OVERNIGHT TECH: Senators seek permanent ban on Internet taxes

THE LEDE: Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenManning: Additional Assange charges are feds 'using the law as a sword' Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Senators unveil sweeping bipartisan health care package | House lawmakers float Medicare pricing reforms | Dems offer bill to guarantee abortion access Democratic senator warns of threat to press freedom in new Assange charges MORE (D-Ore.) and John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneFrustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Hillicon Valley: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment Senate passes anti-robocall bill 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 HellerThis week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary MORE (R-Nev.) and Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteSinema, Gallagher fastest lawmakers in charity race New Hampshire senator to ask 2020 Dems to back repeal of state residency law Schultz recruiting GOP insiders ahead of possible 2020 bid 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 BlackburnOn The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump Hillicon Valley: Google delays cutting off Huawei | GOP senators split over breaking up big tech | Report finds DNC lagging behind RNC on cybersecurity MORE (R-Tenn.) and Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchDemocrats talk subpoena for Mueller Bernie Sanders is hypocritical on most significant campaign issues Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements 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 GoodlatteTop Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview It’s time for Congress to pass an anti-cruelty statute DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling 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 UdallDenver Post editorial board says Gardner endorsement was 'mistake' Gardner gets latest Democratic challenge from former state senator Setting the record straight about No Labels MORE (D-Colo.), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinThreat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Senate Democrats request watchdog, Red Cross probe DHS detention facilities Iraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran MORE (D-Ill.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report Jeffrey Rosen officially sworn in as deputy attorney general This week: Democrats, White House set for infrastructure, budget talks MORE (D-Calif.) and Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissRepublicans say Democrats holding up disaster relief as 'Sandy payback' Ex-House Intel chair: Intel panel is wrong forum to investigate Trump's finances The Hill's Morning Report - Trump budget reignites border security fight MORE (R-Ga.).

Schiff to introduce FISA court reform bill: Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan House Intelligence enjoys breakthrough with Justice Department Schiff blasts Trump's 'un-American' order to intel agencies to cooperate with Barr probe 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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