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Timothy B. Lee

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Posted at 01:52 PM ET, 12/05/2012

DOJ meeting with firms who advocate for Google antitrust probe #thecircuit

Google antitrust probe?: The Department of Justice is having meetings with firms that would like to see Google face an antitrust probe regarding search bias similar in scale to the Microsoft case of the 1990s. People familiar with the matter told The Washington Post that Justice officials have met with at least two companies to dicuss allegations of monopolistic behavior on Google’s part. The Federal Trade Commission is currently looking into Google’s search practices, but insiders say the FTC action may not focus on search bias.

Neither the Justice Department nor the FTC had immediate comment. Google declined to comment through a spokesman.

FTC settles with online advertiser: The Federal Trade Commission announced Wednesday that it has settled with the online advertising network Epic Marketplace, Inc. The agency had charged Epic with engaging in the practice of “history sniffing,” or the practice of improperly looking at the sites Web browsers have visited to gather data illegally. Epic Marketplace’s policies indicated that it would only collect data from within its own advertising network, but the FTC said it found evidence to the contrary. Epic is now barred from collecting data outside of its own advertising network, and requires the company to delete any data it may have collected from “history sniffing.” It also bars the company from misrepresenting its data collection policies.

Media ownership vote delayed: The Federal Communications Commission said Tuesday that it will delay a vote on media ownership rules amid controversy about the proposal.

As The Washington Post reported, a proposal circulated last month by FCC chairman Julius Genachowski would relax a ban that prevented the owner of a television broadcast station from owning a newspaper in the same town. Critics, such as Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), say that relaxing this ban could lead to less diversity and competition.

In response, the chairman’s office has said that the order would actually strengthen the current rule by making it impossible for a media merger, for example, between titans like News Corp. and the Tribune Company.

McAfee traced with smartphone metadata: A hacker was able to use smartphone photo data to find John McAfee, founder of the antivirus firm that bears his name, who left his home in Belize for Guatemala. McAfee is wanted for questioning in relation to the death of his neighbor. He was located after a journalist posted a picture of McAfee online without stripping out location-based data on the file.

The report said the case resonated with privacy experts, who fear that most smartphone owners aren’t aware of how much data the devices collect and how easy it is to extract that data.

Uber wins big in D.C.: The app and car-sharing service Uber won a big victory with the D.C. Council Tuesday, The Washington Post reported. With the passage of the “Public Vehicle-for-Hire Innovation Amendment Act,” the D.C. city council has opened the way for Uber to continue its service in the District.

Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), who wrote the bill unanimously approved Tuesday, told The Post that the measure “fosters innovation and allows the service to operate, but still there are things in place, to make sure the cars are insured, that the drivers are licensed, that there are consumer protections in place.”

Google’s Schmidt has ‘no interest’ in government work: In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt said again that he’s not interested in moving to work in the public sector.

“I said last time and I've said again that Google is my home,” Schmidt said. “I have no interest in working for the federal government.”

Schmidt’s name has been floated for government positions in the past and is being recirculated in the press as President Obama looks to his second term.

By  |  01:52 PM ET, 12/05/2012

 
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