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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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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 08:41 AM ET, 09/26/2011

The Circuit: LightSquared promises jobs, increased access; Facebook privacy; Netflix, DreamWorks sign a deal

LEADING THE DAY: LightSquared, under pressure amid criticism that the company received preferential treatment from the Obama administration, has launched an ad campaign promising to bring 75,000 U.S. jobs and broadband access to 260 million Americans. The company’s plans for a wireless broadband network have been criticized for its potential to interfere with the GPS satellite network relied on by the military and private industry.

Chief executive Sanjiv Ahuja said in a letter that “99.5 percent of all commercial GPS interference accounted for and solved” and that the company is working now with the GPS industry to resolve the “remaining .5 percent of GPS interference occurring on precision devices that also inappropriately violate our licensed spectrum.”

President, House leaders in Silicon Valley: The president and Washington lawmakers are descending on Silicon Valley today, talking innovation and jobs while gearing up for the 2012 election. President Obama will be holding a town hall presented by LinkedIn at the Computer History Museum called “Putting America Back to Work.” LinkedIn users will be able to submit questions for the town hall.

Meanwhile, Republican House leaders will be holding a town hall at Facebook headquarters on job creation. House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) and Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) will be on hand for a live discussion with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Facebook is launching an initiative with the Commerce Department and the National Federation of Independent Business to help small businesses. Facebook will be teaching small business owners how to use its social network to connect with customers and advertisers through a series of traveling events and online webinars. The company will also offer up to $10 million in free Facebook advertisements.

Facebook privacy: Facebook has been accused of using cookies to track users while they are off-line, CNET reported. Self-proclaimed hacker Nik Cubrilovic accused the social network of doing so over the weekend. The claims were denied by a Facebook engineer. Commenting on reporter Emil Protalinski’s article, Arturo Bejar confirmed that Facebook alters rather than deletes cookies when users log out as a safety measure. The company does not, he said, use those cookies to track users via the social plug-in “Like” buttons or to sell personal information to third parties.

Several privacy groups have raised concerns about Facebook’s new format changes, particularly the “frictionless sharing” that lets opt-in third-party applications post real-time messages on users’ walls without requiring permission for each post.

Netflix, DreamWorks sign a deal: Netflix and DreamWorks Animation have signed a content deal for films and television, in lieu of a more lucrative agreement with HBO. The company said it is the first time a major Hollywood studio has chosen Web streaming over pay television the New York Times reported Sunday.

The contract is a bet by DreamWorks that consumers will continue to adopt streaming video, and that users will stay with Netflix even though the company’s recent business decisions have upset its customers. The report said that the Netflix deal will also allow the studio to keep selling digital downloads of its movies — something HBO forbids while under an exclusive agreement.

Net neutrality rules published: The Federal Communications Commissions rules on net neutrality were published Friday, drawing swift criticism from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Tx.), The Hill reported. Hutchinson said that the agency is trying to fix “a problem that doesn’t exist” and said that she will push for a Senate vote on a resolution of disapproval.

Publishing the rules is expected to touch off a new round of lawsuits, The Washington Post reported. Verizon and Metro PCS had previously sued to overturn the rules, but a judge threw out the case in April.

Sen. Schumer calls for OnStar investigation: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is the third senator to raise concerns about changes to the privacy policies of General Motors’s OnStar service. The senator joins Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) in expressing concern that the company will track customers even after the service is discontinued and will be able to the sell data it gathers.

“OnStar is attempting one of the most brazen invasions of privacy in recent memory,” said Schumer, the Wall Street Journal reported. “I urge OnStar to abandon.”

Groupon COO leaves after 5 months: Groupon’s chief operating officer, Margo Georgiadis is leaving the company after only five months, the company announced in a Friday blog post. She replaced Rob Solomon, who left the company after one year on the job. Georgiadis has decided to return to Google — the company she left for the Groupon post in April — to be president of its Americas region. Google executive Dennis Woodside, who formerly held that position, will lead the company’s efforts to integrate with Motorola Mobility, which it acquired last month, Bloomberg reported.

By  |  08:41 AM ET, 09/26/2011

Tags:  Groupon, Google, Net Neutrality, Netflix, Facebook, Online privacy, LightSquared, spectrum, FCC, Verizon

 
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