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Tech News Roundup - 02/15/2018

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Hatch pushes for immigration reform focused on high-skilled workers. The amendments to the pending Senate immigration legislation in H.R. 2579 aim to both target companies that are overly dependent on H-1B high-skilled immigration visas and streamlines the process for some workers to gain green cards. (ITI Andy Halataei Quoted, The Hill)
Hatch injects H-1B into immigration debate. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) filed a series of amendments today that could increase employer access to specialized foreign guest workers through the H-1B visa program. (ITI Andy Halataei Quoted, Politico Pro)
Senators Strike Bipartisan Deal on Immigration Despite Veto Threat. A broad bipartisan group of senators reached agreement Wednesday on a narrow rewrite of the nation's immigration laws that would bolster border security and resolve the fate of the so-called Dreamers, even as President Trump suggested he would veto any plan that does not adhere to his harder-line approach. (New York Times)
Silicon Valley joins fight against Trump's sanctuary city order. A group of four dozen Silicon Valley companies filed an amicus brief Wednesday in support of a California federal judge's decision to permanently block President Trump's executive order, which threatened to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities. (Axios)
Foreign workers: in demand, and anxious. At a time of a federal crackdown on immigration, American companies say they need more foreign skilled workers to fill open positions, and that they are offering generous perks to attract them. (Axios)
Tech Politics

Nominee for FTC chairman signals scrutiny for tech giants. President Trump's nominee to lead one of the nation's top consumer watchdog agencies suggested to Congress on Wednesday that Silicon Valley may draw scrutiny for potential antitrust violations under his tenure, which could challenge the growing influence of the country's dominant tech platforms. (Washington Post)

F.C.C. Watchdog Looks Into Changes That Benefited Sinclair. Last April, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, led the charge for his agency to approve rules allowing television broadcasters to greatly increase the number of stations they own. (New York Times)


U.S. to Block Tax-Law Loophole on 'Carried Interest'. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the government will act within two weeks to block a hedge-fund maneuver around part of the new tax law. (Wall Street Journal)
Artificial Intelligence

AI is the new battleground in geopolitics. Artificial intelligence is becoming a dimension of grand geopolitics, with countries worried about who will achieve the big advances first, and the technology merging with traditional military doctrine. (Axios)
White House 'Deeply Committed' to Artificial Intelligence. The White House made machine learning and autonomous systems research and development priorities this year, the deputy chief technology officer said. (Next Gov)
More Money, Fewer Rules Could Help AI Grow, Experts Say. The government needs to put money into artificial intelligence if it wants to beat other countries, tech experts say. (Next Gov)


AT&T Is Said to Want Antitrust Official on Witness List for Trial. AT&T is seeking to put the head of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division on its witness list in a trial over the government's decision to block the phone giant's $85 billion merger with Time Warner, according to two people with knowledge of the pretrial activity. (New York Times)


Industry takes wait-and-see approach to State Dept. plan for creating cyberspace bureau. The Trump administration last week unveiled a plan for establishing a cyberspace bureau within the State Department, prompting initial support from industry officials who also say they are waiting to see the details on how and when the office will be created before fully judging its usefulness. (ITI John Miller Quoted, Inside Cybersecurity)
U.K. Says Russia Behind Cyberattack That Crippled Global Firms. Ukraine bore the brunt of the June attack, in which the 'Petya' worm spread among corporate computer networks. (Wall Street Journal)

'Netflix tax' proposed to subsidize rural broadband in Georgia. A lawmaker's plan to restructure the state's broadband franchising and tax rules includes a new digital media tax for consumers. (State Scoop)

As the Streaming Wars Heat Up, Ryan Murphy Cashes In. The battle between the Hollywood establishment and the streaming-media giants has caused big changes in the entertainment industry in recent months, driving up the prices of major stars and series producers while leaving traditional companies in danger of losing relevance. (New York Times)

Internet of Things

Cloud giants are competing for startups' attention. On Wednesday, Microsoft unveiled a new program to offer startups a slew or resources, just one day after Oracle announced an accelerator program for startups in Austin - and one virtually. (Axios)


To Fill Jobs in a Tight Labor Market, Employers May Need to Get Creative. A new program is helping workers recalibrate skills for a tech-driven economy, including those without college degrees. (Wall Street Journal)
IBM lawsuit casts diversity in starkly competitive terms. International Business Machines Corp's insistence in a new lawsuit that its efforts to recruit and maintain a diverse workforce are trade secrets bucks a trend towards transparency and highlights how companies can see the issue in competitive terms, business and legal experts said. (Reuters)


Trump urges GOP to consider a 25-cent hike in the gas tax. President Trump tried Wednesday to persuade his fellow Republicans to raise the gas tax. (Washington Post)
In Trump's first year, U.S. agency doubles solar investments abroad. The United States government doubled its financial support for solar power projects overseas during President Donald Trump's first year in office under a climate-friendly investment policy inherited from the Obama administration, according to a Reuters review of government documents. (Reuters)
Tech Business

Sam's Club Makes E-Commerce Push With Amazon Prime Competitor. On Wednesday, the warehouse club, which is a unit of Walmart, revealed more details about its strategic shift - one that is based, predictably, on increasing its e-commerce sales. (New York Times)

ITI Member News

Facebook funded most of the experts who vetted messenger kids. In December, when Facebook launched Messenger Kids, an app for preteens and children as young as 6, the company stressed that it had worked closely with leading experts in order to safeguard younger users. (Wired)
The Facebooking of Everything. In the era of YouTube and Instagram, of course you cover Kim like Kendall Jenner. (Wall Street Journal, OpEd)
Google Will Block Spammy Ads (Just Not Many of Its Own). Critics say the search giant's ad-blocking plan-which will screen out certain types of ads in its Google Chrome browser-is self-serving. (Wall Street Journal)
Google raises price of YouTube TV, adds sports, Turner. Alphabet Inc's Google is raising the price of its YouTube TV online service for new customers as it adds channels from Time Warner Inc's Turner, National Basketball League and Major League Baseball, the company said Wednesday. (Reuters)
Apple in talks for first order from Chinese chipmaker: Nikkei. Apple Inc is in talks to buy storage chips from Yangtze Memory Technologies, a move that would mark the iPhone maker's first buy from a Chinese memory chipmaker, the Nikkei reported on Wednesday. (Reuters)
Qualcomm meets Broadcom to discuss $121 billion acquisition offer. Qualcomm Inc said on Wednesday it met with Broadcom Ltd earlier in the day to discuss the latter's revised $121 billion bid, the first time the chipmakers have discussed what would be the technology sector's largest ever acquisition. (Reuters)
Amazon's Jeff Bezos Can't Beat Washington, So He's Joining It: The Influence Game. In the final days of 2017, President Donald Trump attacked Amazon, tweeting that the U.S. Postal Service should charge the world's largest online retailer "MUCH MORE!" for delivering packages. (Bloomberg)

Today on the Hill

The House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business. First and last votes expected: 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
The Senate will convene and resume consideration of H.R.2579, the vehicle for immigration legislation at 10:00 a.m.
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