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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.

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Brian Fung

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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 04:13 PM ET, 06/18/2012

U.S. leads Google censorship requests #thecircuit

Google censorship requests: The United States has asked Google to remove more items from its services than any other government in the world, the search giant revealed Sunday, showing that, in the past six months, the United States has requested the removal of 3,851 items. In second place? Germany, with 1,304.

According to a company blog post, requests from the United States have more than doubled in the past six months for an increase of 103 percent.

Takedown requests from the United States included those for the termination or removal of five YouTube accounts, 1,400 YouTube videos, 218 search results and a blog that allegedly “defamed a law enforcement official in a personal capacity.”

The report indicates that Google declined to comply to take down the blog post, the videos or the majority of the search results. The company did remove four YouTube accounts, which had around 300 videos, and 25 percent of the search requests.

Facebook to pay $10 million to settle sponsored stories suit: Facebook will pay $10 million in a settlement over its “Sponsored Stories” feature, which had some users up in arms about their privacy.

Details about Facebook’s settlement with users over the social network’s use of personal photos and “likes” emerged Saturday. As the Associated Press reported, some users said that Facebook has used their images for commercial activity. The social network said that the plaintiffs did not show that they were hurt by the feature.

The suit was settled last month, but the terms were not made public until recently.

Microsoft tablet: Microsoft is making a “major” announcement on Monday — suspected to be the revelation of a brand-new tablet.

What, exactly, that tablet will be remains up in the air. The company’s push toward Windows 8 has led to speculation that the company will show off its Windows RT tablets. Earlier speculation that Microsoft was going after the Kindle Fire cooled when Barnes and Noble told several media outlets that it would not be participating in the event.

Speculation, then, has centered on the possibility that the technology giant will venture into producing its own tablet hardware to take on Apple’s market-leading iPad.

E-book pricing: In a lengthy piece in the New Yorker, writer Ken Auletta took an in-depth look at the question of whether Apple and publishers colluded against Amazon.

In the piece, Hachette chief executive David Young and Macmillan CEO John Sargent say that they were not colluding and that the so-called “agency model” that publishers had with Apple was a way out of an Amazon e-book monopoly.

Russ Grandinetti, Amazon’s vice-president of Kindle content, told the magazine that Amazon is simply trying to make books less expensive and more exciting.

The preliminary hearing in the case will be this Friday in New York.

Cellphone safety: Ahead of a report from the Government Accountability Office on federal safety for cellphones, the Federal Communications Commission is preparing to update its own limits on radio frequencies from mobile devices, The Washington Post reported. The FCC puts limits on how the specific absorption rates of device — which is the measure of radio frequency energy absorbed by the body during cell phone use.

To be clear, the science is inconclusive on cell phone safety. But the rules are outdated too, and the GAO report may put pressure on the agency to take a more active stance on ensuring safety — particularly for young users.

Over-the-air viewership: Research from GfK Media shows that more Americans rely on over-the-air broadcast television, with 17.8 percent of all American homes using broadcast as their only access to television.

In a blog post on the results, researcher Dave Tice said while he’s been a skeptic about a trend toward “cord-cutting,” the data suggests that more people are, in fact, cancelling cable subscriptions.

The data show that “broadcast-only levels are even higher among minority and lower-income homes, as well as with younger householders,” Tice said, but still isn’t completely convinced by the trend.

“The real test will be when — or if — the economy picks up; then we’ll see if people maintain their broadcast-only status,” he said.

By  |  04:13 PM ET, 06/18/2012

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