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NSA Wants to Keep Phone Data Longer and SCOTUS Entertains a War of Words

Welcome to National Journal's Tech Edge, a morning tip sheet with the news you need in technology policy, featuring a round-up of the best coverage and exclusive tips for the day ahead. Got this by forward? Sign up at

By Alex Brown (@AlexBrownNJ), Laura Ryan (@NJLJRyan), Brendan Sasso (@BrendanSasso), and Dustin Volz (@dnvolz)


TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: Keith Alexander will testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee in his role as the head of U.S. Cyber Command at a 9:30 a.m hearing on Defense spending. An Education Department official and former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt will discuss E-Rate, the FCC's school Internet program, at a New America Foundation event at 10 a.m. The Atlantic Council will host an event on the future role of U.S. government-funded research and public private partnerships in fostering innovation. The event begins at 9 a.m. and will bring together a senior White House official and representatives from academia and the private sector.


ON PATENTS, SCOTUS ENTERTAINS A WAR OF WORDS: The Supremes heard oral arguments for two fee-shifting cases Thursday, but the debate throughout largely hinged on the meaning of the word "exceptional" (and related adjectives) when determining whether a loser in a patent infringement case should pay the winner's legal fees. "We're dealing with a term that could be read in many different ways: exceptional," Chief Justice John Roberts offered. "Maybe that means one out of a hundred, maybe it means ten out of a hundred." (Volz, NJ)

NSA WANTS TO KEEP PHONE DATA LONGER: The Obama administration asked the FISA court for permission to keep phone records beyond the current five-year limit. The government argued it needs to maintain the data in case it's needed as evidence in the pending privacy lawsuits seeking to end the program. (Sasso, NJ)


MANCHIN DEMANDS REGULATORS BAN BITCOIN: The digital-currency community is still reeling from the shutdown earlier this week of Mt. Gox, one of the most prominent online exchanges. Sen. Joe Manchin is out with a strong response: Ban bitcoin in the U.S. In a strongly worded letter sent to banking regulators Wednesday, the West Virginia Democrat called the virtual currency "highly unstable and disruptive to our economy." (Catherine Hollander, NJ)

BUT BITCOIN WOULDN'T BE SO EASY TO BAN: Lawmakers could follow several possible courses to ban Bitcoin, but each of them faces a major challenge. (Catherine Hollander, NJ)

BITCOIN EXCHANGES HIT WITH SUBPOENAS: Manhattan's attorney general has sent subpoenas to Mt. Gox and other exchanges in an attempt to learn how they dealt with recent distributed denial of service attacks. (Emily Flitter, Reuters)

CLYBURN DEFENDS FCC NEWSROOM STUDY: FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn came to the defense of the controversial Critical Information Needs study yesterday. The FCC study was formally introduced last summer under her leadership as acting chairwoman. "Understanding the markets that we regulate is necessary, it is critical and it is urgent," Clyburn said at an event a Media Institute event Wednesday. (Kate Tummarello, The Hill)


BUT REPUBLICANS WANT IT CANCELLED: Commissioner Mike O'Reilly joined Commissioner Ajit Pai and senior Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee in calling for the study to be entirely eliminated. "If any value was ever to come from this particular exercise, that ship has sailed. It is probably time to cancel the CIN study for good," O'Reilly said in a statement Wednesday.

VERIZON INVESTIGATING TWO NEW POSSIBLE RETAIL BREACHES: The hacks at the unnamed retailers are similar to those sustained at other outfits late last year, according to a Verizon official. "I'd say the earmarks of these situations look very, very similar.… At this point and I'd be surprised if they were different." (Danny Yardon, WSJ)

APPLE TELLS APPEALS COURT TO TOSS 'RADICAL' E-BOOK RULING: Apple appealed a judge's ruling that it was part of a price-fixing conspiracy with book publishers Tuesday. The rebuttal, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York, called Judge Denise Cotes' ruling a "radical departure from antitrust law and policy." The tech giant added that its entry into the e-book market is good for competition. (Jonathan Stempel, Reuters)

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FORMER SOFTWARE LOBBYIST TAPPED FOR TRADE POST: President Obama plans to nominate Robert Holleyman, the former head of BSA-The Software Alliance, to be the Deputy U.S. Trade Representative. The software lobbying group is now headed by Victoria Espinel, who served in the Obama administration as the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator.

PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE FILES PATENT CASE AMICUS BRIEF: The consumer group, along with the Application Developers Alliance, sent the Supreme Court an amicus brief for the eagerly anticipated review of Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, which will explore the issue of broad software patents. Oral arguments for that case are scheduled for March 31.

DOJ CRIMINAL CHIEF HEADS FOR EXITS: Mythili Raman, the acting head of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, announced she will step down on March 21.

NEW PAI AIDE: FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai hired Brendan Carr, a lawyer in the FCC General Counsel's office, to be his adviser for wireless, public safety, and international issues.

WHY DID THE FCC WANT TO INTERVIEW JOURNALISTS?: The lead author of the literature review for the FCC's media study tells his side of the story. (Corey Hutchins, Columbia Journalism Review)

T-MOBILE'S RESURGENCE: T-Mobile's resurgence has triggered a "rash of consumer-friendliness" in the mobile communications industry, thanks in large part to the U.S. government's decision to block AT&T's takeover of the Seattle-based company in 2011. What lessons will T-Mobile's comeback hold for regulators who will soon decide the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger? (Farhad Manjoo, NYT)

BOEING'S SELF-DESTRUCTING PHONE: Boeing filed papers with the FCC for a smartphone designed for the defense and security industry. "Boeing Black" uses an Android-like operating system and self-destructs if you try to find out its secrets. (Jon Ostrower, WSJ)

DANGERS OF TECH OUTSOURCING: Outsourcing isn't just for manufacturers anymore. Tech companies outsource jobs to outside vendors, too, and it is one of the underlying causes of data theft. (Aarti Shahani, NPR)

Don't Miss Today's Top Stories

Love it - first thing I read in the morning."

Amy, VP of Communications

I read the Tech Edge every morning."

Ashley, Senior Media Associate

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