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Tech Edge

Sorry, You Can't Really Escape the NSA - Brought to You by SoftBank

June 17, 2014

By Laura Ryan (@NJLJRyan) with help from Brendan Sasso (@BrendanSasso)

TODAY'S TOP PARAGRAPH: Apple has settled a lawsuit from states and consumers over e-book price fixing. The Supreme Court has agreed to look at a case considering threatening speech on the Internet when it returns this fall. The House Judiciary Committee will hold a markup Wednesday of a bill that would permanently extend a ban on new taxes on the Internet and e-commerce. And technical efforts to block NSA spying are only so effective.

TOP NEWS

ENCRYPTION WON'T END THE NSA: The world's largest Internet companies and thousands of average Internet users are trying to hide their private information from government snooping. But the truth is that efforts to improve online encryption and security can't totally thwart the NSA. The agency can bypass many security measures, and it doesn't matter how encrypted an email is in transit if the NSA just forces the email provider to turn it over. (Sasso, NJ)

 

APPLE SETTLES ANTITRUST SUIT: Apple has reached a settlement with states and consumers over e-book price fixing, avoiding a trial where it could have faced $840 million in claims. The terms of the settlement are sealed. Apple will continue to appeal last year's federal court ruling that it conspired to raise prices. (Joel Rosenblatt, Bloomberg)

SCOTUS TO CONSIDER LIMITS OF FREE SPEECH ONLINE: The Supreme Court will weigh in on the legality of posting violent or threatening messages on social media sites, even if there is no clear intent to carry out the actions. The court announced Monday it will hear the appeal this fall of a Pennsylvania man who is facing almost four years in prison for threatening to kill his wife and law enforcement officers on Facebook.

Two federal courts have ruled against Anthony Elonis, who is arguing that he never intended to carry out those threats and should be protected under the First Amendment. He told the Supreme Court that the issue is important because messages on social media are easily misinterpreted.

GOODLATTE PUSHES INTERNET TAX FREEDOM BILL: The House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on a bill Wednesday that would permanently bar states and local governments from adding new taxes on Internet access and e-commerce, the committee announced Monday. If the Permanent Internet Freedom Act is not approved, states could begin to raise new taxes on the Internet next year when the current law–originally introduced in 1998–expires.

The bipartisan bill was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo in 2013, and it has 214 cosponsors. An identical bill was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Ron Wyden and John Thune.

Americans for Tax Reform, led by Grover Norquist, sent a letter to members of Congress Monday urging them to advance the bill. Failing to do so would hurt innovation, according to the group's letter.

O'RIELLY URGES UPDATE OF FCC'S CONTEST RULES: FCC Commissioner Mike O'Rielly wants the agency to update its guidelines for how broadcasters are required to disclose contest eligibility and participation rules. In a blog post Monday, the Republican commissioner said that broadcasters should be able to direct consumers to a specific website to learn about contest details. This change would give consumers a better way to "read and digest" the rules, according to O'Rielly.

DIGITAL SKILLS FOR ONE-THIRD OF U.S. ADULTS FALL SHORT: Nearly one-third of Americans are underprepared to use computers and the Internet, almost twice the number of people without Internet access, according to a new study by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. The differences in these numbers suggests that digital readiness is a bigger issue than the digital divide because so many people who have access to new technologies are ill-equipped to participate in the new economy. The report recommends the public and private sector double down investments for programs teaching digital skills.

TOP LINES

GROUPS: DON'T EXTEND PHONE SPYING : Privacy groups sent a letter urging the Obama administration not to renew the NSA's bulk phone data collection program when it expires this Friday.

HOW TO KEEP STORES FROM TRACKING YOU: FTC CTO Latanya Sweeney explains how retail shops are tracking you via your phone when you visit their stores and what you can do about it. (NPR)

NAB CHIEF EXTENDS CONTRACT THROUGH 2018: National Association of Broadcasters President and CEO Gordon Smith will continue to lead the organization through 2018, the NAB announced Monday.

SPRINT EXPANDS 4G NETWORK TO RURAL AREAS: Sprint is partnering with 12 small carriers to bring 4G LTE network access to 34 million Americans, the third-largest mobile company announced Monday.

LEVEL 3 EXPANDS ITS FIBER NETWORKS: Internet backbone provider Level 3 is acquiring TW Telecom for $5.68 billion, adding to the size of one of the country's largest back-end Internet services. (Michael De La Merced, NYT)

INSIDE THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF AMAZON: A rare peek inside one of Amazon's massive warehouses. (Marcus Wohlsen, Wired)

WOULD A MCCARTHY WIN BE A WIN FOR SILICON VALLEY? If Rep. Kevin McCarthy becomes the next House majority leader, the California Republican could be a friend to tech companies on Capitol Hill. (Julian Hattem, The Hill)

APPLES IS TAKING APPLICATIONS FOR ITS ED-TECH FUND: Apple CEO Tim Cook sent out letters to invite schools to apply for a slice of the tech giant's $100 million school technology program, which is part of the Obama administration's ConnectED program. (Hayley Tsukayama, Washington Post)

AT&T'S MERGER CASE: IT'S THE SAME OLD SONG: Every time AT&T needs a green light from regulators for a deal, the company says it would usher in a new era of fast Internet. (Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica)

HATCH'S CHIEF OF STAFF HEADS TO VMWARE: Software giant VMWare has hired Michael Kennedy, Sen. Orrin Hatch's chief of staff, to head up its government affairs office.

THE DAY AHEAD

  • The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation will hold a discussion on the digital divide at noon.

  • AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson will address the Economics Club of Washington, D.C. at 11:15 a.m.

  • Reps. Phil Gingrey and Mike Doyle kick off a Congressional Robotics Caucus Advisory Committee briefing on "Robots for Good" at 1 p.m.

  • Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will discuss cybersecurity for the private sector at the Wall Street Journal's CFO Network at 5:45 p.m.

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