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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 01:08 PM ET, 03/22/2012

The Circuit: Hacktivists vs. cyber criminals, Verizon/cable hearing recap, FCC spectrum task force

Hacktivists stole more than criminals, study says: A new study from Verizon on data breaches found that “hacktivist” groups stole more data in 2011 than cybercriminals. According to the study, released Thursday, cybercriminals stole more than 100 million of the 174 million records taken in 2011.

Last year saw the prominent rise of groups such as Anonymous, a loosely organized group that has used the idea of online activism to target companies and governments with whom it disagrees. The report notes that, in 2011, these groups shifted away from simply defacing or taking down Web sites — as they have in the past — toward taking data from these sites as well.

“In other words, 2011 saw a merger between those classic misdeeds and a new ‘oh by the way, we’re gonna steal all your data too’ twist,” the report said.

Cybersecurity has been a hot topic in Washington as of late. On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it will adopt the recommendations of the Communications, Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) to fight three major cyber security threats: botnets, attacks on the domain name system and Internet route hijacking.

Verizon, cable deal scrutinized in hearing: On Wednesday, lawmakers dove deep to analyze deals between Verizon and cable providers that will give the wireless company more spectrum and create a cross-marketing deal between Verizon and the country’s largest cable companies.

Verizon has said the deals won’t affect its FiOS service, but The Washington Post reported that lawmakers questioned how Verizon would be able to uphold its end of the deal and maintain the same level or price competition.

The firms maintain that the deal would bring faster connections to Verizon Wireless customers and enable customers of Comcast and other partner cable firms to buy bundles of wireless, cable, Internet and phone services, the report said.

FCC task force on spectrum: The FCC announced Wednesday that it will create an incentive auction task force to streamline and coordinate the agency’s efforts to get the auctions moving.

The task force is led by Ruth Milkman, who formerly led the wireless bureau at the FCC.

“Incentive auctions are a big idea,” said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski in a statement. “The concept, of course, which we developed in our National Broadband Plan, is to deploy market forces and a market-based mechanism to repurpose spectrum for flexible use, including mobile broadband.”

Cellphone cramming: On Thursday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) called on national phone companies to ban “cramming” practices, the term used to refer to the practice of adding misleading or unauthorized extra charges to consumers’ bills.

Klobuchar wrote to AT&T and CenturyLink to create policies banning cramming, saying the companies should follow in the footsteps of Verizon to protect consumers from the deceptive practices.

Verizon announced Thursday that it would limit third-party charges on consumers’ bills.

“Consumers shouldn’t have to open their phone bills every month to find an endless array of ghost charges they never authorized,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “I am pleased that Verizon has agreed to ban these cramming practices, and now the rest of America’s phone companies need to step up to the plate and do the same.”

Zynga acquires OMGPop: Social gaming company Zynga announced on Wednesday that it would purchase online gaming firm OMGPop, adding the popular “Draw Something” game to Zynga’s popular lineup. The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the deal, The Washington Post reported.

The deal is a boost for the social gaming giant, which is facing increasing competition from publishers such as Electronic Arts — which acquired PopCap Games last year — as it takes on companies such as Nintendo and Sony in the hand-held gaming business.

By  |  01:08 PM ET, 03/22/2012

 
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