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

August 19, 2013
(AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)
Reporter Glenn Greenwald's partner was detained at London's Heathrow airport for nine hours. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)

Glenn Greenwald's partner detained at Heathrow airport for nine hours. The Guardian reports UK authorities used a terrorism investigation law to detain journalist Glenn Greenwald's partner in Long's Heathrow airport: "The 28-year-old was held for nine hours, the maximum the law allows before officers must release or formally arrest the individual. According to official figures, most examinations under Dschedule 7 – over 97 percent – last less than an hour, and only one in 2,000 people detained are kept for more than six hours."

Wikileaks just released a massive 'insurance' file that no one can open. Business Insider reports: "The group, which has been assisting ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden after he leaked top-secret documents to the media, posted links for about 400 gigabytes of files on their Facebook page Saturday, and asked their fans to download and mirror them elsewhere [...] You can download the files via torrent but since they are encrypted — and [since] Wikileaks has not yet provided the key — you won't be able to open them."

Did the NSA director mislead hackers about NSA compliance problems? NSA Director Gen. Keith B. Alexander told a room full of hackers " at the Black Hat conference in July that Congressional review "found no one at NSA had ever gone outside the boundaries" of the law. But the internal audit reported by The Post last week contradicted the claim that there were no compliance problems at the Agency, and it appears that said audit never made it into the hands of Congress.

Germany recognizes Bitcoin as a “private money,” subject to capital gains tax. Ars Technica reports, "In response to a query by a member of parliament, the German Finance Ministry has declared (Google Translate) that it accepts bitcoins as a “unit of account.” The Ministry added that bitcoins are a sort of “private money” and that mining bitcoins constitutes “private money creation.” It also said it is subject to capital gains taxes, but taxpayers are exempt from that taxes on bitcoins if holding them for more than a year.

Why drone makers have declared war on the word drone. Our own Brian Fung explains the furor over terminology in the drone industry: " The drone industry — sorry, the unmanned aerial systems industry — is in the midst of a massive rebranding campaign. For most Americans today, the word “drone” conjures images of lethal spy planes raining missiles down on targets in foreign theaters of war. But that perception doesn’t bode well for a burgeoning set of drone companies looking to shake up the civil aviation sector."

 

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
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Timothy B. Lee · August 18, 2013