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September 19, 2008

EFF Urges Judge to Dismiss Baseless Lawsuit

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Public Citizen, joined by Public Knowledge and Citizen Media Law Project, urged a federal judge in Chicago Friday to dismiss a law firm's baseless trademark claims, which were apparently aimed at quashing speech by an online news site.

The firm of Jones Day filed the lawsuit against the real estate news site Blockshopper.com, alleging that using its trademark "Jones Day" to refer to the firm in a headline and linking to the Jones Day website could lead to confusion over the sponsorship of the site. In its amicus brief, EFF and Public Citizen argue that these routine references to Jones Day are well-established fair uses of a trademark and clearly protected by the First Amendment.

"The claims are absurd--Blockshopper was simply reporting accurately on the activities of two lawyers who happen to be Jones Day employees," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "That reporting is protected under trademark and free speech law, and Jones Day should know that. If Jones Day had its way, any trademark holder could use trademark claims to restrict news and commentary related to its business and any of its employees."

"Jones Day alleges that the public could be confused by the references to its name and links, but Internet users know that websites generally link to other websites, independent of any official affiliation," said Paul Alan Levy, attorney with Public Citizen. "That's why it's called the World Wide Web."

This amicus brief is part of EFF's No Downtime for Free Speech Campaign, which works to protect online expression in the face of baseless intellectual property claims. Robert Libman of Barnhill, Miner & Galland assisted in filing the brief.

For the full amicus brief:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/JDvBlockshopper/JonesDayAmicusBrief.pdf

Contacts:

Corynne McSherry
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

Paul Alan Levy
Attorney
Public Citizen
plevy@citizen.org

Related Issues:
September 18, 2008

Public Kept in the Dark About Serious Civil Liberties and Privacy Issues

Washington, D.C. - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Public Knowledge have filed suit against the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), demanding information about a secret intellectual property enforcement treaty that the government has put on a fast track to completion.

The United States, Canada, the European Community, Switzerland, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Jordan, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates are currently negotiating the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The full text of the treaty remains secret, but a document leaked to the public shows that ACTA could include criminal measures, increased border search powers, and encouragement for Internet service providers to cooperate with copyright holders. Despite the significant impact ACTA could have on consumers and the lack of official information available to the public, treaty proponents want a deal signed by the end of the year.

"ACTA raises serious concerns for citizens' civil liberties and privacy rights," said EFF International Policy Director Gwen Hinze. "This treaty could potentially change the way your computer is searched at the border or spark new invasive monitoring from your ISP. People need to see the full text of ACTA now, so that they can evaluate its impact on their lives and express that opinion to their political leaders. Instead, the USTR is keeping us in the dark while talks go on behind closed doors."

Because of the questions raised by ACTA, EFF and Public Knowledge filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in June for records on the treaty and the negotiations surrounding the deal. EFF and Public Knowledge later clarified the scope of their request in July in response to concerns raised by the USTR. But the USTR still failed to provide any relevant documents.

"The lack of transparency in this process is incredibly alarming," said Public Knowledge Staff Attorney Sherwin Siy. "Whatever form ACTA eventually takes, we can be sure it will be used to justify further international agreements and laws. The agreement text needs to be made public to ensure that it doesn't encroach upon the rights of users, consumers, and citizens to access knowledge, information, and content."

Earlier this week, EFF and Public Knowledge joined more than 100 public interest organizations from around the world calling for answers about ACTA. The coalition is asking for treaty negotiators to immediately publish the draft text of the agreement, as well as pre-draft discussion papers.

For the full complaint:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/EFF_PK_v_USTR/USTRcomplaint.pdf

For more on ACTA:
http://www.eff.org/issues/acta/

Contacts:

Gwen Hinze
International Affairs Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
gwen@eff.org

Art Brodsky
Communications Director
Public Knowledge
abrodsky@publicknowledge.org

September 18, 2008

New Legal Challenge to Unconstitutional Domestic Spying

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a lawsuit against the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies today on behalf of AT&T customers to stop the illegal, unconstitutional, and ongoing dragnet surveillance of their communications and communications records. The five individual plaintiffs are also suing President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Cheney's chief of staff David Addington, former Attorney General and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and other individuals who ordered or participated in the warrantless domestic surveillance.

The lawsuit, Jewel v. NSA, is aimed at ending the NSA's dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans and holding accountable the government officials who illegally authorized it. Evidence in the case includes undisputed documents provided by former AT&T telecommunications technician Mark Klein showing AT&T has routed copies of Internet traffic to a secret room in San Francisco controlled by the NSA.

That same evidence is central to Hepting v. AT&T, a class-action lawsuit filed by EFF in 2006 to stop the telecom giant's participation in the illegal surveillance program. Earlier this year, Congress passed a law attempting to derail that case by unconstitutionally granting immunity to AT&T and other companies that took part in the dragnet. Hepting v. AT&T is now stalled in federal court while EFF argues with the government over whether the immunity is constitutional and applies in that case -- litigation that is likely to continue well into 2009.

"In addition to suing AT&T, we've now opened a second front in the battle to stop the NSA's illegal surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans and hold personally responsible those who authorized or participated in the spying program," said Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "For years, the NSA has been engaged in a massive and massively illegal fishing expedition through AT&T's domestic networks and databases of customer records. Our goal in this new case against the government, as in our case against AT&T, is to dismantle this dragnet surveillance program as soon as possible."

In addition to suing the government agencies involved in the domestic dragnet, the lawsuit also targets the individuals responsible for creating, authorizing, and implementing the illegal program, including President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

"Demanding personal accountability from President Bush, Vice President Cheney and others responsible for the NSA's dragnet surveillance of ordinary Americans' communications is the best way to guarantee that such blatantly illegal spying will not be authorized in the future," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "Our lawsuit today should sound a clear warning to future occupants of the White House: if you break the law and violate Americans' privacy, there will be consequences."

For the full complaint in Jewel v. NSA:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/jewel/jewel.complaint.pdf

For more on the case:
http://www.eff.org/cases/jewel

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September 11, 2008

Government Must Get a Warrant Before Seizing Cell Phone Location Records

San Francisco - In an unprecedented victory for cell phone privacy, a federal court has affirmed that cell phone location information stored by a mobile phone provider is protected by the Fourth Amendment and that the government must obtain a warrant based on probable cause before seizing such records.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) had asked the federal court in the Western District of Pennsylvania to overturn a magistrate judge's decision requiring the government to obtain a warrant for stored location data, arguing that the government could obtain such information without probable cause. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), at the invitation of the court, filed a friend-of-the-court brief opposing the government's appeal and arguing that the magistrate was correct to require a warrant. Wednesday, the court agreed with EFF and issued an order affirming the magistrate's decision.

EFF has successfully argued before other courts that the government needs a warrant before it can track a cell phone's location in real-time. However, this is the first known case where a court has found that the government must also obtain a warrant when obtaining stored records about a cell phone's location from the mobile phone provider.

"Cell phone providers store an increasing amount of sensitive data about where you are and when, based on which cell towers your phone uses when making a call. Until now, the government has routinely seized these records without search warrants," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "This landmark ruling is hopefully only the first of many. Just as magistrates across the country have begun denying government requests to track cell phones in real-time without warrants, based on arguments first made by EFF, so too do we hope this decision will spark new scrutiny of the government's unconstitutional seizure of stored cell phone location records."

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU Foundation of Pennsylvania, and the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) joined EFF's brief.

For Wednesday's decision:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/celltracking/lenihanorder.pdf

For the full amicus brief in the cell phone records case:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/celltracking/LenihanAmicus.pdf

For the magistrate's order:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/celltracking/criminalapplicationorder_finalopinion.pdf

For more on cell phone tracking:
http://www.eff.org/issues/cell-tracking

Contacts:

Kevin Bankston
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
bankston@eff.org

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

August 19, 2008

Free Speech Victory for Security Researchers

Boston - Today, a federal judge lifted an unconstitutional gag order that had prevented three Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students from disclosing academic research regarding vulnerabilities in Boston's transit fare payment system. The court found that the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Agency (MBTA) had no likelihood of success on the merits of its claim under the federal computer intrusion law and denied the transit agency's request for a five-month injunction. In papers filed yesterday, the MBTA acknowledged for the first time that their Charlie Ticket system had vulnerabilities and estimated that it would take five months to fix.

Tuesday's ruling lifts the restriction preventing the student researchers from talking about their findings regarding the security vulnerabilities of Boston's Charlie Card and Charlie Ticket -- a project that earned them an "A" from renowned computer scientist and MIT professor Dr. Ron Rivest. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) represents the students as part of its Coders' Rights Project.

"We're very pleased that the court recognized that the MBTA's legal arguments were meritless," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn, who argued at the hearing. "The MBTA's attempts to silence these students were not only misguided, but blatantly unconstitutional."

The students had planned to present their findings earlier this month at DEFCON, a security conference held in Las Vegas, while leaving out key details that would let others exploit the vulnerability. The students met with the MBTA about a week before the conference and voluntarily provided a confidential vulnerability report to the transit agency. However, the MBTA subsequently sued the students and MIT in United States District Court in Massachusetts less than 48 hours before the scheduled presentation, without providing any advance notice to the students. The lawsuit claimed that the students' planned presentation would violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) by enabling others to defraud the MBTA of transit fares. A different federal judge, meeting in a special Saturday session, ordered the trio not to disclose for ten days any information that could be used by others to get free subway rides.

"The judge today correctly found that it was unlikely that the CFAA would apply to security researchers giving an academic talk," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "A presentation at a security conference is not some sort of computer intrusion. It's protected speech and vital to the free flow of information about computer security vulnerabilities. Silencing researchers does not improve security -- the vulnerability was there before the students discovered it and would remain in place regardless of whether the students publicly discussed it or not."

Although the gag order was lifted, the MBTA's litigation against the students still continues. The students have already voluntarily provided a 30-page security analysis to the MBTA and have offered to meet with the MBTA and walk the transit agency through the security vulnerability and the students' suggestions for improvement.

"The only thing keeping the students and the MBTA from working together cooperatively to resolve the fare payment card security issues is the lawsuit itself," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "The MBTA would be far better off focusing on improving the MBTA's fare payment security instead of pursuing needless litigation."

This case is part of EFF's Coders' Rights Project, launched two weeks ago to protect programmers and developers from legal threats hampering their cutting-edge research. EFF was assisted in this case by John Reinstein, ACLU of Massachusetts Legal Director, and Fish & Richardson attorneys Adam Kessel, Lawrence Kolodney, and Tom Brown.

For more on MBTA v. Anderson:
http://www.eff.org/cases/mbta-v-anderson

Contacts:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Kurt Opsahl
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
kurt@eff.org

Related Issues:
August 18, 2008

EFF Urges Court to Protect Customers' Privacy

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asked a federal court Friday to reject efforts by Echostar to get the names and addresses of every customer that purchased a free-to-air satellite receiver. Echostar claims that the receiver can be modified to pirate DISH satellite TV programming. EFF argues that Echostar's demand, which seeks all purchasers regardless of whether they actually pirated DISH TV, would violate user privacy and leave innocent purchasers vulnerable to bogus legal threats.

The demand for customer records came up in a lawsuit between Echostar, the company behind the DISH satellite TV service, and Freetech, Inc., the manufacturer of Coolsat free-to-air satellite receivers. As part of the suit, Echostar subpoenaed 17 distributors of Coolsat receivers, demanding the names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and other information of every person who purchased a Coolsat receiver over the last five years.

"Innocent customers should not be dragged into federal litigation just because they bought a product that other, less scrupulous purchasers may be hacking for unlawful purposes," said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "The court should recognize the privacy interests of these customers, especially since Echostar does not need these customer lists in order to have its day in court against Freetech."

In recent years, satellite TV companies, record labels, and movie studios have all engaged in dragnet litigation tactics that threaten individuals with costly lawsuits unless they pay significant financial sums to "settle" the dispute. These mass litigation campaigns leave innocent consumers trapped between paying a "settlement" for something they did not do or facing even higher legal costs to prove their innocence. Satellite TV provider DirecTV pioneered this approach in 2001, threatening more than 120,000 individuals with legal action and commencing more than 24,000 federal lawsuits, often with no evidence other than the fact that the individual purchased multi-purpose devices that could be used for piracy.

"Once the names of Freetech customers are disclosed to Echostar, there may be little that any court can do to protect these people from harassment, settlement demands, and legal expenses," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "This may be the last chance the court has to protect the privacy of these individuals."

For the full amicus brief:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/echostar_v_freet/EFFamicusEchostarvFreetech.pdf

For more on Echostar v. Freetech:
http://www.eff.org/cases/echostar-v-freetech

Contacts:

Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
fred@eff.org

Matt Zimmerman
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org

Related Issues:
August 13, 2008

Thursday Hearing Set on Temporary Restraining Order

Boston - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged a federal judge Tuesday to lift an unconstitutional gag order issued to three students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) whose academic research uncovered vulnerabilities in Boston's transit fare payment system.

A hearing on the temporary restraining order is set for 11am Thursday at the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts in Boston.

