The Circuit: Online privacy hearing, Netflix looks at content creation, Google-ITA merger

March 16, 2011

LEADING THE DAY: The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on online privacy today. Privacy is a leading issue for Commerce Chairman Sen. Jay Rockfeller (D-W.Va.), and a privacy bill from Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is expected to be released soon.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz and NTIA chief Lawrence Strickling will both testify at today’s hearing. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Strickling is expected to push for a “privacy bill of rights.” Others testifying include representatives from Microsoft and the American Civil Liberties Union. Microsoft is expected to call for baseline privacy legislation to work with industry standards. The ACLU is expected to suggest the committee look to Do Not Track and adopt legislation that protects customers from data profiling.

Analyst Paul Gallant of MFGlobal wrote in a memo that today’s hearing will be the perfect opportunity to gauge exactly where Republicans and Democrats stand on legislation versus self-regulation. He also echoed the words of FTC Commissioner William Kovacic, who said at a panel last week that online privacy regulations could benefit big brand names and hurt smaller companies that rely more heavily on tracking.

Netflix may acquire a television show: A report from Deadline.com says that Netflix is in talks for the rights to an original television series. The series, reportedly called House of Cards, will be directed by David Fincher and star Kevin Spacey. If true, this would be the online video company’s first step into content creation.Deadline.com said that Netflix had bid for a two-season, 26-episode commitment worth $100 million; other reports indicate it will be less than that.

Netflix stock jumped Tuesday after a report from NPD showed that company has 61 percent of the online video market.

Google, ITA merger may be approved soon: All Things Digital reported that sources in the Justice Department have said the merger between Google and ITA, a data provider in the travel industry, may be approved in the coming weeks. The report cautioned that negotiations could break down, but that the merger could be approved with the stipulation that Google agrees to several conditions such as honoring ITA’s current partnerships and consenting to oversight of company conduct.

Etsy reworks feedback system: Etsy has changed its feedback system in response to customer reaction after a new tool on the site linked users’ real names with their purchases in Web searches. In a blog post on its Web site, the online marketplace apologized to its customers and said it has removed the link between feedback given to a buyer or seller and the items purchased.

House Energy and Commerce passes net neutrality repeal: As expected, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a resolution to repeal the Federal Communications Commission’s rules regarding net neutrality. The measure now passes to the full House.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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