MediaFile

Tech wrap: Net neutrality closer to reality

November 10, 2011

Democrats in the Senate blocked a Republican-backed resolution to disapprove of the FCC’s rules on net neutrality. The vote was 52-46 against the resolution. Adopted by a divided FCC last December, the rules forbid broadband providers from blocking legal content while leaving flexibility for providers to manage their networks. The rules still face a court challenge. Lawsuits by Verizon and others have been consolidated. Backers of net neutrality say big providers could otherwise use their gatekeeper role to discriminate against competitors. But Republicans said the rules were an unprecedented power grab by the FCC.

Sony CEO Howard Stringer vowed to stay on as head of the Japanese electronics conglomerate, dismissing reports the longtime helmsman will step down next year and adding that he remained keen on leading the once-dominant corporate powerhouse in its battle to reverse losses and fight rivals. Last week, Sony shocked investors by warning that the company would report a fourth consecutive year of losses and offered few details of its plan to halve losses in its television division, which itself is headed for its eighth consecutive annual loss.

Investigations into scandal-hit Olympus revealed an elaborate scheme for concealing losses on risky bets behind a facade of inflated bank deposits and securities holdings, The Nikkei reported. Sources say Olympus moved the impaired securities off its books — a trick known in Japanese as “tobashi” — to prevent the painful write-downs that would have followed the introduction of fair value accounting in fiscal 2000, Nikkei said. The third-party committee conducting the investigation said it will report its findings early next month. Olympus is waiting for these findings before it reports first-half earnings and issue second-quarter financial statements, the daily reported.

A first-grade teacher in New Jersey who described her students as “future criminals” on Facebook could be fired under a judge’s decision issued this week after parents complained her remarks were offensive. Administrative Law Judge Ellen Bass ruled that the Paterson teacher, Jennifer O’Brien, “demonstrated a complete lack of sensitivity to the world in which her students live” and recommended that she lose her tenured position. Paterson is a poor, urban New Jersey community with a high rate of violent crime, and school officials interpreted O’Brien’s comment as racially tinged, according to court documents.

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