The Switchboard: Obama gets an earful from tech execs over NSA spying

December 18, 2013

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

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

Obama on defense over NSA. "The White House was put further on defense over the National Security Agency on Tuesday as executives of the nation’s largest technology companies confronted President Obama over the agency’s spying program," the Hill reports. "The meeting, which included the chiefs of Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo, followed a court ruling a day earlier that said the agency had violated the constitutional rights of millions of Americans."

Patent troll bill taken up by Senate, but some say “slow down.” Patent legislation sped through the House of Representatives after just two months of debate. Ars Technica reports that on Tuesday, "the Senate took up the debate, and there are strong indications that it won't be speeding ahead at quite that rate. While there are some powerful senators who are committed to action on this issue, there are others whose message can best be summarized as 'slow down.'"

White House to tap Microsoft exec to fix HealthCare.gov. "The White House is tapping the private sector for its next point man to oversee the troubled Obamacare website," Politico writes. "The administration is set to announce that Kurt DelBene, a former executive at Microsoft, will succeed Jeff Zients in leading the oversight of the embattled HealthCare.gov. Zients is poised to become the director of the National Economic Council next year, forcing the administration to quickly find his replacement."

FCC drops plan to loosen media ownership rules. "Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has withdrawn a proposal to loosen media ownership restrictions," according to The Hill. "The proposal was first put forward more than a year ago by Wheeler's predecessor, Julius Genachowski. The measure would have relaxed regulations that prohibit a single company from owning a TV broadcast station and a newspaper in the same market. The order would have also eliminated bans on newspaper-radio and TV-radio cross-ownership."

Move Silicon Valley to Cleveland. "The Bay Area is sick and tired of the antics of entitled techies, and the nouveaux riches want a place where they’ll be appreciated," argues Matt Yglesias at Slate. "It’s time for federal authorities to step in and move the show someplace else. Cleveland, say. After all, every big city has its share of obnoxious protesters and obnoxious overclassers. What makes the tensions in the Bay Area especially extreme is the fearsome competition over scarce resources — specifically housing and office space."

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Andrea Peterson | December 18, 2013