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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 08:30 AM ET, 04/04/2011

The Circuit: Massive data leak exposes customer information, Calif. do-not-track bill, Verizon 911 calls

LEADING THE DAY: More companies are releasing statements warning that they have been affected by a massive data breach that leaked customer names and e-mail addresses. The breach stems from the e-mail marketing firm Epsilon. Companies affected include Best Buy, the College Board, Walgreen Co., Citi, USBank, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and supermarket company Kroger Co. Many companies have sent out e-mails assuring customers that only names and e-mail addresses had been compromised. Those affected are being advised to be extra cautious about spam and phishing scams, as scammers will be able to more effectively disguise their messages as genuine correspondence from these companies.

The breach was first detected March 30, and Epsilon has launched an investigation into the leak. According to the Associated Press, Best Buy has also announced it will conduct its own investigation.

California do-not-track bill: California state Sen. Alan Lowenthal will reveal a state do-not-track bill based closely on the one introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) earlier this year in a press conference with privacy groups such as Consumer Watchdog. The senator is also putting pressure on new Google CEO Larry Page to support a do-not-track program. Page steps in as chief executive today, taking over from Eric Schmidt.

The bill would require the state attorney general and the California Office of Privacy Protection to enact legislation that gives consumers the right to keep companies from tracking their online activity.

Verizon faces 911 scrutiny in Md.: Verizon is under fire in Maryland for failing to notify county officials that network failures prevented thousands of 911 calls from being completed. The Washington Post reported that the Maryland Public Service Commission has made an initial finding that Verizon’s “lack of prompt and timely notification” that the emergency networks were down may have violated state law. According to the report, Verizon’s operations center knew about the outages but did not tell its customer care center, the office that works with local 911 centers. The company said last month that it will now notify county emergency centers of outages within 15 minutes.

The FCC is also examining Verizon’s outages; FCC spokesman Robert Kenny said the commission has asked Verizon for more information.

Questioning AT&T’s spectrum argument: AT&T CEO Randall Stevenson said the mobile market is competitive and will continue to be even after his company’s proposed merger with T-Mobile. In an interview with USA Today, Stephenson also said the merger would allow the companies to expand fourth-generation broadband to 95 percent of the country and result in a 30 percent increase in spectrum capacity for AT&T’s network.

But industry experts and former FCC officials are questioning AT&T’s argument that its proposed merger with T-Mobile will ease a nationwide spectrum shortage, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday morning. Gerald R. Faulhaber, a former chief economist of the Federal Communications Commission, told the Journal that combining two companies does not create more spectrum. Officials and experts interviewed in the report said that AT&T could consider other options besides a merger to meet its needs, such as adding capacity to current cell towers or buying “under-utilized” spectrum from the government or other companies.

SBNation hires Engadget staffers for new tech site: Reporters who have left the AOL-owned technology site Engadget are looking to start a new technology site at SBNation, the New York Times reported. SBNation, run by former AOL executive Jim Bankoff, is primarily known for its sports coverage.

In a blog post, former Engadget editor Joshua Topolsky said that the tech team hopes to launch the new site this fall.

By  |  08:30 AM ET, 04/04/2011

Tags:  Privacy, FTC, FCC, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Antitrust, AOL

 
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