The Washington Post

Switchboard: The U.S. built Twitter-type programs in more than just Cuba

CEO and chief designer of SpaceX Elon Musk (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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

Why Elon Musk is throwing his biggest potential customer under the bus. Our own Brian Fung reports on Elon Musk's latest announcement: "The space entrepreneur says he will file a protest against the U.S. Air Force on Monday so that his company, SpaceX, can compete for federal space launch contracts. " A protest carries the legal weight of a lawsuit -- this one will be filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. "The market for launching national security rockets into space is dominated by a joint venture between aerospace giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin" known as United Launch Alliance or ULA, which signed a five-year launch services contract with the U.S. Air Force last December, potentially worth $9.5 billion.

U.S. says it built digital programs abroad with an eye to politics. "The United States built Twitter-like social media programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan, like one in Cuba, that were aimed at encouraging open political discussion," reports Ron Nixon at the New York Times. "But like the program in Cuba, which was widely ridiculed when it became public this month, the services in Pakistan and Afghanistan shut down after they ran out of money because the administration could not make them self-sustaining." According to his sources, similar programs were built in dozens of other countries -- sometimes without public disclosure

Exclusive: CEO Gurbaksh Chahal Fired by RadiumOne Board. The board of RadiumOne fired CEO Gurbaskh Chahal this weekend, a move which was " directly related to his conviction for battery and domestic violence" reports Kara Swisher at Re/Code. Chahal was charged with 45 felony counts last year, but recently pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts after video evidence of the assault was excluded. He reportedly owns a significant share of the company.

Microsoft’s Nokia deal is done. Can two veterans remake the future together? "Microsoft and Nokia have completed their deal to sell the Finnish firm's devices business to the tech giant in Redmond, Wash. The $7.2 billion bid, announced in September, has made it through all of the regulatory hurdles, transforming the old Nokia business into Microsoft Mobile," writes The Switch's Hayley Tsukayama. "Now the hard work starts."

It’s Crazy What Can Be Hacked Thanks to Heartbleed. If you weren't already worried enough about Heartbleed, Rob McMillan at Wired warns of potential vulnerabilities in the Internet of things due to the coding bug.


Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
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