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

August 28, 2013

(Photo by Jason Kuffer)

In ACLU lawsuit, scientist demolishes NSA’s “It’s just metadata” excuse. The ACLU is challenging the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance of Americans' phone calling records in court. Ars Technica reports on a filing by computer scientist Ed Felten. "Felten points out what should be obvious to those arguing 'it's just metadata'—the most important piece of information in these situations is the recipient of the call."

Inside the Bitcoin advocates’ closed-door meeting with federal regulators. Our own Brian Fung reports on a Monday meeting between Bitcoin boosters and federal regulators. "Attendees say the meeting was cordial, with regulators listening carefully as Bitcoin advocates warned that excessive regulation could drive innovation in virtual currencies overseas."

The New York Times Web site was taken down by DNS hijacking. Here’s what that means. A group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army took the New York Times and other websites offline on Tuesday. Last night I write that "the New York Times, Twitter and other major Web sites apparently used a registrar called Melbourne IT to register their domain names. David Ulevitch, the CEO of OpenDNS, says that the attackers appear to have compromised Melbourne IT’s Web site, allowing them to change DNS records for any Melbourne IT customer."

'Baby Monitor Hack' Could Happen To 40,000 Other Foscam Users. "Earlier this month, a creepy dude hacked into a Houston family’s Web-connected baby monitor to call a 2-year-old a 'little slut,'" Forbes reports. "The family was using a “high quality video and audio” camera made by China-based Foscam." Foscam has released a bug fix, but researchers have discovered that "of the nearly 46,000 Foscams that came up in the scan, over 40,000 have not updated their systems to fix the vulnerability."

Hacker Jacob Appelbaum to Testify at Pirate Bay Founder Appeal. TorrentFreak reports that "One of the world’s most famous hackers will give testimony next week on behalf of Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm. Tor developer and former Wikileaks spokesman Jacob Appelbaum will be attempting to add weight to claims that third parties carried out the hack attacks that Svartholm was jailed for earlier this year."

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Timothy B. Lee · August 27, 2013