New Internet Tax Bill Passes in Senate, Moves to House

The U.S. Senate passed a bill on Monday that would subject online shoppers to state sales taxes. The 69 to 27 vote drew support from both sides of the aisle, but it is expected to face a greater challenge in the House from conservatives who view it as a tax increase. President Obama has expressed his support for the bill, which does not include businesses with less than $1 million in online sales. Current law stipulates that states can only require online retailers to collect sales tax on goods sold if the store has a physical presence in the state requiring the tax. Continue reading New Internet Tax Bill Passes in Senate, Moves to House

Aereo Files Complaint Against CBS Prior to Boston Launch

Aereo filed a complaint against CBS yesterday as a preemptive strike to stop the network from filing additional lawsuits. The move marks the latest chapter of what has become a tug-and-war between broadcasters and Aereo, the Barry Diller-backed startup that provides access to over-the-air TV broadcasts via the Web. Broadcasters see the model as infringing on copyright, since the programming is redistributed without permission. Continue reading Aereo Files Complaint Against CBS Prior to Boston Launch

Federal Court Sides with Google in YouTube Copyright Case

A federal judge in New York has ruled in favor of Google’s YouTube in the ongoing $1 billion copyright infringement suit initiated by Viacom. The judge ruled that the video website did not violate copyright, despite its users posting unauthorized video clips from some of the TV giant’s top shows. Viacom first filed the suit in 2007, and the case has been closely watched by those concerned with content distribution and digital disruption. Continue reading Federal Court Sides with Google in YouTube Copyright Case

Facebook CEO Plans to Launch Political Advocacy Group

News that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is reportedly in the process of co-organizing a political advocacy group made up of top leaders in technology is expected to be announced in the coming weeks. The group would push for federal legislation on issues like immigration and education, according to sources familiar with the matter. Zuckerberg plans to raise $50 million to launch the group with his former Harvard roommate Joe Green. Continue reading Facebook CEO Plans to Launch Political Advocacy Group

Supreme Court Rules it is Legal to Sell Imported Textbooks

The Supreme Court issued a pair of decisions last week that could have a significant impact on digital publishing and copyrighted products. The first ruling makes it potentially easier to import and sell textbooks from abroad, following a lawsuit involving a college student who was importing cheaper textbooks and selling them for a profit. The second decision makes it more difficult for plaintiffs in class-action suits to stay out of federal court. Continue reading Supreme Court Rules it is Legal to Sell Imported Textbooks

Online Privacy Protection Act Applies to Mobile App for First Time

  • The Federal Trade Commission ruled Monday that W3 Innovations, the company behind popular mobile applications for kids, including “Emily’s Girl World” and “Emily’s Dress Up,” should pay a $50,000 penalty for collecting personal information from kids without parental permission.
  • The commission found the company in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, marking the first time that law has been applied to a mobile application.
  • “The F.T.C.’s COPPA Rule requires parental notice and consent before collecting children’s personal information online, whether through a Web site or a mobile app,” explained Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the commission. “Companies must give parents the opportunity to make smart choices when it comes to their children’s sharing of information on smart phones.”
  • The decision coincides with a period of increased concern about privacy and mobile technology, as the industry considers new privacy protections to fend off potential federal regulation.

Federal Agency Cuts Costs by Moving Email to the Cloud

  • U.S. General Services Administration (that oversees the bulk of purchasing and acquisitions for the federal government) is the first federal agency to migrate its email systems completely into the cloud.
  • Unisys recently completed moving GSA’s 17,000 employee email accounts into the Google Apps for Government email client.
  • According to Digital Trends, “Unisys claims the move should save the GSA about 50 percent over the infrastructure, maintenance and personnel costs of an in-house email system. The change is part of a federal effort to save around $3 billion over the next five years by shutting down 40 percent of the federal government’s costly data centers.”
  • Nextgov.com reports an additional 15 agencies — including the USDA, NOAA and the Army — have plans to move into the cloud.

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