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Timothy B. Lee

Timothy B. Lee

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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 02:58 PM ET, 06/06/2013

The Circuit: Lawmakers blast reports that U.S. ordered Verizon to turn over call records

Verizon, NSA: Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have denounced reports that the U.S. government ordered Verizon to submit consumer call records. As reported in The Washington Post, a federal order appears to require a Verizon subsidiary to provide the National Security Agency with information on telephone calls by customers within and outside the United States on a daily basis.

The news was first reported by The Guardian, which obtained a copy of the order. Two former U.S. officials told The Post that the document appears to be valid.

On Thursday, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said that the program referred to in the order is one he’s “been concerned about for years” and that while he is “barred by Senate rules” from commenting on the details he believes that collecting data on this scale “would be a massive invasion of Americans’ privacy.”

Sen. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who was the original author of the Patriot Act, said that believes the order is an abuse of the law.

“While I believe the Patriot Act appropriately balanced national security concerns and civil rights, I have always worried about potential abuses,” he said in a statement. “Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American.”

Cellphone unlocking: The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing Thursday examining the issue of cellphone unlocking, which has become illegal after an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act expired earlier this year. A move to allow users to unlock their cellphones — a term that refers to modifying cellphones to allow owners to take their phones easily between carriers — gained momentum after the White House supported the idea in March.

Committee chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R- Va.) has proposed a bill that would renew that exemption. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), has also introduced legislation that would make the practice permanently legal.

In an op-ed in the New York Times, Federal Communications Commission commissioner Ajit Pai said that consumers should not be punished for wanting to change carriers.

“Let’s go back to the free market,” Pai wrote. “Let’s allow contract law — not copyright or criminal law — to govern the relationship between consumers and wireless carriers.“

Apple e-book trial: Executives from Amazon are taking the stand at Apple’s e-book price-fixing trial, CNET reported, shifting some of the focus off of the Cupertino, Calif., company and onto its primary competitor in the digital book market.

In testimony Wednesday, the report said, Penguin Group USA chief executive David Shanks said that Amazon executives “yelled and screamed and threatened” him during a meeting in which he tried to negotiate with Amazon to change their agreements to be more like Apple’s.

The trial, which began Monday, first centered on the comments and actions of Apple’s late co-founder and chief executive Steve Jobs, as The Washington Post reported. The Justice Department characterized Jobs as a ringleader in negotiating what the U.S. government has called a price-fixing scheme.

Microsoft, FBI take down cyber ring: Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit, along with the FBI and members of the financial services industry, worked together to bring down a botnet that the company said stole people’s online banking information and identities.

According to a report from Reuters, the botnet stole over $500 million from bank accounts in the past 18 months, and affected an estimated 5 million PCs.

By  |  02:58 PM ET, 06/06/2013

 
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