April 18, 2024

French Regulator Raids Offices of Apple and Affiliates

The raids took place last week on “some of Apple’s premises in France, as well as those of some of its wholesalers and distributors,” said André Piérard, a spokesman for the regulator, the Competition Authority.

Mr. Piérard said the investigation was done by competition officials accompanied by judicial police officers. Authorities seized documents in the raids.

Apple is known for maintaining strict controls over its product image and marketing, extending those efforts to its highly profitable stores. But its leading market position has prompted scrutiny in Europe and elsewhere. European regulators, for example, have been examining Apple’s contracts with the cellphone carriers that sell its iPhone for possible antitrust violations.

The news of the investigation in France was first reported Monday by Les Échos, a financial newspaper. The article said the investigators were interested in Apple’s relations with its distributors.

The article cited the case of eBizcuss, an Apple premium reseller that operated about 15 stores until it collapsed last year. The eBizcuss chief executive, François Prudent, accused Apple of abusing its market dominance and of unfair competition, contending that the company had opened Apple stores around the country while starving its other authorized retailers of popular products like the newest iPads and iPhones. Mr. Prudent filed a complaint with the regulator.

According to Les Échos, the competition authorities want to know if Apple ordered its wholesalers, with which the distributors like eBizcuss were in almost daily contact, not to deliver the products on time. Les Échos reported that Mr. Piérard also said that the competition authorities were investigating Apple and other Internet companies on suspicion of abuse of market dominance with their online app stores.

Mr. Piérard declined to comment on the newspaper report. Josh Rosenstock, an Apple spokesman in London, also declined to comment.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/03/technology/french-regulator-raids-offices-of-apple-and-affiliates.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

U.S. Confirms That It Gathers Online Data Overseas

The confirmation of the classified program came just hours after government officials acknowledged a separate seven-year effort to sweep up records of telephone calls inside the United States. Together, the unfolding revelations opened a window into the growth of government surveillance that began under the Bush administration after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has clearly been embraced and even expanded under the Obama administration.

Government officials defended the two surveillance initiatives as authorized under law, known to Congress and necessary to guard the country against terrorist threats. But an array of civil liberties advocates and libertarian conservatives said the disclosures provided the most detailed confirmation yet of what has been long suspected about what the critics call an alarming and ever-widening surveillance state.

The Internet surveillance program collects data from online providers including e-mail, chat services, videos, photos, stored data, file transfers, video conferencing and log-ins, according to classified documents obtained and posted by The Washington Post and then The Guardian on Thursday afternoon.

In confirming its existence, officials said that the program, called Prism, is authorized under a foreign intelligence law that was recently renewed by Congress, and maintained that it minimizes the collection and retention of information “incidentally acquired” about Americans and permanent residents. Several of the Internet companies said they did not allow the government open-ended access to their servers but complied with specific lawful requests for information.

“It cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located within the United States,” James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said in a statement, describing the law underlying the program. “Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats.”

The Prism program grew out of the National Security Agency’s desire several years ago to begin addressing the agency’s need to keep up with the explosive growth of social media, according to people familiar with the matter.

The dual revelations, in rapid succession, also suggested that someone with access to high-level intelligence secrets had decided to unveil them in the midst of furor over leak investigations. Both were reported by The Guardian, while The Post, relying upon the same presentation, almost simultaneously reported the Internet company tapping. The Post said a disenchanted intelligence official provided it with the documents to expose government overreach.

Before the disclosure of the Internet company surveillance program on Thursday, the White House and Congressional leaders defended the phone program, saying it was legal and necessary to protect national security.

Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman, told reporters aboard Air Force One that the kind of surveillance at issue “has been a critical tool in protecting the nation from terror threats as it allows counterterrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States.” He added: “The president welcomes a discussion of the trade-offs between security and civil liberties.”

The Guardian and The Post posted several slides from the 41-page presentation about the Internet program, listing the companies involved — which included Yahoo, Microsoft, Paltalk, AOL, Skype and YouTube — and the dates they joined the program, as well as listing the types of information collected under the program.

