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Timothy B. Lee

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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 08:44 AM ET, 01/18/2012

The Circuit: Web sites go on strike, LightSquared, Yang splits from Yahoo

LEADING THE DAY: A group of technology companies — including Google, Wikipedia and Reddit — are participating in protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act across the Web Wednesday. Some firms, most notably Wikipedia, are shutting down their ownWeb sites to show their unhappiness with the two Internet-regulation bills.

“The entire approach is philosophically wrongheaded. I think you should follow the money ... don’t place the burden on the innocent third-parties on the Internet,” said Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales . “Censorship is never going to be the right answer.”

Wales and others argue that the bills would impose huge regulatory costs and stifle innovation on the Web. The bill’s proponents say the provisions are narrowly targeted at foreign sites and that the concerns of these Web firms are overblown or fabricated.

SOPA sponsor and chairman of the House Judiciary committee Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) said in a statement, “The bill will not harm Wikipedia, domestic blogs or social networking sites. This publicity stunt does a disservice to its users by promoting fear instead of facts. Perhaps during the blackout, Internet users can look elsewhere for an accurate definition of online piracy.”

The Protect IP Act is scheduled to come up for a cloture vote on Jan. 24; the House Judiciary committee will resume markup of the bill in February.

LightSquared: LightSquared has scheduled a conference call Wednesday, and is expected to outline its future plans in the wake of a report from federal regulators that renews claims that the company’s satellite broadband network interferes with military and aviation operations.

The latest results were a last-ditch chance for Reston-based LightSquared to prove that its satellite service was safe, but instead confirmed findings that the network would interfere with key Global Positioning System technology used to steer planes and operate sensitive construction and military equipment.

Yang resigns from Yahoo: Jerry Yang announced Tuesday that he was splitting from Yahoo, the company he founded in 1994, ending his tenure on its board of directors. Yang was a leading voice against selling or splitting Yahoo assets, meaning that his resignation leads to a fresh bout of speculation over the embattled media and search company’s plans for the future.

Yang founded the company along with fellow Stanford doctoral student David Filo, and his departure comes only weeks after Yahoo appointed a new chief executive, Scott Thompson.

Samsung denies report of RIM acquisition: Samsung has denied a report from Boy Genius Report claiming that the world’s second-largest handset maker was considering buying Research in Motion. In an interview with Reuters, Samsung spokesman James Chung said, “We haven’t considered acquiring the firm and are not interested in (buying RIM).”

Shares of Research in Motion jumped more than 10 percent Tuesday on the rumors.

China has a half-billion Web users: A recent study from the China Internet Network Information Center found that the number of Internet users in China has topped half a billion, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported. Several tech companies are working hard to tap into the Chinese market, which shows high demand for consumer electronics products — demand pulled into sharp focus recently by Chinese customers who egged Apple stores after the company delayed the release of its latest iPhone.

By  |  08:44 AM ET, 01/18/2012

 
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