The Switchboard: Senator wants NFL to kill sports blackouts


Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) passes against the Baltimore Ravens in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)

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

Brown to NFL: Kill blackout policy. "Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) urged the NFL on Thursday to kill its blackout policy amid reports the Cincinnati Bengals game could be blocked from appearing on Cincinnati-area TV sets due to unsold tickets," The Hill reports. "Brown said, despite a recent vote by the Federal Communications Commission to consider eliminating the 1970s blackout rule, Cincinnati might not be able to watch its team this weekend."

NSA seeks to build quantum computer that could crack most types of encryption. "In room-size metal boxes ­secure against electromagnetic leaks, the National Security Agency is racing to build a computer that could break nearly every kind of encryption used to protect banking, medical, business and government records around the world," according to the Washington Post's Steven Rich and Barton Gellman. "Although the full extent of the agency’s research remains unknown, the documents provided by Snowden suggest that the NSA is no closer to success than others in the scientific community."

Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals plans audio streaming. "Anyone who wants to listen to one of the far-flung hearings of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals can now do so on live audio stream," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. "The court said Thursday it will offer online audio access to all of its proceedings starting with hearings next week in Pasadena, the first time a federal appeals court has provided that service."

ACLU appeals NSA phone data ruling. "The ACLU is appealing a recent court ruling that found the National Security Agency's surveillance of phone call data constitutional," according to The Hill. "Last week, Judge William Pauley of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled in the case ACLU v. Clapper that the NSA surveillance program that collects information about virtually all American phone calls is lawful."

Google’s VP9 Video Codec Gets Backing from ARM, Nvidia, Sony And Others, Gives 4K Video Streaming A Fighting Chance. "While Mozilla, Google’s own Chrome browser and a few video players like FFmpeg started supporting VP9 over the course of the last year, what was mostly missing from Google’s ecosystem for this highly efficient video codec was hardware support," according to TechCrunch. "As Google announced today, however, virtually all major hardware vendors will soon support VP9 natively in their products and allow Google’s YouTube to stream HD content up to 4K directly to computers, TVs and mobile devices."

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