The Circuit: ICANN, CES 2012 and Lifeline reforms

LEADING THE DAY: Rod Beckstrom, the president and chief executive of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, will speak today at the Center for Strategic and International Studies about the organization’s program to expand the number of Web suffixes on the Internet.

ICANN is scheduled to begin accepting applications for the new program on Thursday, but has been asked by some members of Congress and some copyright holders to slow down its expansion program. The new top-level domains, which could be derived from any word, could result in vanity domain names such as .coke, .pepsi or .love.

A final keynote from Microsoft’s Ballmer: The Consumer Electronics Show officially kicks off Tuesday, after a jam-packed dayof product announcements for the media on Monday. After a day of new ultrabooks, televisions and smartphones, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer gave his final CES pre-show keynote. The speech included no major announcements, but highlighted the release of the Windows Phone-based Nokia Lumia 900, HTC Titan II and Nokia Lumia 710, as well as the announcement of an Xbox content partnership. Today’s keynotes will feature Consumer Electronics Association President Gary Shapiro and executives from Qualcomm, Mercedes Benz and Intel.

Lifeline reforms: In a Monday speech, Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski outlined a draft proposal that would expand the Lifeline program, which provides affordable telephone service for low-income Americans, to include broadband Internet service.

“The program is outdated, focused on phone service when high-speed Internet has become our vital communications platform,” Genachowski said.

The chairman said the FCC would work with existing broadband adoption programs to establish its own pilot program, using savings from its budget reforms. It will also look at how to use Lifeline to encourage adoption among those consumers.

Critics of the draft proposal, such as the civil rights group Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said launching a pilot program doesn’t go far enough to address the country’s digital divide.

Games may contribute to junk food consumption: A study from Yale University has found that computer games from food companies increase a child’s likelihood to eat unhealthy snacks. The study, conducted by researchers from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, found that advertising games have the potential to encourage children to eat both unhealthy and healthy snacks, depending on what kind of food the game is advertising. However, researchers found that the majority of games promote candy, high-sugar cereals or fast food.

Google profits from illegal ticket ads: Google has said that it profited from ads for illegal products including those claiming to be reselling tickets to the 2012 London Olympics, the BBC reported. The ads were removed by Google after the news organization alerted the company to their existence, But Google said that it will keep any money made from the ads before they were removed.

Google’s AdWords program is one of its biggest revenue drivers. It can automatically filter out some illegal advertising, but not all advertisements are properly flagged, the report said. In August, the company agreed to pay $500 million to settle Justice Department charges that it posted ads for illegal pharmacies.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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