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Tech News Roundup - 11/30/2017

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11/30/2017

Key Issues

Taxes

Senate rushes tax bill forward, but Republicans split over key details. A massive GOP tax bill cleared a key procedural hurdle in the Senate Wednesday, as lawmakers voted 52-48 to move the legislation forward toward a showdown vote on final passage by week's end. (Washington Post)

Senate Republicans round up more votes for tax plan. Senate GOP holdouts began lining up behind their party's tax overhaul on Wednesday ahead of a key vote, giving another jolt to Republicans' chances of passing a bill this week. (Politico Pro)

Trump Wanted a Bigger Tax Cut for the Rich but Lost to Ivanka. President Trump urged senators this month to repeal the Affordable Care Act's requirement that most Americans have health insurance and use the proceeds to slash the top tax rate paid by the richest Americans, a suggestion that pitted him against his daughter and Republican senators intent on helping the middle class. (New York Times)

How Tax Bills Would Reward Companies That Moved Money Offshore. Over the past few decades, some of the largest companies in the United States made a big bet: By stashing hundreds of billions of dollars of profits offshore, they could slash their taxes and bolster their profits. (New York Times)

A Business Tax Fight Erupts Over the 'Haves' and 'Have-Mores'. Two of the Republican senators who have stepped forward to block the party's dash toward a tax overhaul say they are withholding their support to stick up for Main Street. (New York Times)

A Revenue 'Trigger' Would Shoot Down Tax Cuts If Economy Doesn't Grow As Expected. Republicans lawmakers are considering a federal budget "trigger" that would raise taxes if proposed tax cuts don't deliver the economic growth they have promised. (NPR)

Corporate Tax Rate in Flux as Senate Votes to Open Debate. Senate Republicans are considering whether to cut the corporate tax rate less deeply than President Donald Trump has demanded, a move that could make it easier to pass the tax bill they voted to begin debating Wednesday. (Wall Street Journal)

What Republicans say when asked why their tax bill benefits the rich most of all. A number of studies have made clear that the tax bill Senate Republicans are trying to pass this week offers some of its biggest rewards to wealthy Americans. (Washington Post)

Marco Rubio, Mike Lee push plan to raise corporate tax rate, give benefits to the poor. The Senate Republican tax plan would leave out millions of the poorest families from expanded child tax credits, but Republican Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Mike Lee (Utah) are pushing a plan to include those families - and to pay for it by taking some proposed tax breaks away from corporations. (Washington Post)

Senate Republicans round up more votes for tax plan. One by one, the GOP holdouts on the Senate tax bill are falling into place for Republican leadership. (Politico Pro)

Five ways the GOP tax plans help wealthy whites and hurt minorities. Republican proposals to overhaul the tax code would largely benefit wealthy white Americans and further widen the economic gulf between them and minority communities, according to policy analysts for liberal think tanks and civil rights groups. (Washington Post)

Senate GOP clears key hurdle on tax bill, moving closer to a final vote. A massive GOP tax bill cleared a key procedural hurdle in the Senate on Wednesday, as lawmakers voted 52 to 48 to move the legislation forward toward a showdown vote on final passage by week's end. (Washington Post)

The Senate Is Rushing to Pass Its Tax Bill Because It Stinks. As more senators show signs of sacrificing their principles and embracing the Republican tax bill for minor and nebulous concessions, it bears looking more closely at the process that produced this terrible legislation and some of its lesser-known provisions. (New York Times, Editorial)

GOP places risky bet on trickle-down tax cut. Republicans are on the cusp of passing the biggest corporate tax cut in American history, betting it will ignite an economic boom that creates better jobs and fatter paychecks for middle-class Americans. (Politico Pro)

Trump still hasn't mastered the art of dealing with Democrats. For all of President Donald Trump's bragging about his negotiation skills, he has yet to cut any major deals with Democrats - including on his administration's top priority, tax reform. (Politico Pro)

U.S. Tax Overhaul Raises Alarms Among Foreign Executives. Tax overhaul proposals winding their way through Congress may look great for U.S. corporations. For foreign firms, not so much. (Wall Street Journal)

Privacy

Justices Seem Ready to Boost Protection of Digital Privacy. At a lively Supreme Court argument on Wednesday, a majority of the justices seemed troubled by the government's ability to acquire troves of digital data without a warrant. (New York Times)

