LEADING THE DAY: GOP lawmakers continued to question LightSquared’s political connections to the Obama administration in a hearing Wednesday before the Armed Services Committee, The Washington Post reported. According to Republican staffers, Gen. William Shelton — an Air Force general who testified Thursday that the company’s network would require billions of dollars and a decade to complete — told them that the White House pressured him to include positive language about LightSquared in his testimony. Shelton’s spokeswoman denied there had been any improper influence.
Criticism from Republicans was compounded by confusion over whether or not FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski was supposed to speak at the hearing. The chairman’s name had appeared on the original schedule in error, said the FCC. Engineering and technology head Julius Knapp spoke before the panel, while Genachowski sent a letter outlining his position.
LightSquared, in a statement released late Thursday, said that it was “ludicrous” to suggest that its success had anything to do with political connections.
Data privacy bill: The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2011 on Thursday, upping criminal penalties for hackers.
An amendment to the law proposed by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) and approved by the committee narrows the focus of the law, which would make any violation of a Web site’s terms of service a felony. The Grassley-Franken amendment would block criminal prosecutions or civil actions against anyone whose only violation of the law is breaking with a site or non-government employer’s terms of service. Without the amendment, the senators said in a statement, parents who check their children’s Facebook accounts would be guilty of a felony. Any person involved in additional criminal acts related to hacking would still, however, be prosecuted.
House Dems advocate for AT&T, DOJ settlement: Sixteen Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to President Obama urging him to encourage the Justice Department to settle its complaint against AT&T and the company’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile. Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), leading the charge, said the merger will reduce unemployment and is the only way to provide valuable broadband access to 97 percent of the U.S. population.
Merger opponents have contested both those claims.
Obama to sign patent-reform bill: President Obama is scheduled to sign the America Invents Act, the recently passed patent reform bill, into law today at Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, The Washington Post reported. Advocates say that the bill encourages innovation and will increase jobs, but patent experts told The Post that the bill had been watered down and is unlikely to spur job growth.
“Unless they’re counting patent lawyer jobs, it’s very unlikely,” said Ed Black, president and chief executive of the Computer and Communications Industry Association.
Netflix cuts subscriber forecast: Netflix is expecting a dramatic drop in subscribers following its recent price hike, the company told investors Thursday. Netflix projected that it would have about 1 million fewer domestic subscribers in its third quarter. The company’s stock fell nearly 19 percent by the close of trading on the news, but Netflix stood by its decision.
“We know our decision to split our services has upset many of our subscribers, which we don’t take lightly, but we believe this split will help us make our services better for subscribers and shareholders for years to come,” wrote company CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells.
Reports of potential Yahoo bidders: Private-equity firm Silver Lake is reported to have contacted Yahoo with a plan to acquire some or all of the company, the Wall Street Journal said Thursday. The two parties have not met about any kind of deal, the report said, citing unnamed sources “familiar with the situation.”
There has been a lot of speculation about Yahoo’s future since the company dismissed its former CEO, Carol Bartz, on Aug. 6. Some of its investors have called for a major overhaul of the company and its leadership.