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Timothy B. Lee

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Brian Fung

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Andrea Peterson

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government. She also delves into the societal impacts of technology access and how innovation is intertwined with cultural development.

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Posted at 08:24 AM ET, 07/27/2011

The Circuit: Franken bashes merger; data caps frustrate customers; Amazon earnings

LEADING THE DAY: Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) expressed his disapproval over the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile in a filing with the FCC, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. Franken said that the deal would lead to a mobile duopoly and that consumers could see as much as a 25 percent increase in wireless costs.

The senator was also a vocal opponent of the merger between Comcast and NBC Universal.

Data caps: Data caps and usage-based fees for data could keep consumers from firing up streaming videos, The Washington Post reported. Although it would take very heavy use to exceed the caps placed by Comcast and other Internet service providers, it’s much easier for increasingly mobilized users to exceed the cap on their cellphones. Many users are annoyed at having to keep track of their data use and, in some markets, may be facing only one or two choices for Internet service.

Amazon earnings: Amazon reported revenue was up 51 percent in this past quarter, sending its stock up 6.9 percent in in late U.S. trading Tuesday, Bloomberg reported. The online retailer saw a boost from sales of its Kindle; the company recently introduced two cheaper, ad-supported e-readers that have quickly become best-sellers on the site.

NSA lawyer asked about tracking: A lawyer from the National Security Administration told members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that “there are certain circumstances” where the government has the authority to track Americans through their cellphones’ geo-location data. The agency’s general counsel, Matthew Olsen, made the remarks as a confirmation hearing and said that the intelligence community is working on a memo to define when such actions would be considered appropriate.

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) have previously written to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to ask whether the agencies he oversees have the authority to collect geolocation data, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Cyber attacks more frequent: Cyber attacks on the U.S. government appear to be growing more frequent, according to experts who spoke at at House subcommittee meeting on cyber security. Gregory Wilshusen, information technology director for the Government Accountability Office, said that the U.S. reaction to such attacks is lagging behind, echoing a GAO report issued earlier this week.

House Energy and Commerce Chair Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said in his opening statement that his panel’s subcommittee on oversight and investigations should play a part in issues of cyber security, further complicating a turf war forming around committees that have jurisdiction over the matter.

By  |  08:24 AM ET, 07/27/2011

Tags:  Cybersecurity, Security, NSA, Amazon, Broadband, Mobile, AT&T, T-Mobile, FCC

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