The reports came as President Obama was traveling to meet President Xi Jinping of China at an estate in Southern California, a meeting intended to address among other things complaints about Chinese cyberattacks and spying. Now that conversation will take place amid discussion of America’s own vast surveillance operations.

Reporting was contributed by Eric Schmitt, Jonathan Weisman and James Risen from Washington; Brian X. Chen from New York; Vindu Goel, Claire Cain Miller, Nicole Perlroth, Somini Sengupta and Michael S. Schmidt from San Francisco; and Nick Wingfield from Seattle.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/07/us/nsa-verizon-calls.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

France Rejects Plan by Internet Provider to Block Online Ads

The dispute has turned into a gauge of how France, and perhaps the rest of Europe, will mediate a struggle between telecommunications providers against Internet companies like Google, which generate billions of dollars in revenue from traffic that travels freely on their networks.

European telecommunications companies want a share of that money, saying they need it to finance investments in faster broadband networks — and, as the latest incident shows, they are willing to flex their muscles to get it.

Until now, European regulators have taken a laissez-faire approach, in contrast to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which has imposed guidelines barring operators of fixed-line broadband networks from blocking access to sites providing lawful content.

On Monday, Fleur Pellerin, the French minister for the digital economy, said she had persuaded the Internet service provider, Free, to restore full access. The company, which has long balked at carrying the huge volume of traffic from sites owned by Google without compensation, had moved last week to block online ads when it introduced a new version of its Internet access software.

“An Internet service provider cannot unilaterally implement such blocking,” Ms. Pellerin said at a news conference Monday, after meetings with online publishing and advertising groups, which had complained about a possible loss of revenue.

While she acknowledged that it could be annoying “when five ads pop up on a site,” she added that advertising should not be treated differently from other kinds of content. “This kind of blocking is inconsistent with a free and open Internet, to which I am very attached.”

While rejecting the initiative by Free, Ms. Pellerin said it was legitimate for the company to raise the question of who should pay for expensive network upgrades to handle growing volumes of Internet traffic.

French Internet analysts said advertisements appearing on Google-owned sites or distributed by Google appeared to have been the only ones affected — fueling speculation that the move was a tactic to try to get Google to share some of its advertising revenue with Internet service providers. Google’s YouTube video-sharing site is the biggest bandwidth user among Internet companies.

Google was not represented at the meetings Monday with Ms. Pellerin. In an interesting twist, its case was effectively argued by other Web publishers, including French newspapers, even though these sites, in a related dispute, are seeking their own revenue-sharing arrangement with Google. Separately, French tax collectors are also looking into the company’s fiscal practices, under which it largely avoids paying corporate taxes in France by routing its ad revenue through Ireland, which has lower rates. One proposal that has been discussed would be to use receipts from a tax on Google to support local Web sites.

In yet another dispute involving Free and Google, the French telecommunications regulator is investigating complaints that the Internet provider has been discriminating against YouTube. In that case, a French consumer organization, UFC-Que Choisir, said it suspected that Free was limiting customer access to YouTube because of the high amount of bandwidth that the site consumed.

Ms. Pellerin said these issues would be examined separately. Still, the timing of Free’s move raised questions, given that it came only days before a scheduled meeting among Ms. Pellerin, Internet companies and telecommunications operators to discuss the financing and regulation of new, higher-speed networks.

“Should users be held hostage to these commercial negotiations? That is not obvious to me,” said Jérémie Zimmermann, a spokesman for La Quadrature du Net, a group that campaigns against restrictions on the Internet.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/08/technology/france-rejects-plan-to-block-online-ads.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

France Rejects Plan to Block Online Ads

Fleur Pellerin, the minister for the digital economy, said she had persuaded the service provider, Free, to restore full access after meetings with French online publishing and advertising groups, which had complained about a loss of revenue.

Free had moved last week to block online ads for some of its users when it introduced a new version of its Internet access software. While some Internet users already use ad-blocking programs to rid their screens of annoying pop-ups and other online ads, the software upgrade from Free did this automatically.

