The Switchboard: Are threats of violence on Facebook criminal, or free speech?


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

Apple reaches settlement on e-books suit.  The Wall Street Journal reports: "The plaintiffs had been seeking $840 million from Apple, claiming that the company overcharged consumers by $280 million for e-books and that it should have to pay three times that amount."

Democrats unveil legislation forcing the FCC to ban Internet fast lanes. I write: "The proposal, put forward by Senate Judiciary Committee chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), requires the FCC to use whatever authority it sees fit to make sure that Internet providers don't speed up certain types of content (like Netflix videos) at the expense of others (like e-mail)."

Supreme Court to decide whether making violent threats on Facebook is criminal. According to Re/code: "The court Monday said it will consider the case of Anthony Elonis, a Pennsylvania man who was sentenced to almost four years in federal prison in 2010 for posting violent threats about killing his ex-wife and law enforcement on Facebook."

Agency aims to regulate map aids in vehicles. The Department of Transportation, according to the New York Times, "is intensifying its battle against distracted driving by seeking explicit authority from Congress to regulate navigation aids of all types, including apps on smartphones."

Google's balloon Internet experiment, one year later. "When Google announced Project Loon on June 15 last year, a lot of people were skeptical," according to Wired. "But Google reports that since then, it has been able to extend balloon flight times and add mobile connectivity to the service. As a result, Google’s expectations are flying even higher than the 60,000-foot strata where its balloons live."

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post.
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Brian Fung | June 17