OVERNIGHT TECH: Internet domain bill speeding through Congress

LEDE: Both chambers of Congress are making quick work of a compromise bill that would let lawmakers review a final plan to hand off government oversight of the Internet domain system.

The Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday will likely vote to send the bill to the floor after the House approved it with 378 votes on Tuesday. The bill is sponsored by Chairman John ThuneJohn ThuneFour GOP senators will vote against taking up healthcare bill without changes Week ahead in tech: Lawmakers turn focus to self-driving cars Senate panel unveils aviation bill with consumer protections, drone fix MORE (R-S.D.) and five other senators, including presidential candidate Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioRubio: 'I hope' Mexican elections won't end partnership against cartels Election hacking fears turn heat on Homeland Security Will Republicans stand up to the NRA's insurrection rhetoric? MORE (R-Fla.)

"We want to move on this," Thune said this week. "I think Congress needs to be heard from and the way that the House has structured it, we think is the right approach. And we want to, as close as we can, support what they've tried to do there."

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The Commerce Department has oversight authority of the system that allows users to easily navigate the Web using domain names linked to websites. The government has historically contracted that task out to a non-profit, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, and has now tasked the group with organizing the final transition to a multi-stakeholder model.

The legislation would allow Congress to review a final deal for 30 legislative days before any transition goes through. It would also require accountability measures to take effect within ICANN. Some Republicans have said it could avert another plan to block a transition through the appropriations process, which happened in the 2015 budget. The bill is scaled back from its original form, which Democrats objected to because it would have delayed a transition until the GAO could complete a review of a final deal.

EFF WANTS TO KEEP DOMAIN DISGUISES: ICANN is coming under heat from some like the Electronic Frontier Foundation for a proposal that could bar some people from registering Internet domain names by proxy. The public can currently look up information for an Internet domain name with a WHOIS search. But individuals can disguise their ownership through proxy services. Under a new proposal, people who use their domain for commercial purposes might not apply, which the EFF said could be anyone who displays ads. EFF said disguises currently protect some from the "risk of harassment, intimidation, and identity theft."

ALIBABA REMOVES CONFEDERATE FLAG LISTINGS: Alibaba became the latest e-commerce company to say it would remove listings for the Confederate flag. The China-based company is defined by some as the largest e-commerce company in the world. Others like eBay, Amazon and Etsy have done the same. A spokeswoman for the tech giant said: "Alibaba Group prohibits listings of materials that are ethnically or racially offensive across its platforms. As such, we will be removing listings for flags, clothing and other memorabilia that display the Confederate flag imagery."

WHILE YAHOO WORKS TO SPIN THEM OFF: Yahoo! is working with the Internal Revenue Service to spin off its stake in Chinese Internet giant Alibaba by the fourth quarter, Bloomberg reports. "We continue to work with them and be responsive to their questions and inquiries," General Counsel Ron Bell told investors at a shareholder meeting today.

WHEELER SAYS POLLING INDUSTRY IN FLUX: The polling business is in a state of "evolution," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said when defending the commission's recent vote to crack down on robocalls. Pollsters have complained that the vote would make it harder for them to conduct research. But Wheeler said the business has been changing for years, as the public moves increasingly to mobile phones, which have stronger existing restrictions on robocalls.

"Cell phones started it off, when -- when folks moved to cell phones, and you couldn't get those numbers and how do you sample that group?" he said in a PBS interview. "And I think that this is an evolutionary process for that polling business."

HOW UBER STOPS STING OPERATIONS: When Uber was doing battle with the city government in Portland, Ore., officials tried to use sting operations to catch drivers operating illegally. But there was a problem: Uber had turned their accounts off. That's one delicious anecdote in a Bloomberg piece on how Uber fought, haggled and cajoled regulators in Portland to get up and running. Read the full piece here.

APPLE SIGNS INDIE ARTISTS: Call it the Taylor Swift aftershocks. Billboard reports that major indie label Beggars Group and distribution organization Merlin have signed on to Apple Music. The move comes after the Cupertino-based tech giant agreed to pay artists royalties during the three-month free trial of the service being offered to consumers. Their shift followed a scathing open letter from pop star Swift, who threatened to withhold her hit "1989" from the service if the firm didn't pay artists.

SPECTRUM SMACKDOWN CONTINUES: In a blog post, T-Mobile slammed AT&T for claims related to building out rural broadband. "The funny thing is that AT&T has a long history of promising to build out broadband to consumers – then failing to deliver on those promises – and not just in rural areas, but in urban areas as well," wrote SVP for Government Affairs Andy Levin. It's the latest salvo between the two companies (and Verizon) as FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler prepares to recommend a decision on T-Mobile's request to expand the spectrum reserve in the upcoming auction for smaller carriers. All reports suggest Wheeler will recommend denying that request.

 

ON TAP:

At 10:30 a.m., the Senate Commerce committee holds a markup for 10 measures, including the DOTCOM Act.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Login credentials for websites linked to nearly 50 government agencies have been found scattered across the Internet, according to a new report from Recorded Future.

Ford is launching a pilot car-sharing program.

More than a dozen members of Congress are pressing the Supreme Court to provide live audio of its upcoming decisions on gay marriage and ObamaCare.

Google still has time to respond to antitrust allegations leveled by the European Union's competition regulators, an official said Wednesday.

The House on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed the DOTCOM Act, 378-25, giving Congress the right to review the move away from an American-controlled Internet domain name system to one overseen by the international community.

 

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