OVERNIGHT TECH: AT&T fires back at DOJ over airwave auction

"Picking winners and losers in this fashion would be patently unlawful," AT&T wrote.

In its filing with the FCC earlier this month, the Justice Department urged the FCC to use "rules, weights, or caps" to ensure that industry leaders Verizon and AT&T do not buy up all of the spectrum licenses at auction.

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The DOJ Antitrust Division argued that ensuring smaller carriers have access to spectrum — the airwaves that carry all wireless signals — is critical for promoting competition and keeping prices down. The department warned that Verizon and AT&T might buy up spectrum to block their competitors' access to it, not to use for their own customers.

AT&T said the claim that it is warehousing spectrum is "completely divorced from reality."

House Republicans have also sent a letter disputing the Justice Department's guidance.

Online sales tax update: The Senate voted to end debate on Internet sales tax legislation on Thursday evening in a 63-30 vote. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the vote on final passage will be on May 6, after Congress returns from its recess. 

FTC issues COPPA guidance: The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday released a page of responses to "Frequently Asked Questions" about its rules on children's online privacy.

The rules, which update the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), are scheduled to go into effect on July 1. They restrict the ability of websites, games, apps and ad networks to knowingly collect information from children younger than 13.

Some app developers have asked the FTC to delay the implementation date, citing the time it took for the agency to issue the FAQ page.

Facebook submits privacy audit: Facebook has an effective privacy protection program, according to an independent audit the company submitted to the FTC this week. 

It was the first audit that Facebook submitted to the FTC under the terms of its 2011 settlement with the agency over privacy violation charges.


ON TAP

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Time and Microsoft are hosting a "Creativity Conference" on Friday morning. Speakers include former President Clinton, MPAA CEO and former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Microsoft Vice President of Government Affairs Fred Humphries, Time Managing Editor Richard Stengel and Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company.

Google and Bloomberg are co-hosting an event at the W Hotel on Friday afternoon that will discuss the future of free expression in the digital age. The event will feature panels with Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond, former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute. 


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

House Dems call for FTC inquiry into 'Obama phone' website: A pair of Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday called for regulators to open an inquiry into a website that falsely claims the government offers taxpayer-funded cellphones for free.

Judiciary votes to require warrant for email searches: The Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation on Thursday that would require police to obtain a warrant before accessing emails, Facebook messages and other private online content. The bill, which is sponsored by Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), was approved on a voice vote and now heads to the Senate floor.

Republican suggests Boston bombers used Lifeline: Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on Thursday questioned whether the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings were the recipients of a federal phone subsidy for the poor that critics have dubbed the “Obama phone." Blackburn said a constituent recently asked whether the Tsarnaev brothers were participants in the Lifeline program after The Boston Herald reported that the older suspect, Tamerlan, had previously received welfare benefits.

Google makes offer to EU: The European Commission on Thursday unveiled a set of concessions that Google has offered to address concerns about anti-competitive behavior. The agency asked for input from Google's competitors and other interested parties to determine whether to accept the commitments and close its investigation.

Baucus: Bringing online sales tax bill to floor a 'travesty': Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) objected to an amendment to the online sales tax bill from Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on Thursday. Baucus, who serves as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said it was a "travesty" that the Marketplace Fairness Act was not going through his committee before coming to the Senate floor.

Governors: Sales tax bill doesn't violate tax pledge: The National Governors Association has a message for Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform: The online sales tax bill on the Senate floor does not violate ATR’s no-tax pledge. The governors group, which backs the sales tax bill, noted in a Thursday statement that the Congressional Budget Office had ruled that the Marketplace Fairness Act had no impact on federal revenues.

Google: Government censorship on the rise: Google on Thursday said it received requests from governments "in more places than ever" to remove political-focused content on its Web services during the second half of 2012. Google Legal Director Susan Infantino said in a company blog post that Google received court orders from several countries during the time period to remove blog posts that criticized government officials or associates. 


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