The Washington Post

The Circuit: The future of television, Obama targets human-rights abuses, Cyber Week in the House

Free TV: Federal regulators are wrestling over the future of the government-mandated broadcasts, originally intended to knit the nation’s disparate communities together, as the audience for free TV dwindles, The Washington Post reported.

Today, only 10 percent of the nation relies on free, over-the-air TV, which was created by the Telecom Act in the 1930s, which required certain kinds of programming. Sen. Jay Rockefeller will address some of the issues surrounding the future of television at an upcoming hearing this week.

Obama targets human-rights abuses: On Monday, President Obama issued an executive order that allows U.S. officials to impose sanctions on foreign nationals that use new technologies to carry out human rights abuses, The Washington Post reported.

The order, announced in a Monday speech at the Holocaust Museum, is designed to target those assisting Iran and Syria, though future orders could affect those helping other countries, The Post reported.

Cyber week hits the House: The House will vote on four cybersecurity bills this week, including the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which is designed to make it easier for companies and the government to share information about potential cyber threats. The bill has drawn criticism from privacy advocates who fear the bill’s language around sharing is too broad and has the potential to violate civil liberties.

The House is also set to vote on three other cybersecurity measures: amendments to the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) proposed by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), legislation from Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas) that reauthorizes some computer research and development, and the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act — a bill that proposes a way to better coordinate federal research into cybersecurity.

Netflix hires lobbyists on VPPA: Netflix has hired more lobbyists to support its effort to pass changes to the Video Privacy Protection Act, the Hill reported, which would allow subscribers of the streaming video service to automatically share their viewing history on Facebook.

The company has reportedly hired the firm Greenberg Traurig to lobby Congress to pass the bill. The VPPA prohibits video rental companies from sharing customers’ rental data without written consent from the customer.

Facebook, Microsoft strike a patent deal: Facebook and Microsoft announced Monday that they have struck a deal over patents, including some Microsoft recently acquired from AOL. Facebook will pay around $550 million in cash for approximately 650 patents from AOL, plus a license to the patents that Microsoft owns.

In turn, Microsoft will keep ownership of approximately 275 of its patents and will have a license to the AOL patents now owned by Facebook.

“Today’s agreement with Facebook enables us to recoup over half of our costs while achieving our goals from the AOL auction,” Brad Smith, Microsoft’s executive vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.

Ted Ullyot, Facebook’s general counsel said, “This is another significant step in our ongoing process of building an intellectual property portfolio to protect Facebook’s interests over the long term.”

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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