Published every weekday, the Switchboard highlights five tech policy stories you need to read.
Fighting a data grab, Airbnb attacks ‘vague’ New York hotel laws. "Earlier this week the home-renting company Airbnb publicly objected to what it saw as an overreaching subpoena by the New York Attorney General. The subpoena demanded data on all 15,000 of its hosts," Ars Technica reports. Airbnb's petition, filed Wednesday in Supreme Court in Albany, "is more ambitious than the company let on earlier. It isn't merely trying to quash the AG's request for data on its users. Rather, a good portion of the 24-page petition is dedicated to directly attacking New York's hotel tax as unconstitutionally vague."
Judge: Google’s Tracking Not Harmful. "A federal judge in Delaware Wednesday dismissed a class-action lawsuit brought against Google and two other tech companies, arguing that the Web users who brought the case couldn’t prove that Google’s tracking practices caused them harm," according to the Wall Street Journal. "The plaintiffs were users of Web browsers from Apple and Microsoft, which have settings that block cookies. The plaintiffs alleged that Google, and online advertisers Vibrant Media and the Media Innovation Group, had 'tricked' the browsers into accepting cookies, and as a result were subject to targeted ads."
Internet freedom group splits from tech companies over surveillance concerns. "Recent revelations about government surveillance have begun splintering the Global Network Initiative (GNI), a group of Internet advocacy groups and tech companies dedicated to advancing human rights online," the Hill reports. "Internet advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) announced Thursday that it was leaving GNI. The EFF said it is concerned about the group’s ability to facilitate transparent conversations with member companies — including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo — which are bound by secretive surveillance laws."
Why U.S. government IT fails so hard, so often. "The rocky launch of the Department of Health and Human Services' HealthCare.gov is the most visible evidence at the moment of how hard it is for the federal government to execute major technology projects," according to Ars Technica. "But the troubled 'Obamacare' IT system — which uses systems that aren't connected in any way to the federal IT infrastructure — is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the government's IT problems."
Intelligence oversight has some limits in Congress. "The White House insists members of Congress knew full well about the National Security Agency’s almost unabridged ability to scan phone logs and Internet chats for terrorist threats — and the potential that Americans’ communications could be caught in the fray," Politico argues. "But evidence of the NSA’s many privacy missteps wasn’t widely shared on Capitol Hill, even during crucial moments when Congress voted to reauthorize the government’s controversial surveillance powers."