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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 03:25 PM ET, 01/04/2013

Google deal highlights tough role for regulators #thecircuit

Google settlement highlights tough regulator role: The Federal Trade Commission issued its decision on Google’s business practices Thursday, saying that company has to license industry-essential patents at fair rates to competitors and change some business practices. Critics said the decision fell short of what the agency could have done on the issue of search bias. But the FTC said that, on balance, it couldn’t find evidence that Google unfairly promoted its on products over others’ in its searches.

The Washington Post reported that regulators are walking a fine line in antitrust cases. It’s hard to know when to flag potential issues after there’s likely proof of consumer harm but before the problem is too entrenched.

“It has been the single issue that the antitrust system has had trouble dealing with since 1890,” William Kovacic, a former FTC chairman and George Washington University law professor told The Post. “That’s because the consumer impacts typically are mixed.”

Microsoft responds to Google settlement: Microsoft, which lobbied hard to get the FTC to crack down on Google, shared its disappointment over the FTC decision.

“We are concerned that the FTC may not have obtained adequate relief even on the few subjects that Google has agreed to address,” the company said in a blog post.

Microsoft listed several gripes, including its belief that Google’s commitments on making certain tech patents available to the industry and on data portability fall short. The company also said that search bias and other issues were not properly addressed in the investigation.

For its part, Google said Thursday in a company blog post that it believes the FTC’s decision finds that“Google’s services are good for users and good for competition.”

Facebook adds VoIP in tests: Facebook has added voice messaging capabilities to its Facebook Messenger app in Canadian tests, according to a report from The Next Web. The feature allows users to hit a “record” button to leave voicemail-like messages for friends or to talk directly through the app.

The social network has been aggressively building out its app footprint, particularly in the messaging space. The company recently released “Poke,” a Snapchat-like app that allows users to leave each other short photos and videos that self-destruct after a specific period of time.

Chinese micro-blogging accounts shut down: The Chinese government has shut down the accounts of several public figures on weibo, a micro-blogging platform that many compare to Twitter. As The Washington Post reported, journalists, activists and even a popular cartoonist found their accounts had been shut down, leading to concerns that new party leaders in China may not support looser controls on the Internet and free expression, as many had hoped.

Microsoft announces licensing agreement with Pentagon: Microsoft said Friday that it has entered a licensing agreement with the Army, Air Force and Defense Information Systems Agency, aimed at cutting costs and improving mobility and cloud-based collaboration. The agreement, Microsoft said, covers 75 percent of all personnel in the Defense Department and provides partners with access to Office, Sharepoint and Windows 8.

Defense deputy chief information officer David L. DeVries told the American Forces Press Service, that the deal will help the Defense Department improve “the effectiveness for the warfighter [and the] security of our networks and information systems while reducing the total cost of ownership.”

By  |  03:25 PM ET, 01/04/2013

 
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