Google said to be close to FTC deal #thecircuit

FCC’s Genachowski, commissioners on the Hill: Among the questions posed to the commissioners, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) asked whether the commissioners would support a privacy bill of rights for Internet users 15 and under. All the commissioners responded that they would support such a measure.

Lawmakers also asked the commissioners about retransmission, minority media ownership, geolocation and the overhaul of the Universal Service Fund.

In prepared remarks, recently appointed Republican commissioner Ajit Pai said that the FCC is moving too slowly — a problem he said is hurting job creation and investment.

“If companies do not know the rules of the road, they stop investing, and job creation in the communications industry grinds to a halt,” he said.

Google said to be close to FTC deal: Google is reportedly preparing to settle with the Federal Trade Commission over charges that it bypassed privacy settings in Apple’s Safari browser.

The company could pay $22.5 million to settle the charges, the Wall Street Journal reported. That would be the largest fine ever levied by the regulatory agency — and is about the same as what Google made last year in five hours, the report said. Unnamed “officials briefed on the settlement terms” say a deal is close, the Journal reported, but may still be altered by commissioners before it is released.

The FTC declined to comment on a possible deal with Google. In a statement, Google declined to comment further on the reports of a settlement.

“We cannot comment on any specifics,” the company said. “However we do set the highest standards of privacy and security for our users. The FTC is focused on a 2009 help center page published more than two years before our consent decree, and a year before Apple changed its cookie-handling policy. We have now changed that page and taken steps to remove the ad cookies, which collected no personal information, from Apple’s browsers.”

DOJ ‘secret weapon’ on antitrust to leave: The Department of Justice’s “secret weapon” on antitrust, Gene Kimmelman, will leave the agency to open a D.C.-based office of the human rights organization Global Partners and Associates, The Washington Post reported. Kimmelman, who previously worked for the consumer advocacy group Consumers Union, played an instrumental role in rejecting the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile. He also advocated for the department’s push to bring Apple and several e-book publishers to court for alleged price fixing.

Kimmelman’s departure will probably not have much effect on the DOJ’s evaluation of the deal between Verizon and cable providers for cross-marketing and spectrum, people familiar with the review told The Washington Post on Tuesday, adding that the review is nearly complete.

Verizon deal with cable providers draws even more criticism: The Communications Workers of America released a study Tuesday saying that the proposed deal between Verizon and cable companies is a “job killer.” The CWA, which is in labor negotiations with Verizon, said that the deal should only be approved with conditions that require the company to continue building out its FiOS network and ensures that the deal will not lock out competitors.

On Monday, the CWA released a letter from 32 lawmakers to Attorney General Eric Holder and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski. The lawmakers said that they believe the proposed deal could have “far-reaching implications” on competition in the telecommunications industry.

In response to that letter, Verizon Wireless said it believes the deal will still be approved later this summer.

“Over the past six months, we have addressed these issues, made a persuasive case that bringing unused spectrum to the marketplace to serve millions of consumers is strongly in the public interest, and we believe we are on track for approval later this summer,” a Verizon official wrote in an e-mailed statement to The Post.

Wikipedia’s Russian site blacked out: After putting it to a vote, members of Wikipedia’s Russian community voted to take the site off-line in Russia for 24 hours to protest a proposed bill they fear would grant the Russian government the right to make an Internet blacklist.

The Washington Post reported that the Russian page now displays a black “censored” rectangle over the Wikipedia nameplate. A statement warns that the Russian parliament will hold “a second hearing to amend the “Law of Information,” which can lead to the creation of extra-judicial censorship of the Internet in Russia, including the loss of access to Wikipedia in Russian.”

The hearing is slated for Wednesday, according to the Guardian.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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