Next time you fly Virgin America, you just might see one of EFF's new PSAs as part of your onboard entertainment. Earlier this year, EFF worked with Bucknell University Professor Eric Faden (of A Fair(y) Use Tale fame) to create these two video PSAs about important, cutting-edge digital rights issues!
"The tracking files represent the leading edge of a lightly regulated, emerging industry of data-gatherers who are in effect establishing a new business model for the Internet: one based on intensive surveillance of people to sell data about, and predictions of, their interests and activities, in real time."
Recent news reports have presented somewhat contradictory analysis of government plans in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, and other countries to block the use of BlackBerry smart phones as a form of pressure on Research in Motion, BlackBerry's Canadian manufacturer. All the reports agree that these governments feel RIM has made at least some BlackBerry messages too private and secure, but reports disagree about how private they actually are and exactly what RIM is being asked to do.
Every year, people astonish and amaze us with the inventive ways in which they raise funds for EFF. EFF supporters have given away free games, shaved people's hair into mohawks, and drawn cartoons to show their support for digital civil liberties. For the second year in a row, Michael Wigren of WKID "Froggy" Radio in Vevay, Indiana, has chosen the potentially dangerous pastime of grape-stomping as the medium through which he demonstrates his devotion to EFF.
On behalf of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, we would like to thank all of you who contributed and supported our work at the Black Hat and DEF CON conferences in Las Vegas last week. In particular we would like to acknowledge Jeff Moss and the Black Hat and DEF CON organizers for their ongoing support of EFF each year.
This is part one of a two part series. Read part two.
Efforts to protect net neutrality that involve government regulation have always faced one fundamental obstacle: the substantial danger that the regulators will cause more harm than good for the Internet. The worst case scenario would be that, in allowing the FCC to regulate the Internet, we open the door for big business, Hollywood and the indecency police to exert even more influence on the Net than they do now.
Last month, we wrote about a New Jersey case in which the former publisher of a magazine and dating website for gay youth had declared bankruptcy. He and his former business partners were fighting over ownership of various business assets of XY Magazine and XY.com, including extensive personal information about more than a million customers. XY's privacy policies, however, had promised customers that their personal information would never be given to anybody.
The panel picking process has begun for SXSW 2011, which runs March 11-20 in Austin, Texas. This is your chance to vote for the panels you want to see at SXSW Music, Film, and Interactive. EFF has proposed several panels this year, including The Epic Fail of BitTorrent Indie Film Lawsuits, Legal Bootcamp: Electronic Privacy Law for Internet Startups, Identity Correction: Fair Use or Fraud?, I Can Has Appz and Privacy Too? and Big Brother on a Big Screen.
Thanks again to all of the people who helped make EFF's experience at DEF CON 18 such a smashing success. Even if you couldn't make it to Las Vegas this year, you can still own a piece of the history. EFF is auctioning several items that you won't find anywhere else:
Limited Edition Signed DEF CON Skateboard Deck
Own one of only two DEF CON skateboard decks signed by security luminaries who attended the conference, including the Dark Tangent, Dan Kaminsky, Dead Addict, Moxie Marlinspike, Kevin Mitnick, Joe "Kingpin" Grand, Miss Jackalope, Dual Core, and many, many more! The DEF CON deck artwork is sweet enough on its own, while the autographs make it an extraordinary must-have piece of hacker history.
As the initial furor over the 2009 (in fact delayed until 2010) DMCA rulemaking subsides, a number of questions have been raised about the nature and scope of the exemptions. We’ve gotten a lot of inquiries about two cell-phone related exemptions that EFF championed: one to clarify the legality of cell phone "jailbreaking" — software modifications that liberate iPhones and other handsets to run applications from sources other than those approved by the phone maker – and another to renew a 2006 rule exempting cell phone unlocking so handsets can be used with other telecommunications carriers. Both exemptions were granted.
EFF is pleased to announce the hiring of our newest staff member: staff attorney Julie Samuels. Julie will be working on intellectual property issues, with a focus on stopping abuse of software patents.
Before joining EFF, Julie litigated patent and copyright cases in Chicago at Loeb & Loeb and Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Julie worked with the Media Coalition in New York and as an assistant editor at the National Journal Group in D.C. She was also an intern at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Welcome Julie!
EFF will soon be launching the SSL Observatory project, an effort to monitor and secure the cryptographic infrastructure of the World Wide Web. There is much work to be done, and we will need the help of many parties to make the HTTPS-encrypted web genuinely trustworthy. To see why, you can read the following letter, which we are sending to Verizon today:
(there is also a story in the New York Times)
We are writing to request that Verizon investigate the security and privacy implications of the SSL CA certificate (serial number 0x40003f1) that Cybertrust (now a division of Verizon) issued to Etisalat on the 19th of December, 2005, and evaluate whether this certificate should be revoked.
