The Switchboard: To the NSA, your iPhone is an open book

December 31, 2013

(Photo by MattsMacintosh.)

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

DOJ ready to publish phone surveillance approval. "The Department of Justice has reversed course and said it is willing to declassify parts of a court opinion permitting phone surveillance," according to The Hill. "The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinion — regarding Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which the government cites when justifying its collection of information about virtually all American phone calls — is at the center of a case being brought by the ACLU, which wants the opinion to be public."

The NSA has nearly complete backdoor access to Apple's iPhone. "The U.S. National Security Agency has the ability to snoop on nearly every communication sent from an Apple iPhone," writes The Daily Dot, "according to leaked documents shared by security researcher Jacob Appelbaum and German news magazine Der Spiegel."

U.S. to China: We hacked your Internet gear we told you not to hack. "The United States government has spent years complaining that Chinese intelligence operations could find ways of poking holes in Huawei networking gear, urging both American businesses and foreign allies to sidestep the company’s hardware," writes Wired. "And, yet, Der Speigel now tells us that U.S. intelligence operations have been poking holes in Huawei networking gear — not to mention hardware sold by countless other vendors in both the States and abroad."

Taiwanese regulators warn against bitcoins. "The central bank and the Financial Supervisory Commission yesterday warned against bitcoin use in Taiwan, saying the virtual currency does not enjoy legal protections," according to the Taipei Times. "The regulators also said they may take necessary steps if financial institutions engage in bitcoin business, according to a joint statement issued yesterday."

The 6 lucky states that'll shape the future of drone technology. "For months, drone watchers have waited for the Federal Aviation Administration to decide who'll conduct the nation's safety testing on unmanned planes," I write. "Now, two days before the deadline, the FAA has named six winners from the original 25 applicants."

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post.
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Timothy B. Lee · December 30, 2013