“An Internet service provider cannot unilaterally implement such blocking,” Ms. Pellerin said at a news conference Monday. Advertising should not be treated differently from other kinds of Internet content, she said, adding: “This kind of blocking is inconsistent with a free and open Internet, to which I am very attached.”

While Ms. Pellerin said Free, which has 5.2 million broadband customers, had agreed to stop blocking ads by the end of the day, she said the company’s initiative had highlighted an important question: Who should pay for the infrastructure that telecommunications providers need to carry ever-growing volumes of Internet traffic?

Network operators like Free complain that much of the benefit of their investments has gone to Internet companies like Google, which generate billions of dollars worth of revenue from online advertising. The move by Free was widely seen here as a tactic to try to get Google to share some of its ad revenue with service providers.

Google was not represented at the meetings Monday with Ms. Pellerin. In an interesting twist, its case was effectively argued by other Web publishers, including French newspapers, even though these sites are separately seeking a revenue-sharing arrangement with Google, in a related dispute.

Free, which is controlled by a French technology entrepreneur, Xavier Niél, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/08/technology/france-rejects-plan-to-block-online-ads.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Italian Appeals Court Acquits 3 Google Executives in Privacy Case

The ruling, by a panel of three judges, nullified a 2010 decision in which the executives were found guilty and sentenced to six-month suspended sentences by a lower court judge who said they had been too slow to remove a video from a Google-owned Web site in which teenagers bullied an autistic boy.

The original verdict raised alarms about threats to Internet freedom in Italy. Google and many other Internet companies have consistently maintained that they cannot, and should not, be required to review the content of user-generated material before it is posted on their sites.

Google insists that it acted swiftly to take down the video in question after being alerted to it, on grounds that the content violated its terms of service. Google said Friday that the successful appeal had vindicated its position. “We’re very happy that the verdict has been reversed and our colleagues’ names have been cleared,” Giorgia Abeltino, the policy manager at Google Italy, said in a statement. “Of course, while we are delighted with the appeal, our thoughts continue to be with the family, who have been through the ordeal,” she said, referring to the autistic boy.

The company said the ruling also affirmed the assumption that Web sites that merely play host to user-generated videos and other homemade material were not performing an editorial function. Under E.U. law, hosting services are not held responsible for content, even though courts across the region have sometimes disagreed on what constitutes a host. “The decision is welcome in that it removes a substantial threat to digital platforms and to the contributions to speech coming from them,” said Marco Ricolfi, co-director of the Nexa Center for Internet and Society in Turin.

While Google has often been asked or ordered to take down videos, it says this was the only case of criminal convictions on charges stemming from a video’s content.

The three executives were convicted in absentia. Pending the appeal the three — Peter Fleischer, chief privacy counsel; David Drummond, senior vice president and chief legal officer; and George Reyes, a former chief financial officer — had been suspended.

The company had nonetheless been concerned about the possible precedents from the decision. And guilty verdicts could have had other ramifications, like making it difficult for the executives to serve on corporate boards or to fulfill other functions that require a clean record.

The video was posted on a Google site, now defunct, that predated the company’s acquisition of YouTube, the world’s most popular video sharing service. After the ruling, there had been talk that Google might have to go so far as to shut down YouTube in Italy, because the company said it would be impossible to vet the 72 hours of video content that are uploaded onto YouTube around the world every minute.

More generally, the original verdict had fueled concerns that Italy was out of step with its peers in the Western world in its approach to the Internet. Besides adverse court rulings, there are perennial proposals from Italian lawmakers, for example, to rein in bloggers by requiring them to post corrections of their errors. And the television company Mediaset, controlled by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, has been fighting a long-running battle with Google over copyright issues.

In the past year, with a new prime minister, Mario Monti, in place there have been signs that Italian institutions and society are growing more comfortable with the sometimes messy aspects of the Internet. In May, for example, Italy’s highest court, the Supreme Court of Cassation, overturned the conviction of a Sicilian blogger, Carlo Ruta, on charges of publishing a “clandestine newspaper.” The law in question, which dates to 1948, requires newspapers to be licensed, but the appeals court determined that a blog did not constitute a newspaper.

