The Circuit: Facebook knows your face, Commerce talks cybersecurity, Google and Kazakhstan

LEADING THE DAY: Facebook is facing backlash after quietly rolling out a feature that suggests photo tags using facial recognition software. Not all accounts have access to the feature, but it is available to select users in most countries. In a statement, Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said that the network only uses the technology when someone is adding new pictures to the site. Only a users’ friends are suggested. Users can disable the feature through their privacy settings.

Noyes said Facebook should have better explained its plans.

“When we announced this feature last December, we explained that we would test it, listen to feedback and iterate before rolling it out more broadly. We should have been more clear with people during the roll-out process when this became available to them,” he said.

Commerce tackles business cybersecurity: Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and other top Commerce Internet officials will discuss a new policy framework to strengthen cybersecurity for online businesses.

The report will likely be a companion to last month’s White House proposal on strengthening cybersecurity for businesses that are a part of the country’s critical infrastructure.

Google responds to Kazakh Internet order: In a blog post Tuesday, Google said that Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Communications and Information has issued an order requiring all Web sites using its top-level domain, .kz, operate on servers physically within the country’s borders. In response, Google said that doing so would create a fractured Internet and raise user privacy and free expression concerns. The company will redirect traffic from google.kz to a version of google.com translated into Kazakh. The switch means search results will not be customized for the country.

“Measures that force Internet companies to choose between taking actions that harm the open web, or reducing the quality of their services, hurt users,” Google senior vice president Bill Coughran wrote, encouraging world governments to work to preserve an open Internet.

Tech execs land invites to state dinner: The guest list to President Obama’s state dinner Wednesday underscores the relationship between the White House and Silicon Valley. Google chairman Eric Schmidt and senior vice president Marissa Mayer were two major tech executives who landed coveted invitations to the bash in honor of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, The Washington Post reported. Other prominent tech names included IBM’s top executive Sam Palmisano and HP chief executive Leo Apotheker, who was born in Germany.

Spectrum markup: The Senate Commerce committee will markup a spectrum bill that would allocate the D Block of spectrum for use by public safety agencies. The bill would fund the network with money raised in other spectrum auctions.

Public Safety Alliance spokesperson Christopher Moore said in a statement that the bill, which would put recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission into practice, is long overdue.

The Hill reported that the proposal faces opposition from several Republicans, including Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who filed an amendment to the bill that would require the Federal Communications commission to auction the D Block.

Study shows racial divide in kids’ media use: A study from Northwestern University has found that, on average, minority youth aged 8 to 18 use online media about 4.5 hours more than white children. Minority children surveyed watched one to two more hours of television than white children and also spent an additional hour listening to music, 90 minutes using computers and 30-40 minutes playing video games.

There were no significant differences in how much time all children spent using media for school work, how children multi-task while using media, and how much time they spent reading print for pleasure.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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