Morning tech tipsheet: Fri., May 14 — Laptop thefts at VA, House fights over porn

What we're following the morning of Friday, May 14 ...

VA loses another laptop with veterans' personal data, prompting inquiry (Hillicon Valley) — The Department of Veterans Affairs has been the victim of two major data breaches in the last month that may put the personal data of hundreds of veterans at risk, according to a letter released Thursday ... A contractor with the Department of Veterans Affairs had an unencrypted laptop stolen last month that contained the personal data of over 600 veterans, and a second laptop owned by another contractor to VA was stolen in May, according to the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

FIght over porn could kill six science and tech programs (Hillicon Valley) — Six newly proposed programs encouraging science research and technological innovation are casualties of Thursday's House fight over porn ... The surprise move came on a Republican motion to recommit the legislation that included an amendment prohibiting federal dollars from going "to salaries to those officially disciplined for violations regarding the viewing, downloading, or exchanging of pornography," especially on federal computers. Rather than vote against that amendment, more than 100 Democrats joined Republicans in supporting the motion to recommit.

More tech news:

Wary Mexicans shun cellphone database meant to bolster security (WaPo) — From Williams Booth: "It sounded like a good call. To combat organized crime, especially the phenomenon known as "virtual kidnapping," the Mexican government ordered the owners of every cellphone in the country to register their names, numbers and addresses. But in a remarkable protest, even under threat of service interruption, millions of Mexicans are refusing to submit their personal data, for a very Mexican reason: They don't trust the government."

Personal data of reservists, veterans at risk in recent thefts (FCW) — Personal data belonging to more than 207,000 Army reservists was stolen earlier this year, according to a report on the KrebsOnSecurity blog by former WaPo reporter Brian Krebs. The Reserve Command began alerting affected reservists via e-mail messages on May 7. The unencrypted data was on a CD-ROM that was in a laptop stolen from the Morrow, Ga. offices of Serco Inc., a federal contractor. The laptop is one of three stolen but the only one known to contain personal data, it may also contain data on the spouses and children of some reservists.

Online talk, suicides and a thorny court case (NYT) — From Monica Davey: "The seemingly empathetic nurse struck up conversations over the Internet with people who were pondering suicide. She told them what methods worked best. She told them it was all right to let go, that they would be better in heaven, and entered into suicide pacts with others...But police say the nurse, who sometimes called herself Cami and described herself as a young woman, was actually William F. Melchert-Dinkel, a 47-year-old husband and father from Faribault, Minn., who now stands charged with two counts of aiding suicide...The case, chilling and ghoulish, raises thorny issues in the Internet age, both legal and otherwise...The case also brings up questions about the limits of speech on the Internet: How does one assign levels of culpability to someone who shares thoughts with people who say they are already considering suicide?"

TECH EVENTS THIS WEEK:

FRIDAY

DC 10 Summit
Teresa Carlson, VP ofMicrosoft's Federal Public Sector, addresses gender disparity in IT, other industries
Where: JW Mariott
When: About 4 p.m.; must RSVP to attend