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Tech News Roundup - 12/20/2017

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12/20/2017

Key Issues

Taxes

House OKs tax overhaul, but procedural snag forces new vote. Congressional Republicans hit a last-minute snag on Tuesday in their drive to pass the biggest U.S. tax overhaul in 30 years, requiring them to hold another vote on Wednesday and delaying what was still likely to be their first major legislative win under President Donald Trump. (Reuters)

Republican Tax Bill Passes Senate in 51-48 Vote. Republicans took a critical step toward notching their first significant legislative victory since assuming full political control, as the House and Senate voted along party lines on Tuesday and into early Wednesday to pass the most sweeping rewrite of the tax code in decades. (New York Times)

Tech industry groups are cheering. "We are pleased to see that this critical legislation includes a permanent, competitive corporate rate, moves to a territorial system and creates powerful incentives for innovation including a permanent Research and Development Credit, and a tax incentive for income made abroad on intellectual property held in the United States," the Information Technology Industry Council wrote to House and Senate leadership on Monday. But the Wall Street Journal notes the industry could feel a squeeze from some of the bill's provisions as well. (ITI quoted, Politico Pro: Morning Tech)

Tech's challenge: How to spend its tax windfall. The Republican tax bill will bring a windfall to the tech industry's biggest players - along with a heaping dose of pressure from President Donald Trump to invest the savings in jobs and factories at home. (ITI Dean Garfield Quoted, Politico Pro)

Congress Is on Brink of Tax Overhaul. Congress stands on the verge of passing a $1.5 trillion tax cut and the largest structural overhaul of the tax system since 1986. (Wall Street Journal)

Poll: Voters split on GOP tax bill. Voters are divided on the GOP tax bill poised to clear both chambers of Congress this week, H.R. 1 (115), according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. (Politico Pro)

How Republicans Rallied Together to Deliver a Tax Plan. The sting of failure on health care still lingered in the Senate on Aug. 3, when Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, summoned the Republican members of the Budget Committee to his office. We need to pass a tax bill this fall, Mr. McConnell told his colleagues, and we need a budget that allows us to do that. (New York Times)

White House won't reveal how Trump would fare under tax bill. The White House again declined on Tuesday to release President Donald Trump's tax returns when asked about his own assertions that he will lose money under the new Republican tax reform bill, H.R. 1 (115). (Politico Pro)

U.S. tax cuts won't make housing more affordable: analysts. The U.S. tax overhaul as currently proposed will make housing less affordable, according to nearly half of the property market experts polled by Reuters, with another third saying it would not do anything to improve it. (Reuters)

U.S. tax cut to deliver corporate earnings gift. The massive Republican tax overhaul working its way to President Donald Trump's desk is making bulls on Wall Street a little more bullish. (Reuters)

Banks, healthcare service firms among winners from U.S. tax bill. Sweeping U.S. tax legislation appears to be on the verge of approval, lifting the prospects in particular for banks, telecoms, transports and other industries that stand to gain the most from lower corporate tax rates. (Reuters)

Businesses like investment tax breaks, but will they spend?. Jerry Zeitler says a sweeping Republican tax overhaul will encourage him to take a bigger bite next year out of his $3 million wish list of new equipment for the metal-stamping operation he runs outside Cleveland. (Reuters)

The GOP tax plan has a nasty surprise for upper-middle-class parents with kids in college. As Congress votes on a bill overhauling the tax code Tuesday, many parents of college-age children appear to be in store for an unexpected surprise -- one that could result in a tax hike. (Washington Post)

'I was an easy pickup': How Trump lost Manchin on taxes. During the transition last year and several times since, President Donald Trump repeatedly pushed Joe Manchin to switch parties and become a Republican, the West Virginia senator revealed in an interview for POLITICO's Off Message podcast. (Politico Pro)

Tax Cuts to Test GOP's Economic Pledges. The U.S. economy is about to become the proving ground for GOP tax-cutting theories. (Wall Street Journal)

How the Tax Plan Affects Business: Everything You Need to Know. Industries from retail to manufacturing stand to benefit from the new legislation, while a few, like Realtors, will take a hit. (Wall Street Journal)

