The competition was stiff and the battle for supremacy in any hacker arena is hard fought, yet one person emerged victorious. Congratulations to First Place winner Shawn Merdinger! Shawn and company raised $2,560 for EFF! He will receive the grand prize including two Defcon 18 Human badges, a room at the Riviera Hotel, two tickets to the Vegas 2.0 Party at the Top of the Riv, two tickets to the iSEC Partners Party, and two Ninja Networks Party badges!
Cheers to Second Place winner Art Conklin who raised $2,100! Art will receive two Defcon 18 Human badges, two tickets to the iSEC Partners Party, and two tickets to the Vegas 2.0 Party!
Beating out the competition and making it to Third Place with $1,040, team Holy Handgrenades will receive one Defcon 18 Human badge, one ticket to the iSEC Partners Party, and one ticket to the Vegas 2.0 Party. These top three winners will also receive an EFF Swag Super Pack!
Continuing its efforts to seek judicial review of AT&T's involvement in the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping of millions of Americans, EFF has filed the final brief in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the retroactive immunity provision of the FISA Amendments Act.
This week EFF joined the Progress & Freedom Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology in comments to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), urging the FTC not to turn the law into an age-verification mandate for the Internet.
Under COPPA, most websites that are "directed to" kids have to get parental consent before anyone under 13 can use them. But if a site is a general audience site -- i.e. not "directed to" kids -- then there's no duty to obtain parental consent from anyone unless/until the site has actual knowledge that the person is under 13. Now, FTC and Congress are considering expanding the statute to cover teenagers, as well. But these changes would have wide-ranging ramifications for free speech, privacy, and anonymity online.
In this federal prosecution in New Jersey, the government charged the operators of Wiseguys Tickets, Inc. with violating Ticketmaster's terms of service, and therefore the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, by using bots to purchase event tickets to resell them.
Monday evening, EFF's Cindy Cohn squared off against conservative pundit, talk-show host and astronaut Stephen Tiberius Colbert. In a hard-hitting in-depth interview, Stephen and Cindy sparred over the most important issues facing the Internet today, including Hitler jokes, the Second Amendment, and Beer Cat.
Gaming giant Blizzard announced yesterday that it would be making some major changes to its official discussion forums, including the forums for World of Warcraft, Diablo, and the upcoming Starcraft II. In the upcoming weeks and months, players who want to post to these boards will have to log in using Blizzard's Real ID system, which will display their real full names next to every post they make. These changes will not be retroactive, meaning that the thousands of existing posts on the online discussion forums will not be affected.
July 10th marks EFF's 20th anniversary! To thank you for your support over these two decades, please enjoy this new animation created especially for us by celebrated cartoonist and free culture activist Nina Paley. This short cartoon highlights some of the reasons why EFF is here:
Many were shocked last year when a Massachusetts jury awarded $675,000 in damages against Joel Tenenbaum, who had been found liable for copyright infringement after using peer-to-peer networks to download and share thirty of the plaintiffs' songs. In a lengthy ruling issued today, federal district court Judge Nancy Gertner held that the jury’s award — which equaled $22,500 per song — was unconstitutional and reduced it dramatically, to $67,500.
Ever since Google’s January 2010 decision to cease censorship of its Chinese-language search engine, the world has watched closely to see what would happen next. The ensuing cat-and-mouse game of information repression and dissemination represented a serious challenge to the ability of the Internet to remain free and open in the face of totalitarian government censorship. Would Google cease all operations in China? Would China block access to Google altogether?
We were disappointed to read of deceptive comments made last month about EFF by ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Writing to its members, ASCAP claimed that EFF, Creative Commons and Public Knowledge are "influencing Congress against the interests of music creators." If these efforts are succesful, ASCAP warns, "we all know what will happen next: the music will dry up." The letter asks ASCAP's members to help fight this dire threat by making a donation to a "Legislative Fund for the Arts" which will be used to lobby Congress.
The Federal Trade Commission has some strong words for the former publishers of a defunct magazine and website for gay youth: don't sell or use personal information provided by your customers. It's probably illegal.
The warning came during a contentious bankruptcy proceeding filed by the publisher of XY Magazine, which was a widely circulated magazine for gay teens published from 1996 to 2007. The publisher also operated XY.com, a dating website for gay youth that at one point had as many as a million users. XY's privacy policies promised customers that their personal information would not be given or sold to anybody.
