The Switchboard: Is an Internet troll in jail because the government doesn’t get hacking?


President Barack Obama speaks during an end-of-the year news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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

Official: Court’s sign-off for queries on Americans’ data would be impractical. "A senior government lawyer said Wednesday that the high volume of searches that the National Security Agency makes of a database that holds Americans’ and foreigners’ communications would make court approval for queries involving Americans impractical," reports the Post's own Ellen Nakashima.

History will remember Obama as the great slayer of patent trolls. "Even now," writes Wired, "a perfect storm of patent reform is brewing in all three branches of government. Over time, it could reshape intellectual property law to turn the sue-and-settle troll mentality into a thing of the past."

One chart illustrates T-Mobile’s monster comeback. "What a difference a year of 'Uncarrier' initiatives makes," writes BGR. "Business Insider flags a new report from UBS that charts T-Mobile’s extraordinary comeback over the last year that has seen its service revenue growth go from -9.6% in Q4 2012 to -1.1% in Q4 2013."

Franken to DOJ: Vet Comcast/TWC for net neutrality concerns. "Franken has now written the Justice Department, which is already vetting the deal for antitrust issues, asking it to look at network neutrality issues in its review," according to Multichannel News.

Weev is still in jail because the government doesn't know what hacking is. "The common line about weev is that there's no doubt he's done some terrible and distasteful things," writes Vice. "The online stalking of a female blogger, the homophobic and anti-Semitic trolling, for instance. But, they say, he shouldn't be serving time for pointing out a flaw that AT&T and Apple left open to the public."

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post, focusing on telecom, broadband and digital politics. Before joining the Post, he was the technology correspondent for National Journal and an associate editor at the Atlantic.
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