Ina Fried

Recent Posts by Ina Fried

Mr. Smith Getting Company as ATT, T-Mobile, Sprint, Apple and Google All Head to Washington

There will be no shortage of tech companies speaking in Washington next week, as separate Senate subcommittees hold hearings on two major issues in the tech industry.

On Wednesday, four cellular company CEOs are set to testify before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee at a hearing looking into AT&T’s proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA. A day earlier, Apple and Google are set to appear before a different subcommittee to explore issues related to privacy and location-based information.

According to a witness list released on Thursday, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, T-Mobile USA CEO Philipp Humm, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse and Cellular South CEO Victor “Hu” Meena are all scheduled to testify at Wednesday’s hearing of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights. Also on the list are Gigi Sohn, the president of Public Knowledge and Larry Cohen, head of the Communication Workers of America.

And, if AT&T and T-Mobile needed any more hint that this would not be a friendly audience, they need look no further than the hearing’s title: “The AT&T/T-Mobile Merger: Is Humpty Dumpty Being Put Back Together Again?”

And that’s not the only big tech hearing on Capitol Hill next week. On Tuesday, representatives of Apple and Google are scheduled to appear before the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law at a hearing about location-based data practices

The hearing comes in the wake of concerns over how both companies are handling location-based information gathered on cell phones and tablets. CEO Steve Jobs told Mobilized in an interview last week that Apple would be testifying before Congress.

“They have asked us to come and we will honor their request, of course,” Jobs said. Apple has maintained that it isn’t tracking anyone and that location data found on the iPhone was the relevant portion of a broad, crowdsourced location database. Apple has since released an update to the iPhone operating system that limits the amount of such information stored on the device and ensured that all data is deleted when users opt not to use location-based services.

Google has also defended its handling of information, arguing that the information it collects is necessary to provide location-based services.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work