Supreme Court grapples with cellphone privacy in digital age. Supreme Court justices appeared troubled that law enforcement can legally access individuals' cellphone location data without a warrant but seemed unsure on how to proceed with ensuring privacy rights are protected in the digital age. (Politico Pro)

Poe jump starts backlash over Intelligence surveillance bill. Rep. Ted Poe this afternoon skewered the House Intelligence Committee's decision to craft their own bill to renew warrantless surveillance programs, signaling the start of an expected backlash from civil liberties advocates against the effort. (Politico Pro)

Schiff floats warrant fix to surveillance efforts. Rep. Adam Schiff believes he has a fix to proposed warrant requirements that are endangering renewal of powerful electronic spying tools that expire at the end of the year. (Politico Pro)

House Intelligence releases surveillance renewal bill. The House Intelligence Committee late Wednesday released its own bill to reauthorize electronic surveillance programs slated to expire at the end of the year. (Politico Pro)

Global Trade

US to investigate Chinese aluminium trade. The US has announced another trade investigation, this time targeting China's aluminium industry. (BBC)

Guajardo optimistic on NAFTA after Washington meetings. Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo appeared confident about future NAFTA talks after traveling to Washington for multiple meetings with U.S. officials, signaling that his country could compromise on some challenging U.S. proposals. (Politico Pro)

U.S. Joins Europe in Fighting China's Future in W.T.O. The United States has filed arguments to the World Trade Organization in a looming dispute over China's future in the international body, which could shape the global trading system for decades to come. (New York Times)

European startups are on pace to collect a record $19 billion from investors this year, despite concerns the U.K.'s departure from the European Union will weigh on the region's technology industry, according to an annual report by the London-based venture capital firm Atomico. (Bloomberg)
Artificial Intelligence

Facebook's AI wipes terrorism-related posts. Facebook has said that efforts to use artificial intelligence and other automated techniques to delete terrorism-related posts are "bearing fruit" but more work is needed. (BBC)

It's not always AI that sifts through your sensitive info. It's increasingly unremarkable for consumers to use artificial intelligence tools in their daily lives. (Wired)
Amazon Focuses on Machine Learning to Beat Cloud Rivals. Amazon.com Inc. unveiled new machine-learning tools, including algorithms that automate decisions and speech recognition, seeking to solidify its dominant position over Microsoft Corp. and Alphabet Inc. in the fast-growing and profitable cloud-computing market. (Bloomberg)

Immigration

GOP looks to jam Democrats in shutdown fight. President Donald Trump and congressional GOP leaders are daring Democrats to shut down the government over immigration rather than back a plan to extend funding into January. (Politico Pro)

Tech giants urge support of DACA as December deadlines loom. Their goal: Highlight the value to the US economy of so-called Dreamers, those undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children. (CNET)

Antitrust

AT&T says it should be allowed to buy Time Warner because Comcast bought NBC. AT&T is fighting back against the Trump administration's attempt to block its proposed purchase of Time Warner Inc. One week after the Department of Justice (DOJ) sued to block the deal, AT&T filed its first answer to the lawsuit yesterday.(Ars Technica)

AT&T hinted at First Amendment issues in saying it's not willing to sell CNN to acquire Time Warner. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said Wednesdaythe wireless giant is "prepared to make concessions" in order to win U.S. government approval for its merger with Time Warner - but it isn't willing to sell assets like CNN because of the "message it sends." (Recode)

U.S. judge sets pre-trial hearing on AT&T merger deal. A federal judge on Wednesday set a Dec. 7 pre-trial hearing in the Justice Department's complaint seeking to block AT&T Inc's proposed acquisition of Time Warner Inc. (Reuters)

AT&T CEO says blackout ban shows company willing to settle DOJ fight. AT&T Inc's proposed seven-year ban on programming blackouts to distributors of some Time Warner Inc content shows that the company is willing to offer concessions to close its $85.4 billion bid for the programmer, AT&T's chief executive officer said on Wednesday. (Reuters)

Broadband/Communications

Comcast deleted net neutrality pledge the same day FCC announced repeal. We wrote earlier this week about how Comcast has changed its promises to uphold net neutrality by pulling back from previous statements that it won't charge websites or other online applications for fast lanes. (Ars Technica)

FCC Chairman Pai is swiping again at tech, Twitter and social media - this time for the spread of 'harassment' and 'vitriol'. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Wednesday lamented the "harassment" and "threats" and "unfiltered rage" that often dominate social media, concluding he didn't have an answer as to whether it had actually resulted in any "net benefit to American society." (Recode)