This is part two of a two part series. Read part one.
EFF's auction of DEF CON 18 history is almost at a close. The historic and fully functional DEF CON Comedy Jam III FAIL Panel Waffle Iron, signed by the panel members, is a steal, with the latest bid only $66.00. The limited edition D(EFF)CON 18 "Things to Hack" UV/Glow-In-The-Dark T-Shirt (3XL) is your opportunity to get a wearable piece of history.
Yesterday, Facebook introduced Places, a new location feature that competes with popular services like Foursquare, Google Latitude, Loopt, and Gowalla. Places allows Facebook users to 'check in' to real world locations and to tag their friends as present (similar to how Facebook allows tagging in photos). Everyone who is checked in to the location can see who else is listed as "Here Now" for a few hours after they check in. Once you are checked in to a location, Places also creates a story in your friends' News Feeds and places a notice in the location's page's Recent Activity section. The product will roll out over the next few days.
A bill that could undermine a new and important form of online activism has quietly worked its way through the California legislature. If signed by the governor, the new law would make it a crime to impersonate someone online in order to “harm” that person. In other words, it could be illegal to create a Facebook or Twitter account with someone else’s name, and then use that account to embarrass that person (including a corporate person like British Petroleum or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, or a public official).
An Indian computer scientist was arrested this weekend when he refused to disclose an anonymous source who provided an electronic voting machine to a team of security researchers.
Hari Prasad is the managing director of Netindia Ltd., an Indian research and development firm. He and other researchers have long questioned the security of India's paperless electronic voting machines. Despite repeated reports of election irregularities and concerns about fraud, the Election Commission of India insists that the machines are tamper-proof.
It looks like Apple, Inc., is exploring a new business opportunity: spyware and what we're calling "traitorware." While users were celebrating the new jailbreaking and unlocking exemptions, Apple was quietly preparing to apply for a patent on technology that, among other things, would allow Apple to identify and punish users who take advantage of those exemptions or otherwise tinker with their devices. This patent application does nothing short of providing a roadmap for how Apple can — and presumably will — spy on its customers and control the way its customers use Apple products. As Sony-BMG learned, spying on your customers is bad for business.
Good news in the fight against bad software patents: a jury in the Eastern District of Texas recently found the Firepond/Polaris patent (U.S. Patent No. 6,411,947) invalid. This patent was on EFF's "Most Wanted" list, targeted because it claimed nothing more than a system using natural language processing to respond to customers' online inquires by email.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is seeking to assist defendants in the Righthaven copyright troll lawsuits. Righthaven, founded in March of 2010, files hundreds of copyright infringement lawsuits on behalf of newspaper publishers against bloggers who make use of news content without permission. To that end, Righthaven searches the internet for stories and parts of stories from the newspapers that they represent. Once they find content that has been re-published, Righthaven purchases the copyright to the article and sues the owner of the blog.
We're pleased to announce that EFF's Legal Director, Cindy Cohn, has won a 2010 Intellectual Property Institute Vanguard Award from the State Bar of California.
Music lovers take note: the classical music archive Musopen needs your help to liberate some classic symphonies from copyright entanglement. Museopen is looking to solve a difficult problem: while symphonies written by Beethoven, Brahms, Sibelius, and Tchaikovsky are in the public domain, many modern arrangements and sound recordings of those works are copyrighted. That means that even after purchasing a CD or collection of MP3s of this music, you may not be able to freely exercise all the rights you'd associate with works in the public domain, like sharing the music using a peer-to-peer network or using the music in a film project.
Facebook is facing down another embarrassing episode of censorship this week after refusing to show ads submitted by the Just Say Now marijuana legalization campaign. The gag is an important reminder that social networks like Facebook — while useful, interesting, and pretty — are "walled gardens" with overseers whose interests can overwrite free speech, open communication, and in this case, essential political debate. (In this they have something in common with Apple.)
Just a few weeks after his interview with EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn, American hero Stephen Colbert has returned to the subject of digital rights. And in his show on Tuesday, he came up with a great solution to the problem of privacy and online social networks: Control-Self-Delete.
Hari Prasad, the Indian security researcher arrested for allegedly stealing an electronic voting machine, has been released on bail.
Earlier this year, an anonymous source gave the machine to Prasad and a team of researchers, who discovered critical security flaws. Under questioning by authorities last weekend, Prasad refused to divulge the identity of the source who gave them the machine. He was then arrested and reportedly charged with theft and trespass on the theory that he stole the machine himself.
According to a story from the Associated Press, the students will wear a jersey at school that has the RFID tag attached. The tag will track the children's movements and collect other data, like if the child has eaten or not. According to a Contra Costa County official, this is a cost-savings move, as teachers used to have to manually keep track of a child's attendance and meal schedule.