The Circuit: Facebook and the FTC, Senate upholds net neutrality, Twitter/WikiLeaks

LEADING THE DAY: Facebook and the Federal Trade Commission are reportedly close to a settlement on privacy, related to changes the company made to its policies.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the company will have to agree to independent privacy audits in a settlement that is similar to the agreement the agency reached with Google over its Buzz social network this past spring.

Similar complaints were leveled at Facebook. In December 2009, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and other privacy advocates filed a complaint with FTC saying that Facebook’s changes to its privacy policies disclosed “personal information to third parties that was previously not available” and that those changes violated user expectations of the service.

Facebook and the FTC both declined to comment on the report.

Senate votes to uphold net neutrality: The Senate Thursday voted to defeat a measure that would have overturned the Federal Communications Commissions rules regarding net neutrality. Those trying stop the FCC rules, led by Sen.Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas), lost, 46-to-52, The Washington Post reported.

“These rules are the product of hard work, consensus and compromise,” said Senate Commerce, Science and Technology chairman Sen. John “Jay” Rockefeller in a statement. “So at the end of the day, the FCC's light-touch approach to network neutrality prevailed, and that is a good thing.”

Judge rules in Twitter/Wikileaks case: A judge ruled Thursday against three Wikileaks supporters who were seeking the right to prevent the government from getting information regarding their Twitter accounts. The judge in the case ruled that because Twitter users submit their IP addresses when they sign up for an account on the service, they have a “lessened expectation of privacy in that information,” the New York Times reported.

“Internet users don’t automatically give up their rights to privacy and free speech when they use services like Twitter,” said American Civil Liberties attorney Aden Fine, who said court documents should be public. “The government shouldn’t be able to get this kind of private information without a warrant, and they certainly shouldn’t be able to do so in secret.”

Groups fight new ICANN program: Eighty-seven businesses and business associations have formed a coalition to fight against a new domain name program in the works at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), saying that opening up top-level domains will adversely affect businesses and their copyrights. ICANN and the Association of National Advertisers have been at odds over the new program, which would allow the approval of specialty domains such as “.computer” or “.xerox” for months. Some advertisers say that the program will force businesses to buy up several Web sites to protect their intellectual property rights.

Apple releases battery life patch: Apple released its first patch to iOS 5 on Thursday, which included a patch that “fixes bugs affecting battery life.”

The company acknowledged earlier this month that problems with its latest operating system had caused batteries to drain more quickly for some users — after iPhone owners took to the company’s support forums. Apple promised a fix within “a few weeks.”

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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