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Timothy B. Lee

Timothy B. Lee

Timothy B. Lee covers technology policy, including copyright and patent law, telecom regulation, privacy, and free speech. He also writes about the economics of technology. He has previously written for Ars Technica and Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter or send him email.

Brian Fung

Brian Fung

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post, focusing on electronic privacy, national security, digital politics and the Internet that binds it all together. He was previously the technology correspondent for National Journal and an associate editor at the Atlantic. His writing has also appeared in Foreign Policy, Talking Points Memo, the American Prospect and Nonprofit Quarterly. Follow Brian on Google+ .

Andrea Peterson

Andrea Peterson

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government. She also delves into the societal impacts of technology access and how innovation is intertwined with cultural development.

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Posted at 01:57 PM ET, 04/02/2012

The Circuit: Al-Qaeda forums go dark, Global Payments contains hack; FTC chairman on privacy

Al-Qaeda forums go dark: Online forums for al-Qaeda have gone dark in what experts say is the longest outage of the sites since they began operating eight years ago, The Washington Post reported.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blackout, but experts say the duration of the blackout indicates it’s the result of a cyberattack. It’s possible that a government, government-backed organization or hacking group is behind the outage, the report said. U.S. government agencies had no role in the outages, an unnamed official told the newspaper.

Others say that the outages may not be the result of a cyberattack, noting that other prominent forums remain accessible online.

Global Payments breach: Global Payments, a third-party payments processor, has said that a hack on its systems that may have released the bank card numbers of 1.5 million records has been “contained,” but that hasn’t stopped the fallout from its announcement.

Visa has told Global Payments that it has dropped the payment processor following the breach, the Associated Press reported. Credit card information may have been taken in the breach, though cardholder names, addresses and Social Security information were reportedly not taken as part of the theft.

ACLU cellphone tracking: The American Civil Liberties Union released a report Monday sharing that local police departments across the country have been tracking cellphones without warrants, The Washington Post reported.

The ACLU obtained records from around 200 state and local law agencies finding that “only a handful of them” had obtained warrants based on probable cause before tracking cellphones. The group said the records show “unclear or inconsistent legal standards” and questioned whether the practice was constitutional.

Robocalling: The FTC announced Monday that a federal judge has fined two defendants around $30 million in charges related to a robocalling operation. The defendants will pay the “largest penalty ever imposed for unlawful calls to consumers on the Do-Not-Call Registry,” the agency said.

The defendants, Paul Navestad and Christine Maspakorn ran Web sites which offered grants from the U.S. government, private foundations and “wealthy individuals.”

FTC chairman on privacy: In an editorial in The Washington Post Monday, Federal Trade Commission chairman Jon Leibowitz called for the country to have a conversation about privacy in an ever-connected world.

“For out part, we at the FTC will continue to hold companies to the privacy promises they make,” Leibowitz said, referencing the commission’s settlements with Google and Facebook. He reiterated many of the points the commission made in its privacy report last week, including a declaration that the FTC will work with industry groups on a “do not track” system.

By  |  01:57 PM ET, 04/02/2012

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