OVERNIGHT TECH: Lawmakers urge companies to join Twitter's Do Not Track pledge

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Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) announced his support in a particularly appropriate way — on Twitter.

.@Twitter is tech industry leader w support of #donottrack. Other co’s shld follow, give consumers right 2 say NO 2 info collection,” Markey tweeted.

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Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) also tweeted her praise, calling the announcement the "responsible thing to do."

Social media companies like Twitter and Facebook are able to collect page visit information from other sites that feature their tools, such as the "tweet" and "like" buttons.

The Federal Trade Commission has urged Web companies to allow users to opt out of such tracking.

“Twitter’s use of Do Not Track in its new feature is good news for Twitter users and a meaningful step toward broader adoption of a strong Do Not Track system that will give consumers simple, comprehensive control over online tracking," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a statement. "Hopefully other companies will follow suit.”

Free Press unsatisfied with Comcast data announcement: Comcast's update to its data-cap policy isn't good enough for activist group Free Press.

Comcast announced Thursday that it will suspend enforcement of its much-maligned 250GB broadband data cap and replace it with new plans that start with a 300GB cap.

Comcast vice president David Cohen said the changes in policy are a response to changing market realities and a desire to not have customers worry about reaching a hard cap by using new applications. “There's no question that the way people use information is changing,” he said.

But Free Press policy adviser Joel Kelsey said, "Comcast has never had any legitimate reason to cap its Internet customers, and today's announcement of new overage charges is just another example of the cable giant's efforts to discriminate against and thwart online video competition. Data caps are not a reasonable or effective way to manage capacity problems, which are virtually non-existent for Comcast.

"While the move to increase its caps are overdue, the notion that Comcast would charge an exorbitant rate for additional bandwidth — while continuing to exempt its own traffic under its Xbox deal — illustrates that Comcast is really trying to discourage subscribers from experimenting with online video alternatives," he said.

Public Knowledge legal director Harold Feld was also slightly skeptical, saying in a statement, "We await further details of Comcast's plan so that subscribers can fully assess how these changes will impact their user experience."

Commerce agencies had 'spirited discussions' on SOPA: In an interview with The Hill, Larry Strickling, the head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), said there was a vigorous policy debate within the Commerce Department about controversial anti-piracy legislation last year.

He said NTIA had "very spirited discussions" with the Patent and Trademark Office about what position the administration should take.

But he said ultimately "we reached a consensus within the Department of Commerce, which was: we want to stop this, we want to protect intellectual property, but we want to do it in a way that doesn't undermine the Internet."

Entertainment companies argued that tough new measures were necessary to protect their industry's jobs and profits, but Web companies said the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) would stifle innovation and censor speech.

The White House eventually issued a statement expressing many of the same concerns as the technology community, and Congress pulled the legislation after protests on the Web.

See Friday's edition of The Hill for the full interview with Strickling.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Democrats targeted a Facebook co-founder for dodging taxes

But Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said the Democrats' bill misses the root of the problem

Law enforcement and civil-liberties groups clashed over legislation to limit cellphone tracking

Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) raised new questions about the Verizon-cable deal

Howard Schmidt, the White House's cybersecurity coordinator, will retire


—Updated at 11:05 p.m.