News/Campaigns/Technology

Justice clears Oracle's purchase of Sun Microsystems

The Justice Department has given the go-ahead for Oracle's $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems. Oracle had announced its intention of taking over Sun in April and Sun's stockholders approved the deal last month.

While U.S. antitrust regulators have approved the deal, Oracle must still wait for clearance by the European Commission.

Approval of the deal was expected earlier this summer, but the department said in June that it would also examine Oracle's acquisition of Java, which is one of Sun's key assets.

Oracle's acquisition of Sun was announced after talks between Sun and IBM fell through. Oracle's purchase of software maker Siebel Systems was also reviewed by the agency in 2005 before it was cleared.

-Kim Hart
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FCC joins Twitter to promote broadband discussion

The Federal Communications Commission just announced it created a Twitter account to keep followers up to date on the agency's progress in developing the National Broadband Plan, due to Congress in February.

The FCC is currently holding numerous workshops to gather ideas about the best ways to increase access to high-speed Internet.

You can follow at @fccdotgov. So far, the account has 5 followers.

The FCC also launched a blog dedicated to broadband issues, called "Blogband."

"To foster public dialogue about the National Broadband Plan, we're tapping the power of the Internet to launch a new FCC blog," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski wrote in the blog's first post, sent out via a press release.

"Blogband will keep people up-to-date about the work the FCC is doing and the progress we're making. But we want it to be a two-way conversation. The feedback, ideas, and discussions generated on this blog will be critical in developing the best possible National Broadband Plan."

-Kim Hart

Cross-posted to the Twitter Room
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E-Commerce coalition lists most harmful state Internet laws

NetChoice, a coalition of e-commerce sites such as AOL, Expedia, Overstock and Ebay, this morning unveiled the second installment of its "iAwful" list, which ranks what the group calls the worst Internet legislation.

The top spot on the list goes to a recently passed Maine law that requires Web sites that cater to teenagers to obtain parental consent before collecting personal information from the teens - a measure NetChoice says will restrict the exchange of useful information for the age group, such as ads for test preparation services or colleges.

The number two spot on the list is a city ordinance that would require travelers who book arrangements online to pay an extra tax on hotel rooms. The ordinance is scheduled to take effect in New York City next month, and states such as Florida are considering similar proposals.

"August means recess in Washington, but state and local governments never stop looking for ways to tax the Internet," said Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice. Legislation at the state level often paves the way for broader federal regulation on issues such as net neutrality, he said.

"When states being to regulate and tax the Internet, we have to try to beat them back one state a time," he said. "We pull our hair out trying to comply with 47 different state laws."

DelBianco, along with NetChoice policy counsel Braden Cox (who is also policy counsel for the Association for Competitive Technology and Competitive Enterprise Institute, all Washington lobbying groups), spend much of their time visiting state capitols to help block or repeal legislation they see as harmful to e-commerce companies.

The iAwful list debuted in June. Since then, DelBianco said NetChoice has successfully fought back against several measures ranked in that first list. The most notable victory was amending a California bill that placed technical restrictions on publishing photos to social networking sites.

The full list can be found here.

-Kim Hart
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House Dems press Obama for new transit bill

Democrats on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee told President Obama they have "profound disappointment" that he called for a short-term extension of the current transportation bill instead of backing a more comprehensive overhaul this year.

Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), the committee's chairman, and 42 other Democrats wrote a letter to Obama Thursday pressing him to consider their $500 billion proposal to fund new road and rail projects for the next six years.

The White House has said it wants to extend the current bill for at least 18 months.

"Your proposal fails to acknowledge the severity and urgency of the challenges facing the nation's surface transportation system at this critical time," the House members wrote. "It will lock us into the discredited policies of the past and prevent us from moving toward the transporation system of the future."

(Read the whole letter here.)

The expiring bill, passed in 2005, runs out at the end of September.

Oberstar and other public transit advocates want new legislation that put more emphasis on mass transportation and a comprehensive approach to making travel safer and more efficient.

Surface transportation bills in the past have been derided as vehicles for earmarks and have been criticized for lacking a coherent plan to address failing infrastructure and increased traffic.

The current transportation bill, which cost nearly $300 billion over more than four years, raised tensions between the previous administration and lawmakers. President George W. Bush in 2005 had called on Congress to cut down on spending in the bill, while many members were willing to fight earmarks sending more money back to their districts.

The resulting standoff between Bush and Congress lasted until July 2005, months after the previous legislation it was supposed to replace was set to expire.
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RedState

Looking at the latest foreign policy news, RedState's bloggers find more reasons to support conservatives and knock Democrats. Moe Lane applauds NATO's decision to back the U.S. missile defense shield and then reminds readers of Barack Obama's opposition to further nuclear weapons and missile material development. Pejman Yousezfadeh defends John McCain's support for the Iraq War and takes issue with the argument that the Republican is "in love with war and the military.
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