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2011-05-07 12:25
Did you hear that both Google and Facebook are looking to either partner with Skype or simply buy it? Funny, because back in the day when Skype was in play (before it was acquired by eBay), Google had a chance to buy it, but Larry Page and Sergey Brin nixed the idea.

People laughed at me when I suggested back on September 29, 2010 that Facebook should buy Skype. Here’s what I wrote then, and I still think that is the real reason for a Skype-Facebook deal:

Sure, this would be a big, hairy merger, but look at it this way: In one swoop, Facebook would dominate what I’ve maintained is both the new age and classic social networking. They have people’s credit cards; they have their real-world phone information; and in the end, they have a better, more useful, social graph than Facebook itself.

The Skype-Facebook client on the desktop would mean both Facebook and Skype will be jointly in people’s faces, and take time away from other web services, such as Google. A simple search box inside the Skype client, and the two companies are starting to take attention away from arch-nemesis, Google.

Since then, Skype is much bigger, has more revenues and has a lousy new desktop client. Facebook has taken huge strides towards owning “communications” and online “interactions.” When Facebook launched its Social Inbox, I pointed out:

For the first three years of its life, the company was merely a social network, but then it transformed itself in quick succession into a social web platform and then a social aggregator of the web. Today, the company launched its “social inbox,” a new kind of messaging system that is the first public manifestation of the new new Facebook. Facebook’s newest core competency is communications — a way to become even more indispensable in our daily web lives.

There are many other reasons why this deal makes sense, the biggest being Marc Andreessen, the web wunderkind turned über-VC who sits on the board of Facebook and has investments in both companies. It would be Christmas in summer for his fund if this deal goes through.

Tags: facebook, Google
2011-05-07 11:13
Google and Facebook are warning legislators of dire consequences if California passes a "do not track" bill. The proposed law would require companies doing online business in the Golden State to offer an "opt-out" privacy mechanism for consumers.

Senate Bill 761 "would create an unnecessary, unenforceable and unconstitutional regulatory burden on Internet commerce," says the letter in opposition to the measure. "The measure would negatively affect consumers who have come to expect rich content and free services through the Internet, and would make them more vulnerable to security threats."

Signed: Google, Facebook, Time Warner Cable, CTIA - The Wireless Association, the California Chamber of Commerce, and about thirty other associations and companies.

A method for consumers

The legislation in question comes from the office of state senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach). Lowenthal's bill would require the state's Attorney General to deploy regulations by July 1, 2012 forcing any business that uses, collects, or stores online data to offer California consumers "a method to opt out of that collection, use, and storage of such information."

According to its summary, the bill would specify:

that such information, includes, but is not limited to, the online activity of an individual and other personal information. The bill would subject these regulations to certain requirements, including, but not limited to, a requirement that a covered entity disclose to a consumer certain information relating to its collection, use, and storage information practices. The bill would, to the extent consistent with federal law, prohibit a covered entity from selling, sharing, or transferring a consumer's covered information. The bill would make a covered entity that willfully fails to comply with the adopted regulations liable to a consumer in a civil action for damages, as specified, and would require such an action to be brought within a certain time period.

What would this "covered information" include? The "date and hour of online access," the location from which the information was accessed, the "means" (presumably the broadband device and its operating system) by which the data was obtained and stored, the user's IP address, "personal information" that would include but not be limited to postal and e-mail addresses, and government identification numbers such as drivers' licenses, passport numbers, and tax IDs. Credit card numbers and security codes are also part of the definition.

Entities that do not collect "sensitive information" would be exempt from the law, however. These are defined as services that do not obtain and store information that relates directly to a consumer's medical history, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or financial status.

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