American privacy law is outdated and needs to be refreshed to keep up with today’s digital tools, according to a coalition of technology companies and advocacy groups. Microsoft, Google, and AT&T as well as the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU say they will push Congress to revamp the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. The law, enacted in 1986, covers government access to personal data.

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More than 1,100 communities across the U.S. have applied to take part in Google’s broadband fiber experiment, in which it will build a super-fast network to serve up to 500,000 people.

Some of the proposals got a little crazy — Topeka, Kansas renamed itself Google, Kansas for a time. Many towns delivered pitches through YouTube.

Todd Bishop of tech news site Tech Flash just published a list of the worst video pitches he could find.

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Smart electric grids are being promoted by the government and conservation groups because they help consumers and power companies closely track energy use. In homes, smart meters keep close watch on power consumption, and report that information back to utilities so consumers can conserve electricity.

Now some privacy groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology, are warning that the smart grid could be invasive.

Guest: Jennifer Urban, co-director of the Samuleson Law, Technology and Public Policy Group at the University of California Berkeley

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