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

September 23, 2013

(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

LinkedIn customers allege company hacked e-mail addresses. Some LinkedIn customers think the company has been playing dirty with their external e-mail address books -- in fact, they're so convinced they're suing. “LinkedIn pretends to be that user and downloads the e-mail addresses contained anywhere in that account to LinkedIn’s servers,” the suit claims, “LinkedIn is able to download these addresses without requesting the password for the external e-mail accounts or obtaining users’ consent.” The company denied the allegations in a blog post.

Here’s why Verizon and AT&T don’t need to worry about suffering BlackBerry’s fate. Our own Timothy B. Lee explains why telecom companies aren't likely to share BlackBerry's suffering anytime soon: The mobile OS marketplace has been incredibly dynamic, but "[i]n contrast, the market for wireless service in the United States has barely changed at all over the last decade. In 2003, there were six major wireless carriers: Cingular, T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Nextel and Sprint." Besides some mergers, "[t]oday, nothing has really changed. "

Give yourself 5 stars? Online, it night cost you. The New York Times reports that New York regulators are cracking down on deceptive online reviews: "Agreements have been reached with 19 companies to cease their misleading practices and pay a total of $350,000 in penalties." The penalties resulted from a yearlong investigation that implicated business from teeth-whitening services to adult entertainment clubs. It also included reputation-enhancement firms, some of which were engaging in online reputation inception: "They also went on review sites that criticized their own fake-review operations and wrote fake reviews denying they wrote fake reviews."

Chaos Computer Club hackers trick Apple’s TouchID security feature. Well, that was fast. It looks like hackers may have already have already beaten Apple's TouchID system: "Germany's Chaos Computing Club claim to have tricked Apple's new TouchID security feature this weekend. In a blog post on the breakthrough, the CCC writes they bypassed the fingerprint-reader by simply starting with 'the fingerprint of the phone user photographed from a glass surface.'" Basically, the hackers took a high resolution picture of the finger, inverted it and laser printed it at 1200 dpi and used latex milk to create a replica which successfully fooled the TouchID system.

F.A.A. nears new rules on devices. You may be one step closer to being able to use your e-book reader during take off: "This week, an F.A.A. advisory panel will meet to complete its recommendations to relax most of the restrictions. The guidelines are expected to allow reading e-books or other publications, listening to podcasts, and watching videos, according to several of the panel’s members who requested anonymity because they could not comment on the recommendations." But don't get too excited: "The ban on making phone calls, as well as sending and receiving e-mails and text messages or using Wi-Fi, is expected to remain in place, the panel members said."

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 · September 22, 2013