The Circuit: Google’s antitrust probes, Groupon changes privacy policy, privacy on the Hill

LEADING THE DAY: Google chairman Eric Schmidt will testify before a Senate antitrust committee, The Washington Post reported. Schmidt had previously declined requests to testify on behalf of the company over questions about its competitive business practices.

Google received a subpoena from the Federal Trade Commission last month as part of a government investigation into its search business.

Google’s also on the other end of an antitrust probe, The Washington Post reported, over its losing bid for patents from the bankrupt tech firm Nortel. Google lost out on Nortel’s portfolio of thousands of patents to a consortium of companies including Apple, Microsoft and Research in Motion.

According to a source close to the matter, federal enforcers are examining whether this coalition of companies could block the firm’s Android mobile operating software with patent lawsuits.

Groupon changes privacy policy: Groupon announced some changes to its privacy policy over the weekend, expanding what personal information it shares with its business partners, The Washington Post reported. This information include geo-location services to work with its instant-deals pilot program Groupon Now, as well interests and habits, contact information, relationship information and transaction information.

The company notified its users via e-mail offering both “plain English” explanations of the changes and the full, revised policy.

Groupon is preparing to go public and analysts have estimated that the company could be valued as high as $30 billion.

Privacy hearings on the Hill: Several committees will be examining privacy issues on the Hill this week, starting with a Tuesday hearing from the House Judiciary subcommittee on crime examining how best to protect children from Internet pornographers.

On Thursday, Reps. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.) of the House Energy and Commerce committee will kick off their series of hearing examining how the federal government currently deals with privacy and data security.

Google + so far:Google apologized after a problem with disk space for its Google + social network caused the network to send multiple, identical notifications to some of its users. Of the growing pains, Google exec Vic Gundrota said on his network profile that the company didn’t expect to hit such high thresholds so quickly, and apologized to field test users for the spam.

Despite early growing pains, Google has reportedly has embedded more widgets in Web sites around the Internet than Twitter, according to a study from SEO firm BrightEdge. Analysis showed that Google’s “+1” buttons have grown 33 percent in the past few weeks, though it still has a a long way to go to catch up to Facebook’s “Like” button.

South Sudan blogs its independence: South Sudan, the youngest recognized country in the world, is live-blogging its independence. As The Washington Post reported, the country’s Web site, goss.org, currently features jubilant posts about South Sudanese citizens waving the flag of their new country in the streets.

This may be the first time that the Internet has been used to document the birth of a new nation, VentureBeat reported.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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