EFF in the News
“U.S. privacy laws are so far behind the rest of the world that it … falls short of the requirements of international human rights norms,” said Jeremy Malcolm, an analyst at Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based digital rights group.
Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation who wrote an amicus brief in the Maryland case with Wessler, agrees.
“We’re starting to see other stingray cases bubble up, and it’s pretty fantastic that the first opinion on this came out so strongly in favor of the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights,” she says.
"The case very much remains up in the air," said Mitch Stoltz, lawyer from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed an amicus brief in the case.
"If this case were to go the way Flo and Eddie want, it would create a right that never existed" and would be "disruptive for innovation," Stoltz said in a phone interview Wednesday.
"We seriously doubt that this bill is constitutional," said Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "A law that essentially requires you to hand over your phone to a cop in a roadside situation without a warrant is a non-starter."
Nate Cardozo, Senior Staff Attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization that defends civil liberties in the digital world
"The U.S. government is unlawfully and unconstitutionally preventing Microsoft from telling its users about surveillance activity," said Lee Tien, senior staff attorney for Internet Rights at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). "We deserve to know when the government is collecting data about our digital lives."
Coming from Microsoft, the lawsuit helps educate the court on the severity of the issue and shed some light on how secret orders are affecting users, according to Tien. "Large providers like [Microsoft] have a view of the Internet, of the cloud, and of the U.S. government's practices and tactics that most companies (or groups like EFF) don't have," he said. "[Microsoft] can clearly and authoritatively tell the court, as it has, about how often it is gagged, and for how long."
"At the end of the day, when you are being investigated by the government, you should know about the investigation so you can prepare a defense," said Mark Jaycox of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group.
Microsoft's challenge of that practice was also praised by Andrew Crocker, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "In nearly all cases, indefinite gag orders are an unconstitutional prior restraint on free speech and infringe on First Amendment rights," Crocker told us via e-mail through a spokesperson. "Microsoft's complaint shows it receives a staggering number of these orders. We look forward to assisting in this important lawsuit."
The rule could run up against First Amendment issues. Dave Maass, a researcher with the Electronic Frontier Foundation who has studied inmate social media regulations, said he thought the rule was unconstitutionally broad.
“This policy violates the free speech rights of both the inmates and the family members and friends of inmates,” Maass said. “I don’t think it’s appropriate for a prison to tell someone on the outside what they can and can’t post when it doesn’t involve criminal activity.”
Andrew Crocker, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, said changes in the new discussion draft were minimal and the bill still threatened Internet security because companies would only be able to comply by weakening encryption in all their products.