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OVERNIGHT TECH: Senators seek permanent ban on Internet taxes

THE LEDE: Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare Grassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees MORE (D-Ore.) and John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneFlake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March The 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework MORE (R-S.D.) introduced legislation on Thursday to permanently ban state and local taxes on Internet service.

Their bill, the Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act, would also ban multiple and discriminatory taxes on digital items, such as downloadable songs, movies or apps.

Congress passed the Internet Tax Freedom Act in 1998 to put a moratorium on Internet service taxes. The law has been extended three times, but is scheduled to expire next year. There is currently no ban on discriminatory taxes on digital goods.

"As the Internet Tax Freedom Act enabled and promoted Internet access and adoption across America, the Internet became a platform to facilitate global commerce, sparking nothing short of an economic revolution,” Wyden said in a statement.

“Keeping the Internet accessible to consumers encourages innovation and investment in our global economy," Thune said.

The legislation earned praise from wireless carriers and Internet providers.

"Extending the Internet tax moratorium will protect consumers and small businesses from new and burdensome state and local taxes on Internet access," the National Cable and Telecommunications Association said in a statement.

Sens. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThe siren of Baton Rouge Big Republican missteps needed for Democrats to win in November What to watch for in the Senate immigration votes MORE (R-Nev.) and Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteAudit finds US Defense Department wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars US sends A-10 squadron to Afghanistan for first time in three years No, the US did not spend million on a gas station in Afghanistan MORE (R-N.H.) have introduced similar legislation, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act.

House Commerce forms privacy group: Reps. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), the leaders of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, announced an online privacy working group on Thursday.

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Terry said the goal of the group is to examine whether Congress should act to require stronger protection for users' personal information.

Reps. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnBlackburn pushes back on potential Corker bid: 'I'm going to win' Nervous GOP seeks new 2018 Senate candidates in three states Corker 'listening closely' to calls to reconsider retirement MORE (R-Tenn.) and Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchEx-rep. is still costing taxpayers billions in prescription fees Senators offer bill to close rural-urban internet divide Clinton mulls role in 2018 midterms MORE (D-Vt.) will co-chair the group.

President Obama has called on Congress to enact comprehensive online privacy protection legislation, but the proposal has gained little traction on Capitol Hill.

Goodlatte to POTUS: House Judiciary Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteProgressive group targets GOP moderates on immigration Florida shooting reopens CDC gun research debate Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March MORE (R-Va.) told President Obama that surveillance laws must have strong oversight and protect Americans' civil liberties during a meeting at the White House on Thursday with other lawmakers. 

“At today’s meeting, I stressed to the president that Congress must ensure that the laws we have enacted are executed in a manner that is consistent with congressional intent and that protects both our national security and our civil liberties," Goodlatte said in a statement. "We must ensure that America’s intelligence gathering system has the trust of the American people.”

Goodlatte said he plans to hold a classified hearing in the Judiciary Committee this September that will review the National Security Agency's surveillance programs and determine whether the laws used to operate those programs need to be improved.

House Intelligence Committee leaders Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) also attended the White House meeting. Members from the upper chamber attended as well, including Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mark UdallMark Emery UdallDemocratic primary could upend bid for Colorado seat Picking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Gorsuch's critics, running out of arguments, falsely scream 'sexist' MORE (D-Colo.), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinAmerica’s waning commitment to the promise of the First Amendment Senate rejects Trump immigration plan What to watch for in the Senate immigration votes MORE (D-Ill.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinLawmakers feel pressure on guns Feinstein: Trump must urge GOP to pass bump stock ban Florida lawmakers reject motion to consider bill that would ban assault rifles MORE (D-Calif.) and Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissLobbying World Former GOP senator: Let Dems engage on healthcare bill OPINION: Left-wing politics will be the demise of the Democratic Party MORE (R-Ga.).

Schiff to introduce FISA court reform bill: Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGOP strategist confronts ex-Trump staffer: ‘I’m sick of you guys making excuses for him’ Shepard Smith goes after Trump for not condemning Russia in tweets Trump: Why didn't Obama 'do something about Russian meddling?' MORE (D-Calif.) is aiming to introduce a bill after the August recess that would add an adversarial process to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court proceedings. Under his bill, Schiff said the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board would select a pool of attorneys that could be called upon to argue the opposing side in a key FISA court proceeding.

"They'd have to be attorneys that can acquire the necessary security clearances," Schiff said in an interview. "The FISA court would be able to appoint one of these attorneys in cases of constitutional dimension involving programmatic changes."

The aim of the bill is to "make sure that there's a voice speaking on behalf of the privacy interests of the American people," he said. He expects that the bill will have bipartisan support when it's introduced. 

Schiff has already introduced two other pieces of legislation that propose to reform the FISA court. One bill would require more disclosure of FISA court opinions, and another would require that the president nominate and the Senate confirm all judges on the court.

Fried to MPAA: The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) announced on Thursday that it has hired Neil Fried, the former chief communications counsel for the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Fried will be the group's senior vice president of government and regulatory affairs.

 

ON TAP

Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) will join senior congressional staffers and representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter to discuss the intersection of technology and governance at the "Connected Congress" event on Friday morning in the Capitol Visitor Center. 

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Privacy advocate: Three Democratic senators introduced legislation on Thursday that would create an office to advocate for privacy rights before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court.

Tech and ag team up: The California technology and agriculture industries joined forces on Thursday to canvass Capitol Hill and lobby for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Patent troll problem: Tech start-ups made a case before a House Judiciary Committee panel on Thursday that current intellectual property laws may be less a form of protection and more a form of protectionism.

Snowden gets asylum: Russia has granted temporary asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, his lawyer announced on Thursday.

Snowden has been given permission to stay in Russia for one year and has already departed the Moscow airport, his lawyer said.

 

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