Tech 2.0 for Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Contributor: Matt Davenport
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Updated: 2/11 2:14 pm


A coalition of the nation's leading technology firms is urging changes in the government's spying programs. It's pressing for more limits on collections of Americans' data and greater oversight and transparency about the secret operations. The companies' action joins a day of protests against the Obama administration's surveillance policies. Top executives from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, AOL, LinkedIn and Twitter published a joint statement and sent a letter Tuesday to President Barack Obama and members of Congress. The coalition urges changes that would include a government agreement not to collect bulk data from Internet communications. Media accounts based on leaks from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden reported that the U.S. and the United Kingdom intercept massive amounts of metadata abroad from foreign users and sometimes from Americans.

Members of Congress, some of the nation's most frequent flyers, don't want to allow airline passengers to make cellphone calls in-flight and they're doing something about it. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has approved, without opposition, a bill to ban such calls. Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers say they believe in-flight calls would be disturbing to other passengers and possibly disruptive. The bill is a response to moves late last year by the Federal Communications Commission to remove the long-standing prohibition on in-flight calls. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., the committee's chairman and sponsor of the bill, emphasized that he doesn't fly between Washington and his district, but he is "looking out" for his congressional colleagues.

A Google subsidiary has been picked to run and renovate a federal airfield that is frequently used for the personal flights of the company's top executives. The decision announced Monday clears the way for Google's Planetary Ventures LLC to take over management of Moffett Federal Airfield from NASA's Ames Research Center. The airfield is near the Internet company's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. Financial terms still must be worked out. As part of the deal, Google Inc. must renovate the airfield's three hangars, including one that is a local landmark. Google also will upgrade a golf course next to the airfield. A fleet of aircraft owned by Google executives Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt has been flying out of Moffett for years.
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