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Posted at 8:36 AM ET, 02/11/2011

The Circuit: Privacy bills, broadband stimulus hearings, U.S. likely to halt Huawei deal

By Hayley Tsukayama

LEADING THE DAY: Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) reintroduced his Best Practices Act for online privacy Thursday afternoon. The bill, similar to the one Rush introduced last session, does not have a do-not-track provision.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) will hold an 11 a.m. press conference today with consumer groups including the Consumer Federation of America, the Consumers Union, Consumer Action, U.S. PIRG, Consumer Watchdog and the Center for Digital Democracy to announce the introduction of her package of privacy bills, the Do Not Track Me Online Act of 2011 and the Financial Information Privacy Act of 2011.

NTIA response to broadband hearings: The House Energy and Commerce communications subcommittee began hearings Thursday to begin congressional oversight for broadband spending allocated under the stimulus, and legislation to return the unused or unclaimed portions to the Treasury. Subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said the legislation he is offering would "would ensure that the NTIA and the RUS report to Congress on any red flags the inspectors general find, as well as on what they propose to do about it. It would also help ensure that any money that is returned, reclaimed, or goes unused is put back in the U.S. Treasury."

In response to the hearings, the NTIA said, "The Inspector General plays an essential role in ensuring that taxpayers' hard-earned dollars are well spent. Since the inception of the program, NTIA has worked with the IG to design our program in a manner that minimizes the risk of waste, fraud and abuse. We appreciate the Inspector General's feedback and look forward to continuing working with his office -- our combined oversight activities strengthen BTOP."

Government panel likely to recommend overturn of Huawei deal: The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States is expected to suggest that the president stop an acquisition deal between Chinese telecom giant Huawei and 3Leaf Systems, a Bay Area developer. According to the Wall Street Journal, 3Leaf Systems develops technology that allows collections of server computers to work as one machine. Huawei did not seek permission for its deal with 3Leaf Systems, which is standard for potentially sensitive international agreements, as it acquired employees, intellectual property and servers, but not the company itself.

Sens. Jim Webb (D-Va.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Sue Myrick (R-N.C.) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke expressing concern that the deal gives advanced U.S. computing technology to China. A Huawei spokesman told the newspaper that the letter "releases unfounded innuendo" about the company's ties to the Chinese government.

Nokia, Microsoft make it official: Nokia has announced that the Windows Phone platform will be its main platform for smartphones from this point on. The company announced the partnership, as well as leadership and structural changes Thursday, and with a press release Friday morning. Nokia will now have two, distinct departments: Smart Devices and Mobile Phones.

The company's Symbian platform will become a franchise platform and its MeeGo platform will be an open-source project.

Groupon pulls controversial ads: After facing criticism, Groupon has decided to pull its Super Bowl ads. The ads start off as stereotypical charity commercials, then plug a related Groupon deal.

Groupon founder and CEO Andrew Mason said the company intended to poke fun at itself, not to offend its customers. "We’ve listened to your feedback, and since we don’t see the point in continuing to anger people, we’re pulling the ads," he wrote on the Groupon blog. Mason said some of the ads might still run on Friday because it's difficult to pull ads immediately.

By Hayley Tsukayama  | February 11, 2011; 8:36 AM ET
 
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