The Circuit: Net neutrality; Skype’s rumored joint venture talks; Apple, Google, Intel sued over pay

LEADING THE DAY: Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski and Commissioner Robert McDowell will testify Thursday at a House Judiciary Competition subcommittee hearing on net neutrality and antitrust. According to the Hill, Genachowski will argue that antitrust laws addressing net neutrality would not be nimble enough to keep up with Internet technology. McDowell is expected to restate his arguments that the FCC did not have the legal authority to act as it did on net neutrality and that the order issued would be harmful.

Skype in joint venture talks?: Reuters reported that Skype is being courted by Facebook and Google, who are both reportedly considering joint ventures with the telephony company. Citing two unnamed sources “with knowledge of the situation,” Reuters also said Skype has been in acquisition talks with Facebook, and that a deal could be worth $3 billion to $4 billion. Skype is expected to raise around $1 billion for its IPO, expected in the second half of 2011.

Skype declined to comment on the report, saying it does not comment on rumor or speculation.

Apple, Google, Intel sued over worker pay: A California lawsuit implicates several prominent tech companies, including Apple and Google, of conspiring to fix worker pay and entering into agreements not to hire staff away from one another. CNET reported that lead plaintiff Siddharth Harihahn, a former employee of Lucasfilm, is seeking restitution for lost pay and damages. The suit includes salaried employees of the companies from Jan. 1, 2005 to Jan. 1, 2010. The suit says the practice began with Pixar and Lucasfilm, then expanded to Apple, Adobe, Google, Intel and Intuit.

Calif. Do Not Track law passes committee: The California Do Not Track Law passed through the California Senate Judiciary committee, PC World reported. The law, believed to be the first of its kind in the country, would allow consumers to opt out of being tracked online by advertisers. A group of prominent companies, including Google, Facebook and Time Warner wrote a letter to the California Senate protesting the law, calling it unconstitutional.

Facebook sued over kids using the “Like” button: The AFP reported that Facebook has been sued in a New York District Court for not notifying parents and guardians when children “Like” brands on the social network. A similar suit was filed in 2010. The recent suit, filed by father Scott Nastro, accuses Facebook of misusing the name and likeness of minors to promote products, particularly in social ads. The suit also takes issue with Facebook’s inclusion of minors in its Friend Finder tool.

Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said, “We believe this suit is completely without merit and we will fight it vigorously.

Steve Wozniak criticizes Paul Allen for patent suits: Business Insider reported Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak criticized Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen for his myriad patent suits in a speech Tuesday morning. Wozniak said that he decided not to hear Allen speak because of the Microsoft co-founder’s suits against Apple and Google. He added that Allen should invest in new, innovative companies, not “get in bed with the lawyers to make my money.”

Yahoo to host Business and Human Rights summit: Yahoo will host its third annual summit on business and human rights Thursday at the National Press Club, addressing the intersection between technology and social policy. Panels will discuss liberty and security in a digital age, the role of social media and technology in the Middle East and how technology can be used to solve human rights problems.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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