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Timothy B. Lee

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Posted at 09:15 AM ET, 12/19/2011

The Circuit: BT sues Google, FCC urged to investigate Verizon, FTC asks ICANN to slow down

LEADING THE DAY: The House will take up the debate over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) again Wednesday, following a two-day marathon hearing on the bill that ended Friday without a vote.

Debate over the measure’s approach to stopping online piracy by redirecting traffic from Web sites that host pirated content continued to be heated Friday, with opponents calling for more thought and hearings on the technical implications of the measure.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who sponsored the bill and has introduced a manager’s amendment to narrow its language, has said that he expects President Obama would sign the measure, The Hill reported, if it clears Congress. The administration has not publicly taken a position on the bill.

British Telecom sues Google:British Telecom has sued Google for infringing on six U.S. patents, reports patent blogger Florian Mueller, who posted a copy of the complaint.

BT says that Google’s services such as maps, music and its Android platform infringe on BT patents and is seeking damages for willful and deliberate infringement.

Google has been facing increasing scrutiny in Europe, as Slate reported, and Google chairman Eric Schmidt has met with European competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia to discuss Google’s actions in Europe as they relate to search neutrality.

FCC urged to investigate Verizon: Net neutrality advocates have urged the Federal Communications Commission to open an investigation into Verizon Wireless following the company’s decision not to include Google Wallet on the Galaxy Nexus at the time of its launch. Stanford professor Barbara van Schewick asked the FCC Monday to look into the issue, saying that the decision appears to violate the company’s conditions on LTE-spectrum, which forbids the blocking of apps or devices.

Verizon said that the company does not block apps, but that Google Wallet requires special consideration because it requires a hardware element to be put into the company’s phones. But consumer advocates have pointed to Verizon’s plans to launch a competing mobile payment service, ISIS, as a likely motivator for Verizon’s decision.

FTC writes to ICANN: On Friday, the Federal Trade Commission wrote to the non-profit organization in charge of assigning domains, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) over its proposed plan to expand the number of available Web suffixes. The commission included suggestions to implement the expansion of generic top-level domains as a pilot program first and improve the accuracy of the Whois database, which provides information on those who have registered for Web sites and domains.

“Before approving any new [generic Top-Level Domains] applications, we urge ICANN to take the steps...to mitigate the risk of serious consumer injury,” wrote FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz and commissioners J. Thomas Rosch, Edith Ramirez and Julie Brill.

Carrier IQ: Sprint, which confirmed to Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) late last week that it has installed Carrier IQ on 26 million handsets, has confirmed to The Washington Post that it has deactivated the program on its devices. Sprint, AT&T, Samsung and HTC have all answered Franken’s request for information on how they use the software; Franken has also asked for more information from Motorola and T-Mobile by Tuesday.

In a report earlier this week, Carrier IQ said that its software is not intended to log key presses or the content of messages, though bugs installed with the program on certain handsets seem to have collected some of this information by accident. Last Wednesday, government officials confirmed to The Washington Post that the Carrier IQ is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.

Apple execs talk TV: Apple executives have been speaking to media companies about their vision for the future of television, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

Television is thought to be the next major media frontier for the company, thanks in part to remarks from its late co-founder, Steve Jobs, who told biographer Walter Isaacson that he had “finally cracked” a way to make a user-friendly integrated television.

Citing unnamed “people briefed on the project,” the report says that Apple is working on a television that uses wireless streaming to show television programs, movies and other content.

By  |  09:15 AM ET, 12/19/2011

Tags:  FCC, FTC, ICANN, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Net Neutrality, Google, International

 
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