The Switchboard: Uber to face suit over death of girl hit by driver


NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. (Photo by NSA via Getty Images)

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

Obama signs off on nomination of Rogers as NSA director. President Obama has signed off on the nomination of Vice Adm. Michael S. Rogers to lead the embattled National Security Agency and the Pentagon’s cyberwarfare organization, according to sources familiar with the decision," reports the Post's Ellen Nakashima. "Rogers, a Navy cryptologist, had long been seen as the front-runner to succeed Gen. Keith Alexander, who has been NSA director since 2005."

Sources: Card breach at Michaels stores. "Multiple sources in the banking industry say they are tracking a pattern of fraud on cards that were all recently used at Michaels Stores Inc., an Irving, Texas-based arts-and-crafts retailer that maintains more than 1,250 stores across the United States," reports Brian Krebs at his blog Krebs on Security. Krebs also broke the first news of the Target breach back in December.

Google broadens its outreach to GOP. "Google has hired a string of Republican operatives as part of an effort to build relationships with GOP lawmakers and has evened out the campaign donations from its political-action committee, which had skewed in favor of Democratic candidates," reports Thomas Catan and Brody Mullins at the Wall Street Journal. "In 2011, Google began ramping up its funding of an array of conservative groups, including some that oppose the company's policy stances, which include support for gay marriage, relaxing restrictions on immigration and reducing greenhouse gases."

Uber and a child's death.  David Streitfeld at the New York Times reports on a coming lawsuit against transportation start-up Uberm seeking damages over the death of six-year-old Sofia Liu who died after being hit by an Uber driver waiting for a fare on New Year's Eve. "Uber asserts that Uber drivers without fares are not Uber cars," he writes. "The suit, filed by Chris Dolan, a San Francisco lawyer, directly challenges this effort by the company to detach itself from its own users. It says Uber needs the vehicles to be logged into the Uber app — that’s the only way potential riders know there is a car in the vicinity. So even when there is no fare in the car, the drivers are in essence on the clock, working for Uber."

Here’s what caused that massive Gmail outage. Remember that Gmail outage from Friday that got Yahoo so excited? The Switch's Brian Fung reports Google VP of Engineering Ben Traynor attributing the problem to a software bug. "The outage, Traynor continued, essentially fixed itself when the system responsible for the malfunction automatically generated the correct configuration and began propagating that throughout Google's live services."

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
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Brian Fung | January 26