Corrado Passera, minister for economic development, has promoted a digital agenda that has included measures to digitize Italy’s public services, to ease regulations and to decrease the tax burden for start-ups. The government also provided €750 million, or nearly $990 million, to create broadband connections in remote areas.

“Our hope is that both on the political side and the legal side, things are going in a more progressive direction,” said Luca Nicotra, campaign director at Agorà Digitale, a group that lobbies against restrictions on the Internet.

While the appeals court released its decision in the Google case on Friday, its reasoning was not immediately clear, because Italian courts publish detailed explanations of verdicts several weeks or months after the actual decision.

Gaia Pianigiani contributed reporting from Rome.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: December 21, 2012

An earlier version of this article misidentified Giorgia Abeltino, the policy manager at Google Italy, as a man. She is a woman.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/22/business/global/italian-appeals-court-aqcuits-3-google-executives-in-privacy-case.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

When Twitter Blocks Tweets, It’s #Outrage

But this week, in a sort of coming-of-age moment, Twitter announced that upon request, it would block certain messages in countries where they were deemed illegal. The move immediately prompted outcry, argument and even calls for a boycott from some users.

Twitter in turn sought to explain that this was the best way to comply with the laws of different countries. And the whole episode, swiftly amplified worldwide through Twitter itself, offered a telling glimpse into what happens when a scrappy Internet start-up tries to become a multinational business.

“Thank you for the #censorship, #twitter, with love from the governments of #Syria, #Bahrain, #Iran, #Turkey, #China, #Saudi and friends,” wrote Björn Nilsson, a user in Sweden.

Bianca Jagger asked, almost existentially, “How are we going to boycott #TWITTER?”

Zeynep Tufekci, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, took the other side. “I’m defending Twitter’s policy because it is the one I hope others adopt: transparent, minimally compliant w/ law, user-empowering,” she wrote.

Twitter, like other Internet companies, has always had to remove content that is illegal in one country or another, whether it is a copyright violation, child pornography or something else. What is different about Twitter’s announcement is that it plans to redact messages only in those countries where they are illegal, and only if the authorities there make a valid request.

So if someone posts a message that insults the monarchy of Thailand, which is punishable by a jail term, it will be blocked and unavailable to Twitter users in that country, but still visible elsewhere. What is more, Twitter users in Thailand will be put on notice that something was removed: A gray box will show up in its place, with a clear note: “Tweet withheld,” it will read. “This tweet from @username has been withheld in: Thailand.”

Think of it as the digital equivalent of a newspaper responding to old-fashioned government censorship with a blank front page.

“We have always had the obligation to remove illegal content. This is a way to keep it up in places where we can,” said Alex Macgillivray, general counsel at Twitter. “We have been working on this awhile. We needed to figure out how to deal with this as a company.”

The majority of Twitter’s 100 million users are overseas and it has several offices abroad working to expand its business and drum up local advertising. Twitter’s president, Jack Dorsey, said this week that it would open an office in Germany, which prohibits Nazi material online and offline.

The announcement signals the choice that a service like Twitter has to make about its own existence: Should it be more of a free-speech tool that can be used in defiance of governments, as happened during the Arab Spring protests, or a commercial venture that necessarily must obey the laws of the lands where it seeks to attract customers and eventually make money?

Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School and author of “The Master Switch,” said the changes could undermine the usefulness of Twitter in authoritarian countries.

“I don’t fault them for wanting to run a normal business,” he said. “It does suggest someone or something else needs to take Twitter’s place as a political tool.”

Professor Wu urged the company to use discretion: “Twitter needs to be careful not to be in a position where it’s no longer helpful to a rebellion against oppressive governments. It needs to remain its old self in some circumstances.”

Twitter’s policy of allowing its users to adopt pseudonyms made it particularly useful to many protest organizers in the Arab world, and its chief executive went so far as to call it “the free-speech wing of the free-speech party.”

