Overnight Technology

Overnight Tech: Ivanka Trump gives boost for anti-sex trafficking bill | GOP senators push to keep online sales tax out of omnibus | How James O’Keefe operatives tried to trick tech employees

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IVANKA SHOWS SUPPORT FOR ANTI-SEX TRAFFICKING LEGISLATION: Ivanka Trump on Tuesday applauded lawmakers for their efforts on a pair of sex trafficking bills that have many internet platforms worried about the erosion of their legal protections from content posted by users.

The president’s daughter and senior adviser convened a meeting at the White House for lawmakers, advocates and representatives from the private sector to talk about the legislation aimed at cracking down on online sex trafficking.

{mosads}”I have discussed these pieces of legislation with almost everyone in this room over the past several months and commend you on getting us where we are today,” Trump said. “On behalf of the president and administration, we want to thank all the members here today for your leadership and commitment to end the shameful and tragic crime of online sex trafficking.”

Last month, the House overwhelmingly passed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA). The legislation, which includes language from a similar Senate bill, would make it easier to sue internet platforms for enabling sex trafficking on their sites.

It would carve out an exception to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects websites from legal liability for content posted by third parties.

Many internet companies worry that changing the law will upend the legal framework they see as foundational to the internet.

Last week, a group of internet companies that include Twitter and Yelp urged the Senate to make some last-minute changes to FOSTA before it comes up for a vote.

“Section 230 has not only enabled companies like ours to launch and grow, it has also made it legally feasible for us to contribute to the fight against criminal activity online,” the group wrote in a letter. “Any changes to these rules require careful consideration and an assessment of the impact they will have on law enforcement, victims, and our own content moderation and abuse detection activities.”


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Ivanka Trump’s meeting came after a number of major companies also urged lawmakers to pass the sex trafficking legislation.


MAJOR COMPANIES PRESS SENATE TO PASS SEX TRAFFICKING BILL: A group of major companies that includes Disney, IBM and Oracle is urging the Senate to pass an online sex trafficking bill that some internet firms believe could upend what they see as crucial legal protections for their industry.

In a letter sent to Senate leaders on Tuesday, the companies, which have all been at odds with internet giants in the past, argued that the bill is necessary to crack down on the online sex trafficking trade.

“As responsible U.S. companies, we believe it is time to address this urgent problem,” reads the letter, which was obtained by The Hill. “This legislation has been thoughtfully and carefully shaped through the legislative process to provide limited, controlled exceptions to the [Communications Decency Act] immunity provision that will help policymakers, law enforcement, and victims combat this illicit criminal activity.”

The letter was also signed by Home Depot, Hewlett Packard and 21st Century Fox.

Read more here.


GOP SENATORS URGE CONGRESS TO LEAVE ONLINE SALES TAX OUT OF OMNIBUS: GOP Sens. Steve Daines (Mont.) and Ted Cruz (Texas) on Tuesday urged their fellow lawmakers not to add online sales tax legislation to an omnibus spending bill, arguing that doing so would hurt small businesses.

“Omnibus can mean ominous for taxpayers,” Daines said at a press conference.

Some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are pushing for the omnibus to include legislation to allow states to require out-of-state online retailers to collect their sales taxes. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) has been making an aggressive push on her bill on the issue in the House.

Supporters of the legislation argue that it will allow states to collect money already owed to them and put online retailers on the same playing field as brick-and-mortar stores. They also argue that there’s urgency for Congress to act now, before the Supreme Court acts on a case on the topic this year.

Read more here.


FEMALE MICROSOFT EMPLOYEES FILED MORE THAN 200 HARASSMENT COMPLAINTS OVER SIX YEARS: Women working in technical roles at U.S. Microsoft offices filed 238 internal complaints alleging gender discrimination or harassment between 2010 and 2016.

Of these, 118 were gender discrimination complaints and Microsoft only determined one to be “founded,” according to court filings reported on by Reuters.

The numbers are being used by plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit against the company as an example of women being paid less and being less likely to receive promotions than men at Microsoft.

Read more here.


JAMES O’KEEFE OPERATIVES CREATED FAKE COMPANY TO TRICK TECH EMPLOYEES: Employees of undercover conservative activist James O’Keefe posed as staffers of a tech startup to lure in tech employees, Gizmodo reported Tuesday.

The report comes after O’Keefe’s Project Veritas organization published undercover videos of tech employees that O’Keefe claims proved anti-conservative bias at Twitter.

The sting included Project Veritas staffers contacting Mo Norai, a Silicon Valley contract worker, posing as a fake recruiting firm seeking to offer him a full-time job, according to Gizmodo.

Read more here.


ELON MUSK IS POACHING ONION STAFFERS FOR UNDISCLOSED PROJECT: Billionaire Elon Musk has reportedly hired a number of former employees from The Onion to work on an undisclosed project.

Former Onion editor in chief Cole Bolton and former executive editor Ben Berkley have been working on the project and recently brought on board three of the satirical website’s writers and another longtime editor, The Daily Beast reported Tuesday.

Bolton and Berkley told the news outlet that they are launching a new “comedy project” but did not provide details on how Musk would be involved. The two left The Onion last year.

Read more here.



The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the Parkland, Fla., shooting and ways to improve school safety at 9:30 a.m. Among those testifying is Michael Beckerman, president and CEO of the Internet Association.

The Senate Commerce Committee is holding a hearing on the White House infrastructure proposal at 10 a.m.

The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on cryptocurrency and initial coin offerings at 10 a.m.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee holds a hearing on “modernizing export controls” focused on technology and national security at 10 a.m.

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee holds a hearing at 10 a.m. on the country’s national laboratories.

The House Oversight Committee is holding hearing on federal IT at 2 p.m.



The Hill: Trump floats idea of creating military ‘space force’

The Hill: Trump says the U.S. is going to Mars ‘very soon’

The Washington Post: Melania Trump will meet tech giants including Facebook and Google to talk cyberbullying

Cointelegraph: The members of Congress that are giving cryptocurrency attention

The Verge says that Apple will reveal its new operating systems on June 4

Reuters: Fitness app Strava overhauls map that revealed military positions

A former New York Times video game critic pens an op-ed on the toxic culture among players.

The Wall Street Journal: In U.S.-China tech rivalry, whose side Is Qualcomm on?

Tags Ivanka Trump Kristi Noem Melania Trump Steve Daines Ted Cruz

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