The Switchboard: NSA chief Alexander formalizes plans to step down

October 17, 2013

National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander gestures during a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on Capitol Hill on Oct. 2, 2013 in Washington. (Evan Vucci/AP)

U.S. eavesdropping agency chief, top deputy expected to depart soon. Gen. Keith Alexander, head of U.S. Cyber Command and the director of the NSA, has formalized plans to step down, according to Reuters. While his departure appears to be voluntary, that leaves President Obama with a choice: Continue to keep Cyber Command and the NSA united under one leader, or split the agencies between two people. I argue that however he decides, here's what'll change: Probably nothing. Meanwhile, Reuters names Vice Adm. Michael Rogers as a potential leading candidate. My colleague Andrea Peterson digs into Rogers's background.

Georgia clamps down on free phone calls for the poor. Beginning on Jan. 31, Georgia will begin charging low-income residents $5 a month for access to a federally subsidized program that residents of other states get for free: "Although some critics of the Obama administration have said the Lifeline program gives the poor free 'Obama phones', Iverson said tax money only pays for the phone service, not the actual phones."

Windows 8.1 includes seamless, automatic disk encryption — if your PC supports it. Windows 8.1 is out, and as Ars Technica reports, one new feature involves automatic encryption of tablets and ultrabook laptops: "Rather than requiring a user or system administrator to enable it, your device’s boot partition comes encrypted out of the box. This encryption is essentially invisible during normal use—you pick up the tablet, log in, and use it just as you would an unencrypted PC. If someone were to steal the device from you, though, they wouldn’t be able to get at any of your information without your account password or your encryption key, which in this case is protected by your account password."

Samsung proposes five-year patent hiatus to escape European Union antitrust warnings. After the European Union kicked off an antitrust investigation of the mobile device manufacturer in January 2012, Samsung now promises not to sue companies that wish to license its standards-essential patents. The proposed moratorium would last a period of five years, Engadget reports: "The EC hopes that by limiting Samsung's ability to impose increased royalty rates, competitors will be able to license its patents and provide consumers with more product choice. Should Samsung be found guilty, it could face a multi-million dollar fine based on a share of its mobile profits."

Twitter hires Google advertising executive ahead of IPO. A top Google exec has been snatched away by Twitter to serve as its head of retail, according to Bloomberg: "J.J. Hirschle, who directed media and entertainment advertising at Google, will be responsible for the team selling advertising products to retail companies, Will Stickney, a spokesman for Twitter, said yesterday. He starts Oct. 28."

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post, focusing on telecom, broadband and digital politics. Before joining the Post, he was the technology correspondent for National Journal and an associate editor at the Atlantic.
Comments
Show Comments

business/technology

the-switch

Most Read Business
Next Story
Andrea Peterson · October 16, 2013