By Li Zhou | 04/18/2017 10:00 AM EDT
With help from Margaret Harding McGill
NEW TRUMP MOVES ON H-1Bs - "President Donald Trump on Tuesday will sign an executive order aimed at bolstering his pledge to 'buy American and hire American' by directing federal agencies to probe government procurement practices and re-examine all programs under which workers enter the United States from abroad - including H-1B visas, a key priority for tech companies," Pro Trade's Megan Cassella reports. "The 'Hire American' side of the order will re-examine all programs that govern the entry of foreign labor into the United States, with the goal of reforming current practices to grant visas to higher-skilled and higher-paid workers," Megan writes, citing a senior administration official. Get the full details here.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR AT&T-TIME WARNER? - The FCC has approved the sale of Time Warner's only broadcast television station to Meredith Corp., removing a potential hurdle to TW's acquisition by AT&T, Bloomberg reports . Remember, when the $85 billion mega-merger was announced last year, analysts wondered if a transfer of Time Warner's Georgia TV station to AT&T would trigger an FCC public interest review of the deal. With the FCC out of the picture, the deal still faces review by the Justice Department, which will examine any threats to competition. But Makan Delrahim - President Trump's pick for DOJ antitrust chief, who awaits Senate confirmation - has said he doesn't think the acquisition poses a major antitrust problem.
TAX REFORM TIMETABLE SLIPS - Tech companies angling to influence potential legislation on corporate tax and repatriation rates may be in for a longer wait. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin conceded that the Trump administration isn't likely to hit its target of getting tax reform through Congress by August, The Financial Times reports. "It started as [an] aggressive timeline," Mnuchin said. "It is fair to say it is probably delayed a bit because of the health care," a reference to the failed congressional effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
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COTTON DEFENDS PRIVACY VOTE - Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who voted for the resolution to roll back the FCC's broadband privacy rules, took some heat on the issue during a raucous town hall in Little Rock on Monday. "You sold us out when you cancelled the FCC regulations that ensured my privacy, keeping my ISP from selling my browser history," one attendee told the lawmaker. Cotton repeated the GOP argument that the FCC's rules would have unfairly held internet service providers to a different standard than web giants. "It did not grant a level playing field between your service providers on one hand and companies like Google and Amazon and Facebook, who by the way have much more of your information than Comcast and AT&T," he said. Groups like Free Press and Electronic Frontier Foundation have urged constituents to hold their representatives accountable on internet policy issues like privacy and net neutrality.
AT&T'S QUIET BIZ PRICE HIKE - AT&T recently announced plans to up its pricing of business broadband services, just ahead of an FCC vote on business data services. Small business users in Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin are among those affected by the intrastate hike. "If the business broadband market is indeed competitive - as the FCC draft Order implies - then why are prices going up for these BDS related services?" asks INCOMPAS, a group focused on promoting telecom competition. A spokesperson for AT&T did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
MCSWEENY NOT IMPRESSED - FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has floated a plan to have ISPs commit to voluntary net neutrality principles and transfer his agency's oversight of the broadband industry to the FTC. But count the FTC's lone Democratic commissioner, Terrell McSweeny, among the skeptics of that plan. "If antitrust law enforcement alone is not sufficient to protect the open internet, is relying on commitments by ISPs to honor principles of an open internet? I frankly doubt it," McSweeny said at a New America event Monday. She pointed out that the FTC lacks the FCC's network engineering expertise; asked what happens if ISPs change their policies or commitments; questioned how consumers will be able to detect and complain about violations; and raised the issue of what recourse web companies will have in the new framework.
TODAY: CLYBURN TALKS BROADBAND - FCC Democrat Mignon Clyburn is scheduled to speak at a regional broadband summit in Mesa, Ariz., today. Hosted by Next Century Cities, the event is focused on how broadband fits into the nation's infrastructure and the barriers faced by rural and tribal communities in getting broadband. Clyburn will speak about noon Eastern time. Watch the livestream here.
