The Switchboard: Twitter stock price up over 70 percent on first day of trading

November 8, 2013

A trader raises his hand just before the Twitter Inc. IPO begins on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, November 7, 2013. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

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

Twitter ends first trading day at $44.90 a share, valued at more than $25B. The Post's Hayley Tsukayama reports on Twitter's first day on the stock market: "Twitter took flight on the markets Thursday in one of the biggest initial public offerings of all time for a U.S. Internet company, and shares soared more than 70 percent after they debuted on the New York Stock Exchange."

Does the Surveillance State Puts U.S. Elections at Risk of Manipulation?. Conor Friedersdorf  at The Atlantic makes a compelling case for why the surveillance state could put U.S. elections at risk. "Imagine a very plausible 2016 presidential contest in which an anti-NSA candidate is threatening to win the nomination of one party or the other—say that Ron Wyden is challenging Hillary Clinton, or that Rand Paul might beat Chris Christie. Does anyone doubt where Keith Alexander or his successor as NSA director would stand in that race? Or in a general election where an anti-NSA candidate might win?" Friedersdorf suggests it's plausible that such an person might be "tempted to use his position to sink the political prospects of candidates antagonistic to the agency's interests." He also suggests that another Snowden-like character with enough access and different motives might attempt to use data collected by the surveillance state to sway an election.

The CIA reportedly paid AT&T $10 million a year for phone records. Is that legal? Our own Brian Fung asks about the legality of the CIA's reported payments to AT&T. "Every telecom operator is governed by regulations on CPNI, or customer proprietary network information. Under the law, phone companies must protect their records from third parties. The only time a telco can release this information is in the course of providing regular telephone service; when a customer asks for the data to be given out; or when the recipient of the information is another communications provider. There are some exceptions, but none of them cite national security. The closest we ever get is when the law permits phone companies to give out CPNI to "database management services," but only in the context of emergency first response."

Feds review third Tesla fire as shares fall again. Tesla stocks fell to $139.91 at the end of the day yesterday, down $11.25 -- 7.4 percent -- from the previous day, after a third Tesla fire caught the eye of federal regulators, USA Today reports. A spokesperson for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the agency "will contact the local authorities who are looking into the incident to determine if there are vehicle safety implications that merit agency action."

No, Bitcoin isn’t broken. Two Cornell researchers have declared "Bitcoin is broken," concluding that a flaw in the protocol could allow a minority of Bitcoin miners to collude for an unfair advantage. But The Switch's Timothy B. Lee says "this is a clever analysis, but it falls far short of proving that the decentralized cryptocurrency is fatally flawed. In reality, the attack they outline is a relatively minor concern for Bitcoin miners, and shouldn't affect ordinary Bitcoin users at all."

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 | November 7, 2013