OVERNIGHT TECH: Smith hits back at Google on piracy

THE LEDE: Google Chairman Eric Schmidt told the Washington Economic Club Monday that the Stop Online Piracy Act, which the search giant has strongly opposed, would criminalize linking and undermine the fundamental structure of the Internet, claims that drew complaints of hyperbole from the Motion Picture Association of America. Shortly afterward the House Judiciary Committee announced its plan to markup the legislation on Thursday morning and unveiled a manager's amendment from Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) that attempts to dispel some of the criticism by tightening the language and definitions in the bill.

Smith sent a strongly-worded statement of his own late Monday questioning Google's motives for opposing SOPA: “Unfortunately, there are some critics of this legislation who are not serious about helping to protect America’s intellectual property. That’s because they’ve made large profits by promoting rogue sites to U.S. consumers. Google recently paid a half billion dollars to settle a criminal case because of the search-engine giant’s active promotion of rogue foreign pharmacies that sold counterfeit and illegal drugs to U.S. patients. As a result of their actions, the health and lives of many American patients may have been endangered. Their opposition to this legislation is self-serving since they profit from doing business with rogue sites.”

Wikipedia mulling blackout over SOPA: The popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia is considering temporarily blocking all content on its pages to protest SOPA, founder Jimmy Wales said Monday. Wikipedia would join a host of Web firms that have protested the bill in similar fashion including Tumblr, Mozilla and Reddit. Wales said the blackout would be similar to when the Italian-language Wikipedia shut down in October to protest a measure pending in the Italian parliament to restrict sites' ability to post critical information about public figures. That law was eventually abandoned.

AT&T/T-Mobile merger looking doubtful: AT&T and T-Mobile will have to decide within the next month whether to abandon their blockbuster $39 billion merger following a series of setbacks that have left the deal on life support. On Monday, the Justice Department and AT&T agreed to put their trial on hold to give the company “time to evaluate all options.”

AT&T has until Jan. 12 to decide how to proceed.

The Justice Department has sued to block the deal on antitrust grounds, arguing the merger would stifle competition in the wireless market. The Federal Communications Commission also opposes the deal. AT&T emphasized it is still trying to find a way to salvage the merger. The company is on the hook for a $4 billion payment to T-Mobile if the deal falls apart.

But AT&T still sends cupcakes: Despite the recent run of bad news concerning the T-Mobile merger, AT&T was still in a giving mood Monday when senior vice president of federal regulatory affairs Bob Quinn published a blog post defending the company's decision to send cupcakes to the Federal Communications Commission and other telecom policy stakeholders as a friendly holiday gesture. AT&T took criticism last year for delivering thousands of dollars in Georgetown cupcakes to the FCC during net-neutrality deliberations in an incident dubbed "Cupcakegate." In the interest of full disclosure: Hillicon received half a dozen cupcakes that were reportedly very good.


House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith Smith (R-Texas), Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and a host of other SOPA supporters will take part in an event on online piracy and counterfeiting hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at the Rayburn House Office Building.

Former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), now the head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), will talk about the future of creative industries and the relationship between technology and intellectual property at the Center for American Progress.

The House Transportation subcommittee on Emergency Management will hold a hearing on the effectiveness of the nation's public alert systems, just a few weeks after the first-ever national test of the Emergency Alert System. 


LightSquared wants an investigation into the leak of a government report that shows the firm's planned wireless network would disrupt 75 percent of GPS devices.

Apple has removed an application to create fake driver's licenses from its online store after a letter from Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.).

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski wrote to state regulators urging them to crack down on waste and fraud in the agency's $1.3 billion Lifeline telecom subsidy, part of the Universal Service Fund.