AT&T offers shared data plans: Following in the footsteps of Verizon Wireless, AT&T announced Wednesday that it has new plans that allow customers to share data.

The new plans will be available in late August and start at a cheaper rate than Verizon's — $40 for 1GB of data, plus $45 for each smartphone versus $50 and $40 on Verizon — but end up being more or less similar in the end.

AT&T customers will have a choice as to whether they want to stick with the provider’s existing plans or opt for one of the shared plans, in contrast to Verizon’s approach to replace most of its traditional plans with the new model.

Facial recognition technology hearing on the Hill: The Senate subcommittee on privacy will hold a hearing Wednesday to discuss the implications that facial recognition technology has for privacy and civil liberties.

Representatives from the Federal Trade Commission, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Facebook will speak at the hearing, along with several professors and professionals who deal with the technology. Those interested in watching the hearing, which begins at 2:30 p.m., can watch here.

Will AT&T charge for Facetime?: An AT&T spokesperson said that the company is working with Apple but declined to say whether it will charge extra for Facetime calls — video conferencing sessions on the iPhone and iPad — made using its cellular network.

“We’re working closely with Apple on the new developer build of the OS and we’ll share more information with our customers as it becomes available,” an AT&T spokesman said in a statement. CEO Randall Stephenson told TechCrunch that it is “too early” to talk about pricing.

The blog 9 to 5 Mac first reported that AT&T may charge for the service after seeing an error message in an early build of Apple’s as-yet-unreleased version of iOS 6.

If AT&T does charge for the service, as it does for enabling a WiFi hotspot, it will face opposition from groups such as Public Knowledge. In a statement Wednesday, PK’s Harold Feld said, “AT&T is entitled to charge a fair price for its data contract, but it is not entitled to double dip and charge a new fee for someone else’s good idea.”

Google proposes way to fight drug cartels: In an op-ed in The Washington Post on Wednesday, Google chairman Eric Schmidt and Google Ideas director Jared Cohen proposed that technology could be the key to fight drug cartels in Mexico.

“Sources don’t need to physically turn to corrupt authorities, distant journalists or diffuse nonprofits, and rely on their hope that the possible benefit is worth the risk of exposing themselves,” they wrote. “Technology can help intermediate this exchange, like servers passing packets on the Internet. Sources don’t need to pierce their anonymity. They don’t need to trust a single person or institution. Why can’t they simply throw encrypted packets into the network and let the tools move information to the right destinations?”

Washington state taps Facebook for voter registration:The state of Washington has developed a way to allow users to register to vote via Facebook, The Associated Press reported — through the Washington secretary of state’s Facebook page.

In an interview with the AP, co-director of elections Shane Hamlin said that it was a good next step for the elections process. The network doesn't have access to the state’s voter rolls, but just overlays the online registration form on Facebook and pulls their name and date of birth from their profile. Voters will still need their driver’s license or state ID card to complete registration.

“We are excited that citizens in Washington state will be able to register to vote and review useful voting information on Facebook,” said Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes.