispute over how to deter a flourishing online sex trade is likely to escalate into a high-profile policy battle in 2018, adding to political headaches for big tech. (Wall Street Journal)

How Do You Vote? 50 Million Google Images Give a Clue. Timnit Gebru led the research effort at Stanford University that analyzed 50 million images and location data from Google Street View, the street-scene feature of the online giant's mapping service. (New York Times)

Call for tech giants to face taxes over extremist content. Internet companies should face a tax punishment for failing to deal with the threat of terrorism in the UK, security minister Ben Wallace has said. (BBC)

Germany starts enforcing hate speech law. Germany is set to start enforcing a law that demands social media sites move quickly to remove hate speech, fake news and illegal material. (BBC)

'Fake News': Wide Reach but Little Impact, Study Suggests. Fake news evolved from seedy internet sideshow to serious electoral threat so quickly that behavioral scientists had little time to answer basic questions about it, like who was reading what, how much real news they also consumed and whether targeted fact-checking efforts ever hit a target. (New York Times)


That Game on Your Phone May Be Tracking What You're Watching on TV. At first glance, the gaming apps - with names like "Pool 3D," "Beer Pong: Trickshot" and "Real Bowling Strike 10 Pin" - seem innocuous. Yet these apps, once downloaded onto a smartphone, have the ability to keep tabs on the viewing habits of their users - some of whom may be children - even when the games aren't being played. (New York Times)

China's WeChat denies storing user chats. Tencent Holdings' WeChat, China's most popular messenger app, on Tuesday denied storing users' chat histories, after a top businessman was quoted in media reports as saying he believed Tencent was monitoring everyone's account. (Reuters)

Global Trade
Tech industry expresses support for EU decision on data flows. The Information Technology Industry Council has come out in support of a European Council decision to develop new rules to allow non-personal data to move more freely across borders. (ITI Guido Lobrano Quoted, Inside Cybersecurity)

Artificial Intelligence

Health care is hemorrhaging data. AI is here to help. In the walled-off world of health care, with its HIPAA laws and privacy hot buttons, AI is only just beginning to change the way doctors see, diagnose, treat, and monitor patients. (Wired)

Chinese Advances In Artificial Intelligence. China's top search engine Baidu is leading the country's drive to dominate AI. The company says its aims are purely commercial, but China also seeks a strategic and military advantage over rivals. (NPR, Audio)

Can an Algorithm Tell When Kids Are in Danger?. The call to Pittsburgh's hotline for child abuse and neglect came in at 3:50 p.m. on the Wednesday after Thanksgiving 2016. Sitting in one of 12 cubicles, in a former factory now occupied by the Allegheny County Police Department and the back offices of the department of Children, Youth and Families, the call screener, Timothy Byrne, listened as a preschool teacher described what a 3-year-old child had told him. (New York Times)

A.I. and Big Data Could Power a New War on Poverty. When it comes to artificial intelligence and jobs, the prognostications are grim. The conventional wisdom is that A.I. might soon put millions of people out of work - that it stands poised to do to clerical and white collar workers over the next two decades what mechanization did to factory workers over the past two. (New York Times, Opinion)


Bipartisan DACA, spending talks set to commence with White House. Democratic and Republican congressional leaders will meet Wednesdaywith top White House officials as they attempt to hammer out a deal to avert a government shutdown and resolve an impasse on immigration. (Politico)

Trump to Dems: No DACA deal without the border wall. Democrats seeking a deal to protect so-called Dreamers from deportation must be prepared to agree to a package that includes several White House priorities, including a border wall and reforms to the U.S. immigration system, President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter Friday morning. (Politico)

Congress heads toward showdown over 'Dreamers'. Congress is barreling toward a showdown over immigration in January. (The Hill)


EU Competition Chief Tracks How Companies Use 'Big Data'. European Union antitrust regulators are eyeing an increasingly important corporate currency: data. (Wall Street Journal)


AT&T says all U.S. states will use its public safety network. AT&T Inc said on Friday that all 50 U.S. states had decided to participate in the nationwide broadband network it is building for first responders as part of a $6.5 billion government contract. (Reuters)

Exclusive: New coalition to bring more internet to rural America. Microsoft, along with a slew of rural broadband and technology groups, is launching a new issue advocacy coalition called Connect Americans Now that aims to eliminate the digital divide in rural America. (Axios)

Startups Seek Tech Solution to Net Neutrality Repeal. Daniela Perdomo is concerned about the power of U.S. telecom giants that stand to gain from the repeal of "net neutrality" rules. Her company offers a way around them: A $90 antenna that lets users send messages without cellular service or Wi-Fi. (Wall Street Journal)


2017 was a terrible year for internet freedom. According to a recent study by the non-profit Freedom House, the principles of internet freedom are under attack worldwide-including in the United States. And it's only getting worse. (Wired)

Introducing Force 47, Vietnam's New Weapon Against Online Dissent. On Christmas Day, Vietnam's army unveiled its latest answer to the question of how to police the internet: a new, 10,000-strong cyber unit to trawl the web and counter any "wrongful opinions" about the communist state's government. (Wall Street Journal)

Iran protests: Telegram and Instagram restricted. Iran has moved to restrict social media networks that have been used to organise four days of anti-establishment protests. (BBC)

Internet of Things

After peak hype, self-driving cars enter the trough of disillusionment. Volvo has rolled back its timeline for the Drive Me self-driving car program in Gothenburg, Sweden. (Wired)

How Antivirus Software Can Be Turned Into a Tool for Spying. It has been a secret, long known to intelligence agencies but rarely to consumers, that security software can be a powerful spy tool. (New York Times)
After Equifax breach, anger but no action in Congress. The massive Equifax data breach, which compromised the identities of more than 145 million Americans, prompted a telling response from Congress: It did nothing. (Politico)


