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Timothy B. Lee

Timothy B. Lee

Timothy B. Lee covers technology policy, including copyright and patent law, telecom regulation, privacy, and free speech. He also writes about the economics of technology. He has previously written for Ars Technica and Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter or send him email.

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Andrea Peterson

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government. She also delves into the societal impacts of technology access and how innovation is intertwined with cultural development.

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Posted at 01:00 PM ET, 09/14/2012

Amazon to start collecting sales tax in California #thecircuit

Amazon sales tax: Amazon will begin charging sales tax in California starting Saturday, which the Associated Press reports is spurring buyers to get in a flurry of last-minute shopping.

The online retailer has been fighting a state-by-state battle with local governments over the issue of sales taxes, which states have viewed as an untapped source of potential revenue. California and Amazon had an extensive back-and-forth about the issue in recent months, and Amazon has asked Congress to pass a nationwide policy on Internet taxes.

Bloomberg, Comcast: Bloomberg filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission Thursday night asking the agency to direct Comcast to group Bloomberg TV near other news channels.

When it approved a merger between Comcast and NBC Universal, the FCC mandated that Comcast must group similar channels together in “neighborhoods” to ensure that NBC-affiliated channels were not given preferential treatment.

Bloomberg says in its filing that Comcast has not complied with this condition and asked the FCC to direct the cable provider to move Bloomberg TV in 59 systems “immediately.”

Cybersecurity: In an op-ed at the Wall Street Journal, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) called on the Obama administration to stay its hand on an executive order implementing rules on cybersecurity.

The White House has drafted standards regarding how private companies and the government can react to cyber attacks, the Washington Post reported last week.

The op-ed from the senators, who are the ranking members on the Armed Services, Commerce and Intelligence committees, say that private firms should not have to worry about “regulatory backlash” when sharing cybersecurity information, and that passing rules on cybersecurity should be left to Congress.

A comprehensive cybersecurity bill failed in the Senate earlier this summer.

YouTube censorship: In reaction to YouTube’s Wednesday announcement that it will restrict access to a video that is believed to have sparked some of the violent anti-American protests in the Middle East, there’s renewed discussion around what sort of Web censorship is appropriate, and when.

YouTube told The Washington Post Wednesday that it will restrict access to the video.

“We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions. This can be a challenge because what’s OK in one country can be offensive elsewhere. This video--which is widely available on the Web--is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube. However, given the very difficult situation in Libya and Egypt we have temporarily restricted access in both countries,” the company said, expressing sympathy for the families of those killed in the attack.

The decision raised some concern from Web freedom advocates, such as Jillian York at the Electronic Freedom Foundation, who told GigaOm, “I think it’s wrong of Google to play Internet police here. They shouldn’t censor without a court order.”

ZTE cooperating in Iran export probe: In a hearing Thursday, a senior executive from ZTE acknowledged that his company is speaking with U.S. authorities about a probe into whether his company sold surveillance and computer equipment to Iran in violation of U.S. export laws, The Washington Post reported.

“We are actively cooperating with branches of the U.S. government to investigate this matter and get to the bottom of the truth,” Zhu Jinyun, a senior vice president of ZTE Corp., told the House Intelligence Committee.

By  |  01:00 PM ET, 09/14/2012

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