The Washington Post

The Circuit: Facebook v. Google v. the Swiss, kids’ privacy

LEADING THE DAY: Things are heating up as Google and Facebook battle for control of the social Web. The Daily Beast’s Dan Lyons reported that Facebook paid Burson-Marsteller, a top PR firm, to promote a story claiming that Google is invading user privacy by gathering information from users’ social networks. The report says a Facebook spokesman confirmed the company is behind the campaign, because it objects to Google’s practices and is upset that Google is using Facebook data without permission.

On Monday, USA Today accused the PR firm of running a whisper campaign against Google.

Google to challenge Swiss court ruling: Google, meanwhile, said it will appeal to the highest court a Swiss court’s ruling that it must blur all the faces pictured in its Street View service, The Wall Street Journal reported.. The company has said it cannot comply with the order and may have to pull the service from Switzerland if the ruling is not overturned. Google’s software currently blots out the identifying features of about 99 percent of those pictured in Street View, but the lower court ruled in March that the company must blur the remaining faces manually.

Common Sense Media launches Do Not Track site: Common Sense Media has launched a Web site advocating for a do not track law to protect children. The site hopes to be a way for parents to alert lawmakers to how they feel about children’s online privacy.

Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Tx.) unveiled a bill, the “Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011,” last Friday. The measure would protect young Internet users from online advertising and let parents control what information is published online.

Software piracy on the rise in developing markets: A new study from the Business Software Alliance found that software piracy is on the rise in emerging markets and now accounts for more than half of all software theft. BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman said in an interview that this development threatens the economy beyond the software industry. Software theft, Holleyman said, lowers the operating costs in places with high piracy rates such as China, threatening businesses that observe software laws in places like the U.S., where piracy rates are lower. The group estimates that $59 billion of software was stolen in 2010, 14 percent more than the previous year.

Google launches Chromebooks: In a potentially game-changing announcement Wednesday, Google introduced the Chromebook, a computer that only connects to the Web. Priced about the same as a tablet, the device has no software and relies solely on Web storage. Google also launched a program that will lease the laptops to students and businesses for under $30 a month.

FCC Commissioner Baker to Comcast: Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker announced Wednesday that she will resign from the Federal Communications Commission on June 3 to join Comcast/NBC Universal as its senior vice president of governmental affairs.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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