The Circuit: Lawmakers ask Apple about app privacy; Comcast; Obama heads to Hollywood

Lawmakers ask Apple about app privacy: Federal lawmakers on Wednesday questioned Apple’s privacy practices, asking CEO Tim Cook if the company does enough to protect user information on iPhones, The Washington Post reported.

Kicked off by the controversy of the diary app Path, debate over app privacy has been a hot topic in the past few days. On Wednesday, Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) sent a letter to Cook asking whether Apple’s policies ensure that developers can’t share or collect user data, such as iPhone contact lists, without permission.

Comcast reports earnings: Comcast reported its quarterly earnings Wednesday, revealing that it seems to have at least temporarily slowed the flow of customer losses, losing just 17,000 customers as opposed to the 135,000 it lost in the same period last year.

Sales for Comcast rose to $15 billion; revenue for the company’s new acquisition, NBC Universal, fell nearly 4 percent to $1.84 billion.

Obama heads to Hollywood: If President Obama is suffering any lingering backlash from Hollywood after his administration failed to get behind the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP (Intellectual Property) Act, it probably won’t be apparent during his trip to California, The Washington Post reported.

While the Motion Picture Association of America was a main advocate of SOPA and PIPA — bills the administration said it could not support — the Post reported that events backed by Hollywood executives could raise more than $3 million for Obama in the next three days.

LightSquared: Federal officials on Tuesday delivered a major blow to satellite venture LightSquared, saying that the government plans to revoke the initial permission it granted for the company to operate as a mainstream high-speed wireless network, The Washington Post reported.

On Tuesday, the FCC said its decision was based on a report that day by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The NTIA said its analysis of tests on the network showed “there is no practical way to mitigate the potential interference at this time” with global positioning devices. LightSquared responded to the report, saying that it disagreed with the findings, but it has yet to comment on the FCC’s decision to revoke its conditional waiver.

Google street names: Syrian revolutionaries are renaming the streets of Damascus and other cities to reflect their anti-government leanings, The Washington Post reported. Using Google’s crowdsourcing Map Maker program, those opposing the rule of President Bashar al-Assad are renaming streets and bridges in honor of revolutionaries who have died since the beginning of the 11-month-old uprising.

“This is the risk of crowdsourcing: One could infiltrate and change names for political purposes,” Stefan Geens, author of the Ogle Earth blog, told The Post. “I am absolutely convinced that this is not something intentional on Google’s part to subvert the authority of Assad.”

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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