House to Move Quickly to Finish Tax Vote. The House planned to move quickly to hold a final vote on the tax bill after the Senate gave its approval early Wednesday morning. The House Rules Committee scheduled a meeting for 8 a.m. on the bill, a procedural step before the full House votes later in the day. (New York Times)

Republicans fight Democrats - and themselves - as shutdown looms. Even as Republicans are poised to pass a $1.5 trillion tax-cut bill, a brewing fight over federal funding may lead to a government shutdown at week's end. (Politico Pro)

Confusion and chaos ahead as new tax rules take immediate effect. The most sweeping tax code overhaul in a generation will soon head to President Donald Trump's desk - and Republicans are enjoying a victory dance. (Politico)

Tax bill's 'pass-through' rule will aid wealthy, not workers: critics. Wealthy business owners, such as President Donald Trump, stand to gain from a provision in the Republican tax bill that creates a valuable deduction for owners of pass-through businesses, Democrats and some tax experts say. (Reuters)

Republican Tax Bill Has Grown More Unpopular, Poll Shows. The Republican tax-cut bill has grown more unpopular in the two months it has taken to usher it through Congress, and few people believe it will provide relief for middle-class families, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll has found. (Wall Street Journal)

Will Trump's plans trigger a tax war?
. The US may be about to set off an international tax war, as it moves to slash the corporate rate and overhaul the treatment of multinational firms. (BBC)

Tech Politics

Democrats are angrier than Republicans on Facebook. New studies about engagement with congressional Facebook posts and hyper-partisan Facebook pages show that information shared by partisan sources is increasingly leading to angry reactions. (Axios)

Privacy

Twelve Days in Xinjiang: How China's Surveillance State Overwhelms Daily Life. This city on China's Central Asia frontier may be one of the most closely surveilled places on earth. (Wall Street Journal)

Global Trade

Garrett nomination blocked, putting Ex-Im Bank future in limbo. Two Senate Republicans joined with Democrats on Tuesday to block the confirmation of President Donald Trump's pick to head the Export-Import Bank, a rare rejection of a Trump appointee by members of his own party and prominent business groups. (Politico Pro)

Garrett's failure to win Ex-Im confirmation stings Pence, too. The decision by a bipartisan group of senators to block President Donald Trump's pick to lead the Export-Import Bank marked a stinging defeat for Vice President Mike Pence, who worked for months to boost the nomination despite doubts from some administration officials. (Politico Pro)

After tax cuts, watch America's trade deficit surge. The giant tax-cut bill heading toward the White House is going to make something President Donald Trump hates - the U.S. trade deficit - much worse, according to former President Barack Obama's top trade negotiator. (Politico Pro)

Decoding Trump's Plan to Rein In China. It isn't just about missiles and militaries anymore. (New York Times)

Freshmen Democrats urge Trump to 'flip NAFTA on its head' to get their support. Three freshmen House Democrats said today President Donald Trump could win their support for a revamped NAFTA agreement, but expressed doubt that he would make the changes necessary to benefit workers. (Politico Pro)

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is forcing us to work harder to define human intelligence - and to fight to defend it. "Sometimes a type of glory lights up the mind of a man," writes John Steinbeck in his novel "East of Eden," which is set in a California valley - Salinas, though, not Silicon. (Recode)

Immigration

As Trump Tightens Legal Immigration, Canada Woos Tech Firms. A Flatiron district artificial intelligence start-up was recently looking to expand, adding new engineers who happened to know a niche computer language. (New York Times)

McConnell: DACA deal not happening this year. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that Congress will not pass a fix for a key Obama-era immigration program this year despite demands from Democrats and outside groups. (The Hill)

Democrats unlikely to force DACA vote this week, probably averting shutdown. Democrats are backing away from a pledge to force a vote this month over the fate of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children, angering activists but likely averting the threat of a government shutdown at a critical moment in spending negotiations with Republicans and President Trump. (Washington Post)

Senators, White House lay groundwork for DREAMers deal. Top senators and White House officials are laying the groundwork for a major immigration deal in January to resolve the fate of young undocumented immigrants whose legal protections were put in limbo by President Donald Trump. (Politico Pro)

