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

August 23, 2013

Copyright guru Larry Lessig (Photo by Kristina Alexanderson)

White House picks panel to review NSA programs. ABC News reports that "The recent acting head of the CIA, Michael Morell, will be among what President Obama called a 'high-level group of outside experts' scrutinizing the controversial programs. Joining Morell on the panel will be former White House officials Richard Clarke, Cass Sunstein and Peter Swire." The Switch's Andrea Peterson points out that everyone on this list has deep ties to the Obama administration or the intelligence community, calling into question whether this is really a panel of "outside experts."

New government report on patent lawsuits is tepid but shows a clear trend. The "GAO doesn't get into the damage that trolls are causing to mainstream, non-tech businesses like retailers and supermarkets, or the estimates of the damage they cause," Ars Technica reports. "In the end though, the fact that strong policy moves are missing from the report may not matter much. Congress is already showing unprecedented motivation to look at the problem, with six bills related to patent abuse introduced since the beginning of the year."

Newest YouTube user to fight a takedown is copyright guru Lawrence Lessig. "If Liberation Music was thinking they'd have an easy go of it when they demanded that YouTube take down a 2010 lecture of Lessig's entitled 'Open,' they were mistaken," writes Ars Technica. "Lessig has teamed up with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to sue Liberation, claiming that its overly aggressive takedown violates the DMCA and that it should be made to pay damages."

President Obama can’t get ahead of NSA story. "Basic crisis management dictates that you push out as much information about the story as possible as soon as possible," Politico argues. "But the White House’s public relations effort has been complicated by its inability to predict the next wrinkle to the story. It doesn’t know what revelations are coming next — or when. That makes it difficult for the president to maintain credibility when telling the American people they have nothing to fear about the programs."

My dinner with NSA director Keith Alexander. Stanford legal scholar Jennifer Granick writes about her experience having dinner with NSA director Keith Alexander. "General Alexander is an engaging man and our conversation left me with an appreciation for a fundamental difference in perspective between defenders and critics of the NSA’s surveillance program: whether you believe that unchecked power inevitably corrupts, or rather believe that the sincere intentions of well-meaning individuals will protect us."

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Andrea Peterson | August 22, 2013