The Circuit: Spectrum initiative in Obama jobs plan, LightSquared, America Invents Act

September 9, 2011

LEADING THE DAY: The jobs plan proposed by President Barack Obama includes recommendations for a nationwide, interoperable emergency network, spectrum auctions and expanding high-speed wireless Internet access to 98 percent of Americans.

Overall, the White House estimates the initiative will cost $10 billion, but that those costs will be offset by proceeds from spectrum auctions. In fact, according to a fact sheet from the White House, the administration expects to raise $28 billion from the auctions for a net deficit reduction of $18 billion.

LightSquared waiver raises GOP questions: Republican lawmakers questioned the Federal Communications Commission’s process for granting a key provisional waiver for LightSquared for construction of its satellite mobile network, The Washington Post reported Thursday. At a House hearing, Republicans said that the FCC should have used its own technicians to evaluate LightSquared’s technology instead of relying on a report from the company.

The agency believes companies are in the best position to understand their own technology, said one FCC official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the FCC’s review is ongoing. Experts from several government agencies at the hearing raised concerns about LightSquared’s network interfering with navigation, weather tracking and airline communications.

Senate passes patent reform bill: The America Invents Act is headed to Obama’s desk after years of debate over the issue of patent reform. The Senate passed the bill in an 89-9 vote.

But while proponents of the bill celebrate and hail its passage as a key jobs creator, many patent experts say the bill has been so watered down that it is unlikely to have much of an effect on jobs, The Washington Post reported. The bill does institute a new review process that aims to cut down on the number of frivolous patents. The question now is whether that review process and other changes to the patent system will effectively curb the number of patent lawsuits that technology companies such as Google say are hurting innovation.

Sen. Blumenthal introduces data breach bill: Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced new legislation Thursday that would add regulations to companies that store online information for more than 100,000 people, on penalty of fines, The Hill reported.

Blumenthal was an outspoken critic of the way Sony handled its data breach this past spring.

FTC cracks down on acne app claims: The Federal Trade Commission announced Thursday that it has settled with mobile app marketers who claimed that their smartphone programs could help cure acne with “light therapy.”

Approximately 15,000 people downloaded two apps — AcneApp and Acne Pwner — which claimed to be able to reduce skin blemishes. The settlement orders would required that Acne App marketers Koby Brown and Gregory W. Pearson pay $14,294, and Acne Pwner’s Andrew N. Finkle, pay $1,700.

“Smartphones make our lives easier in countless ways, but unfortunately when it comes to curing acne, there’s no app for that,” said FTC Chairman, Jon Leibowitz in a statement.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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