#thecircuit

T-Mobile, MetroPCS merge: T-Mobile USA and Metro PCS will merge, the companies announced Wednesday after getting approval from both company boards.

The companies said in a statement that they will combine their efforts to roll out a high-speed 4G LTE network under the T-Mobile name. Metro PCS and T-Mobile, however, will operate as separate consumer units.

Under the terms of the deal, MetroPCS shareholders will receive $1.5 billion in cash and 26 percent ownership in the new venture. T-Mobile USA parent company Deutsche Telekom will have majority control, with 74 percent of the stake. The merger is subject to regulatory approval. The Washington Post reported that it is unlikely to face strong resistance from regulators. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2013.

Bieber, Rihanna fan sites’ privacy settlement: The operator of fan sites for Justin Bieber and Rihanna has agreed to pay a $1 million fine for illegally collecting information about underage users, The Washington Post reported. The proposed agreement needs the signature of a judge.

The Federal Trade Commission said that its investigation of the company, Artist Arena, revealed the it had collected the names, addresses and other information from children under 12 without asking for parental permission.

Do not track: The Association of National Advertisers recently wrote a letter to Microsoft to protest the company’s decision to turn off tracking by default in the next version of Internet Explorer. The group asked Microsoft to change to an “opt-out” setting, saying that turning off tracking by default sends the wrong message to consumers about online ads. The group also said the setting could “undercut” Internet content and service companies.

In other such news, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) asked the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday to participate in the World Wide Web Consortium discussions on “do-not-track” standards.

Rockefeller — who has introduced do-not-track legislation — said in a letter to the agency that he does not share concerns that the FTC is involved with the global consortium deliberating voluntary measures on Web tracking.

Web-based advertisers and others have raised concerns about the W3C’s discussions on the issue and say that overzealous anti-tracking measures have the potential to lower the revenues of thousands of companies.

FTC announces end to six “massive” tech support scams: The Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday that it has stopped what it called “massive” tech support scams that may have duped consumers out of millions of dollars.

The agency has frozen the assets of companies involved in six such schemes. It has also taken measures to block phone lines and Web sites the companies used to contact consumers.

According to the release, telemarketers tricked people into buying a “service” to remove viruses and other malware and that did not actually exist. Users were also persuaded to grant telemarketers remote access to their machines. The FTC called the deception “outrageous and disturbing.”

Web giants flag COPPA issue: Web giants -- including Facebook, Twitter and Google -- have warned the Obama administration that a proposal to beef up child privacy laws could hamper America’s ability to “like,” tweet and share information across the Web, The Washington Post reported.

The Silicon Valley companies filed written responses to plans by the Federal Trade Commission to update the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998. The proposed rules, the companies said, could create too much of a burden on their platforms and potentially undermine free speech.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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