The students -- Zack Anderson, RJ Ryan and Alessandro Chiesa -- would like to resolve this dispute amicably with the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA). However, it has been hard to find an amicable resolution when the students are the subjects of a vigorous lawsuit and under the restrictions of a temporary restraining order. This remains true even though the MBTA filed a motion earlier this week to modify the restraining order to only prohibit disclosure of "non-public" information.

"We appreciate the gesture," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "But it does not resolve the dispute. Indeed, we would hope everyone acknowledges that it is impermissible under the Constitution for a court to order someone not to repeat publicly available truthful information."

"The restraining order, even if modified, remains an improper prior restraint restricting speech," said EFF Civil Liberties Director Jennifer Granick. "The First Amendment does not allow people to be silenced because their speech exposes flaws, even if those flaws might someday be illegally misused by others. To protect our clients' rights, we had no choice but to ask the court to reconsider the gag order."

As part of EFF's court filing Tuesday, 11 computer scientists and researchers from the nation's top research and educational institutions submitted a letter in support of the MIT students, including Professor David Farber of Carnegie Mellon, Professor Steve Bellovin of Columbia University, and computer security expert Bruce Schneier. The group explained that security research and information are critical for scientific advancement, and stated that restraining orders such as the one issued by the court over the weekend could have a devastating chilling effect on future academic endeavors.

"The students' ultimate goal in the security research was to help the MBTA improve its security," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "Despite colorful marketing rhetoric advertising a presentation of the students' work at a security conference, the students never intended to provide sufficient information to the public to replicate the attack."

For more details on Thursday's hearing, contact press@eff.org.

For the full motion to reconsider:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/MBTA_v_Anderson/studentresponse081208.pdf

For the full letter from the computer scientists and researchers:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/MBTA_v_Anderson/letter081208.pdf

For more on MBTA v. Anderson:
http://www.eff.org/cases/mbta-v-anderson

Contact:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Issues:
August 9, 2008

EFF Backs Researchers Forced to Cancel Presentation on Transit Fare Payment System

Las Vegas - Three students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) were ordered this morning by a federal court judge to cancel their scheduled presentation about vulnerabilities in Boston's transit fare payment system, violating their First Amendment right to discuss their important research.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) represents Zack Anderson, RJ Ryan and Alessandro Chiesa, who were set to present their findings Sunday at DEFCON, a security conference held in Las Vegas. However, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) sued the students and MIT in United States District Court in Massachusetts on Friday, claiming that the students violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) by delivering information to conference attendees that could be used to defraud the MBTA of transit fares. This morning District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock, meeting in a special Saturday session, ordered the trio not to disclose for ten days any information that could be used by others to get free subway rides.

"We wanted to share our academic work with the security community and had planned to withhold a key detail of our results so that a malicious attacker could not use our research for fraudulent purposes," said Anderson. "We're disappointed that the court is preventing us from presenting our findings even with this safeguard."

Vulnerabilities in magnetic stripe and RFID card payment systems implemented by many urban transit systems are generally known. The student research applied this information to the specific case of Boston's Charlie Card and Charlie Ticket, and the project earned an A from renowned computer scientist and MIT professor Dr. Ron Rivest.

The court relied on a federal law aimed at computer intrusions in issuing its order, holding that even discussing the flaws at a public conference constituted a "transmission" of a computer program that could harm the fare collection system.

"The court's order is an illegal prior restraint on legitimate academic research in violation of the First Amendment," said EFF Civil Liberties Director Jennifer Granick. "The court has adopted an interpretation of the statute that is blatantly unconstitutional, equating discussion in a public forum with computer intrusion. Security and the public interest benefit immensely from the free flow of ideas and information on vulnerabilities. More importantly, squelching research and scientific discussion won't stop the attackers. It will just stop the public from knowing that these systems are vulnerable and from pressuring the companies that develop and implement them to fix security holes."

This case is part of EFF's Coders' Rights Project, launched just this week to protect programmers and developers from legal threats hampering their cutting-edge research. EFF will seek relief for the researchers in the courts.

For the full temporary restraining order:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/MIT%20students%20TRO.pdf

For more on the Coders' Rights Project:
http://www.eff.org/issues/coders

Contacts:

Jennifer Stisa Granick
Civil Liberties Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jennifer@eff.org

Marcia Hofmann
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
marcia@eff.org

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Issues:
August 6, 2008

New Initiative to Protect Programmers From Legal Threats

Las Vegas - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today launches its Coders' Rights Project -- a new initiative to protect programmers and developers from legal threats hampering their cutting-edge research.

In conjunction with the project's launch, EFF is staffing an "EFF Is In" booth at Black Hat USA 2008 in Las Vegas on August 6 and 7. At the booth, EFF attorneys will provide legal information on reverse engineering, vulnerability reporting, and copyright law, as well as patent, trade secret, and free speech issues.

"Coders who explore technology through innovation and research play a vital role in developing and securing the software and hardware we use everyday. Yet this important work can be stymied by bogus legal threats," said EFF Civil Liberties Director Jennifer Granick, who is heading up the project. "EFF's Coders' Rights Project will provide a front-line defense for coders facing legal challenges for legitimate research activities."

The Coders' Rights Project will build upon EFF's long history of work to limit the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) from reaching security and encryption researchers. EFF will also expand its involvement in matters involving the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and state computer crime laws. Additionally, EFF has created resources for programmers doing work involving reverse engineering and vulnerability reporting, available at http://eff.org/coders.

"Those of us doing research on computer security and privacy need to be able to discuss and publish our work without fear of legal threats," said EFF Board Member Edward W. Felten, a security researcher and Princeton University professor who challenged provisions of the DMCA with EFF in 2001. "The Coders' Rights Project will give critical legal help to programmers and developers who do the hard work in keeping technology robust and users safe."

Other goals of the Coders' Rights Project include narrowing computer crime laws and limiting the power of End User License Agreements (EULAs) to protect reverse engineering, reviews, benchmarking, and the consumer's right to tinker.

For more on the Coders' Rights Project:
http://eff.org/coders

Contacts:

Jennifer Stisa Granick
Civil Liberties Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jennifer@eff.org

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Issues:
August 5, 2008

Email and Cell Phone Privacy Threatened in Two Separate Court Cases

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed friend-of-the-court briefs in two key electronic privacy cases that threaten to expand the government's spying authority.

In the first case, Bunnell v. Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), EFF filed a brief with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that federal wiretapping law protects emails from unauthorized interception while they are temporarily stored on the email servers that transmit them. This case was brought against the MPAA by the owners and operators of TorrentSpy, a search engine that let Internet users locate files on the BitTorrent peer-to-peer network. After a business dispute, one of TorrentSpy's independent contractors hacked into the company email server and configured it to copy and forward all incoming and outgoing email to his personal account and then sold the information to the MPAA. However, the federal district court ruled that because the emails were stored on the mail server for several milliseconds during transmission, they were not technically "intercepted" under the federal Wiretap Act. In its amicus brief filed Friday, EFF argues that this dangerous ruling is incorrect as a matter of law and must be overturned in order to prevent the government from engaging in similar surveillance without a court order.

"The district court's decision, if upheld, would have dangerous repercussions far beyond this single case," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "That court opinion -- holding that the secret and unauthorized copying and forwarding of emails while they pass through an email server is not an illegal interception of those emails -- threatens to wholly eviscerate federal privacy protections against Internet wiretapping and to authorize the government to conduct similar email surveillance without getting a wiretapping order from a judge."

The second case concerns a request by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to a federal magistrate judge in Pennsylvania for authorization to obtain cell phone location tracking information from a mobile phone provider without probable cause. The magistrate instead demanded that the DOJ obtain a search warrant based on probable cause, and the DOJ appealed that decision to the federal district court in the Western District of Pennsylvania. In an amicus brief filed Thursday, EFF urged the district court to uphold the magistrate's ruling and protect cell phone users' location privacy.

"Location information collected by cell phone companies can provide an extraordinarily invasive glimpse into the private lives of cell phone users. Courts have the right under statute -- and the duty under the Fourth Amendment -- to demand that the government obtain a search warrant based on probable cause before seizing such sensitive information," said Bankston. "This is only the latest of many cases where EFF has been invited to brief judges considering secret surveillance requests that aren't supported by probable cause. We hope this court recognizes the serious Fourth Amendment questions that are raised by warrantless access to cell phone location information and affirms the magistrate's denial of the government's surveillance request."

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU-Foundation of Pennsylvania, and the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) also joined EFF's brief.

For the full amicus brief in Bunnell v. MPAA:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/Bunnell_v_MPAA/BunnellAmicus.pdf

For the full amicus brief in the cell phone records case:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/celltracking/LenihanAmicus.pdf

For more on cell phone tracking:
http://www.eff.org/issues/cell-tracking

Contacts:

Kevin Bankston
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
bankston@eff.org

Marcia Hofmann
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
marcia@eff.org

Matt Zimmerman
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org

August 4, 2008

Misuse of Computer Crime Law Could Turn Millions of Americans into Federal Criminals

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and a coalition of academics and public policy groups are urging a judge to dismiss computer crime charges in a case with dangerous ramifications for millions of people who use the Internet.

The defendant in the case, Lori Drew, is charged with violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) by using a fictitious name and age on a MySpace account and using that account to make hurtful comments to a teenage girl. Tragically, the girl later took her own life. Federal prosecutors claim Drew broke federal law by violating MySpace's terms of service and that the MySpace communications were responsible for the girl's death. In an amicus brief filed Friday, EFF argues that criminal charges for a terms of service violation is a dramatic misapplication of the CFAA with far-ranging consequences for American computer users.

"This is a novel and unprecedented response to what everyone recognizes as a tragic situation," said EFF Civil Liberties Director Jennifer Granick. "The CFAA is aimed at penalizing computer trespassers, but under the government's theory, the millions of people who disregard -- or don't read -- the terms of service on every website they visit could face computer crime charges. That's a big blank check to give federal prosecutors."

For example, this interpretation of the law would attach criminal penalties to anyone under the age of 18 who uses the Google search engine, because Google's terms of service specify all users must be of legal age to enter into a contract.

"Websites' terms of service are notoriously frivolous and overreaching, often hard to find, and routinely written in legalese bound to confuse a non-lawyer. Many courts have found them unenforceable in civil cases. They certainly should not be the basis for a criminal prosecution," said Granick

EFF's amicus brief was also signed by the Center for Democracy and Technology, Public Citizen, and 14 individual faculty members of law schools across the country.

For the full amicus brief:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/US_v_Drew/Drew_Amicus.pdf

Contact:

Jennifer Stisa Granick
Civil Liberties Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jennifer@eff.org

August 1, 2008

Empowers Internet Users on Eve of FCC Comcast Action

San Francisco - Hours before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is expected to take action against Comcast for violating the FCC's net neutrality principles, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is releasing "Switzerland," a software tool for customers to test the integrity of their Internet communications.

The FCC action, expected later today, is a response to formal complaints regarding efforts by Comcast to interfere with its subscribers' use of BitTorrent to share files over the Internet. These interference efforts were first documented and disclosed in October 2007 by EFF, the Associated Press, and a concerned Internet user, Robb Topolski. EFF subsequently urged the FCC to declare Comcast's efforts inconsistent with the Commission's 2005 "Internet Policy Statement," which sets a benchmark for neutral treatment of Internet traffic.

"The sad truth is that the FCC is ill-equipped to detect ISPs interfering with your Internet connection," said Fred von Lohmann, EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney. "It's up to concerned Internet users to investigate possible network neutrality violations, and EFF's Switzerland software is designed to help with that effort. Comcast isn't the first, and certainly won't be the last, ISP to meddle surreptitiously with its subscribers' Internet communications for its own benefit."

"Until now, there hasn't been a reliable way to tell if somebody -- a hacker, an ISP, corporate firewall, or the Great Firewall of China -- is modifying your Internet traffic en route," said Peter Eckersley, EFF Staff Technologist and designer of Switzerland. "The few tests available have been for narrow and specific kinds of interference, or have required tremendous amounts of advanced forensic labor. Switzerland is designed to make general-purpose ISP testing faster and easier."

Part of EFF's "Test your ISP" project, Switzerland is an open source, command-line software tool designed to detect the modification or injection of packets of data by ISPs. Switzerland detects changes made by software tools believed to be in use by ISPs such as Sandvine and AudibleMagic, advertising systems like FairEagle, and various censorship systems. Although currently intended for use by technically sophisticated Internet users, development plans aim to make the tool increasingly easy to use.

For more information and to download the Switzerland software:
http://www.eff.org/testyourisp/switzerland

For more about EFF's "Test Your ISP" Project:
http://www.eff.org/testyourisp

Contacts:

Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
fred@eff.org

Peter Eckersley
Staff Technologist
Electronic Frontier Foundation
pde@eff.org

Related Issues:
July 15, 2008

Home Movie of Toddler Dancing to Prince Sparks Bogus Copyright Claim

San Jose - On Friday, July 18, at 9 a.m., the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will urge a federal judge in San Jose to protect the free speech and fair use rights of mother who posted a home movie of her son dancing to Prince on YouTube.

