The Washington Post

The Circuit: Senate privacy hearing, password protection, net neutrality

Senate privacy hearing: The Senate Commerce Committee will hear testimony from the Federal Trade Commission and the Commerce Department on the guidelines both agencies have set down for privacy moving forward.

In his opening statement, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), the committee chairman, said he is concerned that the models of self-regulation proposed by both agencies may not best serve the average consumer.

“I believe consumers need strong legal protections.  They need simple and easy-to-understand rules about how, what and when their information can be collected and used,” he said in his opening statement. “They need easy-to-understand privacy policies rather than pages of incomprehensible legalese.”

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz and Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen are testifying at the hearing. The Commerce Department’s general counsel, Cameron Kerry, is also on the panel.

Password protection bill: On Wednesday, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) announced that they will introduce that “Password Protection Act of 2012,” which will prohibit employers from asking current or prospective employees for access to their personal, password-protected accounts on services such as Facebook or Twitter.

Netherlands adopts net neutrality law: The Netherlands became the first member-country of the European Union to adopt rules on net neutrality, the Next Web reported, after approving the bill last summer.

The law prevents Internet service providers from blocking or slowing traffic to certain sites to discriminate between competitive services.

NAB president asks for spectrum inventory: National Association of Broadcasters Chief Executive Gordon Smith wrote to Reps. Brett Guthrie and Doris Matsui — co-chairs of the Federal Spectrum Working Group — to ask the group to take a full inventory of who owns U.S. spectrum.

Smith asked for the inventory while questioning the assertion that there is a spectrum crisis, saying, “without a fulsome inventory and complete accounting ... how can we be certain that claims of a spectrum ‘crisis’ are valid?”

He cited unspecified “press reports” that indicate that some companies are warehousing spectrum.

Loeb not letting up at Yahoo: Yahoo’s largest outside investor has stepped up its attack on the company’s top officials, calling again for Yahoo’s board of directors to fire Chief Executive Scott Thompson for listing a nonexistent degree among his academic credentials.

The letter comes after Yahoo announced that board member Patti Hart would not seek reelection after serving out her term. Hart led the search committee that ultimately hired Thompson.

Thompson, who joined the company in January, apologized to Yahoo employees Monday for misstating that he held a computer science degree in his corporate biography and Yahoo federal filings. In Wednesday’s letter, the company’s largest outside investor, Third Point, demanded that Thompson and Hart be replaced immediately with nominees that the hedge fund recommended for the board, and that a Third Point nominee lead the next CEO search committee. Daniel S. Loeb, Third Point’s founder, also said that the company should appoint an interim CEO immediately, suggesting either Yahoo Chief Financial Officer Tim Morse — who served as interim CEO earlier this year — or Global Media head Ross Levinsohn.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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