EFF in the News
Chris Palmer -- formerly Google Android security framework engineer and now Technology Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation -- writes about the cavalier attitude toward security exhibited by the major mobile operating system vendors, and the risk this poses to all of us:
A recent lawsuit filed by Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. against several security researchers for allegedly jailbreaking the company's PS3 hardware is evoking howls of protest from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
In a blog post this week, the digital rights advocacy group called Sony's lawsuit (download PDF) a dangerous move designed expressly to scare security researchers away from looking at flaws in its products.
"The real point, it appears, is to send a message to security researchers around the world: publish the details of our security flaws and we'll come after you with both barrels blazing," the EFF wrote.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed an amicus brief asking an Illinois judge to throw out subpoenas related to mass BitTorrent lawsuits, which join thousands of defendants together in an effort to secure a financial settlement.
The EFF, which filed the 37-page brief at U.S. District Court in Chicago, said it wants to stop content owners and attorneys from targeting the alleged file sharers in what the foundation calls “predatory” lawsuits because they violate the defendant’s rights.
“Copyright owners have a right to protect their works, but they can’t use shoddy and unfair tactics to do so,” said Corynne McSherry, EFF intellectual property director.
In the latest case, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains, Sony has sued computer security researchers:
for publishing information about security holes in Sony’s PlayStation 3. At first glance, it's hard to see why Sony is bothering — after all, the research was presented three weeks ago at the Chaos Communication Congress and promptly circulated around the world. The security flaws discovered by the researchers allow users to run Linux on their machines again — something Sony used to support but recently started trying to prevent. Paying lawyers to try to put the cat back in the bag is just throwing good money after bad. And even if they won — we'll save the legal analysis for another post — the defendants seem unlikely to be able to pay significant damages. So what's the point?
But existing laws cover such problems, and this one clumsily attempts to preserve freedom of speech exceptions by outlawing only "credible" impersonations, whatever those are. The Electronic Frontier Foundation notes that there’s potential for abuse, such as quashing parodies, perhaps even political speech. Just as annoying is the new word coined by the law: “epersonation.”
Lawmaker outbursts led a coalition of advocacy organizations spearheaded by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to publish an open letter calling on government officials to respect freedom of expression in the debate over Cablegate.
Freedom's Just Another Word
The EFF's letter described legislation proposed by American lawmakers in response to Cablegate as "rash" and warned it could, in effect, muzzle the free press. Government officials' statements have created an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty among the general public, leading them to question their rights with regard to the documents posted by Wikileaks, the EFF's letter charged.
Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy advocacy group, told FoxNews.com that he believes that the initiative poses a serious threat to privacy and free speech online.
"It's not entirely clear to me what, even now after having followed this program for months, what problems it's really trying to solve and how what it's proposing will solve it," he said, adding that the burden is on the government to show "what's the real benefit here."
Tien said it's pretty clear that the initiative will help law enforcement even though administration officials haven't mentioned it.
An ex-WikiLeaks volunteer has hired American lawyers to oppose the U.S. government's efforts to obtain the contents of her Twitter account, CNET has learned.
Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a member of the Icelandic parliament who helped with WikiLeaks' release of a classified U.S. military video, is being represented by the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"We're looking at options and various things we can do to help our client," EFF legal director Cindy Cohn said yesterday. "She's disturbed that her information is being sought."
When Twitter revealed to some Wikileaks-related users that the Department of Justice had issued a subpoena asking for their Twitter records, it suggested they might seek legal counsel with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. That is exactly what at least one of them has done.
The EFF has reportedly stepped up to represent some clients the firm has gone after, while most are just settling with Righthaven, which has been seeking a maximum penalty of $150,000 plus seizure of the domain name in every case, according to the report.