The Switchboard: Five tech policy stories you need to read today

August 15, 2013

(Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg)

Google confirms critical Android crypto flaw. Google has acknowledged a critical security flaw in its Android operating system that allowed hackers to make off with $5,700 in bitcoins last week, Ars Technica's Dan Goodin reports. As many as 360,000 Android apps may be vulnerable to the exploit, which affects all versions of the operating system, Google engineers said.

Gmail users shouldn't expect privacy, Google says. Lawyers from the Internet company argued in court that e-mail is subject to the same privacy standard as snail mail and phone records and that Gmail users have "no legitimate expectation" of privacy, NPR reports. To make its case, Google cited a Supreme Court case that has previously been used by White House officials to defend the NSA's bulk surveillance programs.

The New York Times Web outage cost the company more than $5 per second. An hours-long blackout of the Times' homepage and corporate Web site yesterday led to a gap in digital ad revenue. A back-of-the-napkin calculation using Times earnings data reveals that the company was bleeding money at a remarkable rate.

Why a team of security analysts spent $5,000 buying fake Twitter accounts. Brian Krebs reports that to defeat online spammers, researchers from George Mason University and UC-Berkeley bought more than 120,000 fraudulent Twitter accounts from the black market — just to see how they worked. With Twitter's permission, the researchers built a profile of 27 spam-account vendors and discovered the complex web of techniques they used to circumvent Twitter's existing tricks to catch them.

AT&T warns that T-Mobile's plan would 'doom' spectrum auction. The Hill writes that "under T-Mobile's plan, the FCC would cap the amount of spectrum that any single carrier could buy as long as the auction hits its revenue target." However, "AT&T argues that T-Mobile overstates the importance of low-frequency spectrum, and that what matters now is overall network capacity."

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post.
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Andrea Peterson · August 14, 2013