But Professor Wu wondered aloud if the new policy would have allowed Egyptians to organize protests using the service.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/28/technology/when-twitter-blocks-tweets-its-outrage.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Europe Weighs a Tough Law on Online Privacy and User Data

The proposed data protection regulation from the European Commission, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, could have significant consequences for all Internet companies that trade in personal data, whether it is pictures that people post on social networks or what they buy on retail sites or look for on a search engine.

The regulation would compel Web sites to tell consumers why their data is being collected and retain it for only as long as necessary. If data is stolen, sites would have to notify regulators within 24 hours. It also offers consumers the right to transport their data from one service to another — to deactivate a Facebook account, for example, and take one’s trove of pictures and posts and contacts to Google Plus.

The proposed law strikes at the heart of some of the knottiest questions governing digital life and commerce: who owns personal data, what happens to it once it is posted online, and what the proper balance is between guarding privacy and leveraging that data to aim commercial or political advertising at ordinary people.

“Companies must be transparent about what they are doing, clear about which data is being used for what,” the European Commission’s vice president for justice, Viviane Reding, said in a recent telephone interview. “I am absolutely persuaded the new law is necessary to have, on the one hand, better protection of the constitutional rights of our citizens and more flexibility for companies to utilize our Continent.”

Ms. Reding is scheduled to release the proposed regulation on Wednesday in Brussels. The European Parliament is expected to deliberate on the proposal in the coming months, and the law, if approved, would go into effect by 2014.

The regulation is not likely to directly affect American consumers. For American companies, its silver lining is that it offers one uniform law for all 27 countries in Europe. Currently each country, and sometimes, as in the case of Germany, each state, has separate laws about data protection.

Even so, many of the provisions are likely to be costly or cumbersome. And the proposed penalties could be as high as 2 percent of a company’s annual global revenue, according to a European diplomat who did not want to publicly discuss unreleased legislation.

“Individuals are getting more rights. The balance is tilting more to the individual versus the companies,” said Françoise Gilbert, a lawyer in Palo Alto, Calif., who represents technology companies doing business in Europe. “There is very little that’s good for the companies other than a reduction of administrative headaches.”

Perhaps for historical or cultural reasons, Europeans tend to be more invested in issues of data privacy than Americans. Certainly, the proposed regulation is evidence that European politicians consider it to be a more urgent legislative issue than members of the United States Congress. Privacy bills have languished on Capitol Hill. Those that have been proposed, by Senator John Kerry and others, have none of the strict protections included in the draft European regulations.

For the most part, American companies have pushed for a system of self-regulation and regard European-style regulations as a hindrance to innovation.

Ronald Zink, chief operating officer for European affairs at Microsoft, pointed to the potential difficulty of obtaining explicit consent. He gave the example of Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect system, which stores body measurements so it can visually recognize repeat players. He worried that the proposed law would require players to provide consent every time they played a game, even if the information never left the game console, requiring more time and effort on the player’s part. “We have designed the product to be private,” Mr. Zink said. “We put a lot of thought into how this controls our work in terms of privacy by design.”

Kevin J. O’Brien contributed reporting from Berlin.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=de96f21c4c8af4d28b9aebeb8d0b5a27

Dodd Calls for Hollywood and Silicon Valley to Meet

Christopher J. Dodd now fills Mr. Valenti’s shoes. But he stays out of those halls, thanks to restrictions on his ability to lobby Congress until 2013.

It just cost him a big one.

A major push by copyright holders — including those in the Motion Picture Association of America, of which Mr. Dodd is chairman — for a tough federal law to control foreign online piracy collapsed this week under stiff resistance from technology companies and their allies.

On Wednesday, as Web sites expressed opposition to the legislation, important lawmakers withdrew their support, leaving Mr. Dodd and his associates scrambling to find what could be salvaged.

In an interview Thursday, Mr. Dodd said he would welcome a summit meeting between Internet companies and content companies, perhaps convened by the White House, that could lead to a compromise. Looming next Tuesday is a cloture vote scheduled in the Senate, which appears to promise the death of the legislation in its current form.

