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

NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, MD where TAO's main team reportedly works (Wikipedia)

NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, MD where TAO's main team reportedly works (Wikipedia)

Crypto prof asked to remove NSA-related blog post. A professor at Johns Hopkins University was forced to remove a blog post after he used it to criticize the NSA, Ars Technica reports. University administrators said the offending post linked to classified material and used the NSA's logo. Johns Hopkins later reversed its decision, but not before the incident raised questions about the school's link to the NSA through its Applied Physics Laboratory.

The cowboy of the NSA. Foreign Policy's Shane Harris profiles Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, revealing a bit of the personal backstory behind his relationship with Gen. Michael Hayden, the former NSA and CIA director. "At times, Hayden had found himself swimming in the murkiest depths of the law, overseeing programs that other senior officials in government thought violated the Constitution. Now Hayden of all people was worried that Alexander didn't understand the legal sensitivities of that new mission."

Will PayPal rescue Bitcoin? Unlike the top Bitcoin exchanges for which regulations haven't been hammered out yet, PayPal is already a "fully compliant money transmitter" in the government's eyes and may assume much of the burden of integrating Bitcoin into the consumer economy, Wired's Robert McMillan reports. "In April, eBay CEO John Donahoe said that the company was looking at ways to integrate Bitcoins into PayPal. 'It’s a new disruptive technology, so, yeah, we’re looking at Bitcoin closely,' he told The Wall Street Journal."

The new iPhone could have your biometric data. Don't panic. It might be creepy, but as Fast Company's Neal Ungerleider writes, there's little chance that Apple's rumored fingerprint scanner can be easily hacked. A bigger problem might be how government gets involved. "Apple could take users' thumbprints and put them all in a central repository, which might make that dystopian concern slightly less fuzzy. Or each iPhone could retain only a local copy, which brings up far fewer privacy issues. But questions do remain if Apple would actually share fingerprint information with law enforcement, even if only on an extraordinary basis. More important for foreign users is the significant question of whether a central repository of thumbprints could lead to the NSA gaining access to them."

John Sculley just gave his most detailed account ever of how Steve Jobs got fired from Apple. In a report in Forbes, Sculley reveals that his dispute with Jobs originated over what to do with the second-generation Macintosh, which critics derided as overly ambitious. "Steve came to me and he said, ‘I want to drop the price of the Macintosh and I want to move the advertising, shift a large portion of it away from the Apple 2 over to the Mac.' I said, ‘Steve, it’s not going to make any difference. The reason the Mac is not selling has nothing to do with the price or with the advertising. If you do that, we risk throwing the company into a loss.’ And he just totally disagreed with me.”

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