The Switchboard: D.C. Data: 90 percent of wireless callers to 911 can’t be easily located


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

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White House pulls plug on controversial Patent Office nominee after tech sector backlash. Gigaom reports: "The Obama Administration has changed its mind over a plan to name pharmaceutical executive Phil Johnson as head of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, according to multiple sources. The reversal is a victory for the technology industry and other proponents of patent reform."

Google, Canon, Dropbox and others pool patents to ward off trolls. Re/code reports: "A coalition of technology companies large and small has created a sort of arms-control treaty to prevent future abuses of their intellectual property."

Calling 911 from your cellphone in D.C.? Good luck getting first-responders to find you. "Over a six-month period in 2013, the D.C. data show, calls to 911 were easily narrowed down to a general geographic area covered by a single cell tower. But a startling proportion of those calls lacked the latitude-longitude data required by federal regulations for pinpointing people in distress."

Supreme Court said Aereo is a cable company, so now it wants to be treated like one. "Aereo has filed a letter with the U.S. District Court saying that since the Court said it's like a cable system, it is entitled to the same statutory license that cable companies pay broadcasters," according to Engadget. "CEO Chet Kanojia sent a message to users and supporters explaining "The Path Forward" with a link to the letter, but hasn't laid out a timeline for the service's return."

Chinese hackers pursue key data on U.S. workers. The New York Times reports: "Chinese hackers in March broke into the computer networks of the United States government agency that houses the personal information of all federal employees, according to senior American officials. They appeared to be targeting the files on tens of thousands of employees who have applied for top-secret security clearances."

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post.
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Brian Fung | July 10