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Tech News Roundup - 12/19/2017

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Major tech trade association backs GOP tax bill. A major trade association representing the technology industry on Monday announced its formal support for the final version of the GOP tax bill. (ITI Dean Garfield Quoted, The Hill)
Tax Plan Strikes at Tech Giants' Foreign Profits. While most U.S. businesses would pay lower taxes under congressional Republicans' proposed tax overhaul, some of the world's richest technology companies might actually see their rates rise. (Wall Street Journal)

GOP Gets a Key 'Yes' Vote for Its Tax Bill. Republican leaders planning to put their tax package to a vote in coming days got a boost late Monday when Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who had yet to commit to backing the proposal, said she would be a "yes." (Wall Street Journal)

Republicans Have Tax Bill Victory in Sight as Democrats Try to Chip Away at Support. Republicans return to Congress this week with victory in sight on their long-awaited tax bill as the House and Senate gear up to vote on the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul as soon as Tuesday. (New York Times)

Trump finds success on taxes doing what he knows best - selling. President Donald Trump is on the precipice of signing a sweeping tax reform bill, his first major piece of legislation since taking office 11 months ago, the result of a strategic decision to do one simple thing: focus on the hard sell. (Politico Pro)

In One New Jersey Town, Pending Tax Changes Create Anxiety. Politically speaking, Livingston is not the bluest of the suburbs surrounding New York City. But there are few places where people are feeling any more anxious about the potential impact of the federal tax bill proposed by Republican leaders in Washington. (New York Times)

Republican tax bill fuels anxiety across the nation's healthcare system. Doctors, hospitals, patient advocates and others who work in the nation's healthcare system are growing increasingly alarmed at the Republican tax bill, warning that it threatens care for millions of sick Americans. (Los Angeles Times)

Grad Students' Tuition Waivers Will Remain Untaxed, After All. Graduate students nationwide can breathe a sigh of relief: Their tuition waivers won't be taxed after all. (NPR)

Last-minute real estate perk in tax reform prompts blowback for Corker. President Trump, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and other members of Congress with expansive real estate holdings were already primed to benefit from the tax overhaul bill nearing approval. (Washington Post)

The one thing the self-employed want more than a tax cut. Republicans say their tax bill would benefit small businesses. (Washington Post)

Have You Ever Felt Sorry for the I.R.S.? Now Might Be the Time. After years of upbraiding and even threatening to abolish the Internal Revenue Service, Republicans must now depend on the agency to carry out their signature legislative accomplishment: a comprehensive revision of the tax code. (New York Times)

Tax Cuts Benefit the Ultra Rich, but Not the Merely Rich. If you read the headlines, the spoils of the Republican tax plan will disproportionately benefit the wealthy. It's been called a "tax cut for the rich," "a Christmas gift for the wealthy" and more. And that's true: Any back-of-the-envelope math shows that in both dollar terms and in percentage terms, the largest tax cuts clearly benefit the rich. (New York Times)

GOP tax bill advances to House floor after clearing rules panel. The final Republican tax bill contains slightly more in tax relief for the middle class than did its earlier versions, but the wealthy remain the biggest winners in the plan, a nonpartisan tax analysis group concluded Monday. (Washington Post)

How Prepaying State and Local Taxes Could Save You Money. For every change in tax law, there are scores of people who want to outrun it and beat the system. Especially when it happens with less than three weeks left in the year. (New York Times)

Tax bill whacks liberal big cities. The Republican tax bill, largely written by lawmakers from rural and Southern red states, is about to squeeze urban America. (Politico)

Battle rages over tax rules for churches. Proponents of rolling back IRS restrictions on churches and charities aren't giving up despite their failure to secure a provision in tax-reform legislation. (The Hill)

U.S. Businesses Find Welcome Surprises in Tax Bill. The final tax bill offers much of what large companies hoped to gain from the Republican overhaul: the billboard corporate rate was knocked down, cuts were accelerated and key credits were preserved. (Wall Street Journal)

Tech Politics

For Congress members, divisive news is a hit on Facebook. A Pew study looks at Facebook posts from members of Congress and finds that posts with links to national news outlets may be reinforcing the political divide. (CNET)

Russia meddled on Twitter after UK terror attacks, study says. Suspected Russia-linked Twitter accounts were used to "extend the impact and harm" of four 2017 terrorist attacks in the UK, a study says. (BBC)