“The perfect place to do it is a block away from here,” said Mr. Dodd, who pointed from his office on I Street toward 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

But the startlingly speedy collapse of the antipiracy campaign by some of Washington’s savviest players — not just the motion picture association, but also the United States Chamber of Commerce and the Recording Industry Association of America — signaled deep changes in antipiracy lobbying in the future. By Mr. Dodd’s account, no Washington player can safely assume that a well-wired, heavily financed legislative program is safe from a sudden burst of Web-driven populism.

“This is altogether a new effect,” Mr. Dodd said, comparing the online movement to the Arab Spring. He could not remember seeing “an effort that was moving with this degree of support change this dramatically” in the last four decades, he added.

 That shift was exposed this week partly because Mr. Dodd found himself in a political knife fight while being forced to sheathe his most powerful weapon: 36 years of personal relationships with a Congress in which he had served as a representative and then senator since 1975, before joining the motion picture association last March.

Under legislation passed in 2007, Mr. Dodd is barred from personally lobbying Congress for two years after leaving office. Hired as the consummate Washington insider to carry the film industry’s banner on crucial issues like piracy, Mr. Dodd ended up being more coach than player. He helped devise a strategy that called for his coalition to line up a strong array of legislative sponsors and supporters behind two similar laws — the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House, and the Protect I.P. Act in the Senate — and then to move them through the Congress quickly before possible opposition from tech companies could coalesce.

But slow pacing gave the Internet and free speech advocates time to wake up and mobilize, turning what might have been a relatively simple exercise for Mr. Dodd and his allies into a bitter struggle. The delays violated a cardinal rule among professional lobbyists, who generally believe the worst enemy of a proposed law is the legislative clock.

Mr. Dodd said that the entire industry was surprised by the intensity of the objections that arose in the last couple of weeks. “This was a whole new different game all of a sudden,” he said. “This thing was considered by many to be a slam dunk.”

Data shows that copyright holders and supporters of the bills outspent opponents substantially in the early stages of the debate. But by many accounts the tech industry has stepped up its lobbying efforts in recent weeks. New spending reports expected shortly indicate whether the balance has shifted.

The Senate vote on Tuesday will show whether opponents like Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, have succeeded in derailing that chamber’s version of the law.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=635f7c3b46304eac553c681e7271ad3b

Obama Opposes Parts of 2 Antipiracy Bills

The comments by the administration’s chief technology officials, posted on a White House blog Saturday, came as growing opposition to the legislation had already led sponsors of the bills to reconsider a measure that would force Internet service providers to block access to Web sites that offer or link to copyrighted material.

“Let us be clear,” the White House statement said, “online piracy is a real problem that harms the American economy, threatens jobs for significant numbers of middle class workers and hurts some of our nation’s most creative and innovative companies and entrepreneurs.”

However, it added, “We will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.”

The bills currently under consideration in Congress were intended to combat the theft of copyrighted materials by preventing American search engines like Google and Yahoo from directing users to sites that allow for the distribution of stolen materials. They would cut off payment processors like PayPal that handle transactions.

The bills would also allow private citizens and companies to sue to stop what they believed to be theft of protected content. Those and other provisions set off fierce opposition among Internet companies, technology investors and free speech advocates, who said the bills would stifle online innovation, violate the First Amendment and even compromise national security by undermining the integrity of the Internet’s naming system.

Though the Obama administration called for legislation this year that would give prosecutors and owners of intellectual property new abilities to deter overseas piracy, it also embraced the idea of “voluntary measures and best practices” to reduce piracy.

Whether Congress can produce a compromise is uncertain, particularly in the House of Representatives, where Republicans have fought bitterly over the antipiracy legislation and party leaders, who control the chamber, are loath to offer further opportunities for intraparty battles.

The Motion Picture Association of America, the Hollywood lobbying group that has been most visible in its support for the current bills, said in a statement on Saturday that it welcomed the administration’s call for antipiracy legislation. But, the trade group added, “meaningful legislation must include measured and reasonable remedies that include ad brokers, payment processors and search engines.”

