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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.

Brian Fung

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, 04/03/2012

The Circuit: Privacy in the U.K.; Motorola faces probes; Google AdWords

“Snooping” online in Britain: A new government plan in Britain will be presented in Parliament, The Washington Post reported, which will allow the government to examine the text messages, phone calls, e-mails and Web browsing habits of every person in the country.

According to the report, the measure reportedly would compel communications companies to give intelligence agents access to real-time information in some cases, though it remained unclear whether British authorities would need judicial or other authority before accessing this data.

Google, Motorola under scrutiny: Foreign regulators are taking a close look at Google and Motorola Mobility. Officials in the European Union are looking at Motorola’s policies on patent licensing.

“The Commission will assess whether Motorola has abusively, and in contravention of commitments it gave to standard setting organizations, used certain of its standard essential patents to distort competition,” the statement said. The investigation follows complaints from Apple and Microsoft that Motorola is using standard patents in injunctions against products such as the iPhone and Xbox.

In response to the E.U. probe, Google said in a statement, “We haven’t finalized our acquisition of Motorola Mobility, but will work with the European Commission to answer any questions they might have. We have longstanding concerns about patent abuses, including lawsuits and royalty demands targeting the Android ecosystem.”

Australian court finds Google “misled” with ads: An Australian court also recently found that the company hosted misleading ads on its AdWords platform.

“This is an important outcome because it makes it clear that Google and other search engine providers which use similar technology to Google will be directly accountable for misleading or deceptive paid search results,” said Robert Sims, the chairman of the ACCC, in a statement.

The court did not agree with Google’s argument that key words are selected by the advertiser and therefore not the responsibility of the ad platform.

“Google created the message which it presents,” the ruling read. “It is Google’s technology which creates that which is displayed.”

Google, Oracle cannot settle: Google and Oracle are headed to court again after failing to come up with settlement terms over their ongoing intellectual property dispute.

According to a report from Dow Jones Newswires, U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal said in an order filed Monday: “Despite their diligent efforts and those of their able counsel, the parties have reached an irreconcilable impasse in their settlement discussions.”

Oracle sued Google in 2010, saying that the Android platform infringed upon patents Oracle holds for its Java technology.

Senators send letter to FTC on competition: Sixteen senators have set a letter to Federal Trade Commission chairman Jon Leibowitz asking him to reduce information technology theft. The bipartisan group of senators, including Sens. Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), chairman and ranking member of the Senate panel on small business.

The letter supports a request from the National Association of Attorneys General asking commissioners to help small businesses combat the problem of competition against companies that use pirated technology.

By  |  12:58 PM ET, 04/03/2012

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