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
© Getty Images

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.


Please send your tips, comments and Grammy nomination hot takes to Ali Breland (abreland@thehill.com) and Harper Neidig (hneidig@thehill.com) and follow us on Twitter: @alibreland and @hneidig. We're also on Signal and WhatsApp. Email or DM us for our numbers.


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 MarkeyElection Countdown: O'Rourke goes on the attack | Takeaways from fiery second Texas Senate debate | Heitkamp apologizes for ad misidentifying abuse victims | Trump Jr. to rally for Manchin challenger | Rick Scott leaves trail to deal with hurricane damage Senate Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia Dems damp down hopes for climate change agenda 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 CorkerCorker: Trump administration 'clamped down' on Saudi intel, canceled briefing GOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia Poll: GOP's Blackburn holds slim lead in Tennessee Senate race MORE's (Tenn.) tweet mocking President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump renews attacks against Tester over VA nominee on eve of Montana rally Trump submits 2017 federal income tax returns Corker: Trump administration 'clamped down' on Saudi intel, canceled briefing 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) SandersBiden: Trump administration 'coddles autocrats and dictators' Warren and Sanders question Amazon CEO over Whole Foods anti-union video Dem lawmaker to Saudis: Take your oil and shove it 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 LofgrenBipartisan group of lawmakers offer bill to provide certainty following online sales tax ruling Women poised to take charge in Dem majority Live coverage: Tensions mount as Rosenstein grilled by GOP 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 ConyersFormer campaign aide to New Jersey governor says she was sexually assaulted by his ex-staffer Kavanaugh controversy has led to politicization of 'Me Too,' says analyst Sexual assault is not a game — stop using women to score political points 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