LEADING THE DAY: The Senate Commerce Committee will hold hearing for nominees to the Federal Communications Commission Wednesday. Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Varadaraj Pai are up for the spots of departing commissioners Michael Copps and Meredith Baker, respectively.
Pai and Rosenworcel were named to the posts by President Obama in October, but their nominations were briefly caught up in a tussle between Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. Grassley said he would hold up the nominees until the agency granted his request for documents regarding the broadband firm LightSquared.
FCC releases AT&T/T-Mobile report: The Federal Communications Commission released its assessment of the proposed deal between AT&T and T-Mobile Tuesday, despite objections from the companies, The Washington Post reported. The FCC report said AT&T’s internal analysis and past practices contradict the company’s claims that the deal would create jobs. The report also found that arguments that consumers would benefit from the deal were “unreliable and, at a minimum, raise substantial and material questions of fact.”
Experts said AT&T could present a new proposal to the FCC and the Justice Department, with promises of big divestitures of the combined company. But FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski signaled Tuesday that any new attempts at a merger will be met with similar concerns the agency found in its first review.
Facebook settles with FTC over privacy: Facebook has settled complaints by the Federal Trade Commission, which alleged the company broke promises to its users and allowed advertisers and others to access users’ personal information, The Washington Post reported.
The settlement over eight counts of privacy violations will force the social network to obtain consent from consumers before changing its privacy policies. It also will be subject to regular, independent reviews of its practices for 20 years.
Amazon sales tax: Amazon’s Vice President for Global Public Policy, Paul Misener, will testify before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday to discuss states’ authority to collect sales tax from e-commerce. Amazon has opposed state measures that have tried to force it to collect sales tax, opting in some cases to remove facilities and business ties.
But in prepared testimony, Misener said Congress should authorize states to require collection from out-of-state sellers to level the playing field for all sellers.
“Congress should help address the states’ budget shortfalls without spending federal funds, by authorizing the states to require collection of the billions of revenue dollars already owed,” Misener said.
Amazon Silk browser: On Tuesday, Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) said he plans to follow up with Amazon regarding privacy concerns he has with the company’s new Silk browser on the Kindle Fire tablet.
The browser, which splits its processing power between the Kindle Fire device and Amazon’s servers, keeps some aggregate browsing history and information to predict how users will use the Internet. Amazon said in a letter that it does not sell user information or collect individual information. Markey said that he was not satisfied with the letter Amazon sent him in response to his concerns about privacy.
“Amazon is collecting a massive amount of information about Kindle Fire users, and it has a responsibility to be transparent with its customers,” he said.
Skype tracking: Researchers have said that Skype can expose users’ locations, the New York Times reported, when pranksters use the Internet telephony service to log the IP addresses of other users.
Researchers randomly selected 10,000 Skype users to follow over the course of 16 days and placed quick calls to those users. In the process of those short calls, researchers said, they were able to collect information about the location of those users. Skype, which is now owned by Microsoft, said it is investigating the issue and will continue to improve its software to protect user privacy.