Overnight Technology

OVERNIGHT TECH: Senate pressed to act on Internet tax ban

LEDE: Technology companies and Internet service providers are pressing the Senate to quickly take up a bill to extend a ban on local and state taxes on Internet access. 

Like last Congress, the House on Tuesday approved a proposal that would extend the two-decade old ban for the long term, removing the need for any future extensions. A handful of trade groups for the telecom industry were quick to release statements calling on the Senate to “quickly pass” a companion bill that already has 50 backers. 

{mosads}At least one major tech trade group, NetChoice — representing a number of e-commerce companies — urged the Senate to resist tying the tax ban to another more controversial measure that gives more authority to states to collect taxes on online purchases from businesses without a physical presence in their boundaries. That tactic, which was unsuccessfully attempted last year, seems much more unlikely now that Republicans control the upper chamber.

“We encourage the Senate to shun the misguided tactics of 2014, where it sought to attach other bills to must-pass legislation ensuring internet tax freedom forever,” said Steve DelBianco, the executive director of NetChoice. 

HOUSE PANEL TO CONSIDER PATENT AMENDMENTS: The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a Thursday markup on its patent reform bill, a week after the Senate approved its own version. A markup ahead of the Memorial Day recess was postponed as lawmakers continued to negotiate with stakeholders. On Thursday, committee members will take up a manager’s amendment that contains a number of changes to the Innovation Act that was introduced earlier this year. 

According to a summary, the amendment will include tweaks to provisions on heightened pleading requirements, discovery limits, customer stay exceptions and a joinder provision that lets courts go after the real backers of patent trolls who hide behind shell companies. It will also contain a number of tweaks to the process at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that lets parties challenge the validity of patents. 

REVIEWING INTERNET DOMAIN TRANSITION: The House Energy and Commerce Committee appears poised Wednesday to approve a bill that would give Congress 30 days to review a final plan before the administration hands off oversight of the Internet domain name system. It would also require accountability measures for the group leading the transition. 

A bipartisan compromise was reached after Democrats objected to a provision that barred the transition until a GAO study could weigh the pros and cons of a final plan. A similar measure was approved in the House as part of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act last Congress.

LYFT HIRES PODESTA GROUP: Lyft hired the Podesta Group to lobby on issues related to “ridesharing and commuter benefits,” according to public disclosures. Two lobbyists at the firm are advocating for the ridesharing company, including a former staff assistant to the Senate Commerce Committee as well as Israel Klein, a former communications aide for Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.). Lyft spent about $50,000 in the first quarter. It recently filed lobbying termination forms with two other firms. 

GMAIL GOES DOWN: Google’s email service, Gmail, was temporarily disrupted during the mid-afternoon on Tuesday. At 2:33 p.m., the company said it was investigating reports of issues with the service. By 3:41 p.m. Google said the problem should be resolved but offered no explanation. Hundreds of millions of individuals use Gmail to send and receive emails each day, as well as a number of companies who build unique domain names over the platform.

INTEL STARTS VENTURE FUND FOR DIVERSE STARTUPS: Intel announced that it was forming a venture capital fund for companies led by diverse founders or executives. The fund will invest $125 million, according to USA Today. The company says it’s aimed at addressing the disparity in who receives crucial venture capital. The announcement comes just one day after Apple made headlines for featuring two female executives in its annual Worldwide Developers Conference keynote.

FCC AND LAWMAKERS REACH FIELD OFFICES DEAL: GOP lawmakers have reached a deal with the FCC to keep open 15 of its 24 field offices, some of which were slated for closure. “We found a good solution that makes sense,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the chairman of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee of House Energy and Commerce. “These changes will keep field offices open in strategic locations and help ensure that the commission can fulfill its responsibilities to the public and public safety communities.” The deal also means that the Communications and Technology Subcommittee will not host its Thursday hearing on the closures.

“This updated plan represents the best of both worlds: rigorous management analysis combined with extensive stakeholder and Congressional input,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. The proposal still needs to be approved by Wheeler’s colleagues on the commission.


AT 10 a.m., the House Energy and Commerce will mark up a bill on the government’s handover of the Internet domain system. 

At 10:30 a.m., a Senate Appropriations subcommittee will mark up the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriation bill.

At 11:30, Politico will host an event on the future of campaign tech. 

At 1 p.m., the Microsoft Innovation and Policy Center will hold a TechFair Open house.


Apple is encouraging app developers to employ a layer of security when creating or updating their products. 

A new study says that the U.S. tech industry is likely to lose more than $35 billion from foreign customers by 2016 because of concerns over government surveillance.

The House on Tuesday passed a bill that would permanently extend a ban on state and local taxes on Internet access. 

Former Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is now a registered lobbyist for T-Mobile and four other groups.

A top official with the Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday morning that the agency was not planning a “big enforcement push” against sharing economy companies like Uber and Airbnb.


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Tags Charles Schumer Ed Markey Internet Tax Freedom Act Patent reform Patent trolls
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