The Switchboard: Nintendo apologizes for lack of virtual marriage equality


(Screengrab of #Miiquality campaign video via Vimeo)

Published every weekday, the Switchboard highlights five tech policy stories you need to read.

FCC chair tries to salvage net neutrality plan, promises to be strong cop in revised rules.  "FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will present a revised draft of controversial 'net neutrality' rules to other commissioners as early as Monday that would still permit paid-prioritization of Web content," reports The Post's Cecilia Kang. "But the new plan would attempt to explicitly warn Internet service providers such as Verizon and AT&T that they can't unfairly put the content of Web companies that don't pay for special treatment on a 'slow lane,' according to an FCC official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the rules are still being discussed in private."

Why Apple is so interested in Beats: It’s not about the headphones. The Switch's Brian Fung points out that Apple's acquisition of Beats probably has more to do with getting into the streaming business than the hardware business. "People turn to Apple for hardware — iPhones, iPads and the like — but the future is all in online services. "

Plaintiff in Silicon Valley hiring suit maligns deal. Several major tech companies recently agreed to a settlement to avoid a potentially damaging trial over an alleged conspiracy to keep talent prices low by agreeing not to poach from each other -- but not everyone is happy with the deal.  "Michael Devine, a 46-year-old freelance programmer who is one of the four plaintiffs named in the suit, thinks the companies are getting off far too lightly," reports David Streitfeld at the New York Times. "In a very rare form of protest, he sent a letter this weekend to the judge in the case, Lucy H. Koh of United States District Court for the Northern District of California, asking her to reject the deal that his own lawyers negotiated."

Research in India suggests Google search results can influence an election. The Post's Craig Timberg reports on an interesting study from psychologist Robert Epstein. "With a group of more than 1,800 study participants – all undecided voters in India -- the research team was able to shift votes by an average of 12.5 percent to favored candidates by deliberating altering their rankings in search results, Epstein said." Less than one percent of the participants detected manipulation in the search results.

Nintendo apologizes for lack of virtual equality. After first telling gamers that it did not intend to make any "social commentary" by excluding same-sex relationships from its life simulator game Tomodachi Life, Nintendo has now apologized for the slight. "We apologize for disappointing many people by failing to include same-sex relationships in Tomodachi Life,” the game company said in a statement released Friday. The gamemaker still does not intend to patch the game before its U.S. release in June, but it did suggest it would consider adding same sex relationships into future iterations. "We pledge that if we create a next installment in the ‘Tomodachi’ series, we will strive to design a game-play experience from the ground up that is more inclusive, and better represents all players."

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
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