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    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    Reuters - Qualcomm to support Google's Chrome OS

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    Qualcomm to support Google's Chrome OS

    Friday, Jan 08, 2010 8:0PM UTC

    LAS VEGAS (Reuters) -Qualcomm plans to support Chrome, Google Inc's upcoming operating system for small computers known as netbooks, the company's chief executive, Paul Jacobs, said on Friday.

    Jacobs, who heads the leading maker of mobile phone chips, announced support for Chrome during a speech at the Consumer Electronics Show that focused on the convergence of wireless and computing.

    The executive, a first-time keynote speaker at the annual gadget festival, also said 15 different device makers are designing about 40 products that will use Qualcomm's Snapdragon chip for smartphones and mobile computing devices.

    Also during Jacobs' presentation, the chief executive of HTC Corp came on stage to announce that his company would support Qualcomm's Brew mobile application platform.

    (Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

    Reuters - Judges question FCC authority in Comcast case

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    Judges question FCC authority in Comcast case

    Friday, Jan 08, 2010 11:17PM UTC

    By John Poirier

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. judges questioned the FCC's authority to punish Comcast Corp for blocking online file-sharing services on Friday in a case that could wind up curbing the regulators' campaign for a free and open Internet.

    A three-judge panel appeared unsatisfied with Federal Communications Commission arguments and was probing whether the FCC acted based on established rules or on direct authority from Congress on broadband network management issues.

    The case, which may not be decided by the court for several months, could severely hamper the FCC's push to maintain an open and free Internet through a "net neutrality" rule-making proposal if the judges decide the agency lacks authority.

    That could in turn prompt the FCC, which has argued it has broad authority through regulation of the cable and telephone industries, to ask Congress to pass "open Internet" legislation, which has been waiting in the wings to give the agency cover if needed.

    In a packed courtroom of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Judge A. Raymond Randolph told FCC General Counsel Austin Schlick that it appeared the FCC acted based on policy statements that are "aspirational, not operational."

    "It's very difficult to predict what the court will do based on oral argument, but it certainly appears that the judges were troubled by the FCC's order," former FCC General Counsel Sam Feder said.

    "A lot of regulation -- both present and future -- could go down with this case," said Feder, a partner at Jenner & Block.

    FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said he was confident the agency has the legal authority. "Our hope is that there's an outcome that preserves a free and open Internet and accomplishes what we're in this game to do," he said at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

    In 2008 under then-Republican Chairman Kevin Martin, the FCC upheld a complaint accusing Comcast of violating the agency's open Internet principles by blocking file-sharing services that distribute video and television shows.

    Comcast then challenged the FCC order and asked a federal appeals court to reverse the action, which required the biggest U.S. cable operator to change its management practices.

    Paul Galant, an analyst with Concept Capital, said it appears likely the court's ruling will strike down the FCC's move and said even some additional legal or political maneuvering is not guaranteed to succeed.

    NETWORK BLOCKING, OR MANAGEMENT?

    The FCC is now guided by a set of principles dating back to 2005 and aimed at preventing Internet service providers from interfering with certain network traffic.

    Backed by many advocates, the FCC and Genachowski, a Democrat appointed by President Barack Obama, proposed rules in October that would put teeth behind those guidelines.

    Obama strongly backed an open Internet, or net neutrality, during the campaign and as a senator.

    The FCC may not act on a final net neutrality rule possibly affecting Internet providers Comcast, AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc until spring.

    But Comcast and other Internet providers argue they must engage in reasonable network management due to increasing bandwidth-hogging applications used by consumers.

    During the oral arguments before the three-judge panel, an attorney for Comcast argued the FCC acted based on a set of nonbinding principles rather than on established rules or direct congressional authority.

    "All that existed was a policy statement," said Helgi Walker, an attorney representing Comcast, referring to the set of principles opposed to blocking, discriminating or degrading content by Internet providers.

    Walker asked the judges to vacate the FCC order and erase the black mark from the company, which has already agreed to comply fully with the FCC requirements to alter its network management practices.

    Experts say the FCC could salvage a win even if the judges decide that the FCC process -- not its authority -- was flawed because it could still move forward with its net neutrality proposal by changing its process.

