Senate Stories March 31, 2015

Chair of Senate antitrust panel looking into conversations between Google and FTC

Senator Mike Lee, who chairs the Senate’s antitrust panel, will conduct a “preliminary inquiry” into whether conversations Google had with FTC investigators influenced the commission’s decision to clear the company of anti-competitive behavior, reports the WSJ.

The senator could later expand his inquiry to include conversations people in the White House had with the FTC and Google, people in his office said.

The FTC last week denied that its decision had been “a close call” following leaked documents suggesting that it had been. The documents also provided some fascinating insights into Google’s business model.

Google declined to comment on this latest development, but has previously said that its meetings in the White House were not related to the FTC investigation.

Senate Stories July 16, 2014

Android users could soon finally be able to easily use any supported carrier at the end of their service contract without having to jump through hoops or use other means to unlock the device. That is if a proposed bill currently processing through Congress passes and becomes law.

The Hill reports that the mentioned bill, the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, cleared through the Senate after a vote on Tuesday through a ‘unanimous consent agreement’ and will next move to the House for a vote before potentially becoming law after first being introduced last year. expand full story

Senate Stories July 11, 2014

Those pesky regulatory symbols on the back of your smartphone or tablet may soon be going digital if a new bill being presented to the US Senate gets approved. The E-Label Act is a bipartisan bill that would give electronics manufacturers the option to use digital stamps instead of branding devices with government-mandated tattoos.

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Deal: Get Pixelbook at 25% off: $750!

Senate Stories May 19, 2014

There is a United States federal agency that specializes in collecting and cataloguing scientific research papers of all kinds. The NTIS — National Technical Information Service — will serve up files or paper copies of these records for $25 or $73, respectively. The issue, as pointed out by NPR, is that most of these records are available for free elsewhere, and are easier to find with Google than with the NTIS’ outdated website. And so, ever the enemy of a wasteful budget, Tom Coburn has introduced the Let Me Google That For You Act of 2014 to abolish the NTIS. expand full story

Senate Stories May 11, 2011

(Cross-posted on 9to5Mac.com)

Bud Tribble, Apple’s long-time vice president of software engineering, testified before a US Senate subcommittee yesterday alongside Google’s US director of public policy Alan Davidson. The two executives fielded questions from Senators related to privacy issues and the practice of location data gathering via mobile devices running iOS and Android software.

Senator Charles Schumer said he was having issues with apps like Buzz’d and Fuzz Alert and expressed his disappointment that neither Apple nor Google pulled down those programs yet, even though RIM did. He suggested Google looks “narrowly” at third-party programs which help avoid police DUI checkpoints.

You agree that it is a terrible thing, and it probably causes death.

Challenged by Senator Schumer, Apple’s Tribble said his company is “looking into” the legality of DUI apps.

We’re in the process of looking into it — we have a policy that we don’t allow apps that encourage illegal activity. If the apps intent is to encourage people to break the law, then we will pull it. I will take that back.

Both Apple and Google have been asked to provide more detailed answers within 30 days, This is my next reported. Makes you wonder what’s next – going after benign programs that assess your driving skills?

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