Overnight Tech: AT&T merger trial set for March | Dems raise concerns over Facebook kids app | Activists organize last-ditch protests for net neutrality | Analysis: Apple poised for $47B windfall from tax bill

Overnight Tech: AT&T merger trial set for March | Dems raise concerns over Facebook kids app | Activists organize last-ditch protests for net neutrality | Analysis: Apple poised for $47B windfall from tax bill
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AT&T, DOJ TO FACE OFF IN COURT IN MARCH: A federal judge set March 19 as the trial date for the Justice Department's lawsuit to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger.

AT&T had asked that the trial begin in February, while prosecutors with the Justice Department's antitrust division requested May.

"This is not a normal case -- from many perspectives," Judge Richard Leon told the two legal teams Thursday.


AT&T had been pushing for an expedited trial to beat the merger's April 22 deadline. If the deal doesn't close by then, AT&T will have to pay $500 million to Time Warner.

Leon urged the companies to consider pushing back the deadline.

"Getting an opinion on April 22 is not going to happen," he said.

AT&T said it was looking forward to making its case for the merger.

"We thank the Court for its deliberate and expeditious approach to this matter," David McAtee, AT&T's general counsel, said in a statement. "We understand and appreciate how busy the Court is, and we will promptly discuss the Court's post-trial schedule with Time Warner."

The proposed merger would join AT&T, a telecom giant, with Time Warner's entertainment businesses, including HBO, Warner Bros. and Turner Media.

Regulators, though, are suing to block the $85 billion deal, arguing that it would give AT&T too much power over the television and video market.

AT&T in a formal response said the deal is "pro-competitive" and "pro-consumer" and said the video market has already been altered by new players such as Netflix.

Read more here.


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SENATE DEMS QUESTION FACEBOOK OVER KIDS APP: Two Senate Democrats are questioning the privacy and security of Facebook's new messaging app, which is designed for kids under 13.

Sens. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHillicon Valley: Mueller indicts Russians for DNC hack | US officially lifts ZTE ban | AT&T CEO downplays merger challenge | Microsoft asks for rules on facial recognition technology | Dems want probe into smart TVs Dems push FTC to investigate smart TVs over privacy concerns Hillicon Valley: Hacker tried to sell military docs on dark web | Facebook fined over Cambridge Analytica | US closer to lifting ZTE ban | Trump, Obama lose followers in Twitter purge | DOJ weighs appeal on AT&T merger MORE (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who are both members of the Senate Commerce Committee, expressed their concerns in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday.

"We remain concerned about where sensitive information collected through this app could end up and for what purpose it could be used," they wrote. "Facebook needs to provide assurances that this 'walled garden' service they describe is fully protective of children."

The senators want proof that Facebook is complying with Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, a Federal Trade Commission regulation that imposes rules on collecting data from children under 13 on the internet.

Read more here.


#TRUMPCARE TOPS 2017 LAWMAKER HASHTAGS: #Trumpcare was the most used hashtag by members of Congress in 2017, according to a new study.

Other top hashtags used by lawmakers on Twitter and Facebook included #aca, #taxreform and #protectourcare. The social media analysis was conducted by Quorum.

The most viral Twitter post from a Republican lawmaker in 2017 was Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash Trump seeks to quell Russia furor MORE's (Tenn.) tweet mocking President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism MORE. It has been retweeted more than 148,000 times.

The most popular tweet from a politician on the left was Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersMellman: (Mis)interpreting elections Dems to propose legislation to prevent ICE from shackling pregnant women Rasmussen poll: Nearly three-quarters of Dems want 'fresh face' as nominee in 2020 MORE's (I-Vt.) tweet from the Women's March on Jan. 21.

Read more here.


ACTIVISTS MOUNT LAST-DITCH PROTEST OVER NET NEUTRALITY REPEAL: Net neutrality supporters are carrying out nationwide demonstrations on Thursday against the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) plans to repeal its landmark restrictions on internet service providers.

Pro-net neutrality groups Free Press, Fight for the Future and Demand Progress will be leading protests at Verizon stores across the country, congressional district offices and a Washington, D.C., hotel where FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will speak Thursday night.

"Under Pai's leadership the FCC has made a mockery of our democratic process," Evan Greer, Fight for the Future's campaign director, said in a statement. "With a rogue FCC commissioner blatantly captured by the industry he is supposed to provide oversight for, Congress must do their job and take action to stop the FCC vote on Dec. 14."

Read more here.


FBI DIRECTOR DEFENDS HACKING NOTIFICATION PROCEDURES: FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday defended the bureau's procedures for notifying victims of computer hacking amid questions over U.S. individuals who were reportedly not notified of Russian efforts to breach their email accounts.

Wray faced questions from Rep. Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenLive coverage: Tensions mount as Rosenstein grilled by GOP Live coverage: High drama as hardline immigration bill fails, compromise vote delayed Hillicon Valley: House Dems release Russia-linked Facebook ads | Bill would block feds from mandating encryption 'back doors' | AT&T hired Cohen for advice on Time Warner merger | FCC hands down record robocall fine | White House launches AI panel MORE (D-Calif.) during a congressional hearing about a recent Associated Press report that the FBI had failed to contact dozens of U.S. targets of the Moscow-aligned hackers, who were also behind the breaches of Democrats' emails ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

"Can you explain why these individuals had to learn from The Associated Press that they were targets of an aggressive Russian hacking effort?" Lofgren asked at the House Judiciary Committee hearing.

Wray did not specifically address the media report but went on to describe the "very well-established" criteria and procedures the FBI uses when assessing whether to notify breach victims.

"I'm not comfortable trying to discuss the specific victim engagements in a particular investigation, at least in this setting," Wray said. "But ... we have very well-established criteria and policies and procedures for questions of victim notification in cyber matters."

Read more here.


ANALYSIS: APPLE POISED TO GET $47B WIN FROM TAX BILL: Apple is likely to win big under the tax plan that Republicans are pushing through Congress, according to the Financial Times.

The company could make as much as $47 billion in additional profits from the tax legislation, according to the paper's estimates.

The Senate version of the tax proposal, which would allow Apple to bring home profits it has stashed overseas at a maximum 14.5 percent tax rate, would be a huge discount over the proposed 25 percent corporate tax rate, and an even bigger deal than the current 35 percent rate.

Read more here.



Bloomberg: Some Silicon Valley tech firms are hiring models to attend their holiday parties.

BuzzFeed: Hundreds of people told us how sexual harassment in tech derailed their careers

TechDirt: The strange fight over who should take John ConyersJohn James ConyersAP Analysis: 25 state lawmakers running in 2018 have been accused of sexual misconduct Portland activist stages ‘reparations happy hour’ Conyers III won't appear on primary ballot in race to replace his father MORE spot atop The Judiciary Committee

The Verge: Coinbase exchange falters as bitcoin price fluctuates wildly

WSJ: Apple's Tim Cook: No point yelling at China