Now the publisher and his former business partners are fighting over who owns the customer information, which includes names, street addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, email addresses, personal stories submitted by readers, online profiles, contact lists, and photos, among other data.
In a landmark announcement issued today, the data protection officials across the European Union found that the way that EU Member States have implemented the data retention obligations in the 2006 EU Data Retention Directive is unlawful. The highly controversial 2006 EU Data Retention Directive compels all ISPs and telecommunications service providers operating in Europe to retain telecom and internet traffic data about all of their customers' communications for a period of at least 6 months and up to 2 years.
Today, San Mateo Superior Court Judge Clifford Cretan granted an application by the San Mateo County D.A.'s office to withdraw the controversial warrant it obtained to search the house of Gizmodo.com journalist Jason Chen. Accordingly, "[a]ll items seized [from Chen's home] shall be returned forthwith to Gizmodo.com and Jason Chen..."
Today the Eleventh Circuit issued an unfortunate amended decision in Rehberg v. Hodges. The case arose from an egregious situation in which, among other misconduct, a prosecutor used a sham grand jury subpoena to obtain the private emails of whistleblower Charles Rehberg after he brought attention to systematic mismanagement of funds at a Georgia public hospital.
Coauthored by Seth Schoen
The White House recently released a draft of a troubling plan titled "National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace" (NSTIC). In previous iterations, the project was known as the "National Strategy for Secure Online Transactions" and emphasized, reasonably, the private sector's development of technologies to secure sensitive online transactions. But the recent shift to "Trusted Identities in Cyberspace" reflects a radical — and concerning — expansion of the project’s scope.
Good news: another federal judge has ruled that violating a website terms of service is not a crime. But there's bad news, too — the court also found that bypassing technical or code-based barriers intended to limit access to or uses of a website may violate California's computer crime law.
Join EFF for a plethora of appearances in Las Vegas, NV, at Black Hat USA 2010 and DEFCON 18. There is still time to register, and EFF supporters receive a 25% discount on Black Hat registration. Remember to stop by the EFF booths to get reduced-rate EFF memberships and top drawer swag! And be on the lookout for the limited edition "Things to Hack" t-shirt available only in Las Vegas.
Check out talks presented by members of our legal and technology teams throughout the week:
Wednesday, July 28
Kevin Bankston and Kurt Opsahl will play the role of the defense attorneys for an indicted hacker in the 2010 edition of Black Hat Hacker Court from 1515-1800 in Forum 25 at Caesar's Palace.
LIGATT Security, a controversial Georgia-based computer security firm, is embroiled in an ongoing flame war with its online detractors, who question the firm's legitimacy and stock prospects. Earlier this month, LIGATT upped the ante by filing suit in a Georgia court, threatening about 25 anonymous commenters on Yahoo! Message Boards and demanding a $5 million judgment and a court order prohibiting criticism. LIGATT CEO warned that he hoped the lawsuit would "set a trend" for other OTC companies facing online critics.
Copyright owners, take note: If you're going to use the streamlined Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") process to require a service provider to remove allegedly infringing content, you'd better make sure you actually comply with the DMCA notice requirements. Otherwise a court may find, as occurred this week in Perfect 10 v. Google, that your "notice" didn't actually put anyone on "notice."
Tomorrow afternoon, legislators from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will be holding a hearing on the topic of "Public Access to Federally-Funded Research." The hearing will be a perfect opportunity for key representatives to look into supporting public access policies — various requirements that scientific research funded by the federal government be made available on the Internet to the tax-paying public. EFF wrote about the benefits of public access policies earlier this year when the Office of Science and Technology Policy asked for input.
This morning's Washington Post reveals that the Department Of Justice has been pressuring Congress to expand its power to obtain records of Americans' private Internet activity through the use of National Security Letters (NSLs).
NSLs, you may remember, are one of the most powerful and frightening tools of government surveillance to be expanded by the Patriot Act. These letters allow the FBI to secretly demand data from phone companies and internet service providers about the private communications of ordinary citizens. The letters include a gag order, which forbids recipients from ever revealing the letters' existence to their coworkers, their friends, or even to their family members, much less the public.
Now that the dust has settled on the long-awaited announcement of new DMCA circumvention exemptions, it’s time for an explanation of what these exemptions will (and will not) do for consumers and creators. We’ll start with a tremendously important exemption that we fear was somewhat overlooked in the excitement about jailbreaking and unlocking: breaking DVD encryption in order to take short clips for purposes of criticism and commentary for noncommercial use, educational use and documentary films.