OVERNIGHT TECH: AT&T eases FaceTime restrictions in face of net-neutrality complaints

John Bergmayer, an attorney for Public Knowledge, applauded the move, but said that by blocking customers with unlimited plans, AT&T is still in violation of the net-neutrality rules.

"A customer who buys a connection from AT&T should be able to use to access any website, run any application, or communicate with anyone," Bergmayer said. "When consumers buy Internet access they don't expect their ISP to pick and choose how they can use it."

AT&T's Jim Cicconi wrote in November that the company took a "cautious" approach with FaceTime because it was concerned that heavy usage of the app could clog the company's network.

Film, TV groups 'welcome' further study on media and violence: President Obama on Wednesday called for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to examine how to reduce gun violence in the U.S. and whether real-life violence is linked to violent video games and media images. Following Obama's speech at the White House, a group of entertainment industry trade groups said in a statement that they "welcome" such efforts to investigate the issue.

"We support the President’s goal of reducing gun violence in this country," the groups said. "It is a complex problem, and as we have said, we stand ready to be part of the conversation and welcome further academic examination and consideration on these issues as the President has proposed.”

The statement was issued by the International Film and Television Alliance, Motion Picture Association of America, National Association of Broadcasters and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.

Google's Cerf appointed to National Science Foundation:
President Obama on Wednesday said he intends to appoint Google's chief Internet evangelist, Vint Cerf, to be a member of the National Science Board at the National Science Foundation. Cerf, often called one of the "founding fathers of the Internet," is credited with helping design the Internet's architecture and key Web protocols.

U.S. Chamber pushes for new Congress to pass information-sharing legislation: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce called for Congress to renew its efforts to pass legislation that would improve information-sharing about cyber threats between government and industry. In a blog post published on Wednesday, Ann Beauchesne, vice president of the Chamber's national security and emergency preparedness department, said the business lobby believes executive action is unnecessary but that the Obama administration deserves credit for previewing its draft cybersecurity order with some industry players.

Beauchesne said a November draft of the cyber order included some positive elements but warned that the U.S. Chamber "recognizes that there is often a wide gap between concepts on paper and how they unfold in practice." 

Justice Department refuses ACLU request for GPS tracking practices: The Justice Department is refusing to reveal details about how its agents use GPS technology to track suspects. 

The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday released two internal memos it received from the Justice Department on GPS tracking, but the documents were almost entirely redacted.

The ACLU sued to obtain the DOJ documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

"The Justice Department’s unfortunate decision leaves Americans with no clear understanding of when we will be subjected to tracking — possibly for months at a time — or whether the government will first get a warrant," Catherine Crump, an attorney for the ACLU, wrote in a blog post.

Obama calls for CDC to study whether video games are linked to violence: President Obama is calling on Congress to appropriate $10 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study whether real-world violence is linked to violent video games and media images, according to a White House briefing document. 

At an event held at the White House on Wednesday, Obama unveiled his highly anticipated plan for curbing gun violence in the United States, which included legislation and 23 executive actions. The sweeping plan is the administration's response to a rash of mass shootings in the U.S. over the past year, including December's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that took the lives of 20 young children.

Leahy stayed as Judiciary chairman to push email privacy bill: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyGrassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees Popular bill to fight drug prices left out of budget deal Judiciary Dems want public hearings with Kushner, Trump Jr. MORE (D-Vt.) said on Wednesday he will renew his push for legislation that would require police to obtain a warrant before reading people's emails, Facebook messages and other forms of electronic communication.

Leahy said that his desire to pass the legislation, which would amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), is one of the reasons he decided to stay on as chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the new Congress.

Leahy warns that police drones threaten privacy: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said Wednesday that he is concerned about the growing use of drones by police to conduct surveillance.

"I think there could be a significant threat to the privacy and civil liberties of millions of Americans," Leahy said in a speech at Georgetown University Law Center.

He argued that sacrificing privacy will not make people safer.

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