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

September 25, 2013

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Judiciary chairman takes aim at NSA. "Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said Tuesday he would aggressively push legislation to limit the power of the National Security Agency," the Hill reports. "'I am convinced that the system set up in the 1970s to regulate the surveillance capabilities of our intelligence community is no longer working,' Leahy said in a speech at Georgetown University Law Center. 'We have to recalibrate.'"

Soon, California kids will have the right to delete things they said online. "California has put into place the first state law that requires companies, websites, and app developers to give kids under the age of 18 the option to delete a post," reports Ars Technica. "The law, which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday and takes effect on Jan. 1, 2015, imposes onto Web companies and app makers this new requirement."

Posturing over patent reform shows how young companies innovate while old companies litigate. Rep. Bob Goodlatte has circulated new draft legislation that would make some important changes to the patent system. But the Goodlatte draft doesn't significantly expand a program to invalidate bad patents. Techdirt notes that "there's something of a split within the tech sector over whether or not there's support for Goodlatte's latest bill. On the one hand, you've got over 200 startups asking for that accelerated review process for questionable patents. At the same time, you've got a coalition of about 100 more stodgy old line businesses (some of whom are in the tech world) arguing that such a review would 'undermine many valid patents.'"

Ad-skipping is still legal, despite Fox’s best effort. "Fox Broadcasting lawyers made an all-out push earlier this year to knock the newest version of Dish's ad-skipping Hopper DVR off the market, but they have failed," Ars Technica reports. "A Los Angeles federal judge has weighed the competing briefs of both companies and decided the product can remain on the market while litigation proceeds, according to a Dish statement. The actual order remains under seal, so the legal reasoning remains opaque, for now."

Is D.C. BlackBerry's last stand? "BlackBerry, in the midst of an incredible downward business spiral, appears to be hanging its hopes on what has been its most reliable customer: the government," reports Politico. "With a renewed focus on its professional and enterprise customers, the company is trying to salvage its most loyal user base — a group that largely includes the federal government."

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Andrea Peterson | September 24, 2013