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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 06:40 PM ET, 12/02/2011

The Circuit: Spectrum bill, Google in Europe, Netflix appoints new D.C. office head

This post has been edited since it was first published.

LEADING THE DAY: The House subcommittee on technology passed the spectrum bill introduced by Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), which includes a provision to allocate the D Block of spectrum to a national broadband public safety network and institute spectrum auctions. Only one Democrat, Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) voted to pass the measure.

Democratic members of the committee have proposed their own alternative to the Walden bill, which they say they were not given until Tuesday morning. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), who has co-sponsored the competing measure, said that she disagrees with the Walden bill’s approach to unlicensed spectrum. The committee did, however, vote to include an amendment from Eshoo and Rep. Shimkus (R-Ill.), that would provide funding for next-generation 911.

The committee also adopted an amendment from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), which would prohibit the FCC from applying its net neutrality laws to companies that purchase spectrum through the auctions.

Google in Europe: The European Commission is reportedly about to serve Google with a more-than-400-page statement of objections, alleging that company has abused its dominance in the search market, the Financial Times reported. The commission has been investigating the company for online dominance based on complaints from smaller, competing search engines.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt is expected to visit Brussels to meet with E.U. competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia, the report said, citing two unnamed sources.

Netflix appoints ex-Skyper to head office: Netflix named Christopher Libertelli to head its Washington policy and lobbying office Thursday, as the online video giant increases its voice in communications and Internet privacy policies, The Washington Post reported. Libertelli, formerly the head of North and South American government regulations for Skype, replaces Michael Drobac, who is leaving Netflix to launch an Internet-based health-care startup.

ICANN hearing: The Senate Commerce Committee will be holding a hearing on the effects of the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) proposal to expand its top-level domains. ICANN’s proposal, which it approved this past summer, would allow companies to purchase top-level domain names with virtually any word or phrase. That could give rise to brand-name domains such as .microsoft or .apple.

Members of the Association of National Advertisers have said that the measure carries risks to copyright holders who might feel they have to buy up several Web addresses or domains to protect their brands.

Surveillance tech worries human rights activists: A boom in surveillance technology has human rights activists worried about how governments will use the technology to stifle free expression, The Washington Post reported. The technology is often sold at conventions, The Post reported, which could be making it easier for the goods to get into the hands of bad actors.

“We’ve lost,” a State Department official told The Post, saying that if the conferences are the way companies bypass the sanctions, there isn’t much the government can do to stop it.

Blue Coat Systems, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company, recently came under investigation after it revealed that some of its technology was being used in Syria, somehow bypassing export sanctions against the country.

Clarification: This item has been updated to clarify that Blue Coat Systems does not participate in technology conventions.

Zynga sets IPO pricing: Zynga is pricing its initial public offering at $8.50 to $10 per share for 100 million shares, and could raise the company up to $1 billion. The company would have a valuation of between $7.7 and $9 billion, Reuters reported, which would make it one of the most valuable game companies in the country.

Lawmakers propose ITC look at online piracy: Addressing the thorny issue of how the United States should address online infringement, lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan, bicameral proposal that would give the International Trade Commission the authority to launch investigations into digital imports, or downloads, of counterfeit goods, The Washington Post reported. The proposal is an alternative to current bills on online piracy in the House and Senate that some say could damage the structure of the Internet.

“We would be the first to say we should handcuff the bad actors, but we have to do that without damaging the architecture of the Internet,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who is working on the draft, in a phone interview. Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), John Campbell (R-Calif.), Lloyd Doggett (D-Tex.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) are also working on the draft.

Carrier IQ: Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has sent a letter to Carrier IQ asking the company to explain its practices regarding customer data. Carrier IQ, an analytics firm, is at the center of a controversy after researcher Trevor Eckhart published research indicating that the program was installed on millions of phones and was recording keylog and other information. It’s not clear how much of the information is being transmitted and to whom.

In a statement to press, Carrier IQ said that its software does not ”record, store or transmit” the contents of text or other messages from phones, and protects consumer privacy. The company also said it “vigorously” disagrees with assertions that its software could be violating federal wiretapping laws.

By  |  06:40 PM ET, 12/02/2011

Tags:  Privacy, Zynga, ICANN, IP, Google, Spectrum

 
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