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Senate Shielding Bloggers, Too

In August, the House was hard at work on a federal journalist shield bill—that extended to advertising-supported bloggers. On August 1, the three-month-old bill was ordered to be reported with its amendments for voice vote. (That means it’s on the schedule to be voted on by the Whole House, but was amended and passed its committee.)

The Senate is now acting on the federal shield bill. First introduced September 10, the bill has already passed its committee and is in the same position as the House’s version. CNET reports that the Senate bill’s broad definition of journalism includes:

the regular gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing of news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public

ACCC’s Case Against Google: Update

The Australian consumer watchdog has broadened its case against Google—while they have dropped the case against Google Australia and Google Ireland, they are going full steam ahead on the parent company Google Inc.

The ACCC claims that sponsored links are not clearly distinguished from organic results, alleging Google’s practices are misleading. The shaded area at the top of results was their original complaint, but now they have broadened the accusations to include the right-hand links too, claiming that they look the same as the organic listings.

The ‘sponsored links’ text is barely visible, they claim, and the shaded area is too subtle, and dependent on the screen angle. I tried this out, and it’s true – at certain angles the shaded area pretty much disappears.

NBC/News Corp: Can’t Touch This

With its own site for its copyrighted video content due out this month, NBC is already getting a little touchy. Peter Chernin, president and COO of News Corp, chides that Google “could do a better job” of policing for copyrighted content on YouTube, saying:

YouTube could do a much more aggressive job about taking down content that is a copyright violator. It’s pretty safe to say that they [Google] have the technology available … it’s publicly available and I haven’t yet heard a lot about Google being technologically constrained.

Google’s not the only one on their enemies list. NBCU’s CEO Jeff Zucker is campaigning to the federal government. According to Hollywood Reporter, he said that:

Australia Focuses Legal Action on Google Parent

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has decided to drop Google Australia and Google Ireland from their recent law suit.

The regulator agreed in the Federal Court in Sydney Thursday to drop Google’s Irish and Australian subsiduaries from the action.

“The ACCC case against Trading Post and Google Inc continues,” it said in a statement.

The ACCC is claiming Google (and Trading Post) misled Australian searchers by not clearly labeling paid results from organic results.

Anyone know why they dropped the two subsidiaries? You’d think the ACCC would have a stronger case against Google Australia than the US parent. Maybe they needed to drop them in order to convince the judge they had a case. Back in September, it wasn’t looking too good.

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).”