EFF is pleased to announce our Second Annual DEF CON Getaway Contest! We are proud to support the information security community and want our strongest supporters to enjoy DEF CON 19 in style. If you spread the word about our efforts to defend coders’ rights, you could find yourself in a complimentary suite in Las Vegas!
Here's how it works. Register for the DEF CON Getaway Contest and receive a personalized referral link to send your friends and family. (Registration is free; please don’t spam.) If your invitees become EFF members, you will be credited with the amount they donate through the link. The contestant to raise the most money for EFF between now and July 5, 2011, will win the Grand Prize Package:
Whether you’re buying a car, looking for a nearby cafe or hunting for deals on sneakers, the Internet – and especially crowd-sourced online review sites like Yelp – can help you decide which businesses to patronize. But one company is taking away users’ voices when it comes to reviewing medical services. Medical Justice, started in 2002, is a member-based service for physicians that works to restrict unflattering reviews of participating doctors. Patients who go to these doctors sign a contract that assigns, in advance, the copyright in any online review to the physician being reviewed. A doctor who doesn’t like an unflattering post can then use a copyright infringement claim to have the post removed.
UPDATE: If you are in Syria and your browser shows you this certificate warning on Facebook, it is not safe to login to Facebook. You may wish to use Tor to connect to Facebook, or use proxies outside of Syria.
UPDATE II: We have received reports that some Syrian ISPs are blocking Tor. If Tor is not working for you, you may try to connect through another ISP. It is still unsafe to connect to Facebook without using Tor or a proxy outside of Syria.
Ubuntu Linux has quickly become the most popular GNU/Linux distribution in use on workstation computers. Ubuntu is user-friendly, doesn't cost a dime, and is powered by open source software. One of Ubuntu's best features is full disk encryption, an important security and privacy feature that keeps data on your hard drive scrambled in case it's lost, seized, stolen, or if you choose to sell or give away your computer in the future.
Three weeks ago we launched our Who Has Your Back campaign, calling on companies to stand with their users when the government comes asking for users' data. We chose twelve companies we were most concerned about, including the three largest social networking sites, the three largest web email providers, and the three largest Internet service providers in the United States. And then we added three more companies that we believe are vital players holding sensitive consumer data: Apple, Amazon, and Skype.
Now it’s your turn.
Join Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston for a drink this coming Thursday, May 12th in Washington DC! EFF's Speakeasy events are informal gatherings that give you a chance to mingle with local members and meet the people behind the world's leading digital civil liberties organization. And it is also our chance to meet the EFF members who make this work possible.
Kevin will be in DC working to advance EFF's legislative priorities like fighting the Patriot Act and upgrading electronic privacy law for the 21st century. He hopes to see as many of you as he can while he's there!
SPEAKEASY: Washington DC
EFF Members-Only Happy Hour
Thursday, May 12th, 2011 from 6-8 PM
As we've noted before, many trademark owners are none too happy when political activists use their marks as part of a larger statement about the owners' business or political practices. Sometimes, that unhappiness takes the form of improper legal threats and even lawsuits designed to silence critical speech. In a ruling issued today, a federal judge called a halt to one such lawsuit, affirming the essential balance between trademark rights and free speech.
California took another big step towards updating reader privacy today. The State Senate unanimously passed SB602, the Reader Privacy Act, which would bring book privacy law into the digital age. The bill prevents the disclosure of information about readers from booksellers without a warrant in a criminal case or a court order in a civil case, and also requires booksellers to report the number and type of requests that they receive so that we can track government demands for reader information.
The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has released a proposal for strong privacy protections for "smart meter" data, closely following the recommendations from EFF and the Center for Democracy and Technology. If adopted and finalized, the plan could become a model for how to protect sensitive consumer information while providing new ways to save energy.
This past week has been trying in a number of countries, including China, where a new central agency has been established to oversee the Internet, in a move that some experts have said would allow for tighter regulations. At the same time, rumors of a possible Facebook deal in China have been cause for concern, as such a launch would likely mean Chinese users would have access only to a censored version of the platform.
Google announced today that it will join Amazon in offering consumers a cloud-based music locker service. Google’s news, which had been rumored for some time, presents an opportunity to both answer and ask some questions about the future of the music industry.
