Sen. Leahy highlights immigration, privacy in plans for the year #thecircuit

Gun control plan includes provision for game research: President Obama announced a comprehensive plan for gun control Wednesday, as The Washington Post reported, which included a call for Congress to provide more funding on the behavioral effects of violent media, including video games.

Obama suggested that Congress should provide $10 million for the Centers for Disease Control to conduct research on the relationship between “video games, media images and violence.”

Sen. Leahy lays out plans: In a speech Wednesday at Georgetown University, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) laid out his agenda for the Senate Judiciary committee in the coming session. While his comments focused mostly on other issues, he did highlight a couple of technology policy interests.

He specifically mentioned technology companies in his remarks about immigration reform, for example saying that students who are “innovating for our technology companies” should have a path for citizenship.

Leahy also hit briefly in his remarks on the importance of keeping privacy issues in mind when talking about the expansion of security technology.

“I am concerned about the growing use of drones by federal and local authorities,” Leahy said. “This fast-emerging technology is cheap and could pose a significant threat to the privacy and civil liberties of millions of Americans.”

Facebook Graph Search: Facebook has introduced a new search feature that more effectively organizes the trove of data on its network, releasing “Graph Search” in a limited beta test Tuesday.

The feature allows users to search through Facebook’s data to find things such as which restaurants their friends like in a certain neighborhood or what books they may be reading.

The feature makes data on the site a lot more accessible, which has raised some privacy concerns about the feature. Users concerned about what may pop up in searches are being advised to review their past posts and change their settings accordingly.

COPPA: The Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday that its new child privacy rules will take effect on July 1, according to a report from The Hill.

The rules were officially announced last month, and extend privacy provisions to online games, Web plug-ins and apps. It also includes information such as location data under the umbrella of protected personal information.

Hacking bill: Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said Tuesday that she will introduce a bill that would modify a computer hacking law in response to the death of tech pioneer Aaron Swartz, who was facing felony hacking charges for scraping articles from an academic Web site. Swartz, 26, committed suicide last week.

Lofgren posted a draft of the bill to the social-news site Reddit — Swartz was involved in the early stages of the site — proposing changes that would prevent the government from levying “disproportionate charges” against those found violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

In her post on the site, Lofgren called her bill “Aaron’s Law.”

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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