The Switchboard: Thousands gather in D.C. to protest NSA surveillance

October 28, 2013

Demonstrators march through Washington towards the Mall for a rally to demand that Congress investigate the National Security Agency's mass surveillance programs, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

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

Federal prosecutors, in a policy shift, cite warrantless wiretaps as evidence. Charlie Savage at the New York Times reports that the Department of Justice has notified a criminal defendant that the evidence against him was gathered via a warrantless wiretap. "Prosecutors filed such a notice late Friday in the case of Jamshid Muhtorov, who was charged in Colorado in January 2012 with providing material support to the Islamic Jihad Union, a designated terrorist organization based in Uzbekistan." The move is "expected to set up a Supreme Court test of whether such eavesdropping is constitutional."

Thousands gather in Washington for anti-NSA 'Stop Watching Us' rally. Jim Newell at The Guardian reports on the Stop Watching Us rally in Washington on Saturday: "Thousands gathered by the Capitol reflection pool in Washington on Saturday to march, chant, and listen to speakers and performers as part of Stop Watching Us, a gathering to protest "mass surveillance" under NSA programs first disclosed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden."

Britain feared legal challenges if surveillance became public. It was right to worry.  Recently disclosed memos from British intelligence agency GCHQ show that the government didn't want to disclose information about its spying activities because it feared the ensuing public debate would lead to legal challenges. The Switch explains why that was a valid fear: The Snowden revelations led to a rash of legal challenges on this side of the pond.

Only 2 countries have been hit with DDoS attacks every day since May. The U.S. is one. Caitlin Dewey, writing for The Switch, reports that "only two countries have suffered significant DDoS attacks every single day for the past five months, and they’re probably exactly the countries you’d expect: China and the United States."

NSA blames ‘internal error,’ not hackers, for website crash. Lee Ferran and Mollie Hunter at ABC News report that the NSA blamed an internal error, not malicious adversaries, for a multi-hour outage on Friday. Earlier speculation had suggested the down time might have been the result of a DDoS attack.

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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Andrea Peterson · October 27, 2013