Morning tech tipsheet: Tuesday, May 18 — Patent news, Google in Africa, Mclaughlin in trouble and more

Other news ...

IT coalition backs PTO fee bill (Tech Daily Dose) — Juliana Gruenwald on patents: "A coalition of big tech firms that oppose the latest version of a Senate patent overhaul bill said Monday they back a stand-alone measure that would allow the Patent and Trademark Office to set its own fees. ... The House Tuesday is set to take up the bill, drafted by House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., that would give the PTO fee-setting authority. ... In a letter Monday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, the Coalition for Patent Fairness noted the huge backlog - more than 750,000 - of patent applications awaiting examination and said allowing the agency to set its own fees, using an appropriate rulemaking process, will give the agency the resources it needs to reduce the time it currently takes innovators to obtain a patent."

Google faces probe over data it collected: report (Reuters) — From the wire: "Google Inc could face inquiries from German and U.S. officials following the company's disclosure it had "mistakenly" collected sensitive data sent by consumers over wireless networks, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday. ... Google said on Friday its fleets of cars responsible for photographing streets around the world had for several years accidentally collected personal information -- which a security expert said could include email messages and passwords. ... Peter Schaar, German commissioner for data protection, said the Internet giant's explanation was 'highly unusual' and called for a 'detailed probe' into the practice, the FT reported."

Amazon gears up for battle with Apple (NYT) — Nick Bilton notes on NYT's Bits blog: "Since Apple announced its plans for the iPad, Amazon has shared few details about how it would respond to the competition for its Kindle. ... But over the last few weeks, it has offered some more clues.
Lab 126, the division of Amazon responsible for building the Kindle, has been on a hiring binge, with dozens of new job listings on its Web site. Some are positions for testing and readying new products. And this suggests that the company might be preparing a new device."

UK social media subscribers limiting their networks (WaPo) — From Cecilia Kang: "British subscribers to social networking sites such as Facebook are limiting to friends and family the people who can see their online profiles, according to a report released Monday by U.K. communications regulator, Ofcom. ... In 2009, 80 percent of adults with a social networking profile allowed only friends and family to view their profiles, compared with 48 percent in 2007. That showed a greater attention to privacy online. At the same time, one-quarter of Internet users said they weren’t confident in installing filtering and security applications on their computers."

In Africa, Google sows seeds for future growth (WSJ) — Will Connors in Nigeria reports: "Despite some of the lowest Internet penetration rates in the world, Africa has enticed Google Inc. ... Lured by the continent's growth potential, Google aims to convince entrepreneurs, students and aid workers to make use of its search, mapping and mobile-phone technologies. But Africa—with roughly one billion inhabitants, over 50 countries and many regions that have limited access to electricity—presents huge obstacles. ... 'The Internet is not an integral part of everyday life for people in Africa,' said Joe Mucheru of Google's Kenya office."

THIS WEEK'S EVENTS...

TUESDAY

NEW: Center for Digital Democracy, Berkeley Media Studies Group
Online news conference to present new report on digital marketing of alcohol
Where: Online (registration required)
When: 1 p.m.

FCC: Clean technology showcase
Speakers include Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Chairman Julius Genachowski
Where: FCC Headquarters
When: 2 p.m.

WEDNESDAY

NEW: Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus
Press conference to present countries on their 2010 watch list
Where: S-120, U.S. Capitol
When: 9:30 a.m.
Note: In attendance will be caucus leaders (Reps. Adam Schiff and Bob Goodlatte and Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Orrin Hatch) as well as the chairman and CEO of the Association of American Publishers, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA).

Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Meeting to consider contracts to trade movie futures
Agency holding the meeting: Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Where: Three Lafayette Centre, 1155 21st St. NW
When: 9:30 a.m.

NEW: House Ways and Means Committee
Hearing to explore online gambling revenue
Where: Longworth 1100
When: 9:30 a.m.

THURSDAY

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
Hearing on the delayed government transition to Networx, a telecommunications service
Where: Rayburn 2154
When: 9 a.m.
Note: According to Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), "Networx is a program that will unify essentially all the major telecommunications, network and information services provided to Federal Agencies. The transition to Networx, however, is substantially behind schedule, costing the government millions of dollars for every month the transition is delayed."

FCC Open Meeting
Commissioners to discuss E-Rate changes, competition, utility polls
Where: FCC Headquarters
When: 10:30 a.m.

FRIDAY

Cato Institute
Updating ECPA: An electronic privacy law for the 21st century
Where: Dirksen 226
When: Noon
Slated to attend: Julian Sanchez, research fellow at the Cato Institute; Will DeVries, policy counsel for Google; and Greg Nojeim, senior counsel and director of the Project on Freedom, Security and Technology at the Center for Democracy and Technology.