OVERNIGHT TECH: Tech visa debate heads to House

A draft copy of Issa's measure shows it would significantly increase the number of H-1B visas available to highly skilled workers and make 55,000 green cards available to foreign graduates of U.S. universities with advanced degrees in STEM disciples (science, technology, math and engineering). It would also increase the fees that employers would pay for H-1B visas and green cards, and the additional money would go towards a fund dedicated to improving STEM education funds in the U.S. 

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However, Democrats may find fault with Issa's bill because it proposes to eliminate the diversity visa program. The Congressional Black Caucus and House Democrats have pushed back against previous attempts to cut the program, which awards visas by a random selection process to countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S.

Penguin settles state e-book case: The Penguin Group agreed on Wednesday to pay $75 million to settle charges with 33 states that it conspired to raise the price of e-books.

Penguin, along with other publishers, had already settled the price-fixing charges with the Justice Department. Apple, however, has denied wrongdoing, and its trial is set to start next month. 

FCC distributes broadband funds: The Federal Communications Commission announced the distribution on Wednesday of $485 million to expand broadband access in rural areas.

The money is part of the FCC's Connect America Fund, which it created in 2011 after overhauling an existing phone subsidy. The program is funded through charges on customers' monthly phone bills.

The release of the funds was one of the first agency actions under acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn. 

House Oversight approves transparency bills: The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved two bills on Wednesday aimed at improving government transparency.

The DATA Act, backed by Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), would set government-wide standards for agencies to publish spending information on USAspending.gov. 

The Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act from Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) would require agencies to make their reports available online to the public.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Report backs penalties for companies using stolen IP: The federal government should impose penalties on foreign companies that use intellectual property (IP) stolen from American businesses via cyberattacks, according to a report released Wednesday by a commission co-chaired by former administration officials.

Among its policy recommendations, the report says the secretary of Treasury should block foreign companies that regularly use or benefit from stolen American intellectual property from accessing the banking system in the United Stat

Cornyn targets patent trolls: Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced legislation on Wednesday aimed at cracking down on abusive patent litigation.

Cornyn's bill, the Patent Abuse Reduction Act, would give defendants more information about the firms suing them and would limit the types of documents that firms would have to produce in discovery. The bill would also require parties to pay for their opponent's discovery costs beyond "core" materials.

Social media campaign for immigration reform: A social media campaign for immigration reform began Wednesday with a series of Twitter town halls hosted by political officials like Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). 

The push is being sponsored by a bipartisan coalition that includes Organizing for Action, Republicans for Immigration Reform and the advocacy group co-chaired by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch. The so-called March for Innovation social media campaign, or #imarch, will feature back-to-back events across various social media platforms, including Reddit and Google Plus.

New password protection bill: Dozens of House lawmakers joined together on Wednesday to introduce legislation that would bar employers from asking for their workers' passwords to Facebook or other social media accounts.

Facebook joins GNI: Facebook announced on Wednesday that it has joined the Global Network Initiative (GNI), a human rights group made up of Internet companies, nonprofits and academics. The social media giant is the sixth company to join the initiative, following Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and others. 

Issa tech visa bill: Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is preparing to introduce an immigration bill this week that proposes to boost the number of visas for highly skilled workers while eliminating the diversity visa program that Democrats are keen to preserve.


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