The Switchboard: NSA spied on phone calls of dozens of world leaders

October 25, 2013

(The Guardian)

Published every weekday, the Switchboard highlights five tech policy stories you need to read.

NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders after U.S. official handed over contacts. "The National Security Agency monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders after being given the numbers by an official in another US government department," according to documents released by Ed Snowden to the Guardian. "The confidential memo reveals that the NSA encourages senior officials in its 'customer' departments, such as the White House, State and the Pentagon, to share their 'Rolodexes' so the agency can add the phone numbers of leading foreign politicians to their surveillance systems."

Five reasons AT&T shouldn’t be allowed to ditch “monopoly” regulations. "AT&T has been reciting a well-rehearsed message lately: that century-old, monopoly-era rules guaranteeing phone service to all Americans are irrelevant in the age of the Internet," Ars Technica reports. "The company petitioned the Federal Communications Commission in late 2011 to plan for the retirement of traditional phone networks and to eliminate 'conventional public-utility style regulation' of our future, all-Internet Protocol networks."

Goodlatte defends patent reform bill. "House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlate (R-Va.) defended his recently introduced patent reform bill against the criticism it received on Thursday," the Hill writes. "Speaking at the American Enterprise Institute, Goodlatte addressed dueling complaints that his bill does too much and too little to fight overly broad patents."

The L.A. schools' iPad misadventure is looking a lot more expensive. "The story of Los Angeles schools' misbegotten $1-billion program to equip all its students with iPads for students continues to get worse," the L.A. Times reported earlier this week. "The price of the devices turns out to be higher by $100 each than officials of the Los Angeles Unified School District originally claimed. The district reported in its latest budget for the iPad program that although it is eligible for the lower price it previously cited, the discount kicks in only after it spends $400 million on iPads."

Patent troll asks judge for gag order to silence opponent. "When a patent-holding company called Lumen View Technology sued FindTheBest, a consumer research website, the reaction it was looking for was a quick $50,000 payout for its patent on 'multilateral decision making,'" according to Ars Technica. "Instead, it ran into an entrepreneur willing to spend $1 million to stop it through a RICO lawsuit, and it found itself on the receiving end of a batch of tough publicity when FindTheBest's CEO, Kevin O'Connor, started talking to the press about his fight."

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Hayley Tsukayama · October 25, 2013