The Switchboard: Intelligence panel urges limits on NSA surveillance

December 19, 2013

(Charles Dharapak / AP)

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

Panel urges new curbs on surveillance by U.S. "A panel appointed by President Obama to review the government’s surveillance activities has recommended significant new limits on the nation’s intelligence apparatus that include ending the National Security Agency’s collection of virtually all Americans’ phone records," according to the Post's own Ellen Nakashima and Ashkan Soltani.

Research shows how MacBook webcams can spy on their users without warning. "While controlling a camera remotely has long been a source of concern to privacy advocates," write The Switch's own Timothy Lee and Ashkan Soltani, "conventional wisdom said there was at least no way to deactivate the warning light. New evidence indicates otherwise."

Target confirms massive data breach involving 40 million credit cards "Target Corp. said data from about 40 million credit and debit card accounts might have been stolen during the Thanksgiving weekend, in one of the largest credit card breaches at a U.S. retailer," Reuters reports. "Investigators believe the data was obtained via software installed on machines that customers use to swipe magnetic strips on their cards when paying for merchandise at Target stores, according to the person who was not authorized to discuss the matter and declined to provide further details."

The day Google had to 'start over' on Android. "Google was building a secret mobile product to fend off chief rival Microsoft," according to The Atlantic. "Then Apple announced the iPhone, and everything changed."

FCC moves to end NFL blackouts. "The Federal Communications Commission moved Wednesday to curb the sports blackouts on television that have frustrated fans over the years by preventing many of them from watching their local team," according to the Post's Cecilia Kang. "The proposal, which would still need a final vote by the commission, would overhaul 40-year-old rules that were written when watching games on television wasn’t as popular as going to stadiums."

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post, focusing on telecom, broadband and digital politics. Before joining the Post, he was the technology correspondent for National Journal and an associate editor at the Atlantic.
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Timothy B. Lee · December 18, 2013