Over half of public comments to FCC on net neutrality appear fake: study. More than half of the 21.7 million public comments submitted to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission about net neutrality this year used temporary or duplicate email addresses and appeared to include false or misleading information, the Pew Research Center said on Wednesday. (Reuters)

The People Who Police the Internet Are Changing. The federal cop that polices much of the internet is about to shift, a move that could lead to a fundamental reshaping of the online economy. (Wall Street Journal)

What an internet analyst got wrong about net neutrality. The Federal Communications Commission's plan to jettison its net-neutrality rules found a surprise supporter this week in respected technology industry analyst and blogger Ben Thompson. (Wired)

Charter is using net neutrality repeal to fight lawsuit over slow speeds. The impending repeal of net neutrality rules is being used by Charter Communications to fight a lawsuit that alleges the company made false promises of fast Internet service. (Ars Technica)

Public Sector
House panel presses FAA to curtail drone dangers. As the number of small unmanned aerial systems continues to grow, legislators are pushing the Federal Aviation Administration to improve UAS safety without stalling commercial innovation. (Federal Computer Week)

Air Force needs help bringing broadband to every U.S. base. The Air Force is looking to industry for help on how it can best bring broadband coverage to its installations across the U.S. in an efficient and effective manner. (Fed Scoop)

Tillerson: Cloud part of State's 'redesign'. State Department IT is "very cumbersome," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told an audience at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., in the Q&A period following a prepared speech. (Federal Computer Week)

Encryption

Arkansas Prosecutors Drop Murder Case That Hinged On Evidence From Amazon Echo. Arkansas prosecutors have dropped their case against James Bates, whom they had charged with first-degree murder partly with the help of evidence collected by an Amazon Echo smart speaker. (NPR)

Cybersecurity
The Pluses and Perils of Trump's Cyber Strategy. Is Donald Trump's cybersecurity policy humming along at the 10-month mark of his administration, a rare space of continuity amid myriad shifts and realignments? Or is Trump blazing a new path that could set dangerous precedents in cyberspace and leave the internet more ungovernable in the future? (Next Gov)
Classified Pentagon data leaked on the public cloud. Classified Pentagon data was mistakenly left exposed on an unsecured public cloud server, cyber-security researchers have discovered. (BBC)
D.J.I., the Chinese Drone Maker, Clashes with U.S. Over Data. D.J.I., the popular drone maker, stands as a symbol of China's growing technology prowess. Its propeller-powered machines dominate global markets and buzz regularly over beaches, cityscapes at sunset and increasingly, power plants and government installations. (New York Times)
Will new breach reporting rules make defense firms more secure?. New information security rules governing defense industrial base firms take effect on Dec. 31. (Federal Computer Week)
NATO mulls 'offensive defense' with cyber warfare rules. A group of NATO allies are considering a more muscular response to state-sponsored computer hackers that could involve using cyber attacks to bring down enemy networks, officials said. (Reuters)

Intellectual Property

Apple accuses Qualcomm of patent infringement in countersuit. Apple Inc on Wednesday filed a countersuit against Qualcomm Inc, alleging that Qualcomm's Snapdragon mobile phone chips that power a wide variety of Android-based devices infringe on Apple's patents, the latest development in a long-running dispute. (Reuters)

Workforce/Diversity
Report finds little change in tech industry leadership diversity. Asians are least likely to be promoted to managerial or executive positions in the San Francisco Bay Area's technology sector, even as they are the largest minority group of professionals and are most likely to be hired, according to one study. (NBC News)

Internet of Things

G.M. Unveils Its Driverless Cars, Aiming to Lead the Pack. For more than a year, General Motors has tantalized investors with plans to build its future around self-driving cars. (New York Times)

My herky-jerky ride in General Motors' ultra-cautious self-driving car. Nothing will make you hate humans-capricious, volatile, unplanned, erratic humans-like sitting in the back of self-driving car. (Wired)

Amazon adopts open cloud technology as competition heats up. Amazon.com Inc on Wednesday announced its adoption of Kubernetes, a popular open-source technology, in a sign of increased competition in the cloud computing business, which Amazon Web Services has long dominated. (Reuters)

