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Will the Net Remain Tax Free?

By Roderick Ioerger.

Someone once said there is no such thing as a free lunch.  Well how about a free Internet?  Word out of Washington is that odds are good that the existing moratorium on taxing Internet access will be extended and there is even a distinct possibility that the ban could become permanent.

The Internet is an unusual topic for Congress only in that it is not a partisan issue.  Neither all of the Republicans nor all of the Democrats are on board with the existing moratorium.  It appears that the Republicans are pressing harder for the ban to be permanent while Democrats like Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, prefer to extend the moratorium but still prefer to hedge his bets in case the congress wishes to change its mind in the future.

Can an Aussie Battler Slay the Google Giant?

Google Australia and Google Ireland are probably feeling a little smug after recent events in the courtroom. The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) has suffered a setback in their case against Google.

Claiming that Google’s sponsored links are not clearly distinguished from organic listings, the ACCC brought a case against the search giant (a world first) in July alleging misleading and deceptive conduct.

Apparently, however, the ACCC prepared the court documents poorly, and were not able to convince the judge that there was a case at all. Though a decision has not been made (the ACCC have been given time to clarify the case and summarise the allegations), it is not looking too hopeful for the Australian watchdog commission.

Google’s Street Views Could Break Canada’s Privacy Laws

There’s a good reason why you can’t yet get Google Maps’ new Street Views for locations in Canada–they’d likely break Canadian laws on privacy.

According to Reuters, Canada’s Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart wrote to Google in early August asking for more details on Street Views.

Canadian law obliges businesses wishing to disclose personal information about individuals to first obtain their consent. Stoddart said pictures of people on Street View were clear enough to be considered personal information.

“The images … appear to have been collected largely without the consent and knowledge of the individuals who appear in the images,” wrote Stoddart.

“I am concerned that, if the Street View application were deployed in Canada, it might not comply with our federal privacy legislation. In particular, it does not appear to meet the basic requirements of (the law).”

Google Selling Top Organic Spot?

I’m not sure if this can be filed under “lawsuits filed purely for publicity” quite yet, but apparently the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) is suing Google for selling the #1 organic spot in their search results. Now, either someone is confused, or the rest of the SEO industry is seriously getting gypped.

Let’s go with seriously confused: News.com.au states that the suit “alleges [that] Google does not do enough to differentiate ‘organic’ search results – those ranked by relevance – from sponsored links which appear at the top of the results page.”

For a laugh, read the rest of the story:

Trading Post chose the dealership names through AdWords, a Google commercial program that sets up hyperlinks.

Dept. of Justice Comes Down on Net Neutrality

Forget pipes—the Internet is all about postage and packages now. Just ask the U.S. Department of Justice. For some reason, they seem to think that the fact that the USPS “allows consumers to send packages with a variety of different delivery guarantees and speeds, from bulk mail to overnight delivery” means that the US government cannot legislate or enforce net neutrality.

The DoJ weighed in on the issue for the FCC, the body that is supposed to regulate television, telephone and related industries. Rumor has it, though, that the FCC’s governing board is deeply divided over net neutrality.

If you’re not familiar with net neutrality, the basic premise is that telecom companies want to charge more for accessing certain types or sources of content. The biggest specter raised anti-telecommers always seems to be telecoms creating a “two tiered” Internet, where users have to pay extra to visit search engines or watch video.

It’s Official: Blogs Are Media

Forget waiting for some federal shield law to be passed: the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has determined in two separate rulings yesterday, that blogs are, in fact, media, as reported by TechCrunch.

Oh, if only Marketing Pilgrim had a category called, “Duh.” Do these decisions change anything? As I see it, all they is codify the status of blogs as “media.” Or should I say, the status of a blog as a medium. A blog has always been a medium—a way that political candidates and interested parties can communicate with the public at large.

Google Wins American Blinds Legal War of Attrition

After spending close to 4 years suing Google for trademark infringement, American Blind & Wallpaper has apparently rolled over and shown their belly in defeat.

According to Reuters, the case has been settled with Google not having to make any changes or pay American Blind a single penny. In addition to both parties paying their own legal costs…

American Blinds agreed not to sue Google “so long as Google does not make a material change in its AdWords trademark policy that adversely affects (American Blinds & Wallpaper Factory.” It also agreed not to assist other parties in suing Google.

“Google has not made and has not agreed to make any payment to (American Blinds & Wallpaper) of any kind whatsoever, whether in cash, credit or otherwise, and that Google has not agreed to change its trademark policies or any exception to how it applies its trademark policies,” the agreement said.