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Posted at 8:41 AM ET, 12/17/2010

The Circuit: Google faces EU, privacy board appointments; Level 3 weighs in on merger

By Hayley Tsukayama

Google and the EU: Antitrust concerns about Google are escalating as the company faces more scrutiny from the European Union. Investigators agreed to look into two more complaints filed against the company. The complaints accuse Google of unfairly promoting its own products and services in its searches, and of undercutting the business model of an online mapping Web site.

The Post's Steven Pearlstein has had a spirited back-and-forth with Google over antitrust concerns he raised in his Tuesday column.

Privacy Board: President Obama appointed two people to the five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board on Thursday. The two picks -- James Dempsey of the Center for Democracy and Technology and Elisebeth Collins Cook of Freeborn Peters -- are subject to Senate confirmation.

House Homeland Security chairman Bennie Thompson issued a statement Thursday urging the Senate to move quickly on their confirmation. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy also released a statement underscoring the important role the privacy board will play in upcoming months.

Level 3 takes on merger: In a letter to the FCC, Level 3 CEO James Q. Crowe has urged the commission to impose "appropriate conditions" on the proposed merger between Comcast and NBC Universal. Revisiting the complaints leveled at Comcast late last month, Crowe asked the FCC to impose the following conditions on Comcast-NBC for the first five years after the merger:

Comcast must interconnect with requesting Internet backbone carriers on nondiscriminatory, fair and reasonable terms (in any event no less advantageous than the terms effectively provided to its affiliates);

The location and technical configuration of interconnection points for the exchange of traffic between Comcast and requesting Internet backbone carriers must be technically, operationally and economically nondiscriminatory, fair and reasonable (and in any event no less advantageous than the terms effectively provided to its affiliates);

Comcast may not utilize its dominant control over access to its subscribers in order to unfairly charge Internet backbone carriers for interconnection to its network;

Comcast will interconnect, on a settlement free basis, with requesting Internet backbone companies meeting such nondiscriminatory, fair and reasonable requirement as Comcast may choose to specify, which may include the number of announced routes, the extent of customer interaction between the networks (i.e., the “community of interest” that exists between the customers of each network), the scale and scope of the networks, and customer requirements of each network.

Crowe finished the letter by asking the FCC to consider imposing similar restrictions on other broadband Internet access providers as well.

Twitter '09 vs Twitter '10: Sysomos, a social media analysis group, released its analysis of Twitter yesterday, finding that Twitter users have put more personal information on their profiles and followed more people this year than in previous years. The study also confirms the existence of a Twitter elite, indicating 22.5% of users produce 90% of the tweets.

More Facebook privacy issues: A new Facebook feature aimed at making Web site registration easier may further upset users concerned about privacy. As VentureBeat reported Thursday, the new feature is intended to streamline the registration process by letting users fill in fields with the data from their Facebook profiles.

But the social network is already in hot water with users over its integration of facial recognition technology for tagging photos, with many threatening to leave if the site doesn't start implementing more "opt-out" policies.

By Hayley Tsukayama  | December 17, 2010; 8:41 AM ET
Categories:  Antitrust, Comcast, Consumers, FCC, FTC, Facebook, Google, International, Privacy, Social media, Twitter  
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Next: Brightcove CEO Allaire talks net neutrality, Internet video and why Apple's the one to watch

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