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

 


FBI admits it controlled Tor servers behind mass malware attack. "It wasn’t ever seriously in doubt, but the FBI yesterday acknowledged that it secretly took control of Freedom Hosting last July, days before the servers of the largest provider of ultra-anonymous hosting were found to be serving custom malware designed to identify visitors," writes Kevin Poulsen at Wired. Details about the situation emerged from local press reports of the Thursday bail hearing in Dublin where Freedom Hosting's operator Eric Eoin Marques was denied bail.

Former NSA and CIA director says terrorists love using Gmail. "Former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden stood on the pulpit of a church across from the White House on Sunday and declared Gmail the preferred online service of terrorists. As part of an adult education forum at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Hayden gave a wide ranging speech on 'the tension between security and liberty.'"

No child left untableted. The New York Time Magazine's Education Issue included a long feature on efforts to modernize classrooms with tablet technology -- and how teachers are reacting. "Sally Hurd Smith, a veteran teacher, held up her brand-new tablet computer and shook it as she said, 'I don’t want this thing to take over my classroom.' It was late June, a month before the first day of school. In a sixth-grade classroom in Greensboro, N.C., a dozen middle-school social-studies teachers were getting their second of three days of training on tablets that had been presented to them as a transformative educational tool. Every student and teacher in 18 of Guilford County’s 24 middle schools would receive one, 15,450 in all, to be used for class work, homework, educational games — just about everything, eventually."

'Follow the Money': NSA Spies on International Payments. Der Spiegel reports that the NSA set up its own financial database to track international cash flows, "The information from the American foreign intelligence agency, acquired by former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, show that the spying is conducted by a branch called "Follow the Money" (FTM). The collected information then flows into the NSA's own financial databank, called "Tracfin," which in 2011 contained 180 million records. Some 84 percent of the data is from credit card transactions."

Why Verizon and AT&T are more innovative than ‘the left’ thinks. "[U]ntil recently, tech policy topics like copyright law and broadband regulation have not been a major focus for AEI scholars. That will change on Monday as the think tank launches its new Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy." The Switch's own Tim Lee spoke with the head of that new initiative, Jeffrey Eisenach, who says telecom companies are more innovative than "the left" thinks and supports strong copyright and patent laws.

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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