EFF represents Stephanie Lenz, who uploaded a 29-second clip of her son dancing in the family kitchen to the Prince song, "Let's Go Crazy," which is playing on a stereo in the background. Remarkably, Universal Music Publishing Group claimed that the video infringed its copyrights, and had the video yanked from YouTube. Lenz's lawsuit against Universal seeks to hold the company accountable for misrepresenting that her fair use violated its copyrights.

In Friday's hearing, EFF will ask U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel to reject Universal's motion to dismiss the case, and allow Lenz's lawsuit to continue.

WHAT:
Lenz v. Universal

WHEN:
Friday, July 18
9 a.m.

WHERE:
United States District Court, Northern District of California
Courtroom 3, 5th Floor
280 South 1st Street
San Jose, CA 95113

Contact:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Issues:
July 9, 2008

Telecoms Let Off the Hook for Illegal Spying - For Now

Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Senate this afternoon passed the FISA Amendments Act, broadly expanding the president's warrantless surveillance authority and unconstitutionally granting retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that participated in the president's illegal domestic wiretapping program. The House of Representatives passed the same bill last month, and President Bush is expected to sign the legislation into law shortly.

"It is an immeasurable tragedy that just after its return from the Fourth of July holiday, the Senate has chosen to pass a bill that betrays the spirit of 1776 by radically expanding the president's spying powers and granting immunity to the companies that colluded in his illegal surveillance program," said Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). "This so-called compromise bill represents a shameful capitulation to the overreaching demands of an imperial president. As Senator Leahy put it in yesterday's debate, the retroactive immunity provision of the bill upends the scales of justice and makes Congress and the courts handmaidens to the White House's cover-up of its illegal surveillance program."

The FISA Amendments Act won passage after several amendments intended to remove or modify the bill's immunity provision failed to pass. One amendment, offered by Senator Christopher Dodd, would have stripped immunity from the bill altogether. Another, introduced by Senator Jeff Bingaman, would have stayed the pending cases against the telecoms and delayed the implementation of the immunity provision until the Inspectors General of the Department of Justice and other U.S. government intelligence agencies finished their investigation into the spying program, thereby preventing Congress from granting immunity in the dark.

"We thank those senators who courageously opposed telecom immunity and vow to them, and to the American people, that the fight for accountability over the president's illegal surveillance is not over," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "Even though Congress has failed to protect the privacy of Americans and uphold the rule of law, we will not abandon our defense of liberty. We will fight this unconstitutional grant of immunity in the courtroom and in the Congress, requesting repeal of the immunity in the next session, while seeking justice from the Judiciary. Nor can the lawless officials who approved this massive violation of Americans' rights rest easy, for we will file a new suit against the government and challenge warrantless wiretapping, past, present and future."

EFF is representing the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of millions of AT&T customers whose private domestic communications and communications records were illegally handed over to the National Security Agency (NSA). EFF has been appointed co-coordinating counsel for all 47 of the outstanding lawsuits concerning the government's warrantless surveillance program.

For more information on the NSA spying:
http://www.eff.org/issues/nsa-spying

Contacts:

Kevin Bankston
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
bankston@eff.org

Kurt Opsahl
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
kurt@eff.org

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Issues:
July 1, 2008

Lawsuit Tests U.S. Assurances of Access Rights for EU Citizens

Washington, D.C. - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit on behalf of a member of the European Parliament today, demanding that the U.S. government release records about her "risk assessment" score and other information gathered about her during her international travels. The lawsuit comes just days after the disclosure that the U.S. and the European Union may soon finalize an agreement authorizing the transatlantic exchange of large amounts of personal data.

Sophia In 't Veld represents the Netherlands in the European Parliament and serves on the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs. She has been actively engaged in developing policies concerning the exchange of travelers' data between the U.S. and the European Union (EU).

During the ongoing and contentious debates between the U.S. and the EU over travelers' records and the privacy rights of EU citizens, the U.S. government has repeatedly claimed that any person can obtain her records through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. To test those assurances, In 't Veld filed FOIA requests with the Homeland Security, Justice, and State Departments, asking for any information about her that is included in the various U.S. programs and systems used to track international travelers. However, the agencies have failed to comply with the requests as required by federal law.

"The question of redress is the sticking point in the current discussions about data exchanges between the United States and the EU," said In 't Veld. "That dispute underscores the importance of this case; it shows that gaining access to personal data held by U.S. agencies is very difficult, if not impossible."

Among other records, In 't Veld specifically requested data about herself that is included in the Automated Targeting System (ATS) -- a Department of Homeland Security project that creates and assigns "risk assessment" scores to travelers as they enter and leave the U.S. Once the assessment is made, there is no way to challenge it, and the government will retain the information for many years -- as well as make it available to federal, state, local, and foreign agencies in addition to contractors, grantees, consultants, and others.

"Ms. In 't Veld's experience shows the inaccuracy of U.S. assurances that EU citizens can gain easy access to personal information held in agency databases," said EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel. "The truth is that it is virtually impossible for any individuals --even U.S. citizens -- to access information about themselves that is collected and maintained by American security agencies. It's important that EU officials and citizens understand the reality of the situation before moving forward with a sweeping agreement on the exchange of sensitive personal data."

This FOIA lawsuit is part of EFF's ongoing work to protect travelers from privacy-invasive programs at the U.S. border. EFF has also filed suit against DHS for denying access to public records on the questioning and searches of travelers at U.S. borders and called on Congress to investigate the random, suspicionless searches of laptops and electronic devices.

For the full complaint:
http://www.eff.org/files/int_veld_complaint.pdf

For more on the U.S./EU data sharing agreement:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/28/washington/28privacy.html

For more on travel screening:
http://www.eff.org/issues/travel-screening

For more on FOIA:
http://www.eff.org/issues/foia

Contacts:

David Sobel
Senior Counsel
Electronic Frontier Foundation
sobel@eff.org

Marcia Hofmann
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
marcia@eff.org

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

June 23, 2008

Wednesday Hearing on Laptop Searches and Other Privacy Violations

Washington, D.C. - On Wednesday, June 25, at 9 a.m., members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary hearing will hold a public hearing on laptop searches and other privacy violations faced by Americans at the U.S. border.

Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation will appear at Wednesday's hearing to urge more congressional investigation and oversight of the Department of Homeland Security's border search practices and policies. While the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that customs and border agents can perform "routine" searches at the border without a warrant or even reasonable suspicion, increasingly Americans are complaining about random and invasive searches of their laptops, cell phones, and other digital devices as they come home from overseas travel. In a typical search, U.S. border officials will turn on the device and then open and review files. If agents see something of interest, they may copy data or confiscate the device -- even if the traveler is not suspected of criminal activity.

"These ongoing baseless searches of electronic devices at America's borders are not 'routine,' they're unreasonable," said Tien. "It's hard to imagine something more invasive than a wholesale copying of private files from a personal computer. We need Congress and the courts to recognize a standard for digital searches and seizures at the border that protects the privacy, property, and free speech rights of Americans in the Information Age."

WHO:
Lee Tien
Senior Staff Attorney Electronic Frontier Foundation

WHAT:
"Laptop Searches and Other Violations of Privacy Faced by Americans Returning from Overseas Travel"
U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution

WHEN:
9 a.m.
Wednesday, June 25

WHERE:
Dirksen Senate Office Building
Room 226
Washington, D.C.

For more on the hearing:
http://judiciary.senate.gov/hearing.cfm?id=3420

Contacts:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Lee Tien
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
tien@eff.org

Related Issues:
June 20, 2008

Court To Reconsider Baseless 'Making Available' Theory In File-Sharing Case

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and a coalition of consumer and industry groups have asked a judge to grant a new trial to Jammie Thomas, who was hit with a $222,000 judgment in a file-sharing lawsuit based in part on the recording industry's bogus "making available" theory.

Thomas' trial and the staggering financial penalty made headlines around the world. In the case, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sought to hold Thomas liable for unauthorized distribution of digital music over the Internet without having to prove that anyone actually downloaded songs from her. The RIAA argued that simply making the songs available in a shared folder on her computer was enough to impose penalties, and a jury found Thomas liable for $220,000 in October of 2007.

But earlier this year, the judge in the case said he was concerned that he might have made a mistake when he followed the RIAA's reasoning in his jury instructions and asked for more briefing on whether Thomas deserved a new trial. In an amicus brief filed today, EFF argues that the RIAA cannot take shortcuts when it takes music fans to court.

"The Copyright Act simply does not allow suing someone for attempted copyright infringement," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "If the RIAA wants to continue with its mass litigation campaign, it's going to have to invest the time and resources to actually prove those cases -- if it can -- by showing that infringement actually occurred."

The RIAA has sued more than 20,000 individuals for allegedly sharing music over the Internet since it started its lawsuit campaign in 2003.

"The RIAA's specious 'making available' argument threatens to brand people as thieves when the evidence isn't really there," said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Michael Kwun. "We're pleased the judge is taking a second look at this critical question."

Joining EFF on the brief were Public Knowledge, the United States Internet Industry Association, and the Computer and Communications Industry Association.

For the full amicus brief:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/capitol_v_thomas/20080620EFFAmiciBrief.pdf

For more on Capitol v. Thomas:
http://www.eff.org/cases/capitol-v-thomas

Contacts:

Corynne McSherry
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

Michael Kwun
Senior Intellectual Property Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
michael@eff.org

Related Issues:
June 20, 2008

EFF Condemns House Vote, Looks to Senate for Leadership

Washington, D.C. - Privacy rights and the rule of law took a serious blow today when the House of Representatives passed blanket retroactive immunity for phone companies that participated in the president's warrantless surveillance program. The FISA Amendments Act, H.R. 6304, which House Leadership rushed to the floor today after its introduction yesterday, passed by a vote of 293 to 129. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill next week.

The bill was touted as a bipartisan "compromise" on the issues of electronic surveillance and immunity. But in fact it requires dismissal of lawsuits against companies like AT&T that participated in the program as long as the companies received a piece of paper from the government indicating that the surveillance had been authorized by the president and was determined to be lawful.

"Immunity for telecom giants that secretly assisted in the NSA's warrantless surveillance undermines the rule of law and the privacy of every American," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "Congress should let the courts do their job instead of helping the administration and the phone companies avoid accountability for a half decade of illegal domestic spying. If this legislation passes the Senate and is signed into law, the American people will have lost their last best chance to discover the true scope of the president's wiretapping program and to determine whether or not the law was broken."

"We are deeply disappointed that the House Leadership, which was so courageous in its previous opposition to telecom immunity, caved to the Administration's fear-mongering and put this seriously flawed legislation on the floor for a vote," said Bankston. "We look to leaders in the Senate who value the rule of law to stand up and strongly oppose this blanket immunity for telecom lawbreakers, and in particular urge Senator Barack Obama to lead his party in rejecting this false compromise."

EFF is representing the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of the millions of AT&T customers whose private domestic communications and communications records were illegally handed over to the National Security Agency (NSA). EFF has been appointed co-coordinating counsel for all 47 of the outstanding lawsuits concerning the government's warrantless surveillance program.

Contacts:

Kevin Bankston
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
bankston@eff.org

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Issues:
June 19, 2008

Secret Bill's Text Finally Available, Vote in House Likely Tomorrow

Washington, D.C. - EFF calls on members of the House of Representatives to vote "NO" on H.R.6304, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which the House is expected to vote on tomorrow. The text of the bill was released today, and it contains blanket retroactive immunity for telcos that broke the law by cooperating with the NSA's warrantless surveillance program.

"Whatever gloss might be put on it, the so-called 'compromise' on immunity is anything but: the current proposal is the exact same blanket immunity that the Senate passed in February and that the House rejected in March, only with a few new bells and whistles so that political spinsters can claim that it actually provides meaningful court review," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "We call on all members of Congress to reject this sham compromise and maintain the rule of law, rather than deprive the millions of ordinary Americans whose privacy rights were violated of their day in court."

EFF is representing the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of the millions of AT&T customers whose private domestic communications and communications records were illegally handed over to the National Security Agency (NSA). EFF has been appointed co-coordinating counsel for all 47 of the outstanding lawsuits concerning the government's warrantless surveillance program.

For the full text of the FISA Amendments Act:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/att/FISAINTRO_001_xml.pdf

For EFF's analysis of the immunity bill's provisions:
http://www.eff.org/files/AnalysisHR6304-v5.pdf

Contacts:

Kevin Bankston
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
bankston@eff.org

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Issues:
June 18, 2008

Proposal in Congress Would Let Telecoms Off the Hook for Illegal Spying

Washington, D.C. - Congress is widely reported to have struck a deal on legislation to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that includes immunity for telecommunications companies that helped the government illegally spy on millions of ordinary Americans. Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) held a press conference with the ACLU to emphasize that this much-touted "compromise" is a sham aimed at letting both the government and the telecoms off the hook for violating the law and the Constitution.

"Whatever gloss might be put on it, the so-called 'compromise' on immunity is anything but: the current proposal is the exact same blanket immunity that the Senate passed in February and that the House rejected in March, only with a few new bells and whistles so that political spinsters can claim that it actually provides meaningful court review," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "We call on all members of Congress to reject this sham compromise and maintain the rule of law, rather than deprive the millions of ordinary Americans whose privacy rights were violated of their day in court."