Microsoft supports bill to address sexual harassment. Microsoft is throwing its weight behind a Senate bill that aims to ensure victims of workplace sexual harassment can make their case in court. (Axios)


French privacy watchdog raps WhatsApp over Facebook data sharing. France's data privacy watchdog may fine messaging app WhatsApp if it does not comply with an order to bring its sharing of user data with parent company Facebook into line with French privacy law. (Reuters)

Public Opinion Often Sets Privacy Standards for Smart City Tech. As cities have begun to collect and release unprecedented amounts of data, questions about citizen privacy have become increasingly relevant. Local governments, for their part, often lack specific privacy policies and rely on checks such as community outcry, industry best practices and guidance from law professors to dictate the limits of their work. (Government Technology)

Global Trade

Trump: U.S. can't guard its interests abroad if it doesn't 'protect prosperity at home'. President Donald Trump unveiled a national security plan Monday that reflects the most inward-focused vision of American foreign policy in recent memory - with a heavy emphasis on economic strength and defending U.S. borders. (Politico Pro)

Artificial Intelligence

Microsoft's AI chief says the technology isn't the biggest hurdle. Harry Shum, EVP of Microsoft's artificial intelligence and research group, says AI is improving tech products - the real challenge is making sure it does so in a way that people trust. (Axios)


More H-1B hopefuls denied under Trump, data show. Foreigners who were once considered solid candidates for an H-1B visa - those with multiple degrees, high salaries offered by major tech companies and, in at least one case, an actual rocket scientist - are receiving extra scrutiny and delays on their applications. (ITI Dean Garfield Quoted, San Francisco Chronicle)


Internal FCC Report Shows Republican Net Neutrality Narrative Is False. The story of net neutrality as an Obama-led takeover of the internet was refuted by an Inspector General investigation whose findings were not made public prior to Thursday's vote. (Motherboard)

'There will be a [Senate] vote' to reinstate net neutrality, Schumer says. US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he will force a vote on a bill that would reinstate the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules. (Ars Technica)

How consumers could get shafted by new media. Proponents of major media mergers say that consumers will benefit if regulators approve the deals. But consumers, especially those who can least afford it, could get screwed by these deals. (Axios)

A Hawaiian Politician Is Introducing a Bill That Would Encourage Creation of Locally Owned Broadband Networks. A Hawaii state lawmaker announced plans Monday to introduce a bill that would require the state to explore the feasibility of creating and supporting locally owned broadband networks that do not rely on traditional internet service providers. (Motherboard)

Donald Trump Jr. leaps into Twitter feud over lightsabers and net neutrality. Donald Trump Jr. has leapt into the debate over net neutrality once again - this time attacking "Star Wars" actor Mark Hamill, otherwise known as Luke Skywalker. (Washington Post)

Public Sector

Impact of White House IT Modernization Report on industry. Kevin Cummins, vice president of technology at the Professional Services Council and Trey Hodgkins, senior vice president of public sector at ITAPS, discuss the impact of the White House's IT Modernization Report, and IT Modernization center of excellence, on industry. (ITAPS Trey Hodgkins Interviewed, Government Matters, Video)

White House leans on private sector for modernization. As agencies prepare to tackle the administration's IT priorities, the White House is looking to unite federal- and the private-sector efforts to modernize government systems. (Federal News Week)

Russia-Based Kaspersky Lab Sues Trump Administration For Banning Its Software. Kaspersky Lab, a massive, Russian cybersecurity company, sued the Trump administration in U.S. federal court on Monday, arguing that the American government deprived it of due process rights when Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke banned its software from U.S. government agencies in September. (NPR)

House Oversight Committee wants GAO to look into five areas of IT modernization. After helping to push a key piece of IT legislation - the Modernizing Government Technology Act - to enactment this year, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is asking for answers about the state of federal IT talent, the outcomes of recent modernization projects and more. (Fed Scoop)

GAO: Agencies Have Untapped Tricks to Fill Tech Jobs. Special payment programs can help close the salary gap between private- and public-sector tech jobs. (Next Gov)

US Army wants to deploy on-demand, 3D-printed drones. The US Army is teaming up with the Marines to develop 3D-printed drones that could be made from scratch right near the battlefield. (CNET)

The Presidential Innovation Fellowship program cruises along after surviving its first transition. In political science, the first peaceful transition of power is a defining moment for a new democracy - it lends legitimacy to what was previously just the policy of a ruling party. The moment a new leader respects the status quo, democracy is solidified. (FedScoop)

