The Circuit: Net neutrality; Facebook and Skype in rumored talks; Google deals with malware apps

LEADING THE WEEK: Net neutrality talk is back on the Hill this week as the communications subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee prepares to hold hearings on net neutrality and the economy. The Federal Communications Commission is expected to turn in a report today on how its net neutrality rule will affect the economy. House Republicans requested the report Thursday.

Facebook, Skype in rumored talks:Facebook and Skype are said to be in talks again, according to a report from Bloomberg, reviving rumors this fall that the two companies were planning to offer Skype voice calls through the social network. Although Skype does offer Facebook integration — users may call their Facebook friends through Skype — there is no way to make Skype calls through Facebook. Sticking to its normal policy of not commenting on speculation, Facebook told Bloomberg, “Last year, we announced the integration of Facebook in Skype, so people can keep up to date with their Facebook friends through News Feed in Skype and even call and SMS their Facebook friends on any phone from Skype. With regards to any further integration, we don’t comment on rumor and speculation and have nothing to announce at this time.”

Google kills 50 malware apps:Google confirmed that it removed 50 malicious mobile applications from its Android Marketplace over the weekend. The company also used a remote kill switch to remove the applications from afflicted devices and is pushing an automatic security update to all those affected by the bad applications. The latest batch of Android trojan applications has raised questions about the security of Google’s mobile marketplace.

WikiLeaks suspect made to sleep with no clothes: Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is accused of providing sensitive documents to WikiLeaks, has been forced to sleep without clothes for months and without underwear since this past Wednesday. The Washington Post reported that officials in the brig where he is being detained have said that the measures are for Manning’s safety. Manning’s attorney, David E. Coombs, said the measures were punitive under the guise of concern for his client. The government has denied Manning’s request to be removed from maximum security and prevention-of-injury watch.

Research in Motion loses marketing chief:Right before a major product launch from Research in Motion, the Wall Street Journal reported that head of marketing Keith Pardy will be leaving the company. Pardy, who has been with the company since 2009, will be leaving weeks before the company launches the BlackBerry Playbook tablet. According to the report, Pardy is moving on for personal reasons and will continue at RIM for a six-month transition period. No one has been named to succeed him.

YouTube emerges as Google’s answer to Facebook: An article in the San Jose Mercury News over the weekend examined the shifting relationship between YouTube and Google. Although YouTube bled money for years after its acquisition in 2006, the online video site is now moving toward creating niche channels for consumers rather than simply a collection of individual videos. The article says the autonomy YouTube has within the larger company sets it up as a possible Google rival for Facebook.

Netflix and the telecom industry:The Washington Post examined the role that Netflix has to play in the telecommunications industry as television and Internet continue to merge. The company is undoubtedly making some in the cable industry nervous, particularly given its recent and aggressive expansion. Yet the company will soon have to deal with its limitations concerning when it gets content and competitors such as Amazon Prime.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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