    (Additional reporting by Sinead Carew in Las Vegas; editing by Andre Grenon, Gary Hill)

    Reuters - Google becoming "giant monopoly" - German minister

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    Google becoming "giant monopoly" - German minister

    Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 5:33PM UTC

    BERLIN (Reuters) - Internet search engine Google Inc is becoming a "giant monopoly" like Microsoft and could face legal action if it does not become more transparent, Germany's justice minister said.

    In an interview with weekly magazine Der Spiegel Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said she was concerned the firm was accruing too much power and information about citizens via programs like Google Earth and Google Books.

    "All in all, what's taking shape there to a large extent is a giant monopoly, similar to Microsoft," the minister said.

    "My initial response is not to ban something or stop something. But I do want to create more transparency and ensure that users know what is going on with their data," she added.

    "I think the companies have an obligation here, and a lot of things ought to be improved. If that doesn't happen soon we may have to take action as legislators."

    A liberal member of the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP), Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger also served as justice minister between 1992 and 1996, when she stood down in protest about moves to allow the state more scope to snoop on citizens.

    A spokesman for Google in Germany said offering users full transparency was central to how the company operated and that it was constantly working to make improvements in this realm.

    (Reporting by Dave Graham and Klaus-Peter Senger)

    Reuters - Republicans call on Senator Reid to quit post

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    Republicans call on Senator Reid to quit post

    Sunday, Jan 10, 2010 5:28PM UTC

    By Will Dunham

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Republican Party chief called on Senator Harry Reid on Sunday to step down as Senate majority leader over racial comments about President Barack Obama, while Democrats tried to put the issue behind them.

    Reid, a key figure in pushing Obama's agenda through Congress, apologized to the president on Saturday over remarks published in a new book calling Obama a "light-skinned" black man "with no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one."

    Both Obama and Reid are Democrats.

    Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said Reid should step aside as Senate majority leader, saying if a Republican made the same remarks Democrats would be "screaming for his head."

    "Oh yeah, there's a big double standard here," Steele, who is black, said on the NBC program "Meet the Press."

    "There is this standard where the Democrats feel that they can say these things and they can apologize when it ... comes from the mouths of their own. But if it comes from anyone else, it's racism," Steele added on "Fox News Sunday."

    Steele said Reid used "anachronistic language," adding, "It harkens back to the 1950s and 60s, and it confirms to me a mind-set that's out of step with where America is today."

    Steele was asked about his use in a recent television appearance of the words "honest injun," seen as disparaging toward American Indians. Asked if his own words were a racial slur, Steele said, "Well, if it is, I apologize for it. ... I wasn't intending to say a racial slur at all."

    Reid's comments, made in private conversations, were quoted in a newly published book about the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, "Game Change," by Time magazine reporter Mark Halperin and New York magazine writer John Heileman.

    'A POOR CHOICE OF WORDS'

    Reid on Saturday apologized for "using such a poor choice of words." Obama issued a statement accepting the apology.

    Reid, 70, has been a close partner of the White House on key Obama initiatives, and succeeded in helping to round up the 60 votes needed to win Senate passage on December 24 of a healthcare reform bill, Obama's top legislative priority.

    It is unclear whether this controversy will undermine Reid's influence in the Senate. Reid is also facing a tough re-election battle in Nevada this November.

    Democratic Party chairman Tim Kaine said "the comments were unfortunate and they were insensitive," but he said there is no reason for Reid to step down as majority leader.

    "I think the case is closed because President Obama has spoken directly with the leader (Reid) and accepted his apology. ... We're moving on," Kaine told "Meet the Press."

    "Harry Reid made a misstatement. He owned up to it. He apologized. I think he is mortified by the statement he's made. And I don't think he should step down," Democratic Senator Jack Reed told "Fox News Sunday."

    Republicans compared Reid's remarks to those made in 2002 by Republican Trent Lott, praising former segregationist presidential candidate and long-time senator Strom Thurmond. Lott stepped down as Senate majority leader over the comments.

    "If he (Lott) should resign, then Harry Reid should," Republican Senator Jon Kyl told "Fox News Sunday."

    (Editing by Todd Eastham)

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