Tech and Racial Bias. As a person of color and a parent, I, too, worry about the implications that racial bias has for me, my family and society. (ITI Dean Garfield Letter to the Editor, New York Times)
Workplace robots could increase inequality, warns IPPR. The government must intervene to stop automation driving up wage inequality, a think tank has warned. (BBC)
U.S. to Roll Back Safety Rules Created After Deepwater Horizon Spill. The Trump administration is poised to roll back offshore drilling safety regulations that were put in place after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 people and caused the worst oil spill in American history. (New York Times)


Fighting Climate Change, One Laundry Load at a Time. Experts in the study of fungi are playing a bigger role in improving laundry detergents and, by extension, leading efforts to cut energy use. (New York Times)
How Climate Change Deniers Rise to the Top in Google Searches. Groups that reject established climate science can use the search engine's advertising business to their advantage, gaming the system to find a mass platform for false or misleading claims. (New York Times)
Using the Airbnb Model to Protect the Environment. As the world's population grows, so does demand for land. One upshot is that setting aside big tracts to protect endangered species and carbon-rich forests is increasingly expensive. (New York Times)
The sunny optimism of clean energy shines through Tech's gloom. Clean energy. It is, in effect, the new Silicon Valley-filled with giddy, breathtaking ingenuity and flat-out good news. (Wired)
Does a lower 'total cost of ownership' boost electric car sales?. In 2015, battery-electric vehicles in Japan, the UK, California, and Texas were slightly cheaper than traditional gas or diesel vehicles-as long as you're comparing all these vehicles using their total cost of ownership (TCO). (Ars Technica)

Tech Business
Exclusive: Apple and Amazon in talks to set up in Saudi Arabia - sources. Apple and Amazon are in licensing discussions with Riyadh on investing in Saudi Arabia, two sources told Reuters, part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's push to give the conservative kingdom a high-tech look. (Reuters)
A Browser You've Never Heard of Is Dethroning Google in Asia. A mobile browser rarely used in the West has outflanked Google's Chrome in some of Asia's fastest-growing markets, giving owner Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. an advantage in the race among technology giants to capture the next generation of internet users. (Wall Street Journal)
11 Stocks Rattled by Amazon in 2017. Amazon's ambitions have few limits, and when the company appears interested in expanding its business into a new area, it can spook investors in potential competitors. The mere specter of its entry into a particular industry can shape markets. (New York Times)
San Francisco's Skyline, Now Inescapably Transformed by Tech. Salesforce Tower, which at 1,070 feet is the tallest office building west of the Mississippi, will be inhabited in January, signaling tech's triumph in the city. (New York Times)
Inside the Hollywood Home of Social Media's Stars. (Don't Be Shy.). On any given day, something crazy is likely to be happening at 1600 Vine Street, a 550-unit apartment complex in Hollywood. (New York Times)
With lineup widening, Apple depends less on iPhone X. In years past, demand for Apple Inc's latest flagship phone was critical to the company's results over the holiday shopping quarter. That dynamic might be changing, however, as Apple's widening lineup of devices and services more than makes up for any tepidness in demand this quarter for its lead product, the $999 iPhone X. (Reuters)

ITI Member News

Accused of Slowing Old iPhones, Apple Offers Battery Discounts. Facing a barrage of criticism after acknowledging the existence of a feature that can reduce the processing power of old iPhones, Apple said Thursday that it would reduce the price of battery replacements to regain customers' trust. (New York Times)
Could Apple's battery program encourage people to upgrade less often?. Apple's announcement that it will reduce the price to replace some iPhone batteries gives those keeping older phones a cheaper way to make them last longer - and adds a little nuance to the debate over whether to upgrade. (Washington Post)
Trump wants Postal Service to charge 'much more' for Amazon shipments. President Donald Trump called on the U.S. Postal Service on Friday to charge "much more" to ship packages for Amazon, picking another fight with an online retail giant he has criticized in the past. (Reuters)
The Limits of Amazon. Inc. is a colossus. In the near future, it could even surpass Apple Inc. as the world's largest publicly traded company. (Wall Street Journal)
The Library of Congress is about to stop archiving every public tweet. For the past six years, the Library of Congress has been collecting every single tweet published on Twitter. Celebrity feuds, political campaigns and mundane "here's what I had for lunch" tweets have all been scrupulously archived. But now, the Library of Congress says it will stop trying to cover the entire platform. (Washington Post)
YouTube app removed from Amazon Fire TV kit early. The YouTube app has been removed from Amazon's Fire TV devices four days earlier than expected, as a dispute between Amazon and Google continues. (BBC)
Amazon ordered not to pull in customers who can't spell 'Birkenstock'. A German court has ordered Amazon not to lure internet shoppers to its online marketplace when they mistakenly search for "Brikenstock", "Birkenstok", "Bierkenstock" and other variations in Google. (Reuters)
10 ways tech will shape your life in 2018, for better and worse. Is the outlook for technology in 2018 exciting - or slightly terrifying? Flip a coin. You'd be right either way. (Washington Post)
In 2018, Tech's Cowardly Lions Need Courage. Chinese technology companies have long taken their cues from Silicon Valley, hence the Chinese equivalents to Google, YouTube, Twitter and Uber. (Wall Street Journal)
The Worst Job in Technology: Staring at Human Depravity to Keep It Off Facebook. By her second day on the job, Sarah Katz knew how jarring it can be to work as a content moderator for Facebook Inc. She says she saw anti-Semitic speech, bestiality photos and video of what seemed to be a girl and boy told by an adult off-screen to have sexual contact with each other. (Wall Street Journal)

Today on the Hill

The House is not in session today.
The Senate will convene at 4:00 p.m. for a pro forma session.
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