Energy
One of the country's biggest oil fields just turned to an unexpected power source: Solar. The Belridge oil field near Bakersfield, Calif., is one of the largest in the country. (Washington Post)
Conservationists Face Once-Remote Prospect in Arctic Drilling Fight: Defeat. Carl Portman remembers watching, heartbroken, from Anchorage in 2005 as a Senate effort to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge lost by two votes. (New York Times)
Oil drops for third day, awaiting OPEC decision. Oil prices dipped on Wednesday in a volatile session buffeted by conflicting statements from oil ministers a day ahead of OPEC's meeting in Vienna, as members debate the path for an extension of the group's supply-cut agreement. (Reuters)
OPEC Is Expected to Extend Output Cuts, but Questions Remain Over Length. OPEC members said Thursday they were poised to agree to extend their efforts to cut crude-oil production through the end of June and possibly through all of 2018, a crucial juncture for an oil industry in the midst of a fragile recovery. (Wall Street Journal)

Environment/Sustainability
How to Fix Global Warming: We Talk to Tech Innovators, Entrepreneurs and Political Leaders. How can policymakers, entrepreneurs and technologists fight climate change in the face of political headwinds? (New York Times)

BMW looking for partners to develop electric small cars. Germany's BMW AG is talking with other automakers "around the world" to try to find partners to lower the cost of electrifying its future Mini small cars, management board member Peter Schwarzenbauer told Reuters. (Reuters)

Automakers pledge ethical minerals sourcing for electric cars. Leading carmakers including Volkswagen and Toyota pledged on Wednesday to uphold ethical and socially responsible standards in their purchases of minerals for an expected boom in electric vehicle production. (Reuters)

Tech Business
Cyber Monday helps Amazon break its single-day sales record. The company's last single-day sales record came in July during the Prime Day sale. (CNET)
Slump in Facebook, Apple raises prospects of tech rally brake. Shares of Facebook, Apple and other technology heavyweights dropped on Wednesday, creating uncertainty over whether the top-performing sector's record-breaking rally this year is ending or merely taking a break. (Reuters)

ITI Member News

Today in Technology: Innovation in the Heart of America. As the sun sank in the late-autumn sky in 1882, a steady stream of water flowed from the placid confines of Lake Winnebago down a well-worn path through the Wisconsin countryside. Rushing past sprawling farms, lonely stands of timber, and the waiting traps of fur traders, the Fox River plunged towards the town of Neenah and onward to Menasha. (LinkedIn)
Facebook suspends ability to target ads by excluding racial groups. Facebook Inc said on Wednesday it was temporarily disabling the ability of advertisers on its social network to exclude racial groups from the intended audience of ads while it studies how the feature could be used to discriminate. (Reuters)
Apple removes Philippines leader Duterte execution games. Video games that put the player in the shoes of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte as he kills criminals have been removed from Apple's app store. (BBC)
Apple to audit development processes after Mac bug discovered. Apple Inc said on Wednesday it would review its software development process a day after a researcher discovered a bug in a new version of its Mac operating system that could give hackers total control of vulnerable machines. (Reuters)
Microsoft to Expand Campus, as Amazon Looks Elsewhere. While Amazon is hunting for a second headquarters away from its hometown, its neighbor in the Seattle area - Microsoft - is doubling down on the region, with plans to invest billions of dollars in redeveloping its existing campus. (New York Times)
Andy Rubin, Android Creator, Steps Away From Firm Amid Misconduct Report. A former Google executive who is widely credited with creating Android smartphone software has taken a leave of absence from the start-up he now runs, the company said on Wednesday - a day after a report that he was involved in an inappropriate relationship with a female subordinate while he was at Google. (New York Times)
Facebook takes its deepest dive yet into community service. At the company's Social Good Forum, CEO Mark Zuckerberg touts new features like blood donations, mentorship programs and huge charity fundraisers. (CNET)
Refinery29 has hired a Facebook exec to help it compete against Facebook. Sarah Personette, a former VP of marketing, will be the digital publisher's new COO. (Recode)
Amazon Trumpets Its Cloud Lead With N.F.L. and Other Deals. The holidays are a time when there are constant reminders of how much Amazon dominates online shopping - the boxes stacking up on front porches, for example. (New York Times)

Today on the Hill

On Thursday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m.for legislative business. First votes expected: 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Last votes expected: 5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

The Senate will convene at 10:30 a.m. and proceed to consider H.R. 1.
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