April 11, 2013
Netflix Inc. is making it official: It "likes" social media.
The streaming-video service, which recently dodged a bullet from the Securities and Exchange Commission over a Facebook posting, told investors Wednesday in a regulatory filing it may use the social-networking site or Twitter to disclose material information. The Los Gatos, Calif., company specifically listed Twitter, the Facebook pages of the company and of Chief Executive Reed Hastings, and its own blogs as possible outlets for disclosure.
Netflix is among the first companies to identify specific social-media sites as possible outlets for material disclosures since the SEC found this month that postings to such sites could be stand-ins for traditional means of releasing important information. The SEC said in order to remain compliant with so-called fair-disclosure rules, companies would need to identify which sites they may use to disseminate information. Netflix said that it would still rely on traditional disclosure outlets, but that "the information we post on social media could be deemed to be material information," according to the filing. "In light of the SEC's guidance, we encourage investors, the media, and others interested in our company to review the information we post on the U.S. social media." A Netflix spokesman declined to comment beyond the filing.
The SEC's move this month was sparked by an investigation into a July Facebook posting from Mr. Hastings noting that Netflix's subscribers had for the first time dialed up more than one billion hours of streaming video in a single month. Following a run-up in Netflix's stock price, the SEC opened an inquiry into whether the company and Mr. Hastings had violated rules that prohibit selective disclosure of information.
Mr. Hastings, who is also a Facebook board member, announced the SEC probe on his Facebook page in December saying that further disclosure wasn't necessary because he had more than 200,000 subscribers to his personal page on the site, making it a "very public" forum. Netflix had also previously disclosed news about the milestone on its blog. The SEC didn't levy any civil charges against Mr. Hastings or Netflix related to the initial Facebook posting. The disclosure Wednesday presumably prevents Netflix or Mr. Hastings from running afoul of SEC rules in the future, provided they don't use other social-media sites to disclose material information. Netflix noted its list of sites "may be updated from time to time on Netflix's investor relations website." Wall Street Journal
A key congressional panel will vote in private on Wednesday on a new law that would allow private companies to share cybersecurity information with federal agencies, drawing criticism from advocates who say the controversial measure should be debated in public.
The intelligence committee, which is working on the bill, will hold its meeting in a secure room in the basement of the new Capitol Visitor Centre, which is specially designed so that classified documents can be examined there and classified information be openly discussed. The public are not admitted and no cameras or recording devices are permitted. "It is an open mark up in the sense that members can discuss it afterwards, or even during the event," intelligence committee Spokeswoman Susan Phalen told The Washington Times. "But it is being held in a closed space, so the public and press cannot attend."
Ms. Phalen said the mark up was being held there in case there was a need, when considering some provision or other of the law, "to discuss classified cyber threat information." It was "more efficient" to hold the whole event in the closed space, rather than adjourn the mark up and troop lawmakers into a classified area every time threat information came up, she said. But interest groups said a closed meeting is unacceptable. "The i2Coalition believes that cybersecurity legislation can be done right only when all stakeholders share in the legislative process," David Snead, head of public policy for the Internet Infrastructure Coalition, said in a statement.
The group represents more than three dozen companies "who build the nuts and bolts of the Internet," according to its website. It is one of several technology industry, civil liberties and privacy groups, who are concerned about or outright opposed to the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). "Ensuring the security of the Internet involves more than national security," said Mr. Snead. Internet "privacy, stability and accessibility issues must be discussed in an open and frank manner," he added.
Congress has failed for more than five years to pass legislation to help secure the nation's computer networks - especially those that run vital services like power and water - against cyber attack from hackers, terrorists or foreign militaries.
Proponents say CISPA protects privacy while allowing private sector firms that run the Internet and other vital national networks to share information with the government in real time, allowing the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency to monitor for potential enemy activity. Many technology firms and industry groups also support the proposed new law, including AT&T, IBM, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Comcast, according to Maplight, a non-profit which tracks lobbying expenditures and political donations.
Collectively, the bill's supporters gave more than $3.25 million to members of the intelligence committee between July 2010 and July 2012, Maplight reported after analyzing federal data. By contrast, the groups opposing the bill - including the ACLU - gave $212,208 over the same period. However, as Maplight point out, more recent figures might tell a different story. "Several major web companies that had supported the bill in the last session of Congress (Facebook, Microsoft, and others) have withdrawn their support for the bill this session, citing concerns about privacy," Maplight notes. Washington Times
Two programs funded under the 2014 budget show the Obama administration is moving forward with plans to free up more airwaves for wireless broadband as Americans' demand for wireless devices grows. Next year, the Federal Communications Commission plans to begin the process of auctioning television airwaves that have been voluntarily relinquished by station owners. The administration's 2014 budget allocates $500 million for broadcasters as they rework their infrastructure during that process. Wireless carriers are expected to be the major bidders at the auction, which hasn't been scheduled yet, so they can provide customers with better service for smartphones, tablets and other devices.
The budget also provides $7.5 million in funding for a spectrum-monitoring program at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which oversees spectrum used by federal agencies and is within the Commerce Department. Under the program, NTIA would study usage patterns in 10 major metropolitan areas. The goal, according to the budget document, is to find ways to potentially repurpose some of the airwaves currently used by government agencies or the military for commercial uses. The budget also repeats a frequent Obama administration proposal that the FCC set user fees for spectrum licenses. The collections would start this year and total $4.8 billion through 2023, the budget said. However, identical language was included in last year's budget and was not approved by Congress amid opposition from broadcasters and cellular companies. Wall Street Journal
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