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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

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post, focusing on electronic privacy, national security, digital politics and the Internet that binds it all together. He was previously the technology correspondent for National Journal and an associate editor at the Atlantic. His writing has also appeared in Foreign Policy, Talking Points Memo, the American Prospect and Nonprofit Quarterly. Follow Brian on Google+ .

Andrea Peterson

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 12:58 PM ET, 03/13/2013

The Circuit: Netflix reaps benefits of VPPA lobbying, turns on social feature

Netflix, Facebook switch on sharing feature: Netflix and Facebook announced Wednesday that, after a long lobbying battle, the companies will connect Netflix’s viewing data with Facebook’s social network.

Facebook and Netflix announced that they would partner on sharing features in September 2011, but were unable to implement it in the United States due to a video privacy law that prevented stores from publishing customer’s rental histories. Netflix lobbied successfully to change the Video Privacy Protection Act to allow for sharing on social networks. President Obama signed those changes into law in January.

ESA hires new directors of federal govt. affairs: The Entertainment Software Association announced Wednesday that it has hired two Hill veterans as new directors of federal government affairs.

The new staff members are Ali Amirhooshmand and Danielle Rodman, who have served as legislative advisers on Congressional offices and committees.

Amirhooshmand and Rodman will advocate for the industry on issues to underscore the “positive role video games play” in education, health and the economy.

“Ali and Danielle have demonstrated their ability to forge key stakeholder relationships, balance competing interests, and provide lawmakers with valuable perspective on policies impacting a variety of issues important to a high-tech industry such as ours,”said Erik Huey, the ESA’s senior vice president of government affairs in a statement.

FCC approves T-Mobile, Metro PCS merger: The Federal Communications Commission approved a merger between T-Mobile and Metro PCS on Tuesday. The Washington Post reported that FCC commissioner Julius Genachowski said that the merger could ”benefit millions” of consumers and help keep the United States competitive in the global mobile landscape. The Justice Department confirmed separately on Tuesday that it had also given its blessing to the deal, after finding that the companies don’t compete directly against each other.

Some did raise concerns about what impact the deal may have on American jobs. In a statement of her own, FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said that while she believes this merger will “ultimately lead to more choices and lower prices for consumers,” and that those benefits should not come at the expense of American jobs. She said that both companies have told her they do not have plans to close domestic call centers and retail stores or to move call center jobs offshore.

The deal is still subject to approval by the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment, as T-Mobile is owned by Germany’s Deutsche Telekom.

Google agrees to settlement: Google agreed to a $7 million settlement with several states and the District of Columbia, on charges that the cars the company used to gather data for its Street View feature inadvertently collected information such as e-mails and Web histories on passing WiFi networks.

As The Washington Post reported, Google will have to implement new employee privacy training and educate the public on topics such as how to encrypt their personal WiFi networks.

Google has long said that Street View’s collection of personal information was inadvertent and has apologized, the report said.

“The project leaders never wanted this data, and didn’t use it or even look at it. We’re pleased to have worked with Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen and the other state attorneys general to reach this agreement,” spokeswoman Nadja Blagojevic said in a statement issued Tuesday.

By  |  12:58 PM ET, 03/13/2013

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