OVERNIGHT TECH: Apple's Tim Cook pitches tax plan

The hearing could represent a new policy offensive for Apple, which has traditionally kept a low profile in Washington.

"Apple is also a company of strong opinions," Cook said. "While we have never had a large presence in this town, we are deeply committed to our country's welfare."

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In a brief foray into patent issues prompted by questions from Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Cook urged the United States to work with other countries to strengthen global intellectual property protections.

"Our intellectual property is so important to our company, and I would love the system to be strengthened," Cook said.

While many senators proclaimed their love for Apple products and applauded the company's success, the executives did take a few lumps from Levin.

The senior Democrat was incredulous that Apple kept its Irish subsidiaries at "arm's length" and ridiculed the company for finding a way to "magically" avoid paying taxes to any country on much of its income. 

"Apple is exploiting an absurdity, one that we have not seen other companies use," Levin said. "The absurdity need not continue."

He said that while he also favors a broad revamp of the federal tax code, Congress should not wait to close the kinds of loopholes that Apple is exploiting.

EBay enlists users in House battle: EBay emailed its users on Tuesday, urging them to contact their House member and oppose legislation that would empower states to tax online purchases.

"I strongly believe it creates an unfair tax burden for small online businesses, a burden that will impact online shoppers," CEO John Donahoe wrote in the email.

EBay sent a similar email to users before the bill passed the Senate earlier this month. Supporters argue the bill would help brick-and-mortar stores compete more fairly with their online rivals. 

House group to study supply chain risks: Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) will lead a working group to study security risks to the communications supply chain, Communications and Technology subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) announced on Tuesday. 

“Supply chain risk management is essential if we are to guard against those seeking to compromise network equipment or exploit software that runs over and through it,” Rogers said during a subcommittee hearing. Rogers pointed to a report issued last October by a House Intelligence Committee that found that the two leading telecom firms in China were posing a security risk to the United States. Rogers said the working group will look at what role the government should play, where the vulnerabilities are and the progress of public-private partnerships.

“There are currently no industry standards that address all aspects of supply chain risk management, including supply chain security, and few best practices that provide industry with guidance on determining what practices to use,” said the Government Accountability Office's Mark Goldstein. The GAO released a report on Tuesday that found that although companies don’t consider equipment manufactured in other nations to be “their most pressing security threat," some have adopted practices to manage the risks.

“According to officials from companies and industry groups and the experts we spoke with, there are several industry-led efforts to establish standards and best practices and share information related to supply chain security,” Goldstein said.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Senate Judiciary approves H-1B compromise: A compromise on a package of amendments by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on H-1B visas was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday during its markup of the Gang of Eight's immigration bill. 

Hatch had been involved in negotiations with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a member of the Gang of Eight and Judiciary Committee, over the past several days to reach a compromise on his proposed changes. The deal struck on the amendments is intended to make the process for granting H-1B more palatable to tech companies.

Apple CEO denies using tax gimmicks:  Apple CEO Tim Cook on Tuesday forcefully defended his company before Congress, denying that the technology giant used “gimmicks” to dodge billions in corporate taxes.

"We pay all the taxes we owe, every single dollar," he said. "We not only comply with the laws, we comply with the spirits of the laws. We don't depend on tax gimmicks."

Rand Paul: Senate should apologize to Apple for ‘spectacle’ hearing on taxes: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blasted his colleagues on Tuesday for holding a hearing to examine Apple's methods for avoiding taxes.

"I frankly think the committee should apologize to Apple," Paul said during a hearing of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Paul said he was offended by the "tone and tenor of the hearing."

Few utilities complying with voluntary anti-Stuxnet measures: Few electric utilities are complying with voluntary measures to protect against the Stuxnet virus, according to a survey sent by two lawmakers to 150 firms.

The report found that less than a quarter of investor-owned utilities and less than half of municipal and cooperation-owned utilities followed through with voluntary standards issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission after the Stuxnet worm struck in 2010.


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