EFF is representing the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of the millions of AT&T customers whose private domestic communications and communications records were illegally handed over to the National Security Agency (NSA). EFF has been appointed co-coordinating counsel for all 47 of the outstanding lawsuits concerning the government's warrantless surveillance program.

For Kevin Bankston's complete statement on the FISA deal from today's press conference:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/EFF_bankston.pdf

Contacts:

Kevin Bankston
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
bankston@eff.org

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Issues:
June 13, 2008

Petition Withdrawn After EFF Files Amicus Brief

Cook County, IL - The president of a Chicago suburb has dropped his attempt to obtain the identity of an anonymous MySpace user after the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed an amicus brief detailing how the petition violated both the First Amendment and a federal statute that protects the privacy of online users.

In May, Cicero, IL, Town President Larry Dominick asked a Cook County Circuit Court judge to order the disclosure of the identity of the author of two MySpace profiles that allegedly included defamatory comments and unnamed privacy violations. EFF stepped in and asked the judge to reject Dominick's request, arguing that any attempt to unmask the anonymous speaker would violate the author's First Amendment right to remain anonymous unless Dominick could demonstrate a viable legal claim. In addition, the federal Stored Communications Act prohibits government entities such as Dominick -- who brought the petition in his official government capacity -- from obtaining identifying customer information through the ordinary civil discovery process.

"We are grateful that Mr. Dominick has chosen to abandon his misguided attempt to unmask a critic through the use of the legal system," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "While litigants may pursue claims against speakers who have truly engaged in defamatory speech, it is not enough -- especially for an elected official -- to walk into court and demand the identity of an anonymous speaker supported with nothing but a vague allegation of wrongdoing."

EFF was assisted in this matter by Charles Mudd, Jr., and Sophie Dye of Mudd Law Offices in Chicago.

For the order dismissing the petition:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/dom_v_myspace/2008-06-13%20Order.pdf

For more on anonymity:
http://www.eff.org/issues/anonymity

Contact:

Matt Zimmerman
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org

Related Issues:
June 12, 2008

EFF Asks for Review of Flawed Appeals Court Ruling

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) urged an appeals court today to review a flawed decision allowing random and invasive searches of travelers' computers at the U.S. border.

The news media has reported extensively on these searches as well as the surprise and anger felt by American travelers when they are singled out for inspection. In a typical search, U.S. border officials will turn on the computer and then open and review files. If agents see something of interest, they may confiscate the computer, copy its contents, and sometimes provide a copy to the Department of Justice -- even when the traveler is not suspected of criminal activity. In some cases, travelers have never gotten their computers back from the government.

In an amicus brief filed today, EFF and ACTE asked the full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear and reverse an appeals panel decision in United States v. Arnold, which upheld this blanket search and seizure power. While the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that customs and border agents can perform "routine" searches at the border without a warrant or even reasonable suspicion, these ongoing baseless searches of electronic devices at America's borders are unconstitutionally invasive.

"Searching a laptop is very different from searching a briefcase. Your computer contains a vast amount of information about your private life, including details about your family, your finances, and your health," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien. "All that information can be easily copied, transferred, and stored in government databases, just because you were chosen for a random inspection."

These suspicionless laptop searches and data seizures violate the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure. The unique nature of electronic information stored on computers and other portable devices requires the courts to recognize a standard that protects the privacy of Americans in the Information Age.

"The implications of unfettered data collection are staggering," said ACTE Executive Director Susan Gurley. "Border authorities may now systematically collect all information on every laptop computer, BlackBerry, or other device carried across our border. The government can then store and search all that data without any justification or oversight by any court. This simply does not square with the Fourth Amendment."

The EFF-ACTE amicus brief was prepared by Arent Fox LLP.

For the full amicus brief:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/US_v_arnold/amicusjune08.pdf

For more on US v. Arnold:
http://www.eff.org/cases/us-v-arnold

Contacts:

Lee Tien
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
tien@eff.org

Susan Gurley
Executive Director
Association of Corporate Travel Executives
susan@acte.org

Related Issues:
June 11, 2008

Ruling Affirms Right to Resell Promo CDs

San Francisco - A federal judge has shot down bogus copyright infringement allegations from Universal Music Group (UMG), affirming an eBay seller's right to resell promotional CDs that he buys from secondhand stores.

Troy Augusto, represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and law firm Keker & Van Nest, was sued by UMG last year in the United States District Court for the Central District of California for 26 auction listings involving promo CDs. At issue was whether the "promotional use only, not for sale" labels on those CDs could trump Augusto's right to resell materials that he owns, guaranteed by copyright law's "first sale" doctrine.

In dismissing UMG's lawsuit late Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge S. James Otero ruled that the promo CDs are gifts distributed by UMG, as they are mailed free and unsolicited to thousands of people without any expectation or intention of their return. The first sale doctrine says that once the copyright owner sells or gives away a copy of a CD, DVD, or book, the recipient is entitled to resell that copy without further permission.

"This is a very important ruling for consumers, and not just those who buy or sell used CDs," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "The right of first sale also protects libraries, used bookstores, and businesses that rent movies and videogames. This ruling affirms and protects the traditional balance between the rights of copyright owners and the rights of the public."

"It was clear to the court that these CDs were the property of Mr. Augusto, and therefore he had the right to resell them," said Joseph C. Gratz, attorney with Keker & Van Nest. "Copyright holders can't strip consumers of their first sale rights just by sticking a 'Not for Sale' label on a CD."

Mr. Augusto's victory comes almost one hundred years to the day after the United States Supreme Court's June 1, 1908 decision in Bobbs-Merrill Co. v. Straus, 210 U.S. 339 (1908), established the first sale doctrine as a central part of American copyright law.

EFF has long fought efforts to override the first sale doctrine, arguing in 2004 that Lexmark should not be permitted to use a "label license" to prohibit the resale of laser printer toner cartridges.

For the full order:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/umg_v_augusto/LA07CV03106SJO-O.pdf

For more analysis:
http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2008/06/liberation-day-promo-cds-victory-umg-v-augusto

Contacts:

Corynne McSherry
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

Joseph C. Gratz
Attorney
Keker & Van Nest, LLP
jgratz@kvn.com

Related Issues:
June 9, 2008

Michael Kwun Brings Years of Litigation Experience to EFF's Legal Team

San Francisco - Michael Kwun has joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) as a new Senior Intellectual Property Staff Attorney, bringing years of copyright, trademark, and patent litigation experience to EFF's legal team.

Kwun comes to EFF from Google. As the company's Managing Counsel, Litigation, he was responsible for defending Google in copyright cases about YouTube, Google Book Search, and Google Image Search; trademark cases about Google AdWords; and patent cases in connection with a wide variety of Google products.

"EFF has always fought to protect new innovations from bogus legal claims that stifle creativity, kill competition, and limit consumer choice," said Kwun. "I'm looking forward to tackling these important cases with the rest of EFF's legal team."

Before joining Google, Kwun was an associate at the law firm Keker & Van Nest, where he worked one of the early cases challenging Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) subpoenas issued by the Recording Industry Institute of America (RIAA). Kwun is also a long-time geek; his first publication was a short computer program that appeared in a Commodore computer enthusiast magazine in 1985.

"Michael brings a wealth of experience in copyright, trademark, and patent law to EFF," said EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. "We're so glad that he has chosen to join our legal team and help with this important work."

Kwun also sits on the board of directors of the East Bay Community Law Center, which provides legal services to the low-income community and hands-on clinical education for law students. Kwun received his J.D. degree from the Boalt Hall School of Law and his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan.

Contacts:

Michael Kwun
Senior Intellectual Property Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
michael@eff.org

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

June 9, 2008

Bogus Copyright Claims Used to Block YouTube Critique of Animal Mistreatment

Chicago - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asked a federal court today to protect the free speech rights of an animal welfare group after its video critiques of animal treatment at rodeos were removed from YouTube due to sham copyright claims.

The group Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) is a non-profit organization that videotapes and photographs rodeos in order to expose animal abuse, injuries, and deaths. SHARK posted more than two dozen videos to YouTube to publicize this animal mistreatment. But the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) filed takedown demands for 13 of the videos under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), claiming the videos infringed their copyrights. YouTube consequently removed the videos and canceled SHARK's entire YouTube account, even though the PRCA has no copyright claim in live rodeo events.

"The PRCA may not like it when our clients raise tough questions about how animals are treated at rodeos, " said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "But this copyright claim is completely baseless, and made simply to block the public from seeing SHARK's controversial videos. The PRCA can't be permitted to silence its critics through a misuse of the law."

Because of the baseless copyright claims, SHARK's videos were unavailable to the public for approximately two weeks. In a lawsuit filed today, EFF asks the court to affirm that SHARK's videos do not infringe any of the PRCA's copyrights, and to hold the PRCA accountable for lodging these spurious claims.

"We can't let the PRCA continue to interfere with SHARK's free speech rights," said SHARK investigator Michael Kobliska. "It's simply not right for us to waste our time and money dealing with these baseless DMCA takedowns that block our message from getting out to the public."

This lawsuit is part of EFF's No Downtime for Free Speech Campaign, which works to protect online expression in the face of baseless copyright claims. EFF has seen people and organizations increasingly misusing the DMCA to demand that material be removed from the Internet without providing any proof of infringement. Furthermore, service providers -- fearful of monetary damages and legal hassles -- often comply with these requests without double-checking them, despite the cost to free speech and individual rights.

"We must stop the abuse of the DMCA," said EFF Intellectual Property Fellow Emily Berger. "Those bringing meritless copyright claims must be held accountable so that free speech can continue to flourish online."

Charles Lee Mudd Jr. of Mudd Law Offices in Chicago and the John Marshall Law School Center for Information Technology & Privacy Law are also representing SHARK in this suit.

For the full complaint in SHARK v. PRCA: http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/SHARK_v_PRCA/08cv3314comp.pdf

For more on EFF's No Downtime for Free Speech Campaign: http://www.eff.org/issues/ip-and-free-speech

Contacts:

Emily Berger
Intellectual Property Fellow
Electronic Frontier Foundation
emily@eff.org

Corynne McSherry
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

Michael Kobliska
SHARK Investigator
mkobliska@sharkonline.org

Related Issues:
June 5, 2008

Battle Over 'Spoof' Profiles Must Not Circumvent First Amendment, Federal Law

Cook County, IL - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asked a judge in Illinois Wednesday to reject an attempt to identify an anonymous MySpace user who allegedly posted fake profiles of an Illinois official because the request would violate both the First Amendment and federal statute.

In May, Cicero Town President Larry Dominick asked a Cook County Circuit Court judge to order the disclosure of the identities of the author of two MySpace profiles that allegedly included defamatory comments and unnamed privacy violations. In its amicus brief, however, EFF argues that the petition violates the First Amendment right to remain anonymous until a litigant can demonstrate a viable legal claim.

"The First Amendment protects not only the right to speak but to speak anonymously," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "If Mr. Dominick's claims are legitimate, he may be able to obtain the identifying information that he seeks. Until he meets his burden, however -- including, among other things, attempting to notify the author of this court action and identifying the allegedly defamatory statements at issue -- the court should not grant his request. The First Amendment requires courts to guard against attempts to unmask critics who have simply made statements litigants don't like, especially when such requests are made by elected officials."

In addition, federal law also bars Mr. Dominick's request. Passed to protect the communications and records of users of services such as MySpace, the Stored Communications Act categorically prohibits government entities from obtaining identifying customer information through the ordinary civil discovery process.

"Federal law imposes stiff penalties on government entities that violate the privacy of online users without meeting strict requirements," said Zimmerman. "So far, Mr. Dominick -- bringing this action in his official capacity as town president -- hasn't met those standards."

For the full amicus brief:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/dom_v_myspace/Motion%20AC%20filed.pdf

For more on this case:
http://www.eff.org/cases/dominick-v-my-space

Contact:

Matt Zimmerman
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org

Related Issues:
May 23, 2008

Latest Proposal Even Worse Than the Last

Washington, D.C. - The latest Republican proposal to amend foreign intelligence surveillance law was announced yesterday by Senator Kit Bond , and included a purported "compromise" on the issue of whether telephone companies that illegally assisted in the government's warrantless wiretapping program should be granted immunity from lawsuits such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF's) lawsuit against AT&T.

"The purported immunity 'compromise' announced on Thursday by Senator Bond is a pure sham that's even worse than the original immunity provision passed by the Senate," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "The stacked-deck immunity determination to be made by the court apparently still doesn't include any meaningful review of the telecoms' conduct or the legality of their cooperation with the NSA, simply a review of whether the companies got a piece of paper saying that the president authorized the surveillance. And the deck would be stacked even more by the proposed transfer to the FISA court -- the most conservative and secretive federal court in the nation. Bottom line: it's still immunity, and this so-called compromise concedes nothing."

EFF represents the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, a class-action lawsuit brought by AT&T customers accusing the telecommunications company of violating their rights by illegally assisting the National Security Agency in widespread domestic surveillance. There are nearly 40 legal cases currently pending in the Northern District of California courts that have arisen from the warrantless surveillance.