SILICON VALLEY MUST-READS
- Snap stock dips: The Snapchat parent company's stock dipped Monday, after a legal document was unsealed alleging that CEO Evan Spiegel once said the app is "only for rich people" and he didn't want to expand into "poor countries" like India and Spain, Reuters reports. The revelation sparked some social media backlash, with Twitter critics adopting the hashtag #boycottsnapchat. Snap says the words were written by a "disgruntled former employee."
- Could NYC require Uber to tip? The city's Taxi and Limousine Commission has introduced a proposal requiring car services to let passengers tip their drivers, The New York Times reports. The Independent Drivers Guild, which advocates for Uber drivers in New York, has been pushing the company to allow driver tipping, just like taxis and Lyft. An Uber spokeswoman said the company is examining the proposal.
- Khanna slams Pai: Rep. Ro Khanna, the freshman congressman representing Silicon Valley, called FCC Chairman Ajit Pai "one of the worst picks possible in government" and criticized his recent moves on Charter and net neutrality. "[Pai] is carving up the map, no competition," Khanna told Recode . "And the people who suffer the most are - actually - Trump voters, in rural America! They're the ones whose prices go up. They're the ones who have to think, 'Do I subscribe to the internet or not? Do I get fast service?' He has been a mouthpiece for telecom companies in one of the most economically concentrated industries in the country."
YELP GETS A FRIENDLY ASSIST - Tech groups including Internet Association and the Consumer Technology Association filed an amicus brief supporting Yelp in a case that could determine whether tech platforms are held accountable for content posted on their sites by third-party users. The trade groups argue that the court should examine the interpretation of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects online platforms from liability posed by user-generated content.
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OHLHAUSEN ON BOARD FOR CUTTING RED TAPE - The Federal Trade Commission is eager to show it's following the Trump playbook of cutting back on "wasteful" regulations and bureaucracy. Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen on Monday outlined a series of steps her agency is taking, including efforts to "streamline demands for information in investigations" and close "older investigations, where appropriate." Said Ohlhausen: "I welcomed the President's directive, and we're already working hard to achieve it."
SPOTTED IN A SPRINT COMMERCIAL - Some familiar faces made a cameo appearance in a Sprint ad featuring two relatives arguing about politics over the internet. Democratic consultant Brent Blackaby and his conservative Uncle Phil - both of whom were mentioned in Darren Samuelsohn's POLITICO story about family members debating Trump v. Clinton on social media last year - are the stars of a recent spot for the wireless company. Watch it, here.
TRANSITIONS - Christopher Harrison has been named CEO of the Digital Media Association, a trade group that represents online distributors of digital music, movies and books. Harrison previously held executive-level positions at Sirius XM Radio and Pandora Media. ... Morgan Reed is taking on the role of president of ACT | The App Association, with Chelsea Thomas becoming executive director. Outgoing President Jonathan Zuck is stepping down after 19 years to become executive director of the Innovators Network Foundation, the trade group's nonprofit. Melissa Lee will become INF's chief of staff. ... Via Morning eHealth: Former Obama administration CTO and Health Datapalooza co-founder Todd Park will join the board of the New America Foundation. ... "Justin Kintz will manage policy and communications for the Americas in Uber's Dupont office," per Morning Transportation. "He takes over from Jill Hazelbaker, who now heads up those functions globally for the ride-hailing company." ... Sherif Marakby , Uber's vice president of global vehicle programs, is leaving the company, per Reuters.
Netflix at nearly 100 million subscribers: It could reach this milestone as soon as this weekend, The AP reports.
A campaign to convince Elon Musk to "Dump Trump": Bloomberg profiles a man funding efforts to get Musk to cut ties with President Trump.
Facebook: "We know we need to do better." After a man filmed a murder on Facebook Live, the company said it's working to improve policies for flagging violent content, Mashable reports.
H-1B visa applications decline: The number of petitions submitted for H-1B visas dropped nearly 16 percent this year, according to data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Pro Employment's Ted Hesson reports.
That time at Coachella: An intrepid phone thief attempted to make off with more than one hundred phones at the music festival, but was quickly thwarted by the "Find My iPhone" feature, Mashable reports.
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