Associated Press

35 states and DC back bid to collect online sales taxes

Thirty-five state attorneys general and the District of Columbia this week signed on to support South Dakota's legal bid to collect sales taxes from out-of-state Internet retailers. South Dakota is asking the US Supreme Court to review whether retailers can be required to collect sales taxes in states where they lack a physical presence. The case could have national implications for e-commerce. South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said that Colorado filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting South Dakota's petition to the high court.

Internet firms gearing up for a fight over network neutrality

Internet companies are readying for a showdown with telecoms and a Republican-controlled government over a policy near and dear to their hearts: network neutrality.

Net neutrality basically prevents broadband providers from playing favorites or steering users toward (or away from) particular internet sites. Under rules enacted during the Obama administration, the likes of Comcast and Verizon — which offer their own video services they’d very much like subscribers to use — can’t slow down Netflix, can’t block YouTube, and can’t charge Spotify extra to stream faster than Pandora. Broadband companies hate the net neutrality rules, and they have an ally in new Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai, who has repeatedly called the regulations a mistake. The government may downgrade federal prohibitions on anti-consumer and anticompetitive actions to voluntary commitments by internet service providers. The internet industry, which considers net neutrality essential for its business, isn’t standing still — and it may be keeping some of its most potent tactics in reserve.

Newspaper Decline Hurts AP Earnings

Earnings at The Associated Press shrank substantially last year compared with 2015, when the news organization enjoyed a large tax benefit that skewed its results. Revenue also edged downward, reflecting continued contraction in the newspaper industry and a stronger U.S. dollar that reduced the value of overseas sales. Net income in 2016 shrank to $1.6 million from $183.6 million in 2015, a 99 percent decline. The 2015 profit figure was bolstered by a one-time, $165 million tax benefit. AP's 2014 net income of $140.9 million was also boosted by a large non-recurring gain from the sale of a stake in a sports data company. In 2013, net income at the AP - a nonprofit news cooperative - was $3.3 million.

Montana joins other states in effort to bolster internet privacy

States have started writing their own legislation to protect broadband privacy after Congress voted to repeal regulations that would have required internet providers to obtain their customers' consent before collecting their personal information. On April 3, the Montana Senate approved a budget provision that would bar internet providers like Charter and Comcast from being awarded state contracts if they collect data from their customers without consent. That legislation is similar to a measure that is moving through the Minnesota Legislature.

Montana Sen Ryan Osmundson (R-Buffalo) said he introduced the measure as a response to Congress' vote to repeal the Obama-era Federal Communications Commission rules, which have not yet taken effect. "It has become apparent to us that they have the ability to use your information in ways to market to you, and, quite frankly, sell that information," Osmundson said of internet providers. "We're basically saying they cannot do business with the state if they're collecting personal information without the consent of the individual."

Wi-Fi on wheels: Google helps students get online, on the go

As more class assignments and homework migrate online, long bus rides have generally counted as lost time in preparing for the next school day. But Google said it hopes to help expand the use of Wi-Fi on school buses in rural areas around the country.

Google has funded 28 Wi-Fi-equipped school buses in South Carolina's rural Berkeley County. Google also has given the school district 1,700 Chromebooks, the stripped-down laptops on which many schoolchildren now do their class and homework. Google is also looking for ways to make the high-tech buses useful outside of school hours, working with the school district and community on places the buses can go once the school day is done to bring connectivity elsewhere, such as a community center or fellowship hall.

Telecom Policy Tilts To Industry Under Chairman Pai

Trumpism is slowly taking hold on your phone and computer, as the Federal Communications Commission starts chipping away at hard-fought protections on privacy and competition. These measures, put in place before President Donald Trump took office, had upset the phone and cable industries.

The new regime says consumers win if businesses face less regulation and have more incentives to invest. But consumer advocates worry these changes give broadband providers that own media businesses more power to favor their own services, among other things. The changes are small and easily overlooked. But they're the first shots in what could turn into a full-fledged war over Obama-era "network neutrality" rules, which were designed to keep phone and cable giants from favoring their own internet services and apps. Overturning these rules would also likely reverse a privacy measure meant to keep broadband providers from using and selling customer data without permission. "Death by a thousand cuts is a constantly overused cliche, but that's sort of what they're aiming for right now," said Matt Wood, the policy director of consumer group Free Press, referring to the Republicans now in power at the FCC.

Media The Enemy? President Trump Can’t Get Enough

Before most people are out of bed, President Donald Trump is watching cable news. With Twitter app at the ready, the man who condemns the media as "the enemy of the people" may be the most voracious consumer of news in modern presidential history.

President Trump usually rises before 6 a.m. and first watches TV in the residence before later moving to a small dining room in the West Wing. A short time later, he's given a stack of newspapers — including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The Washington Post and, long his favorite, the New York Post — as well as pile of printed articles from other sources including conservative online outlets like Breitbart News. The TVs stay on all day. The President often checks in at lunch and again in the evening, when he retires to the residence, cellphone in hand. It is a central paradox of the Trump presidency. Despite his fervent media criticism, President Trump is a faithful newspaper reader who enjoys jousting with reporters, an avid cable TV news viewer who frequently live-tweets what he's watching, and a reader of websites that have been illuminated by his presidential spotlight, showcasing the at-times conspiratorial corners of the internet.