For more on Senator Bond's proposal:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/nsaspying/Bond%20offer.pdf
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hJKgeE0Z-SivATjok-utYBdh9wDwD90R3PT00

For more on Hepting v. AT&T:
http://www.eff.org/cases/hepting

Contact:

Kevin Bankston
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
bankston@eff.org

Related Issues:
May 7, 2008

Gag Order Lifted on Internet Archive, Allowing Founder to Speak Out for First Time

San Francisco - The FBI has withdrawn an unconstitutional national security letter (NSL) issued to the Internet Archive after a legal challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). As the result of a settlement agreement, the FBI withdrew the NSL and agreed to the unsealing of the case, finally allowing the Archive's founder to speak out for the first time about his battle against the record demand.

"The free flow of information is at the heart of every library's work. That's why Congress passed a law limiting the FBI's power to issue NSLs to America's libraries," said Brewster Kahle, founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive. "While it's never easy standing up to the government -- particularly when I was barred from discussing it with anyone -- I knew I had to challenge something that was clearly wrong. I'm grateful that I am able now to talk about what happened to me, so that other libraries can learn how they can fight back from these overreaching demands."

The NSL was served on the Archive -- a digital library recognized by the state of California -- and its attorneys in November of 2007. The letter asked for personal information about one of the Archive's users, including the individual's name, address, and any electronic communication transactional records pertaining to the user. Kahle, who is also a member of EFF's Board of Directors, decided to fight the NSL because it exceeded the FBI's limited authority to issue such demands to libraries.

The Archive responded to the letter by handing over only publicly available documents and simultaneously filing a lawsuit challenging the letter. This lawsuit is the first known challenge to an NSL served on a library since Congress amended the national security letter provision in 2006 to limit the FBI's power to demand records from libraries.

The NSL included a gag order, prohibiting Kahle from discussing the letter and the legal issues it presented with the rest of the Archive's Board of Directors or anyone else except his attorneys, who were also gagged. The gag also prevented the ACLU and EFF from discussing the NSL with members of Congress, even though an ACLU lawyer who represents the Archive recently testified at a congressional hearing about the FBI's misuse of NSLs.

"This is a great victory for the Archive and also the Constitution," said Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU. "It appears that every time a national security letter recipient has challenged an NSL in court and forced the government to justify it, the government has ultimately withdrawn its demand for records. In the absence of much needed judicial oversight – and with recipients silenced and the public in the dark – there is nothing to stop the FBI from abusing its NSL power."

"A miscarriage of justice was prevented here because the Archive decided to fight the unlawful demand for information and unconstitutional gag," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "The big question is, how many other improper NSLs have been issued by the FBI and never challenged?"

NSLs are secretly issued by the government to obtain access to personal customer records from Internet Service Providers, financial institutions, and credit reporting agencies. In almost all cases, recipients of the NSLs are forbidden, or "gagged," from disclosing that they have received the letters. The ACLU has challenged this Patriot Act statute in federal court in two other cases where the judges found the gags unconstitutional: one involving an Internet Service Provider (ISP); the second a group of librarians. In the ISP case, the district court invalidated the entire NSL statute. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is expected to hear oral arguments in the government's appeal of that case next month.

Since the Patriot Act was passed in 2001, relaxing restrictions on the FBI's use of the power, the number of NSLs issued has seen an astronomical increase, to nearly 200,000 between 2003 and 2006. EFF's investigations have uncovered multiple NSL misuses, including an improper NSL issued to North Carolina State University.

Last year Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduced H.R. 3189, the "National Security Letters Reform Act of 2007." Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI) introduced a Senate bill of the same name (S. 2088). Both bills are aimed at narrowing the statute by enacting limits on when and how NSLs can be used and bringing the gag order provision in line with the Constitution.

In addition to Goodman and Hofmann, attorneys on the case are Jameel Jaffer and Danielle Tully of the ACLU National Security Project, Ann Brick of the ACLU of Northern California, and Kurt Opsahl of EFF.

For the newly unsealed documents (still partially redacted):
http://www.eff.org/cases/archive-v-mukasey?docs

For more information about this case:
http://www.eff.org/cases/archive-v-mukasey

For more information on NSLs:
http://www.eff.org/issues/foia/07656JDB

Contacts:

For Brewster Kahle:
Paul Hickman
Internet Archive
info@archive.org

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

James Freedland or Rachel Myers
Media Relations
American Civil Liberties Union
media@aclu.org

May 2, 2008

Federal Law Protects Popular User-Created Encyclopedia From Liability

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the law firm of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton Thursday filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against the operator of the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia, arguing that federal law immunizes it against suits over statements made by its users.

Literary agent Barbara Bauer filed a complaint in New Jersey Superior Court in January against Wikipedia posters as well as the site itself, claiming in part that the Wikimedia Foundation was liable for statements identifying her as one the "dumbest of the twenty worst" agents and that she had "no documented sales at all." In court papers filed Thursday, Wikimedia argues that under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, operators of "interactive computer services" such as Wikipedia cannot be held liable for users' comments. In addition, Wikimedia argues that the statements are protected speech under the First Amendment and New Jersey law.

The ability to utilize the collaborative input of its users without fear of costly lawsuits is essential to Wikipedia's ongoing success, said Wikimedia Foundation General Counsel Mike Godwin.

"We provide a platform through Wikipedia for smart citizens to give their knowledge back to a larger culture," Godwin said. "Our ability to offer citizens that platform is what's at stake in this case."

Since it was signed into law over a decade ago, courts across the country have consistently applied the protections of Section 230 broadly, fulfilling Congress' intent "to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation."

"Congress passed Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in order to protect websites' operators like Wikipedia from suits like this one," said James Chadwick of Sheppard Mullin. "It's simple but it's fundamental: Congress has decided that Internet censorship isn't the answer, so websites aren't liable for statements posted by their users."

Section 230's blanket protection of sites like Wikipedia does not mean that alleged defamation on the Internet cannot be challenged in court. Instead, the law requires that litigants direct their efforts at the speakers themselves and not the forums where statements were made.

"Wikipedia continues to be a tremendous resource for people around the globe," added EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "Without strong liability protection, it would be difficult for Wikipedia to continue to provide a platform for user-created encyclopedia content."

For the full motion to dismiss: http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/wikimedia/motiontoquashmemo-wikimedia.pdf

Contacts:

Matt Zimmerman
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org

Mike Godwin
General Counsel
Wikimedia Foundation
mgodwin@wikimedia.org

James Chadwick
Partner
Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton
jchadwick@sheppardmullin.com

Related Issues:
May 1, 2008

Broad Coalition Urges Hearings on Intrusive Search and Seizure of Electronic Devices

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and a broad coalition, including civil rights groups, professional associations and technologists, called on Congress today to hold oversight hearings on the Department of Homeland Security's search and seizure of electronic devices at American borders.

The press has widely reported disturbing stories about U.S. citizens subject to intrusive searches of their laptops and cell phones. But a recent court decision found that customs officials can search travelers' computers at the border without suspicion or cause. In a letter sent to the House and Senate Homeland Security and Judiciary committees today, the coalition urges lawmakers to consider passing legislation to prevent abusive search practices by border agents and to protect all Americans from suspicionless digital border inspections.

"Our computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices hold a vast amount of personal information like financial data, health histories, and personal emails and letters," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "In a free country, the government cannot have unlimited power to read, seize, and store this information without any oversight."

So far, the Department of Homeland Security has refused to release its policies and procedures for conducting these intrusive searches. EFF and the Asian Law Caucus have filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security to obtain the information through the Freedom of Information Act.

"Your privacy could be at risk even if you don't travel yourself. Your financial institution, your insurer, and other enterprises hold extensive personal data about you and your family," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien. "If agents of those groups travel internationally, your information could be exposed to officials at the border or potentially copied and stored in government databases. Americans should know how and why electronic data is seized and kept by the government, and who is able to access it at the border and in the years afterwards."

In addition to EFF, the coalition signing today's letter includes more than 40 organizations and individuals, including the Association for Corporate Travel Executives, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Rutherford Institute, and prominent technologists such as Bruce Schneier and Whitfield Diffie.

For the full letter to Congress:
http://www.eff.org/press/archives/2008/05/01/border-search-open-letter

For more on EFF's suit on border searches:
http://www.eff.org/cases/foia-litigation-border-searches

Contacts:

Marcia Hofmann
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
marcia@eff.org

Lee Tien
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
tien@eff.org

April 29, 2008

EFF Outlines Five Steps to Redress DRM Debacle

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is urging Microsoft Corporation to fix the problems it will cause when it shuts down the MSN Music validation servers, making it impossible for customers to transfer their music files to new computers or even upgrade their operating system.

In an open letter sent to Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer today, EFF outlines five steps Microsoft must take to make things right for MSN Music customers -- including a issuing a public apology, providing refunds or replacement music files, and launching a substantial publicity campaign to make sure all customers know their options.

"MSN Music customers trusted Microsoft when it said that this was a safe way to buy music, and that trust has been betrayed," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "If Microsoft is prepared to treat MSN Music customers like this, is there any reason to suppose that future customers won't get the same treatment?"

MSN Music sold song downloads encumbered with digital rights management (DRM), allowing the music to be played only on approved devices. If you upgraded your computer or operating system, you needed to "reauthorize" your music files with MSN Music's DRM server. But last week, Microsoft announced that it would deactivate those servers because of the complexity of maintaining the technology -- meaning that customers face losing the ability to play their purchased music if they get a new computer or if the hard drive crashes on the old one. Microsoft's only suggestion for customers so far is to export all purchases onto a CD and then recopy it back onto new computers.

"Microsoft is asking its customers to spend more time, labor, and money to make degraded copies of music that was purchased in good faith," said EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. "This outcome was easily foreseeable from the moment Microsoft chose to wrap MSN Music files in DRM. Microsoft customers should not have to pay for Microsoft's bad business decisions."

EFF's letter also calls on Microsoft to eliminate DRM from its Zune music service now -- or at least to publicly commit to compensating future customers for the inevitable future DRM debacles.

"With MSN Music, Microsoft has admitted just how expensive, clumsy, and unfair DRM is. It's time for Microsoft to reject this sloppy technology, and for customers to demand something better," McSherry said.

For the full open letter:
http://www.eff.org/press/archives/2008/04/28/microsoft-open-letter

Contact:

Corynne McSherry
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

Related Issues:
April 15, 2008

Improper NSL Issued Upon the 'Advice and Direction of FBIHQ'

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has found that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which claims that National Security Letters (NSLs) take too long and that it needs the authority to conduct surveillance without judicial oversight, delayed its own investigation of a student suspected of links to terrorism by employing an improper NSL to seek information on the suspect, at the direction of FBI Headquarters. The FBI failed to report the misuse for almost two years.

EFF's report comes as the House Judiciary Committee prepares for a Tuesday hearing on the misuse of NSLs. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold another hearing on Wednesday.

"This report raises important questions about the FBI's use of these very powerful investigative tools," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "Congress should determine why FBI headquarters insisted on an improper NSL instead of using the appropriate tools, and why the FBI failed to report the misuse for almost two years."

In the report, EFF used documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request coupled with public information to detail the bizarre turns in the FBI's investigation of a former North Carolina State University student. Over the span of three days in July of 2005, FBI documents show that the bureau first obtained the educational records of the suspect with a grand jury subpoena. However, at the direction of FBI headquarters, agents returned the records and then requested them again through an improper NSL.

As expanded by the PATRIOT Act, the FBI can use NSLs to get private records about anyone's domestic phone calls, e-mails and financial transactions without any court approval -- as long as it claims the information could be relevant to a terrorism or espionage investigation. However, NSL authority does not allow the government to seek educational records, and the university refused the request. The FBI finally obtained the documents again through a second grand jury subpoena. Later in July of 2005, FBI Director Robert Mueller used the delay in gathering the records as an example of why the FBI needed administrative subpoena power instead of NSLs so investigations could move faster.

"The FBI consistently asks for more power and less outside supervision," said Opsahl. "Yet here the NSL power was misused at the direction of FBI headquarters, and only after review by FBI lawyers. Oversight and legislative reforms are necessary to ensure that these powerful tools are not abused."

Report on the Improper Use of an NSL to NC State University:
http://www.eff.org/issues/foia/report-nsl-ncstate

Key FBI documents:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/07656JDB/charlotte.pdf

For more on National Security Letters:
http://www.eff.org/issues/foia/07656JDB

Contact:

Kurt Opsahl
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
kurt@eff.org

April 8, 2008

EFF Argues Against Dismissal of Al-Haramain v. Bush

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged a federal judge Monday to allow an important government surveillance lawsuit to have its day in court, despite the government's attempt to bury the case using the state secrets privilege.

The case is Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation v. Bush, which alleges that federal agents illegally wiretapped calls between the charity and its lawyers. The government has asked U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker to dismiss the case, contending that the litigation jeopardizes state secrets. But in an amicus brief filed Monday, EFF argues that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was written to allow cases like this one to proceed with appropriate security precautions.