Hackers find Air Force vulnerability for biggest government bug bounty reward yet. A pair of white-hat hackers managed to find a critical vulnerability in an Air Force public website that let them access the Defense Department's unclassified internal network. (Fed Scoop)

Trump security plan calls for consequences for cyberattacks. President Donald Trump's first National Security Strategy included several sections that touched on cybersecurity, calling for improved risk management and resilience, but the document remained vague on authorities and coordination. (Federal Computer Week)

U.S. Accuses North Korea of Mounting WannaCry Cyberattack. The Trump administration formally accused North Korea on Monday night of creating the WannaCry cyberattack that briefly paralyzed the British health system and placed ransomware on computers in dozens of countries around the world. (New York Times)

Intellectual Property

Facebook reveals data on copyright and trademark complaints. Facebook Inc announced Monday that it removed nearly 3 million posts, including videos, ads and other forms of content, from its services during the first half of 2017 following complaints of counterfeiting and copyright and trademark infringement. (Reuters)


Our region needs tech workers. So why do so many of our skilled graduates look elsewhere for jobs?. Many people see improving our roads and Metro as a shared goal that our region can rally around. I'd like to add another rallying point to this conversation: developing and expanding our region's digital technology workforce. (Washington Post)


Microsoft puts $50 million into fighting climate change with AI. The tech giant seeks to use AI to convert massive amounts of raw data about climate, water, agriculture and biodiversity into useful information. (CNET)

BMW bets big on solid-state batteries for next-gen electric cars. The automaker has partnered with a solid-state battery company to bring this tech to consumers. (CNET)

Toyota to introduce 10 electric cars by mid-2020s. Additionally, its whole lineup will be electrified by about 2025. (CNET)

Volkswagen to install 2,800 U.S. electric vehicle charging stations. Volkswagen AG unit Electrify America said on Monday that it plans to install 2,800 electric vehicle charging stations in 17 of the largest U.S. cities by June 2019. (Reuters)

What Needs to Happen Before Electric Cars Take Over the World. On the slope of a thickly forested Czech mountain, three men in hard hats and mud-spattered fluorescent vests dig for the metal that could power a new industrial revolution. (New York Times)

China Unveils an Ambitious Plan to Curb Climate Change Emissions. China is the world's No. 1 polluter. It burns more coal than the rest of the world combined. It produces more than a quarter of the world's human-caused global warming gases, nearly as much as North America and Europe put together. (New York Times)

Tech Business
Amazon Echo Prices Turn Smart-Speaker Market On Its Ear. $30 Echo Dots are triggering price cuts on Google Home devices and complicating Apple's HomePod prospects. (Wall Street Journal)

Tech IPOs faced unexpected headwinds in 2017. 2017 was a year of change and sluggishness for tech IPOs, against a backdrop of record-high stock market prices. (Axios)

Fintech Startups Seek to Shake Up Money Transfer Industry. The race is on to become the top global app for international money transfers. (Wall Street Journal)

ITI Member News

Twitter to put warnings before swastikas, other hate images. Twitter Inc said on Monday it would begin issuing a warning before a user can see pictures with Nazi swastikas and other items it determines are hateful imagery, as well as prohibit their use in any profile photos on its social media network. (Reuters)
Twitter suspends Britain First leaders. Twitter has suspended the accounts of two leaders of a British far-right group shortly after revising its rules on hate speech. (BBC)
Advertising Standards considers inquiry into Amazon Prime. Amazon's promise of next-day deliveries could be investigated amid customer complaints that it is failing to meet that pledge. (BBC)
How to fix Twitter's verification problem. Twitter's approach to verified accounts deserves all the criticism it gets. Recent moves to halt new verifications - and even to remove previously granted blue check marks - will do little to reduce the hate speech, violent threats, and abuse that run rampant across the platform. (Axios, Op-Ed)
Microsoft Moves to End Secrecy in Sexual Harassment Claims. The wave of sexual harassment claims has toppled powerful men in entertainment, media and politics. Now, it is also creating permanent changes in workplace policy at one giant technology company. (New York Times)

Today on the Hill

The House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for morning hour and 10:00 a.m. for legislative business. First votes expected: 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Last votes expected: 4:15 p.m. - 5:15 p.m.
The Senate will convene at 10:00 a.m. and begin a period of morning business.
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