Hollywood and the music industry have broad political support for their efforts, and the Chamber of Commerce and labor organizations have pushed for the legislation. But they often find themselves facing off against the libertarian views of leaders in the technology industry.

Opponents of the House bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act, and the Senate bill, the Protect IP Act, have focused most of their attention on the proposed blocking by Internet service providers of Web sites that offer access to pirated material.

In December, a group of influential technology figures, including founders of Twitter, Google and YouTube, published an open letter to lawmakers saying that the legislation would enable Internet regulation and censorship on par with the government regulation in China and Iran.

That argument struck a chord with the Obama administration, which through the State Department and other channels has been pushing other countries to loosen restrictions on Internet access.

In its statement Saturday, the White House said any proposed legislation “must not tamper with the technical architecture of the Internet.” Parts of the bills that provide for filtering or blocking through the Domain Name System — the Internet’s address book — could drive users to unreliable routes through and around the blocked sites, the White House said. That would “pose a real risk to cybersecurity and yet leave contraband goods and services accessible online.”

The statement did not threaten a presidential veto, but it made plain what types of piracy enforcement measures the White House would not accept.

The statement was attributed to Victoria Espinel, the intellectual property enforcement coordinator at the Office of Management and Budget; Aneesh Chopra, the administration’s chief technology officer; and Howard Schmidt, a cybersecurity coordinator for the national security staff.

Jenna Wortham contributed reporting from New York.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=120e71a7383ada829ecb10b787c37ae8

DealBook: Zynga Aims to Raise $1 Billion

Mark Pincus, chief of Zynga.Jeff Chiu/Associated PressMark Pincus, chief of Zynga.

Zynga, the online gaming company, has set the price range for its initial public offering at $8.50 to $10 a share, a highly anticipated debut that could value the company at $7 billion.

At the top end of that range, the four-year-old company is on track to raise $1 billion, according to a regulatory filing on Friday. Its underwriters also have the option to sell an additional 15 million shares if demand is strong.

In its offering, Zynga appear to be moving cautiously amid the market turmoil and tough environment for I.P.O.’s.

Notably, Zynga, which is set to sell 100 million shares, or 14.3 percent of its total, is offering a bigger stake than many Internet companies that have gone public this year. Several start-ups, like Groupon and LinkedIn, have sold less than 10 percent of total shares in their I.P.O.’s. That strategy of constrained supply has allowed many to soar on their first day of trading, but it has also increased volatility.

The valuation of $7 billion is also softer than many analysts had predicted earlier this year, reflecting the tempered expectations for I.P.O.’s. A number of Internet and technology companies that have gone public this year have tumbled below their offering prices. Groupon, the popular deals site, has lost about $4 billion in market capitalization since its early November debut.

Insiders are largely holding on to their shares. Zynga’s two largest investors — its chief executive, Mark Pincus, and a venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers — are not selling any shares in the offering, according to the filing. Mr. Pincus’ stake is worth roughly 12 percent of the company, according to people familiar with the matter. Its other major venture capital investors, Institutional Venture Partners, Union Square Ventures, Foundry Venture Capital and Avalon Ventures, will sell a little more than two million shares, but only if the underwriters exercise the overallotment option.

Zynga, unlike many of its peers, is churning out a profit, a crucial selling point as it starts its roadshow on Monday. It recorded earnings of $30.7 million for the first nine months of this year, on revenue of $828.9 million.

The company, which makes the bulk of its money from the sale of virtual goods, is the top game maker on Facebook, with some 227 million monthly active users. Its latest franchise, Castleville, which started about two weeks ago, has already attracted about 20 million users on Facebook, according to AppData, a site that tracks online games.

Still, there are signs that growth may be slowing. After hitting an average of 236 monthly unique users in the first quarter, the game maker has pulled back modestly. Attracting and keeping new users is critical, since only a small percentage of Zynga’s users actually purchase virtual goods.

The company, which is being advised by Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, is expected to make its debut on the Nasdaq in mid-December, under the ticker “ZNGA.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=1b96a137fc067a407676d147a891b345