"Federal surveillance law already provides clear procedures that allow cases like Al-Haramain v. Bush to proceed fairly and securely, and those procedures trump the Administration's claims of blanket secrecy," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "By trying to use the state secrets privilege as a shield against any litigation over the legality of its warrantless wiretapping, the administration is essentially telling the other branches 'just trust us.' But when Congress passed FISA, it entrusted judges with the responsibility of deciding the legality of the executive branch's surveillance operations."

This is the government's second attempt to dismiss the Al-Haramain case. The first motion to dismiss reached the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which returned the case to Judge Walker's court to consider the FISA issue.

Judge Walker is also the presiding judge in Hepting v. AT&T -- EFF's class-action lawsuit accusing the telecommunications company of violating customers' rights by illegally assisting the National Security Agency in widespread domestic surveillance.

For the full amicus brief:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/att/alharamainamicus1806.pdf

For more on Al-Haramain v. Bush:
http://www.eff.org/cases/al-haramain

Contact:

Kurt Opsahl
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
kurt@eff.org

Related Issues:
April 8, 2008

EFF Argues That Labels Don't Trump Right to Resell

Los Angeles - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and San Francisco law firm Keker & Van Nest filed briefs in federal court Monday on behalf of eBay seller Troy Augusto, defending his right to resell promotional CDs ("promo" CDs) that he buys from secondhand stores in the Los Angeles area.

Augusto, who does business as "Roast Beast Music" on eBay, was sued in May 2007 by Universal Music Group (UMG), the largest record company in the world, for 26 eBay auction listings involving UMG promo CDs. At issue is whether the "promotional use only, not for resale" labels on these CDs can trump a consumer's right to resell copyrighted materials that they own, guaranteed by copyright law's "first sale" doctrine.

For decades, major labels have distributed promo CDs for free to tastemakers and music industry insiders in an effort to create buzz for upcoming releases. These promo CDs often make their way into secondhand stores, where Augusto purchases them for resale on eBay. UMG stamps its promo CDs with labels declaring that the CDs may not be resold and remain the property of UMG. The "first sale" doctrine in copyright law, however, makes it clear that once the copyright owner sells or gives away a CD, DVD, or book, the recipient is entitled to resell it without needing further permission. The summary judgment brief filed Monday argues that UMG gives up ownership of these promo CDs when it mails them unsolicited to thousands of people without any intention of their return. Accordingly, the first sale doctrine permits purchasers to resell these CDs.

"If UMG is able to stop resale of CDs just by putting 'not for resale' labels on them, then there is nothing to stop other restrictive labels from appearing on CDs, books, and DVDs," said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "Record companies are not entitled to strip consumers of their first sale rights simply by putting labels on their products."

A hearing on the motion for summary judgment is expected in early May 2008.

For the full brief filed Monday:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/umg_v_augusto/AugustoMSJBrief.pdf

For more on UMG v. Augusto:
http://www.eff.org/cases/umg-v-augusto

Contacts:

Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
fred@eff.org

Joseph C. Gratz
Attorney
Keker & Van Nest, LLP
jgratz@kvn.com

Related Issues:
April 7, 2008

Judge Orders Government to Provide Documents in 17 Days

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) won another battle against the government Friday over the release of information about a campaign to change federal surveillance law.

A federal judge ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to provide to EFF by April 21, 2008, records about telecom industry lobbying of their offices.

Congress is currently considering granting immunity to telecommunications companies that participated in unlawful electronic surveillance on millions of ordinary Americans as part of changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Officials at the DOJ and ODNI have been vocal supporters of the immunity proposal. Using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), EFF asked the DOJ and ODNI for any documents reflecting telecom carriers' efforts to avoid legal responsibility for their role in the government's surveillance operations, but the agencies failed to comply with EFF's requests.

"We went to court over the release of these documents because they could play a critical role in the national debate over telecom immunity. Denying Americans access to this information is not only unconscionable, but also illegal," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "We're pleased the judge recognized that time is of the essence here and ordered these agencies to follow the law."

In November, another federal judge ordered ODNI to comply with a similar EFF request. Documents released as a result of that case detailed high-level battles over changes to FISA, featuring key members of Congress and Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell.

EFF also represents the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, a class-action lawsuit brought by AT&T customers accusing the telecommunications company of violating their rights by illegally assisting the National Security Agency in widespread domestic surveillance. There are nearly 40 legal cases that have arisen from the warrantless surveillance currently pending in the Northern District of California courts.

For the judge's full order:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/foia_C0705278/040408_order.pdf

For more on EFF v. ODNI and DOJ:
http://www.eff.org/issues/foia/cases/C-07-05278

For more on Hepting v. AT&T:
http://www.eff.org/nsa

Contact:

Marcia Hofmann
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
marcia@eff.org

Related Issues:
April 1, 2008

Agencies Fail to Release Records on Telecom Lobbying Activity

San Francisco - On Friday, April 4, at 9 a.m., the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will urge a federal judge to speed the government's release of information about a campaign to change federal surveillance law to benefit telecommunications companies.

Congress is currently considering granting immunity to telecoms that participated in unlawful electronic surveillance on millions of ordinary Americans. But the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have failed to comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents reflecting telecom carriers' efforts to avoid legal responsibility for their role in the government's surveillance operations.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White has already issued a tentative ruling granting EFF's request for a preliminary injunction against the government. In November, another federal judge ordered ODNI to comply with a similar EFF request.

EFF also represents the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, a class-action lawsuit brought by AT&T customers accusing the telecommunications company of violating their rights by illegally assisting the National Security Agency in widespread domestic surveillance.

WHAT:
EFF v. ODNI and DOJ

WHEN:
9 a.m.
Friday, April 4

WHERE:
U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
Courtroom 2, 17th Floor
450 Golden Gate Ave.
San Francisco CA

For the judge's tentative ruling:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/foia_C0705278/033108_tentative_ruling.pdf

For more on EFF v. ODNI and DOJ:
http://www.eff.org/issues/foia/cases/C-07-05278

For more on Hepting v. AT&T:
http://www.eff.org/nsa

Contacts:

Marcia Hofmann
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
marcia@eff.org

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Issues:
March 20, 2008

Secrecy Surrounding Demands for Private Records Enables Widespread Misuse

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) along with the National Security Archive urged a federal appeals court Wednesday to strike down the National Security Letter (NSL) provision of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

The federal surveillance law, as expanded by the PATRIOT Act, allows the FBI to use NSLs to get private records about people's communications without any court approval, as long as it claims the information could be relevant to a terrorism or espionage investigation. The FBI also has broad discretion to place recipients of NSLs under indefinite gag orders, barring them from saying anything about the demands.

A federal judge has already found that the NSL statute is unconstitutional, but the government appealed the ruling. In an amicus brief filed Wednesday, EFF and the National Security Archive argue that the excessive secrecy surrounding the use of NSLs undermines government accountability and enables widespread misuse of authority.

"The Justice Department's internal watchdog has documented the FBI's systematic, Bureau-wide misuse of NSLs," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "NSL gag orders aren't just an unconstitutional restriction on free speech -- they also allow problems like these to fester and grow."

This week is national Sunshine Week, a non-partisan initiative to celebrate the principles of open government. Both EFF and the National Security Archive work to uncover information on government matters of public interest, as openness proves to be a check against government abuses.

"The FBI's ability to issue gag orders without meaningful judicial oversight means there is no check on overreaching by the FBI," said National Security Archive Staff Counsel Kristin Adair. "This kind of secrecy does not make us safer. It simply allows the government to cover up abuses and mistakes."

For the full amicus brief: http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/doe_v_ashcroft/doevmukaseyamicus031908.pdf

For more on Sunshine Week:
http://www.eff.org/sunshine

For more on EFF's work on NSL misuse: http://www.eff.org/issues/foia/07656JDB

Contacts:

Marcia Hofmann
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
marcia@eff.org

Kristin Adair
Staff Attorney
National Security Archive

March 14, 2008

Bill Would Allow Spying Cases to Proceed Fairly and Securely

Washington, D.C. - This morning the House of Representatives passed a compromise surveillance bill that does not include retroactive immunity for phone companies alleged to have assisted in the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program. The bill would allow lawsuits like the Electronic Frontier Foundation's case against AT&T to proceed while providing specific security procedures allowing the telecom giants to defend themselves in court.

The House bill succeeded 213 to 197 despite the president's threat to veto any bill that does not include immunity.

"We applaud the House for refusing to grant amnesty to lawbreaking telecoms, and for passing a bill that would allow our lawsuit against AT&T to proceed fairly and securely," said Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "Amnesty proponents have been claiming on the Hill for months that phone companies like AT&T had a good faith belief that the NSA program was legal. Under this bill, the companies could do what they should have been able to do all along: tell that story to a judge."

The Senate is expected to consider the House bill when it returns from recess on Monday, March 31. House and Senate staff are expected to spend much of the break negotiating over differences between the new House bill and a previous Senate bill that includes immunity provisions.

"This newly-passed House bill represents a true compromise on the amnesty issue: customers whose privacy was violated would get their day in court, while the companies would be allowed to defend themselves despite the Administration's broad demands for secrecy," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "We look forward to assisting the Senate in its consideration of this compromise solution, which EFF believes is the only reasonable response to the White House's attempt to evade court review of its illegal spying program and the phone companies' collaboration in it."

EFF represents the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, a class-action lawsuit brought by AT&T customers accusing the telecommunications company of violating their rights by illegally assisting the National Security Agency in widespread domestic surveillance. The Hepting case is the leading case aimed at holding telecoms responsible for knowingly violating federal privacy laws with warrantless wiretapping and the illegal transfer of vast amounts of personal data to the government.

Contacts:

Kevin Bankston
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
bankston@eff.org

Cindy Cohn
Legal Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
cindy@eff.org

March 12, 2008

Fifth Successful Result for Patent Busting Project

San Francisco - Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has won reexamination of a bogus online gaming patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) -- the fifth successful reexamination request from EFF's Patent Busting Project.

Sheldon F. Goldberg was awarded the illegitimate patent for online gaming systems that use tournament-style play, advertising, and real-time updates of ladder-rankings in multi-player games. Goldberg has used this bogus patent to coerce licensing fees from numerous small businesses.

In the reexamination request, EFF along with Paul Grewal and Brad Waugh of Day Casebeer Madrid & Batchelder show that the technology covered by the Goldberg patent had been widely disseminated in the public domain for years before Goldberg made his claim. The Patent Office took quick action on the request, recognizing this substantial new question of patentability less than a month after the request was filed.

"The patent process was designed to encourage invention, investment, and disclosure and was not meant to be used as a tool to threaten legitimate businesses," said EFF Intellectual Property Fellow Emily Berger. "Reexamination proceedings like these are essential in protecting the public from patents that should never have been granted in the first place."

This reexamination request is part of EFF's Patent Busting Project, which combats the chilling effects bad patents have on public and consumer interests. So far, the project has killed one patent covering a system and method of creating digital recordings of live performances. Four more reexaminations, including this one, are under review by the USPTO due to the Patent Busting Project's efforts.

"Undeserved patents cause significant harm to innovation and competition in the information age," said Paul Grewal. "We are pleased that the PTO recognized the substantial questions of patentability raised in EFF's request and look forward to the PTO's ultimate decision on the merits."

Students from the Cyberlaw Clinic at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School also carried out extensive research for the reexamination request, helping locate much of the critical evidence of prior use of technologies covered by Goldberg's patent. Members of the Netrek online gaming community also provided technical analysis and legal declarations that figured prominently in the PTO's decision to grant EFF's reexamination request.

For the full reexamination order:
http://w2.eff.org/patent/wanted/sheldon/reexam/goldberg-reexam-granted.PDF

For more on the Patent-Busting Project:
http://www.eff.org/patent/

Contacts:

Emily Berger
Intellectual Property Fellow
Electronic Frontier Foundation
emily@eff.org

Paul Grewal
Partner
Day Casebeer Madrid & Batchelder
pgrewal@daycasebeer.com

Related Issues:
March 11, 2008

Supports Provision Allowing Cases to Proceed Fairly and Securely

San Francisco - Today the leadership of the House of Representatives circulated a draft surveillance bill rejecting the president's demand that Congress immunize telecoms that illegally participated in the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program.

Rather than granting immunity, the bill would respond to the phone companies' complaints that they cannot defend themselves by clarifying that they can present evidence about the wiretapping to the court under appropriate security procedures, even when the Executive Branch claims that such evidence is barred by the state secrets privilege.

"We applaud the House leadership for taking a courageous stand against the president and refusing to grant amnesty to lawbreaking telecoms. The House bill would represent a true compromise on the amnesty issue: customers whose privacy was violated would get their day in court, while the companies would be allowed to defend themselves despite the Administration's broad demands for secrecy," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "Immunity proponents have been claiming on the Hill for months that these companies had a good faith belief that the NSA program was legal. Under this bill, the companies could do what they should have been able to do all along: tell that story to a judge."

EFF represents the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, a class-action lawsuit brought by AT&T customers accusing the telecommunications company of violating their rights by illegally assisting the National Security Agency in widespread domestic surveillance. The Hepting case is the leading case aimed at holding telecoms responsible for knowingly violating federal privacy laws with warrantless wiretapping and the illegal transfer of vast amounts of personal data to the government.

