STLR Link Roundup – February 3, 2012

In Washington, the House and the Senate backed competing spectrum incentive auction bills, which would encourage current licensees to sell their under-utilized frequencies at auction to wireless carriers.  Lawmakers in both chambers want to package it with the payroll tax extension, which is expected to pass before the end of February.  Former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt called the House legislation “the single worst telecom bill” he’d ever seen and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass) called on the internet community to fight the House bill in order to free up unlicensed spectrum.

Facebook seeks to raise $5 Billion in its initial public stock offering, making it the largest Internet IPO on record.  It is believed that its stock offering will value the company $75 and $100 billion.  Mark Zuckerberg, however, will maintain his control over Facebook with voting power of almost 60 percent of total shares.  Meanwhile, Facebook is coming under a siege of patent lawsuits.  In 2011, Facebook was named as a defendant in 22 patent infringement suits.

Google announced its new privacy policy, which is set to become effective on March 1.  The new policy will allow it to track users’ activities across YouTube, Gmail, its search engine, and nearly all of its other sites.  Users will not be able to opt out, which may trigger more scrutiny from federal regulators.

On January 23, the Supreme Court held that attaching a GPS device to track a vehicle constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment and requires a warrant.  The ruling is considered a victory for privacy rights in the age of advanced technology, but some argue it was too narrowly reasoned on the basis of the physical intrusion of attaching the device.

Congress indefinitely shelved the controversial antipiracy bills SOPA and PIPA after over 7,000 websites, including Wikipedia and Google protested the bills, handing a crushing blow to the traditional media industry.

Following the shutdown of file-sharing site Megaupload last month and arrest of 7 company employees, Federal prosecutors announced that Megaupload user data would be deleted as early as Thursday (Feb. 2).  However, a nonprofit group stepped in at the last minute, announcing on Wednesday that it would work with data-storage providers to create a website that will allow legitimate Megaupload users retrieve their data.

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