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Posted at 8:28 AM ET, 12/20/2010

The Circuit: Prepping for the net neutrality vote, Google TV and bill shock

By Hayley Tsukayama

LEADING THE WEEK:The Federal Communications Commission is set to vote on the net neutrality proposal Tuesday. A source familiar with the discussions was optimistic that the vote would pass with a few minor tweaks and told Post Tech on Friday that Commissioners Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn want to make it work, though that could change by the vote tomorrow. For an overview of what the FCC is considering, check out The Washington Post's Sunday article.

In the lead-up to the vote, everyone is trying to get some final thoughts on the issue. The New York Times chimed in on the debate over the weekend, with an editorial calling for stronger regulations. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal gave space on its pages to FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell, who laid out his view in no uncertain terms that the proposal is the worst kind of government interference.

There is still a strong and vocal opposition to the proposal, particularly as the Republicans prepare to take the majority in the House. The Washington Post’s profile of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) provides a look at the new head of the House Government and Oversight Committee, who has already promised to call FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in for hearings on net neutrality should the plan pass.

Google TV: Google has asked television makers to delay introductions of its Google TV service at next month's Consumer Electronics show. As the New York Times reported Saturday, the search giant is taking more time to develop its Web television service after receiving poor marks from consumers and reviewers.

As of Monday morning, Sony told the Times it was still optimistic about Google TV and that sales were in line with expectations.

Bill shock: AT&T found itself in hot water over the weekend after CNET published its story on a $16,000 bill the company charged Pfc. Jose Rivera. When Rivera was told it would only be an additional $4.95 per month to call his wife in the U.S. while he was deployed in Afghanistan, he didn't realize there would also be high charges per minute and per text. Without realizing it, he rang up $9,000 in charges, plus interest. Despite several calls to AT&T (much which was spend on hold) and canceling his plan, the company was still charging interest on the bill. Since publishing the story, CNET has heard from AT&T, which plans to credit Rivera's entire account.

App privacy: How much is your phone telling companies about you? According to a Wall Street Journal investigation published over the weekend, it may be a lot more than you know. The paper examined 101 apps for iPhone and Android phones and found that 56 shared the the phone's unique device ID with other companies without users' awareness or consent, and 47 gave out the phone's location in some way. In addition, five apps sent age, gender and other personal details to outsiders. Only 45 of applications studied had a written privacy policy.

The article points out that while those using Internet browsers can block or clear cookies from their browsing history, there is no such functionality with a smartphone application.

Piracy or industry standard?: Five music sites accused of criminal copyright infringement are challenging their warrant, saying that the content in question was released to them for promotional purposes. Leaking is a common tool for promotion. As one of the site operators, a man known as Splash, told the New York Times, “It’s not my fault if someone at a record label is sending me the song."

The sites were closed as part of an 82-site shutdown over Thanksgiving weekend. Some see it as a prelude to the Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act, which would grant the attorney general more power to pursue Web sites believed to be “dedicated to infringing activities.”

By Hayley Tsukayama  | December 20, 2010; 8:28 AM ET
Categories:  AT&T, Apple, Comcast, FCC, Google, Mobile, Net Neutrality, Privacy, copyright  
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Next: FCC chairman describes net-neutrality rule as down the middle

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