For the full draft of the bill:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/nsaspying/H3773AMD_002_xml.pdf

For more on NSA spying:
http://www.eff.org/issues/nsa-spying

Contact:

Kevin Bankston
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
bankston@eff.org

March 6, 2008

Trio of Commerce Chairmen Call for Further Investigation Based on Latest Spying Allegations

Washington D.C. - Three powerful House Commerce Committee Chairmen strongly urged their colleagues Thursday to defer acting on requests for retroactive immunity and to demand more information from the White House and the telecommunications companies in the wake of disclosures by another whistleblower that the government apparently has been granted an open gateway to wireless communications by a major telecommunications company.

Babak Pasdar, a computer security consultant, has gone public about his discovery of a mysterious "Quantico Circuit" while working for an unnamed major wireless carrier. Pasdar believes that this circuit gives the U.S. government direct, unfettered access to customers voice calls and data packets. These claims echo the disclosures from retired AT&T technician Mark Klein, who has described a "secret room" in an AT&T facility.

The White House is putting heavy pressure on lawmakers to grant the telecoms immunity from lawsuits over the spying as part of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) legislation pending in Congress. But in today's letter -- written by John Dingell, Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce; Ed Markey, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet; and Bart Stupak, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations -- the congressmen argue lawmakers must not "vote in the dark" on the immunity issue when "profound privacy and security risks" are involved.

"When you put Mr. Pasdar's information together with that of AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein, there is troubling evidence of telecom misconduct in massive domestic surveillance of ordinary Americans," said Cindy Cohn, Legal Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). "Congress needs to have hearings and get some answers about whether American telecommunications companies are helping the government to illegally spy on millions of us. Retroactive immunity for telecom companies now ought to be off the table in the ongoing FISA debate."

EFF represents the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, a class-action lawsuit brought by AT&T customers accusing the telecommunications company of violating their rights by illegally assisting the National Security Agency in widespread domestic surveillance. The Hepting case is just one of many suits aimed at holding telecoms responsible for knowingly violating federal privacy laws with warrantless wiretapping and the illegal transfer of vast amounts of personal data to the government.

For the full letter:
http://www.eff.org/files/newwhistleblower.pdf

For more on the telecoms' role in warrantless spying:
http://www.eff.org/issues/nsa-spying

Contacts:

Cindy Cohn
Legal Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
cindy@eff.org

Kurt Opsahl
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
kurt@eff.org

Related Issues:
March 3, 2008

Phoenix File-Sharing Suit Based on Bogus "Making Available" Argument

Phoenix, AZ - On Wednesday, March 5 at 2 p.m., the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will urge a federal judge in Phoenix to block the recording industry’s effort to sue two Arizona residents for simply having music files in a “shared” folder on their computer.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is seeking thousands of dollars in damages from the defendants in the case, Pamela and Jeffery Howell, for alleged unauthorized distribution of copyrighted digital music. However, instead of proving that the Howells actually distributed music files, the RIAA claims only that they had songs in the "shared" folder of peer-to-peer file-sharing software Kazaa -- without any proof that anyone other than their own investigators actually downloaded the songs from them.

EFF's Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann will argue at Wednesday's hearing that the RIAA cannot take this shortcut in its lawsuit campaign.

"This amounts to suing someone for attempted copyright infringement -- something the Copyright Act simply does not allow," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "If the RIAA wants to keep bringing these suits and collecting big settlements, then they have to follow the law and prove their case. It's not enough to say the law could have been broken. The RIAA must prove it actually was broken."

WHAT:
Atlantic Records, et al. v. Howell

WHEN:
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
2pm

WHERE:
U.S. District Court
401 West Washington Street, Courtroom #504
Phoenix, AZ 85003-2118

For more about the case:
http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2008/01/eff-files-brief-atlantic-v-howell-resisting-riaas-attempted-distribution-theory

For EFF's amicus brief:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/atlantic_v_howel/EFF_amicus_atlantic_howell.pdf

Contact:

Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
fred@eff.org

February 29, 2008

First Amendment Rights of Internet Users Upheld in Today's Hearing

San Francisco - A federal district court judge in San Francisco today rescinded a controversial order that disabled the "wikileaks.org" domain name which had -- until two weeks ago -- pointed to Wikileaks, a website designed to give whistleblowers a forum for posting materials of public concern.

This week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) moved to intervene in the case, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California and the Project on Government Oversight (POGO). In a hearing in federal court today, EFF and its fellow intervenors and amici argued that the order infringed on the First Amendment rights of Internet users who have an interest in accessing material of public concern on the site. Ruling from the bench, Judge Jeffrey White cited concerns about the First Amendment, the effectiveness of disabling the wikileaks.org domain name, and the court's own jurisdiction over the case as reasons to dissolve his previous orders.

"We're very pleased that Judge White recognized the serious constitutional concerns raised by his earlier orders," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "Attempting to interfere with the operation of an entire website because you have a dispute over some of its content is never the right approach. Disabling access to an Internet domain in an effort to prevent the world from accessing a handful of widely-discussed documents is not only unconstitutional -- it simply won't work."

Wikileaks permits third parties to post corporate and government documents that they believe expose wrongdoing. For example, in the past year individuals have posted materials documenting alleged human rights abuses in China and political corruption in Kenya.

The lawsuit began earlier this month, when Swiss bank Julius Baer filed suit against Wikileaks for hosting allegedly leaked documents regarding personal banking transactions of Julius Baer customers. Also sued was Wikileaks' domain name registrar, Dynadot LLC. On February 15, following a stipulation between Julius Baer and Dynadot, the court issued a permanent injunction, disabling the wikileaks.org domain name and preventing that domain name from being transferred to any other registrar.

In addition to dissolving the permanent injunction, which permits the wikileaks.org domain name to be reactivated, the court also declined to extend a previous temporary restraining order requiring Wikileaks to disable access to 14 disputed Julius Baer documents.

Joining the EFF, ACLU, and POGO motion to intervene was Wikileaks user Jordan McCorkle. The papers were filed in consultation with and on behalf of the intervenors by Steven Mayer of the law firm of Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin. Other attorneys on the case include Christopher Kao and Shaudy Danaye-Elmi of Howard Rice; Zimmerman, Cindy Cohn, and Kurt Opsahl of EFF; and Aden Fine and Ann Brick of the ACLU and ACLU-Northern California, respectively.

For the full order:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/baer_v_wikileaks/wikileaks102.pdf

For more on the Wikileaks case:
http://www.eff.org/cases/bank-julius-baer-co-v-wikileaks

Contact:

Matt Zimmerman
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org

Related Issues:
February 27, 2008

Domain Name Shutdown Harms First Amendment Right to Access Information

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California (ACLU-Northern California) Tuesday filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit where a federal judge ordered the disabling of one of the domain names associated with "Wikileaks," a website designed to give whistleblowers a forum for posting materials of public concern.

In early February, Swiss bank Julius Baer filed suit in federal district court against Wikileaks for hosting 14 allegedly leaked documents regarding personal banking transactions of Julius Baer customers. Also sued was Wikileaks' domain name registrar, Dynadot LLC. On February 15, following a stipulation between Julius Baer and Dynadot, the court issued a permanent injunction, disabling the wikileaks.org domain name and preventing that domain name from being transferred to any other registrar.

"Dynadot's private agreement to disable access to its customer's domain name -- and the court's endorsement of that agreement -- raise serious First Amendment concerns," EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "This unwarranted injunction should remind everyone who hosts critical information on the Web that such information may only remain accessible as long as your service provider or registrar is willing to stand up for you against obviously overreaching legal attacks."

Wikileaks permits third parties to post corporate and government documents that they believe expose wrongdoing. For example, in the past year individuals have posted materials documenting alleged human rights abuses in China and political corruption in Kenya. The court's order effectively prevents readers who are only familiar with Wikileaks through the wikileaks.org domain name from accessing any material on the site.

"Julius Baer's private dispute regarding a former employee's alleged violation of a confidentiality agreement does not warrant this attempt to block access to all material hosted on Wikileaks," said Zimmerman. "The First Amendment rights of readers who have a legitimate interest in the materials posted on the website simply cannot be treated as acceptable collateral damage to the bank's claims."

In the papers filed Tuesday, the intervenors -- including the EFF, the ACLU, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), and Wikileaks user Jordan McCorkle -- asked the court for permission to intervene in order to dissolve the injunction disabling the wikileaks.org domain name. The papers were filed in consultation with and on behalf of the intervenors by Steven Mayer of the law firm of Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin. Other attorneys on the case include Christopher Kao and Shaudy Danaye-Elmi of Howard Rice; Zimmerman, Cindy Cohn, and Kurt Opsahl of EFF; and Aden Fine and Ann Brick of the ACLU and ACLU-Northern California, respectively.

At 9:00 a.m. on Friday, February 29, a federal judge in San Francisco will hear arguments regarding a related issue: whether to extend a temporary restraining order aimed at preventing the further distribution of the 14 disputed Julius Baer documents. A hearing to address Tuesday's motion to intervene and subsequent motion to dissolve the domain name permanent injunction has not yet been scheduled.

For information regarding the February 29 hearing, please contact press@eff.org.

For the full motion to intervene:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/baer_v_wikileaks/motiontointervene.pdf

For more on this case:
http://www.eff.org/cases/bank-julius-baer-co-v-wikileaks

Contact:

Matt Zimmerman
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org

Related Issues:
February 26, 2008

DOJ's Top Privacy Lawyer Left Government Post for Job with Online Giant

Washington, D.C. - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) today, demanding information about communications between the DOJ's former top privacy official and Google, the official's current employer.

Jane C. Horvath was named the DOJ's first Chief Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer in February of 2006. At that time, Google was fighting a massive DOJ subpoena asking for the text of every query entered into the search engine over a one-week period. The DOJ request -- part of a court battle over the constitutionality of a law regulating adult materials on the Internet -- ignited a national debate about Internet privacy.

The DOJ later scaled back its request, and a judge eventually allowed access to only 5000 random Google search queries. In a subsequent news article, Horvath was publicly critical of the DOJ's initial subpoena, saying she had privacy concerns about the massive request for information. Horvath's new job as Google's Senior Privacy Counsel was announced in August of 2007.

EFF asked the DOJ for information about communications between Horvath and Google with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request as Horvath prepared to leave the agency, but the DOJ has not responded to the request more than six months after it was submitted.

"Google has an unprecedented ability to collect and retain very personal information about millions of Americans, and the DOJ and other law enforcement agencies have developed a huge appetite for that information," said EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel. "We want to know what discussions DOJ's top privacy lawyer had with Google before leaving her government position to join the company."

EFF's suit demands records of all correspondence, email, or other communications between Horvath and Google, and asks the court to order the DOJ to immediately process the documents for release.

This FOIA lawsuit is part of EFF's FLAG Project, which uses FOIA requests and litigation to expose the government's expanding use of technologies to invade privacy. Previous EFF FOIA requests have uncovered misuse of National Security Letters (NSLs) by the FBI, as well as improper FBI access to email from an entire computer network.

For the full complaint against the DOJ:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/doj_google/foia_complaint_filed.pdf

For more on EFF's FLAG Project:
http://www.eff.org/issues/foia

Contact:

David Sobel
Senior Counsel
Electronic Frontier Foundation
sobel@eff.org

Related Issues:
February 21, 2008

Laptops in "Sleep" or "Hibernation" Mode Most Vulnerable to Attack

San Francisco - A team including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Princeton University, and other researchers have found a major security flaw in several popular disk encryption technologies that leaves encrypted data vulnerable to attack and exposure.

"People trust encryption to protect sensitive data when their computer is out of their immediate control," said EFF Staff Technologist Seth Schoen, a member of the research team. "But this new class of vulnerabilities shows it is not a sure thing. Whether your laptop is stolen, or you simply lose track of it for a few minutes at airport security, the information inside can still be read by a clever attacker."

The researchers cracked several widely used disk encryption technologies, including Microsoft's BitLocker, Apple's FileVault, TrueCrypt, and dm-crypt. These "secure" disk encryption systems are supposed to protect sensitive information if a computer is stolen or otherwise accessed. However, in a paper and video published on the Internet today, the researchers show that data is vulnerable because encryption keys and passwords stored in a computer's temporary memory -- or RAM -- do not disappear immediately after losing power.

"These types of attacks were often thought to be in the realm of the NSA," said Jacob Appelbaum, an independent computer security researcher and member of the research team. "But we discovered that on most computers, even without power applied for several seconds, data stored in RAM seemed to remain when power was reapplied, We then wrote programs to collect the contents of memory after the computers were rebooted."

Laptops are particularly vulnerable to this attack, especially when they are turned on but locked, or in a "sleep" or "hibernation" mode entered when the laptop's cover is shut. Even though the machines require a password to unlock the screen, the encryption keys are already located in the RAM, which provides an opportunity for attackers with malicious intent.

The research released today shows that these attacks are likely to be effective against many other disk encryption systems because these technologies have many architectural features in common. Servers with encrypted hard drives are also vulnerable.

"We've broken disk encryption products in exactly the case when they seem to be most important these days: laptops that contain sensitive corporate data or personal information about business customers," said J. Alex Halderman, a Ph.D. candidate in Princeton's computer science department. "Unlike many security problems, this isn't a minor flaw; it is a fundamental limitation in the way these systems were designed."

