The Switchboard: Top tech companies hire first lobbyist on NSA issues

February 7

LinkedIn is among the companies supporting the industry's new NSA-focused lobbyist. (Reuters/David Loh)

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

Tech’s biggest players hire first NSA lobbyist. "Apple, Google, Facebook and five other technology giants that have banded together in their calls for surveillance reform officially registered a Washington lobbyist on Thursday," Politico writes. "The new hire — tasked to represent a coalition that also includes AOL, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo — is a big political move for an industry that initially had tried to avoid the debate over the National Security Agency. Tech companies recently have become more engaged, however, as they discover they have serious business interests at stake."

Bitcoin leader: Regulation should protect consumers. "Government regulators have some role to play overseeing the virtual currency bitcoin, a top developer said on Thursday, but they should be sure not to crack down too harshly," according to the Hill. "Gavin Andresen, chief scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation and one of the core developers behind the money, said that consumer protection was one way that governments could perform useful oversight. 'For me personally, I think things like consumer protection make sense,' he said at an event at the Council on Foreign Relations."

Google, Intellectual Ventures case over patents ends in U.S. mistrial. "A U.S. judge on Wednesday declared a mistrial in a lawsuit brought by private patent owner Intellectual Ventures against Google Inc's Motorola Mobility unit after jurors could not unanimously agree," Reuters reports. "The trial between Intellectual Ventures and Motorola in Delaware federal court was the first for IV since it was founded 14 years ago and pitted two adversaries in the current national debate over patent reform. It involved three patents covering a variety of smartphone-related technologies, including Google Play."

Twitter threatens to sue Obama administration. "Twitter says it is prepared to sue the Obama administration for the right to disclose more details about government surveillance requests," the Hill reports. "In a blog post on Thursday, the head of global legal policy for the micro-blogging website said a recent agreement between tech groups and the Justice Department did not go far enough to address the company's concerns."

No, copyright is not the answer to revenge porn. "Revenge porn sites, which encourage people to post nude photos of ex-girlfriends and others without permission, have resulted in humiliation, career damage and even suicide," according to GigaOm. "The ongoing problem has led some to propose a different solution — copyright law — as a quick and easy way for victims of revenge porn to get their photos off the internet. A closer look, however, shows this is a bad idea."

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Timothy B. Lee | February 6