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

August 16, 2013

(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year, audit finds. Our colleague Barton Gellman reports that "the National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents." The chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court admits to our colleague Carol Leonnig that "the FISC is forced to rely upon the accuracy of the information that is provided to the Court," and lacks the ability to independently verify the NSA's claims about its privacy record.

Manning apologizes, says he ‘hurt the United States.’ The Washington Post's Julie Tate writes that "Pfc. Bradley Manning told a military judge during his sentencing hearing Wednesday that he is sorry he hurt the United States by leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive military and diplomatic documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, and he asked for leniency. The former Army intelligence analyst, who served at a forward operating base in Iraq, had not previously expressed regret for his actions. During the trial, he justified the leaks as necessary to spark a debate about the nation’s preoccupation with 'killing and capturing people.' "

FCC takes close look at Verizon bid to drop landline phone service. The Hill reports: "The Federal Communications Commission will not automatically grant Verizon's request not to rebuild landline phone networks in certain areas hit by Hurricane Sandy. Verizon wants to replace the old phone networks with a wireless service called 'Voice Link.' But the FCC requested more information about Verizon's proposal late on Wednesday, meaning the petition will not be fast-tracked for approval."

Copyright troll ran Pirate Bay honeypot, Comcast confirms. Prenda Law is one of the nation's most notorious copyright trolls. TorrentFreak reports that "evidence is stacking up that Prenda Law has been operating a honeypot in order to lure Internet users into downloading copyrighted material. A subpoena just returned by Comcast confirms that a Pirate Bay user called 'Sharkmp4' is directly linked to the infamous anti-piracy law firm."

Sen. Ron Wyden on NSA surveillance and government transparency. In an interview with Rolling Stone, one of the Senate's leading NSA critics, Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), says he considered disclosing information about NSA abuses on the Senate floor: "A lot of people have just said to me, 'Well, you feel so strongly about [these issues] – when you knew this, why didn't you just go to the floor of the United States Senate and just, you know, read it all [into the record]?' And, of course, anybody who does this kind of work thinks a lot about that. You think about it all the time."

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Andrea Peterson | August 15, 2013