In addition to Schoen, Appelbaum, and Halderman, the research team included William Paul of Wind River Systems, and Princeton graduate students Nadia Heninger, William Clarkson, Joseph Calandrino, Ariel Feldman as well as Princeton Professor Edward Felten, the director of the Center for Information Technology Policy and a member of EFF's Board of Directors.

The researchers have submitted the paper for publication and it is currently undergoing review. In the meantime, the researchers have contacted the developers of BitLocker, which is included in some versions of Windows Vista, Apple's FileVault, and the open source TrueCrypt and dm-crypt products, to make them aware of the vulnerability. One effective countermeasure is to turn a computer off entirely, though in some cases even this does not provide protection.

For the full paper "Lest We Remember: Cold Boot Attacks on Encryption Keys," a demonstration video, and other background information:
http://citp.princeton.edu/memory/

Contacts:

Seth Schoen
Staff Technologist
Electronic Frontier Foundation
seth@eff.org

Jacob Appelbaum
Computer Security Researcher
jacob@appelbaum.net

J. Alex Halderman
Princeton University
jhalderm@cs.princeton.edu

Related Issues:
February 21, 2008

Mitchell Baker and the Mozilla Foundation, Michael Geist, and Mark Klein to be Honored at San Diego Award Ceremony

San Diego - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is pleased to announce the winners of its 2008 Pioneer Awards: the Mozilla Foundation and its Chairman Mitchell Baker, University of Ottawa Professor Michael Geist, and AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein.

The award ceremony will be held at 7pm, March 4th at the San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina in conjunction with the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference (ETech). Michael Robertson -- founder and CEO of MP3.com, Linspire, MP3Tunes and Gizmo5 -- will give the awards' keynote address: "What to Expect When You're Expecting...To Be Sued."

Mitchell Baker is the Chairman of the Mozilla Foundation, which is dedicated to promoting openness, innovation, and opportunity on the Internet through its sponsorship of the open-source Mozilla project. The Mozilla Foundation provides grants, legal services, and other support for development projects involving the Firefox browser, the Thunderbird email application, and other Mozilla software. Baker was previously the attorney at Netscape responsible for all legal issues related to product development and intellectual property protection. During that time she wrote the Netscape and Mozilla Public Licenses.

Dr. Michael Geist is a law professor at the University of Ottawa. Last year, he led the public protest to proposed Canadian copyright law changes that would have devastated consumers' technology rights. The groundswell of opposition caused the government to rethink and ultimately cancel introducing the legislation. Geist serves on the Privacy Commissioner of Canada's Expert Advisory Board and on the Canadian Digital Information Strategy's Review Panel. Geist is also an internationally syndicated columnist on technology law and writes a popular blog on the Internet and intellectual property issues.

Mark Klein is a retired AT&T telecommunications technician who blew the whistle on the government's warrantless surveillance program. When news reports of the illegal spying surfaced in December of 2005, Klein realized that he had been witness to -- and participated in setting up -- massive surveillance technology that violated the rights of millions of Americans. In early 2006, Klein brought EFF authenticated documents showing how AT&T diverted customers' communications to a room controlled by the National Security Agency. EFF now represents AT&T customers in a class-action lawsuit over the illegal spying.

"The Pioneer Award winners this year show us how one person can truly make a difference in our digital world," said EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. "It's hard work to protect freedom, and we are so grateful for the invaluable contributions of Mitchell, Michael, and Mark."

Since 1991, the EFF Pioneer Awards have recognized individuals and organizations that have made significant and influential contributions to the development of computer-mediated communications and to the empowerment of individuals in using computers and the Internet. Past winners include World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, Linux creator Linus Torvalds, and security researcher Bruce Schneier, among many others.

The winners of the 17th annual Pioneer Awards were nominated by the public and then chosen by a panel of judges. This year's panel includes Kim Alexander (President and founder, California Voter Foundation), Esther Dyson (Internet court jester and blogger, Release 0.9; founding chairman of ICANN; former chairman of EFF), Mitch Kapor (President, Kapor Enterprises; co-founder and former chairman EFF), Drazen Pantic (Co-director, Location One), Barbara Simons (IBM Research [Retired] and former president ACM), James Tyre, (Co-founder, The Censorware Project; EFF policy fellow) and Jimmy Wales, (Founder, Wikipedia; co-founder, Wikia; chair emeritus of the Wikimedia Foundation).

TCHO is the Platinum Sponsor for the 2008 Pioneer Awards ceremony. TCHO is a new chocolate company for a new generation of chocolate enthusiasts. Founded by Wired co-founder Louis Rossetto and legendary chocolatier and former technologist Timothy Childs, TCHO will sample a "beta release" of their dark chocolate during the awards ceremony. Attendees are invited to taste two different formulas and vote for their favorite. Feedback directly influences the national release bar. Learn more about TCHO at: http://www.tcho.com

Bronze sponsors of the event include Atomic PR, Barracuda, JibJab, MOG, and Three Rings.

Tickets to the Pioneer Awards ceremony are $35. If you plan to attend, RSVP to events@eff.org. You can also pay for your tickets in advance at http://secure.eff.org/pioneerfundraiser. Members of the media interested in attending the event should email press@eff.org.

For more on attending the Pioneer Awards:
http://www.eff.org/awards/pioneer

Contacts:

Katina Bishop
Associate Director of Development
Electronic Frontier Foundation
katina@eff.org

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

February 12, 2008

EFF Condemns Senate Vote, Looks to House for Leadership

Washington, D.C. - Despite the strong leadership of senators like Chris Dodd and Russ Feingold, the Senate failed today to block provisions of a pending surveillance bill that would grant immunity to phone companies that assisted the government in illegal electronic surveillance.

The Dodd-Feingold amendment to remove immunity from the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) failed in a 31 to 67 vote, and final Senate passage of the FAA is expected later today.

"Immunity for telecom giants that secretly assisted in the NSA's warrantless surveillance undermines the rule of law and the privacy of every American," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "Congress should let the courts do their job instead of helping the administration and the phone companies avoid accountability for a half decade of illegal domestic spying."

After the Senate passes the FAA, it will need to negotiate with the House over differences between the FAA and the RESTORE Act, the House's own surveillance bill passed in November. The RESTORE Act, although far from perfect, provides for more congressional and judicial oversight of the Executive Branch's domestic spying than the FAA, and does not include immunity for the telephone companies. President Bush has threatened to veto any surveillance legislation that does not contain immunity, even as the Protect America Act's changes to surveillance law -- which the president has argued are critical to saving American lives -- are set to expire on February 15th.

"It's time for Speaker Pelosi to draw a line the sand, and make clear to the president that this House of Representatives is never going to pass any bill that includes immunity for lawbreaking telecoms," said Bankston. "It's time for the president to show that he cares more about American lives than about the phone companies' bottom lines by actually working toward a bipartisan agreement on how to update surveillance law for the 21st century."

Senator Feinstein also offered an amendment to the Senate bill that would have provided immunity to phone companies if the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court determined that they had a good faith, reasonable belief that the NSA program was legal. That amendment did not pass, but received enough votes that it might be considered by the House as a potential compromise on the immunity issue.

"Attempts by senators like Ms. Feinstein to find a reasonable compromise on the immunity question are much appreciated, but transferring all of the litigation to the secretive and conservative FISA court is unnecessary, inefficient and unwise," said Bankston. "The regular federal courts are fully capable of handling these cases fairly and securely."

EFF represents the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, a class-action lawsuit brought by AT&T customers accusing the telecommunications company of violating their rights by illegally assisting the government in widespread domestic surveillance. The Hepting case is just one of many suits aimed at holding telecoms responsible for knowingly violating federal privacy laws with warrantless wiretapping and the illegal transfer of vast amounts of personal data to the government.

Contacts:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Kevin Bankston
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
bankston@eff.org

Related Issues:
February 8, 2008

Announcement Sets Stage for Congressional Showdown

Washington, D.C. - Today, a formidable trio of House Committee Chairmen sent a stern letter to their colleagues urging them to oppose immunity for phone companies that assisted in the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program.

The White House is demanding that immunity for the telecoms be included in Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) legislation pending in Congress. But in today's letter -- written by John Dingell, Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce; Ed Markey, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet; and Bart Stupak, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations -- the congressmen argue that the president is creating a "false choice" for lawmakers.

"By tying the question of lawsuit immunity to questions of national security and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) reform legislation, the President has created a false choice for Congress," the letter states. "The issue of immunity for phone companies that chose to cooperate with the President's warrantless wiretapping program deserves a separate and more deliberate examination by Congress. No special urgency attaches to the question of immunity other than the present Administration's general eagerness to limit tort liability and its desire to avoid scrutiny of its own actions, by either the courts or the Congress."

Earlier this week, more than two dozen House members sent a letter to the White House announcing their opposition to telecom immunity. Along with the Chairmen's letter, this may represent a significant shift in the political debate over telecom immunity. The Senate could complete work on the FISA Amendments Act, which includes immunity, as early as next week. In November, the House passed its own surveillance bill, the RESTORE Act, which does not grant immunity. The House will soon be negotiating with the Senate over how to reconcile those bills.

"Senators about to vote on immunity should heed the Chairmen's warning: tying the question of telecom immunity to that of FISA reform is unnecessary and dangerous," said Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "But if the Senate complies with the Administration's pleas to cover up its illegal spying and bail out the phone companies, then it's time for the House to step up and block immunity for lawbreaking telecom giants."

EFF represents the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, a class-action lawsuit brought by AT&T customers accusing the telecommunications company of violating their rights by illegally assisting the National Security Agency in widespread domestic surveillance. The Hepting case is just one of many suits aimed at holding telecoms responsible for knowingly violating federal privacy laws with warrantless wiretapping and the illegal transfer of vast amounts of personal data to the government.

For the full letter from Congressmen Dingell, Markey, and Stupak: http://www.eff.org/files/nsa/dingell.pdf

For the letter from the House members to the White House: http://lee.house.gov/index.cfm?ContentID=1206&ParentID=0&SectionID=4&SectionTree=4&lnk=b&ItemID=1201

For more on the telecoms' role in warrantless spying:
http://www.eff.org/issues/nsa-spying

Contacts:

Kevin Bankston
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
bankston@eff.org

Cindy Cohn
Legal Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
cindy@eff.org

Related Issues:
February 7, 2008

Information Sought in Response to Growing Complaints of Harassment at U.S. Borders

San Francisco - The Asian Law Caucus (ALC) and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit today against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for denying access to public records on the questioning and searches of travelers at U.S. borders. Filed under the Freedom of Information Act, the suit responds to growing complaints by U.S. citizens and immigrants of excessive or repeated screenings by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.

ALC, a San Francisco-based civil rights organization, received more than 20 complaints from Northern California residents last year who said they were grilled about their families, religious practices, volunteer activities, political beliefs, or associations when returning to the United States from travels abroad. In addition, customs agents examined travelers' books, business cards collected from friends and colleagues, handwritten notes, personal photos, laptop computer files, and cell phone directories, and sometimes made copies of this information. When individuals complained, they were told, "This is the border, and you have no rights."

"When the government searches your books, peers into your computer, and demands to know your political views, it sends the message that free expression and privacy disappear at our nation's doorstep," said Shirin Sinnar, staff attorney at ALC. "The fact that so many people face these searches and questioning every time they return to the United States, not knowing why and unable to clear their names, violates basic notions of fairness and due process."

ALC and EFF asked DHS to disclose its policies on questioning travelers on First Amendment-protected activities, photocopying individuals' personal papers, and searching laptop computers and other electronic devices. The agency failed to meet the 20-day time limit that Congress has set for responding to public information requests, prompting the lawsuit.

"The public has the right to know what the government's standards are for border searches," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "Laptops, phones, and other gadgets include vast amounts of personal information. When will agents read your email? When do they copy data, where is it stored, and for how long? How will this information follow you throughout your life? The secrecy surrounding border search policies means that DHS has no accountability to America's travelers."

When Nabila Mango, an American citizen and San Francisco therapist, returned from a trip to the Middle East in December, customs agents at San Francisco International Airport asked her to name every person she had met and every place she had slept during her travels. They also searched her Arabic music books, business cards, and cell phone, and may have photocopied some of her papers.

"In my 40 years in this country, I have never felt as vulnerable as I did during that interrogation," Mango said. "I want to find out whether my government is keeping files on me and other Americans based on our associations and ideas."

Amir Khan, an IT consultant from Fremont, California and a U.S. citizen, is stopped each time he returns to the country. Customs officials have questioned him for a total of more than 20 hours and have searched his laptop computer, books, personal notebooks, and cell phone. Despite filing several complaints, Khan has yet to receive an explanation of why he is repeatedly singled out.

"One customs officer even told me that no matter what I do, nothing would improve," said Khan. "Why do I have to part with my civil liberties each time I return home?"

For a copy of the complaint:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/alc/alc-complaint.pdf

Contacts:

Marcia Hofmann
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
marcia@eff.org

Shirin Sinnar
Staff Attorney
Asian Law Caucus
shirins@asianlawcaucus.org

Related Issues:

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