Overnight Tech: Google to help candidates respond online at GOP debate

LEDE: Presidential candidates will have yet another way to connect with voters during the GOP debate on Thursday: their Google search results.

As part of a collaboration with Fox News during the network's primetime debate for Republican presidential candidates, Google will include content provided by candidates in its results when users search for "Fox News debate."

"This experimental feature helps voters make more informed choices, and levels the playing field for candidates to share ideas and positions on issues they may not have had a chance to address during the debate," wrote Danielle Bowers, of Google's News Lab, in a blog post.

Campaigns will be able to post "long-form text, photos and videos," according to the company, and use the feature to issue rebuttals to their opponents. Campaigns already send out rapid responses on social media like Twitter and fill reporters' email inboxes with talking points during the debates. 

TELECOM SANCTIONS ON CUBA EASED: The Commerce and Treasury departments announced Tuesday that they were easing restrictions on some export financing to Cuba. Among the changes, Commerce "will generally approve license applications for exports and reexports of telecommunications items that would improve communications to, from, and among the Cuban people."

On Monday night, the State Department's Daniel Sepulveda told the Miami Herald that both the U.S. and Cuban sides weren't yet at a point where they had enough confidence to sign off on telecom deals. "We're doing as much as we possibly can on our side. At this point, the biggest thing that is missing is trust," he said. A U.S. delegation traveled down to Cuba last week for meeting on the issue. Federal Communications Chairman Tom Wheeler and ITI head Dean Garfield were part of the trip as well, according to the Herald.

HOUSE E&C REVISITS FIRSTNET: The Communications and Technology Subcommittee of House Energy and Commerce will hold a hearing next Tuesday to check in on the progress made by FirstNet, the public safety broadband network. "We continue to monitor FirstNet's progress toward deploying this nationwide public safety network," said subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) in a statement. "Despite a tough start, FirstNet has demonstrated it is moving forward and getting closer to delivering for our nation's first responders."

VERIZON BUILDS OUT NETWORK FOR SUPER BOWL: Verizon has spent $70 million on bolstering its network in the San Francisco Bay Area before the Super Bowl, which will be played at Santa Clara's Levi's Stadium at the beginning of February. The effort includes building new cell towers and installing small cells, according to a release from the company, among other steps. Verizon executive Brian Mecum said in a statement that the company expects the event to be the "most 'shared' Super Bowl" on social media. The company says its customers used 4.1 terabytes of data at last year's Super Bowl in Phoenix, Ariz.

THE ACCOUNTS BEHIND TRUMP'S RETWEETS: The news outlet Fusion created a Twitter bot that automatically tweets out the Twitter profile of anyone who is retweeted by GOP presidential frontrunner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGingrich: Trump ‘mishandled’ Rosenstein memo on Comey Trump to gift Macron framed upholstery: report Former presidents, first ladies come together to honor Barbara Bush MORE. Trump has used his unique form of retweeting to sing his own praises and as a vehicle to criticize his opponents. The creation of the bot comes a week after Trump retweeted a controversial account with a profile that included the description, "#PoliticalCorrectness is killing this country. It has to be stopped. #WhiteGenocide is real. Wake up! #Trump2016 #AltRight."


At 12:15 p.m., New America will hold an event on "Amazon's Book Monopoly : A Threat to Freedom of Expression?"


Records from the president's National Security Council (NSC) are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday. 

Uber is tracking some of its drivers' actions to determine whether they are driving erratically, the company said on Tuesday.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Tuesday that he will meet with top U.S. officials in February to discuss how best to stymie terrorist activity on social media, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Scientist Bill Nye is encouraging NASCAR to switch to all-electric cars, calling on the auto racing league to look to "the future rather than the past."

Nearly three-year-old comments from a top State Department official suggest that diplomats across the department routinely declined to use special protections for classified information to prioritize convenience.


Please send tips and comments to David McCabe, dmccabe@thehill.com and Mario Trujillo, mtrujillo@thehill.com Follow us on Twitter: @HilliconValley, @dmccabe, @_mariotrujillo