OVERNIGHT TECH: Internet tax ban introduced in House

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers introduced legislation on Thursday to permanently ban state and local taxes on Internet service.

Their bill, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act, would also ban multiple and discriminatory taxes on digital items such as emails. It would not ban taxes on online sales. 

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. The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act would extend the law indefinitely. 

The bill was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), along with Reps. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Steve Chabot (R-Ohio). The measure is a counterpart to legislation introduced in the Senate by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and John Thune (R-S.D.). 

"No one should pay a tax just to access the Internet," Eshoo said in a statement.

"In this increasingly digital age, Americans rely on access to the Internet to apply for employment, to seek and share innovative ideas, to keep governments accountable, to run small businesses, and to communicate with their families and friends," Goodlatte said.

The legislation won praise from Internet providers and other industry groups. 

Twitter announces IPO: Twitter announced (via Twitter of course) that it has filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering. 

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The long-awaited IPO will be the most closely watched since Facebook's offering last year.

AllThingsD notes that Twitter must be taking advantage of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, which allows companies to make initial filings with the SEC without public scrutiny. The fact that Twitter is using the JOBS Act means its annual revenue must be less than $1 billion. 

Action on online sales tax: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) plans to release a "statement of principles" on online sales tax legislation, according to Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.), the sponsor of the bill.

The action could be an indication that Goodlatte is serious about moving the bill, which would empower states to tax online purchases. He has expressed concerns about the Senate's version of the legislation, which passed in May. 

California Dems concerned about 911 data: Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and 12 other California Democrats urged the Federal Communications Commission to investigate reports that many 911 cellphone calls lack location data.

More than half of the 911 cellphone calls in five areas in California failed to provide precise information about the caller's location to the emergency dispatcher, according to a study released last month by CalNENA, the California chapter of the National Emergency Number Association.

"With an increasing number of 9-1-1 calls being placed from wireless phones, accurate location information ensures our first responders are able to render assistance in a timely manner,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter to the FCC. “To that end, we urge you to carefully review all available data, including the CALNENA report and relevant mobile carrier information to determine the underlying factors for this trend.”

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Teresa Stanek Rea, the acting director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, said she will step down.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is expanding his investigation into how often police acquire personal data from cellphone carriers.

The Federal Trade Commission is examining whether Facebook's planned changes to its privacy policy violate a 2011 settlement with the agency. The review, however, is not a formal investigation (which requires a commission vote). 

FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn forcefully defended her agency's Lifeline phone subsidy. 

 

Please send tips and comments to Brendan Sasso, bsasso@thehill.com

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Correction: This post previously misidentified the home state of Sen. Thune. He is from South Dakota.