Without New Laws or Walls, Trump Presses the Brake on Legal Immigration. A scientist recruited by the renowned Cleveland Clinic is stuck in India because his visa is delayed. An entrepreneur courted by Silicon Valley companies had his application denied. Many green card applicants have new interviews to pass. (New York Times)

GOP senator: Senate to take up DACA bill in January. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is predicting that the Senate will take up a fix for a key-Obama era immigration program next month, punting the issue into 2018. (The Hill)

Antitrust

Germany Says Facebook Abuses Market Dominance to Collect Data. Germany's top antitrust enforcer opened a new front against big tech firms on Tuesday, saying the way Facebook Inc. harvests user data constitutes an abuse of market dominance. (Wall Street Journal)

Broadband/Communications

Uncertainty high after repeal of net neutrality rules. The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) vote last week to scrap net neutrality rules has sparked a vigorous debate about what comes next. (The Hill)

The net neutrality lawsuits are coming. Here's what they're likely to say. The ink isn't dry yet on the federal government's decision to repeal its net neutrality rules, and yet many are already gearing up for what they say is an inevitable legal battle (once again) over the future of the Web. (Washington Post)

Obama didn't force FCC to impose net neutrality, investigation found. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has been saying for years that the FCC imposed net neutrality rules in 2015 largely because then-President Barack Obama ordered the commission to do so. (Ars Technica)

GOP net neutrality bill would allow paid fast lanes and preempt state laws. A Republican lawmaker is proposing a net neutrality law that would ban blocking and throttling, but the bill would allow ISPs to create paid fast lanes and prohibit state governments from enacting their own net neutrality laws. The bill would also prohibit the FCC from imposing any type of common carrier regulations on broadband providers. (Ars Technica)

What internet firms are saying now that net neutrality is no more. With the FCC's repeal of net neutrality rules set to go into effect next year, attention is turning to the pledges internet service providers have made to consumers about how they'll handle web traffic. (Axios)

In Protests of Net Neutrality Repeal, Teenage Voices Stood Out. When Anooha Dasari, 16, heard the federal government was about to kill rules that guaranteed an open internet, she contacted her United States representatives for the first time, asking them to stop the action. (New York Times)

Internet of Things

Waymo taps insurance startup Trov to cover its passengers. When Phoenix residents begin using Waymo's self-driving ride-hailing service next year, they'll be insured by Trov, a five-year-old startup that provides custom coverage. (Axios)

Riders in Alphabet's Driverless Car Will Be Insured by Startup Trov. Waymo LLC, the driverless-car unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc., is turning to an insurance-technology startup to provide coverage for future passengers of its ride-hailing service. (Wall Street Journal)

Forget Phones. BlackBerry Is Pushing Software for Driverless Cars. BlackBerry Ltd. is betting its future on a business that makes software for next-generation driverless cars. (Wall Street Journal)

Cybersecurity
U.S. blames WannaCry on North Korea. The Trump administration has formally accused North Korea of engineering the WannaCry cyberattack that locked access to hundreds of thousands of computers across 150 different countries earlier this year. (Federal Computer Week)

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. (FedScoop)

Workforce/Diversity
How Care for Elders, Not Children, Denies Women a Paycheck. Why did women's rush into the work force stop? Policymakers have been vexed by the question for years. (New York Times)
The Best Toys That Teach Kids How to Code. Coding is a fundamental skill for children to learn in school, but it is more than just feeding programming into a computer. (New York Times)

Corporate America's Gender Gap: Few Women in the C-Suite. The C-suite is corporate America's big sex scandal. Women hold fewer than a quarter of senior executive titles, new research finds. The tsunami of harassment exposés makes the paucity of women in leading positions even more egregious. (New York Times)

It's moving slowly, but Pinterest and other tech companies are becoming less white and less male. Slowly but surely, Pinterest is getting more diverse. (Recode)

Energy
Nebraska regulators deny TransCanada request on Keystone XL route. Nebraska regulators on Tuesday denied TransCanada Corp's request to amend its route application for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline through the U.S. state, a potential setback for the company as it seeks to head off legal challenges. (Reuters)

