The Switchboard: Obama admits Clapper ‘should have been more careful’ in Senate testimony

January 31

DNI James Clapper. (Susan Walsh/AP)

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

Obama: Clapper ‘should have been more careful’ in congressional testimony. "President Obama said Friday that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper 'should have been more careful' when he testified to a Senate panel last year that the National Security Agency did not collect data on millions of Americans," the Hill writes. "His concern was that he had a classified program that he couldn't talk about and he was in an open hearing in which he was asked, he was prompted to disclose a program, and so he felt that he was caught between a rock and a hard place," Obama told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

Google paid $4B for patents: Why the Motorola deal worked out just fine. "When Google bought Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in 2011, many people said it was all about the patents — and they were right," according to GigaOm. "Now, on news that Google sold the device maker for just $2.9 billion, it’s worth examining if the deal made sense, and what role the patents played. The short answer is that the deal, including the patent part of it, worked out just fine."

The FCC is ‘beta testing’ a next-gen telephone network. "Federal regulators have taken their first major step in accelerating the country's move toward high-capacity, fiber-optic phone networks," our own Brian Fung reports. "In a unanimous vote Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission approved a program of trials designed to study the effects of shifting consumers onto next-generation infrastructure that will be able to carry advanced services like HD voice calls and video."

Wireless mergers will draw scrutiny, antitrust chief says. "The nation’s leading antitrust enforcer said this week that it would be difficult for the Justice Department to approve a merger among any of the top four wireless phone companies, casting doubt on recent speculation that T-Mobile and Sprint might consummate a deal in coming months," the New York Times reports. "William J. Baer, assistant attorney general for the antitrust division, said in an interview that further consolidation among the top wireless carriers would face intense scrutiny because consumers have enjoyed 'much more favorable competitive conditions' since the division blocked a proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile in 2011."

Obama's go-it-alone approach to tech policy. "Some of the most pressing technology issues in Washington — from the security of the country’s networks to the way government handles patents or hires tech experts — are being adjudicated predominantly by the White House, an unavoidable go-it-alone approach in debates that matter to tech giants in Silicon Valley and profit-makers on Wall Street," Politico argues. "Obama specifically set that tone in his State of the Union address, emphasizing he wouldn't wait on Congress across a broad spectrum of issues — patents and broadband connectivity included. But Obama’s second-term mix of executive actions, policy directives and private-sector collaborations could fall short of what Capitol Hill would be able to do if both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue worked together."

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