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Timothy B. Lee

Timothy B. Lee

Timothy B. Lee covers technology policy, including copyright and patent law, telecom regulation, privacy, and free speech. He also writes about the economics of technology. He has previously written for Ars Technica and Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter or send him email.

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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 08:38 AM ET, 08/16/2011

The Circuit: Google/Motorola; FTC settles with app maker; Anonymous shuts down four BART stations

LEADING THE DAY: The deal between Google and Motorola Mobility has left the tech world in a tizzy as techies try to figure out the effect that the deal will have on the smartphone market and on Google. The acquisition, Google’s largest to date, comes with a $12.5 billion price tag.

The Washington Post reported that the deal intensifies the company’s rivalry with Apple and grants Google access to a trove of Motorola patents that it will be able to use in patent litigation.

While Google faces a Federal Trade Commission inquiry into its practices on search, the report says it will likely be tough for regulators to challenge this deal because it takes the company into a new area, cellphone manufacturing.

FTC settles with app maker: The Federal Trade Commission settled with an app maker from W3 Communications over alleged violations of children’s privacy. The company settled with the FTC for $50,000 after allegations that it allowed children to post personal information without parents’ knowledge or previous consent. It is the first time that the FTC has settled a case with a mobile applications maker.

Several lawmakers and privacy advocacy groups applauded the FTC’s action in applying the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to the fast-growing mobile space.

Morgan Reed, executive director of the Association of Competitive Technology, said the action shows the FTC has sufficient enforcement powers to deal with the new area of technology.

Anonymous shuts down four BART stations: Protests from the hacktivist group Anonymous briefly shut down four rapid-transit stations in San Francisco, demonstrating against the transit authority’s decision to halt cellphone communications last Thursday to avoid similar protests. The Federal Communications Commission has said that it will look into BART’s action.

Protesters closed down the line's downtown stations, but BART kept cellphone service on during the demonstration, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The hacktivist group had previously released personal information taken from BART customers.

LightSquared partners with EarthComm:LightSquared announced that it has partnered with Texas-based Internet and mobile phone company EarthComm in a multiyear partnership to expand its satellite and broadband network. EarthComm provides service to cities throughout the southwestern United States.

UK Intelligence agencies to look at BlackBerry messages: The Guardian reported that UK intelligence agencies MI5 and the Government Communications Headquarters have been asked to help crack encrypted messages on BlackBerry Messenger and other social networking services to track down perpetrators in last week’s London riots.

The use of Research in Motion’s encrypted BlackBery Messenger system in the riots has led to a vigorous debate over whether governments should have the right to shut down social media services in the interest of public safety and how much they should be able to track such messages. Under British law, the report said, RIM can disclose the names, contacts and sending times of “prominent BlackBerry Messenger users in a certain area at a certain time,” but cannot provide the content of the messages.

By  |  08:38 AM ET, 08/16/2011

Tags:  Google, Apple, FTC, Kids Online, Security, LightSquared, International, Privacy

 
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