Oil Glut Makes Alaska Reserves Less Attractive to Drillers. Congressional Republicans and the Trump administration are poised to offer up a bevy of new opportunities for oil exploration in lands and waters owned by the government. (Wall Street Journal)

Environment/Sustainability

B.H.P. Billiton, Acknowledging Climate Change, to Quit Coal Group. One of the world's largest coal companies, acknowledging the growing momentum toward addressing climate change, said it planned to pull out of a major industry group over its environmental stances. (New York Times)

California's New Climate Plan Uses Incentives To Cut Vehicle Emissions. California has the toughest air quality regulations of any state in the country. But they're not tough enough to satisfy a new state law that requires California to double the rate at which it cuts greenhouse gases. (NPR)

UPS reserves 125 Tesla semi-trucks, largest public pre-order yet. United Parcel Service Inc said on Tuesday it is buying 125 Tesla Inc all-electric semi-trucks, the largest known order for the big rig so far, as the package delivery company expands its fleet of alternative-fuel vehicles. (Reuters)

E.P.A. Delays Bans on Uses of Hazardous Chemicals. The Environmental Protection Agency will indefinitely postpone bans on certain uses of three toxic chemicals found in consumer products, according to an update of the Trump administration's regulatory plans. (New York Times)

Zinke wants to expand critical minerals production, saying: 'We are vulnerable as a nation'. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke launched a push Tuesday to expand critical minerals production in the United States, saying "we are vulnerable as a nation" because we rely so heavily on imports from China. (Washington Post)

Tech Business
How Tech Expanded From Silicon Valley to Bubblegum Alley. San Luis Obispo has a reputation for being a sleepy town in central California known for its laid-back charm. But Rick Stollmeyer, the chief executive of MindBody, envisioned it as a bustling tech hub. (New York Times)

Bloomberg and Twitter launch TicToc, a live-streaming video news channel. Twitter users can now tune into TicToc, a live-streaming channel by Bloomberg Media, to catch up on the day's news - and soon, the companies say, the channel will offer updates around the clock. (Los Angeles Times)

YouTube, Music Labels End Standoff, Move Toward Paid Service. YouTube signed a new long-term agreement with the top two music labels, promising stronger policing of user uploads of copyrighted songs and paving the way for a new paid service after two years of tumultuous negotiations. (Bloomberg)

These Tech Firms Are Vying to Shake Up TV Advertising in 2018. TV networks have been selling, serving and measuring ads with the same systems and processes for decades. But times are changing. More people are buying smart TVs that are connected to the internet, and independent tech firms are finding new ways to gather data about the viewing of shows and ads on individual TV sets. (Wall Street Journal)

ITI Member News

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)
Facebook announces new tools to prevent harassment. Facebook announced in a blog post it is rolling out new tools that will prevent people from harassing other users that are particularly prone to harassment, such as women and journalists. Facebook said they will be building on existing features that are automated to do so. (Axios)
Facebook grilled on Britain First page by MPs. Facebook has said it is reviewing the future of Britain First's profile page, following the removal of its leaders' pages from Twitter. (BBC)
Facebook Expands Use Of Facial Recognition To ID Users In Photos. Facebook is expanding its use of facial recognition software to alert users when photos of them are posted on the platform - whether or not they are tagged in the photo. (NPR)
Facebook Is Disrupting North Korean Hacking Operations. Facebook says it has discovered and banned some malicious accounts controlled by North Korean hackers in an attempt to build a relationship and eventually hack victims. (Motherboard)
Apple Provides Hedge Against Tech Backlash. Authorities worldwide are growing worried that Facebook, Google and Amazon are eroding privacy, using data to push rivals out of business and even affecting elections. This is one tech battle Apple can sit out. As a security-minded purveyor of hardware, it's likely to avoid the worst of the blowback. (New York Times)
Amazon Aims for One Box Fits All. Americans are ordering more than ever from Amazon.com Inc. this holiday season-but they may have fewer boxes on their doorsteps. (Wall Street Journal)

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: 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Last votes expected: 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
The Senate will convene at 11:00 a.m. and begin a period of morning business.
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