The Switchboard: Alleged Silk Road founder now accused of six attempted murders-for-hire

November 22, 2013

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

U.S. and Britain struck secret deal to allow NSA to 'unmask' Britons' personal data. "The phone, internet and email records of UK citizens not suspected of any wrongdoing have been analysed and stored by America's National Security Agency under a secret deal that was approved by British intelligence officials," the Guardian reports. "In the first explicit confirmation that UK citizens have been caught up in US mass surveillance programs, an NSA memo describes how in 2007 an agreement was reached that allowed the agency to 'unmask' and hold on to personal data about Britons that had previously been off limits."

Alleged Silk Road boss Ross Ulbricht now accused of six attempted murders-for-hire, denied bail. "A New York judge denied bail to alleged Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht Thursday," according to Forbes. The decision was "based in part on fresh accusations of violence: That the 29-year-old allegedly commissioned the murders of a total of six people through would-be hitmen he contacted online, four more than the two attempted killings described in prosecutors’ original criminal complaint." Ars Technica has more details on the evidence against Ulbricht. Forbes has details about one of Ulbricht's alleged "victims."

Bloggers, WordPress.com stand up to fight questionable DMCA takedown notices. "WordPress.com parent company Automattic and two WordPress users have sued two defendants who attempted to use American copyright law to remove online speech critical of their actions," according to Ars Technica. "In a pair of lawsuits filed Thursday in the Northern District of California, Automattic cites a provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that requires copyright owners to pay damages when overreaching on copyright claims."

U.S. to propose allowing cellphone use during flights. "The nation’s top telecom regulator will propose allowing passengers to make cellphone calls and use their data plans while on an airplane, officials said Thursday," The Washington Post's Brian Fung writes. "The proposed rule change by the Federal Communications Commission would allow phone use once a plane reaches 10,000 feet. Restrictions would still be in place during takeoffs and landings."

House panel approves spying bill, targets leaks. "The House Intelligence Committee approved legislation Thursday to re-authorize the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies," according to the Hill. "The bill includes an additional $75 million to combat insider threats following the leaks of classified information by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden."

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Brian Fung | November 21, 2013