EFF in the News
Kevin Bankston, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group that had filed an amicus brief in the case, welcomed the verdict.
"The SCA allows the government to obtain cell location data without a warrant. This ruling holds that under the statutes, courts have the discretion to instead require the government to show probable cause and get a warrant [when needed,]" Bankston said.
"This decision gives the front-line judges new tools to exercise oversight and to raise the bar when the government seeks cell phone location data," he said.
It’s been a controversial story thanks in part to Craigslist’s “we’re being censored” battle cry. Many people have come to the site’s defense, including Danah Boyd and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Attorney Matt Zimmerman of the EFF writes:
Through this now years-long struggle, Craigslist’s legal position has been and remains absolutely, unequivocally correct: the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (or CDA) grants providers of “interactive computer services” an absolute shield against state criminal law liability stemming from material posted by third parties. Put simply, the law ensures that the virtual soapbox is not liable for what the speaker says: merely creating a forum in which users post ads that may violate state law plainly does not lead to liability for a web site operator.
Currently there's still a debate on whether the Fourth Amendment applies to phone records. "This decision does not definitively answer the question of the Fourth Amendment status of cell phone [location records]," said Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Kevin Bankston.
Rebecca Jeschke with the Electronic Frontier Foundation says that before a parent decides to try this technology, they need to ask some hard questions of the company that's offering it.
"They need to know what kind of information is being gathered. How long is it being kept. Who has access to it. When is it going to get deleted," Jeschke cautioned.
Julie Samuels, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, did point out that Allen is taking an unusual approach. Usually, someone trying to enforce patents will go after smaller players who have fewer resources to defend themselves, to establish a record of settlements and licensing agreements to bolster their position against larger players.
In this case, Allen went after the biggest companies in the industry, who have legions of attorneys and plenty of money to wage a long fight.
"You typically don't sue Google and Facebook upfront like that," she said. "They've shown they're willing to fight these things. It's an interesting strategy. It seems like something else is going on. They did this in a very loud way."
"Well, it's not what I would have written," said Cindy Cohn, EFF's legal director. "I think the letters are much better than they were, but I don't think [DGW] has done a great job of explaining what is happening"...
When asked what people who find themselves accused by Voltage should do, Cohn advised them to go to EFF's site where they can find information about attorneys, many of whom charge a fee, but have experience in this field.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation made these two issues central to its own opposition to the US Copyright Group's methods. Appearing two months ago before Judge Rosemary Collyer, EFF's Corynne McSherry argued that both jurisdiction and joinder were improper in cases that lumped thousands of accused file-swappers into a single lawsuit.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has received “several dozen” inquiries from Righthaven defendants seeking legal representation, said Eva Galperin, the EFF’s referral coordinator.
“We’re up to our armpits in Righthaven defendants,” she said in a telephone interview.
"Wouldn't it have been nice if that photo service had stripped the data from your friend's photos?" said Rebecca Jeschke, a spokeswoman for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Or if they'd asked her, 'Are you sure you want this published?' first. Unfortunately, there aren't any easy answers for consumers right now."
A better solution is to clean up the certificate authority lists and revoke the rights of organizations who could abuse it. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, where I used to work, recently published an open letter to Verizon asking them to consider publicly revoking the certificate authority that the company granted Etisalat. But that still leaves the hundreds of other certificate authorities that could turn rogue and start spying on the Web's secure systems.