The Switchboard: Google files lawsuit over competitors’ patent litigation campaign

December 26, 2013

(AP)

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

Google sues to protect Android device makers from Apple-backed patent hell. "Google has filed a new lawsuit to challenge an Apple-backed consortium known as Rockstar that is using dubious patents to threaten its partners and customers in the mobile device industry," GigaOm reports. "In a complaint filed Monday in San Jose, Google claims that Rockstar’s patent campaign is taking aim at hundreds of California tech companies and that the litigation has 'placed a cloud on Google’s Android platform,' threatening Nexus devices in particular."

Snowden: No concept of privacy in future. "The surveillance practices in George Orwell’s book 1984 pale in comparison to reality, Edward Snowden said in a Christmas Day address," according to The Hill. "The speech, less than two minutes long, was given on Great Britain’s Channel 4, which has long televised alternative addresses to Queen Elizabeth’s traditional Christmas address. Snowden, whose leaks about National Security Agency surveillance programs has him wanted for espionage by the Obama administration, called on governments to end mass surveillance in the address."

Alan Turing was a war hero prosecuted for being gay. He finally got a pardon. "Alan Turing was one of the greatest minds of the 20th century," I wrote Tuesday. "But Turing, a gay man, had the misfortune to live in an intolerant era. In 1952, he was prosecuted for 'gross indecency' for having a sexual relationship with another man. Now the computing pioneer has finally received a pardon from Queen Elizabeth."

Feds indict three alleged Silk Road forum moderators and administrators. "The Department of Justice has indicted three men who it suspects helped run the Silk Road, an online drug marketplace that was hidden through the Tor anonymous Web-surfing network," Ars Technica reports. "The three men — Andrew Michael Jones of Charles City, Virginia; Gary Davis of Wicklow, Ireland; and Peter Phillip Nash of Brisbane, Australia — are alleged to have worked with suspected Silk Road owner and operator Ross Ulbricht, who was arrested in San Francisco, California, earlier this year. Jones and Nash were arrested last week. Davis is 'believed to be in Ireland,' authorities say."

If not the NSA, who should store the phone data? "A measure that President Obama is considering as a way to curb the National Security Agency’s mass storage of phone data is already facing resistance — not only from the intelligence community but also from privacy advocates, the phone industry and some lawmakers," The Post's Ellen Nakashima writes. "Obama last week suggested that he was open to the idea of requiring phone companies to store the records and allowing the government to search them under strict guidelines. But now, industry officials, privacy advocates and congressional officials are expressing resistance to any alternatives that involve mandating phone companies to hold the data for longer periods."

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Timothy B. Lee | December 24, 2013