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What to Watch for in the Aereo Case

Welcome to National Journal's Tech Edge, a morning tip sheet with the news you need in technology policy, featuring a roundup 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'S TOP PARAGRAPH: Lawyers for the TV broadcasters, Aereo, and the U.S. government will square off in the Supreme Court today. Netflix came out against Comcast's purchase of Time Warner Cable. AT&T announced a major expansion of its fiber network, and Verizon's annual data breach report gives tips for fighting hackers.


AEREO GETS ITS DAY IN COURT: The key legal question is whether the video site Aereo is "publicly performing" the content of the TV stations. Aereo will point to an appeals court decision in the Cablevision case, which held that the cable company could store programming at its own server to allow customers to watch later. The broadcasters never liked the Cablevision ruling and would be happy to see the court reverse it.

The court has accepted the broadcasters' framing of the question of the case, and the solicitor general's support should give them a boost. The action starts at 11 a.m., with 20 minutes for the broadcasters, 10 minutes for the solicitor general's office, and 30 minutes for Aereo.


SCOTUSblog has a run-down of the legal issues in the case, and CNET says to keep an eye on Justices Ginsburg and Breyer as the two poles of the debate (with Ginsburg expected to be more skeptical of Aereo and Breyer more supportive).

"THE BAD GUYS ARE WINNING": The time it takes for hackers to break into systems has been dropping in recent years, according to Verizon's annual data breach report, released today. But the time it takes for companies to discover a breach has barely improved at all. "We realize most organizations cannot keep up with cybercrime – and the bad guys are winning," Wade Baker, the principal author of the report, said in a statement.

Verizon found there were at least 1,367 data breaches and 63,437 "security incidents" in 2013. Chris Porter, a co-author of the report, explained that the figure is higher than ever, but that's primarily because this is the "most comprehensive data set" that Verizon has had to work with.

FULL SPEED AHEAD FOR AT&T'S FIBER NETWORK: AT&T wants to build out its high-speed fiber network in 21 major cities, including Atlanta, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, the company announced Monday. Before AT&T can move forward, it will have to get approval from local officials. AT&T is racing with Google to deploy its ultra-fast U-Verse GigaPower service that delivers speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second, more than 100 times faster than the average U.S. connection. It already operates in Austin, and is in advanced talks with multiple cities in North Carolina.


In a note to investors, industry analyst Paul Gallant said AT&T's initiative is good news for Comcast because it will help the cable company make the case to regulators that broadband is already plenty competitive.

PRIVACY GROUPS PUSH FOR ENCRYPTION REFORM: The Sunlight Foundation, Electronic Frontier Foundation and others sent a letter to the National Institute of Standards and Technology pressing for tighter computer security standards from the Obama administration. The groups also urged NIST to ignore suggestions from the NSA, though it is required by law to consult the spy agency when it works on encryption standards.

NEW STUDY QUESTIONS SPECTRUM CAPS: The Phoenix Center, a conservative think tank, released a study today that contradicts the main arguments for bidding limits in the upcoming spectrum auction. Studying the 2006 AWS-1 spectrum, the Phoenix Center found that AT&T and Verizon's participation contributed about 70 percent of the auction revenue, directly and indirectly, and did not deter smaller carriers from participating.

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NETFLIX OPPOSES COMCAST-TWC: The online video site warned that a merger of the cable giants is a threat to Internet freedom. (Ryan, NJ)

...AND PLANS TO RAISE SUBSCRIPTION PRICES: Netflix will raise subscription prices for new subscribers $1 to $2 dollars in the next year, according to the company's quarterly report. (John Kell, WSJ)

CEA ANNOUNCES SUPPORT FOR LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS: The Consumer Electronics Association announced financial support for the Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative group that supports equal rights for gays and lesbians, making it the first major trade organization to do so.

IN SILICON VALLEY CLASS ACTION SUIT, SETTLEMENT MAY BE NEAR: Settlement talks are accelerating, increasing the chance of an anticlimactic ending to a bitter fight. (David Streitfeld, NYT)

MICROSOFT'S NOKIA ACQUISITION BECOMES OFFICIAL: By the end of the week, Nokia will finally become part of the Microsoft family after the acquisition was slowed down by regulators.

APPLE'S PLAN TO BECOME MORE GREEN: Apple powers 94 percent of its facilities with renewable energy, just shy of its goal to reach 100 percent. (Steven Levy, Wired)

US TRIES TO DEFUSE DEBATE OVER INTERNET CONTROL: U.S. officials hope their plan to give up oversight of certain Internet address functions will assuage international complaints at a meeting this week in Brazil. (Chao, Nagesh, Robinson, WSJ)


  • The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for ABC v. Aereo at 11:00 a.m.

  • The National Defense Industrial Association will hold a daylong forum on cyber attacks beginning at 8:30 a.m.

  • FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen will speak at a Georgetown University's Public Policy and Law School event on privacy in the era of big data beginning at 10 a.m.

  • Following an address by Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald will participate by video in a panel discussion hosted by Georgetown University's Center for Poetics and Social Practice on surveillance and whistleblowing at 7 p.m.

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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