Those questions make clear that while services like these do improve the ability for fans to access their music, they still only get us a little bit closer to the larger goal: making sure artists get paid and fans are happy.
Do music locker services violate current copyright laws?
EFF is thrilled to announce the newest member of our international team, Jillian York. Jillian is the Director for International Freedom of Expression -- an always-critical issue that has come into sharp relief over the last few months with the events in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, and beyond.
Update: An official Senate version of the draft PROTECT IP Act has been released and is available here. This version changes the “interactive computer services” language mentioned in our post below to “information location tools,” a term that points back to section 512(d) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In that context it’s been generally understood to refer to search engines, though there’s no guarantee we wouldn’t see efforts to expand the definition in actions under this bill. But in any case, requiring search engines to remove links to an entire website raises serious First Amendment concerns considering the lawful expression that may be hosted on the same domain.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
When governments and companies assemble on an international level to discuss "Internet freedom," EFF's policy experts go on alert. All too frequently, government-level discussions about Internet freedom turn into opportunities to discuss tangential issues, many of which have negative implications on online freedom: laws and policies promoting censorship and surveillance on the Internet. With that in mind, EFF attended the Council of Europe (CoE) meeting on Internet Freedom: From Principles to Global Treaty Law? to ensure that European countries’ fundamental values--human rights, democracy and the rule of law--are upheld. EFF went in prepared to fight any attempt to promote pervasive spying proposals or government attempts to control the Internet. The Council of Europe largely succeeded in fostering a positive, rights-centered tone at the meeting.
Peabody Energy is at it again, trying to stifle critical speech intended to call attention to the company's practices. Last year, Peabody tried to intimidate a website that spoofed the Peabody-sponsored "Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization (CCCU)." This week, Peabody targeted a website that focused on concerns about the impact of Peabody's activities on children's health. The site ostensibly had Peabody offer a free inhaler to any family living within 200 miles of a coal plant, stating:
In an ongoing battle in the Southern District of New York about whether the government must disclose metadata when it releases documents under the Freedom of Information Act, it now appears Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may have lied in a declaration it filed with the court. This comes on the heels of our earlier report about the FBI lying in a FOIA case in California and does not instill confidence that the government is acting honestly or ethically in FOIA litigation.
Network censorship and surveillance is a booming business. Censorship schemes continue to fragment the Internet and new censorship proposals are constantly introduced around the world, including in liberal democracies. (Lately governments have gotten fascinated by the idea of forcing ISPs to censor particular sites from the DNS, so users can't find them even though the sites are still there.) Censors usually assume that most Internet users don't know how to bypass the censorship (or, often, that many users won't even realize the censorship is going on!).
A Wave of Anti-Censorship Protests in Turkey
In towns across Turkey this Sunday, thousands of citizens took to the streets to protest proposed new Internet filters. Beginning in August, Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority, or BTK, has proposed a selection of opt-in filters that Internet subscribers could choose from. Additionally, BTK has proposed a list of banned words for use in domain names.
Join EFF on Friday to learn the inside story on social media and the Arab Spring!
How important are social networking tools like Twitter and Facebook for international activists fighting for their liberty? Are these networks forging a new international power structure? Tunisian activist Sami Ben Gharbia will join us for a special Geek Gathering to recount the role of social media in the Tunisian revolution. Sami's presentation and community dialogue will be hosted by Jillian York, EFF's new Director for International Freedom of Expression, with special guest Sachin Agarwal, founder of Posterous, the information sharing website Sami used extensively during the revolution.
Today, Senator Patrick Leahy introduced much-needed legislation to update the Electronic Communication Privacy Act of 1986, a critically important but woefully outdated federal privacy law in desperate need of a 21st century upgrade. This ECPA Amendments Act of 2011 (S. 1011) would implement several of the reform principles advocated by EFF as part of the Digital Due Process (DDP) coalition, and is a welcome first step in the process of providing stronger and clearer privacy protections for our Internet communications and location data. Here is the bill text, along with a summary of the bill.
Freedom House released Leaping Over the Firewall last month, a report covering two angles: details about Internet censorship in Azerbaijan, Burma, China, and Iran; and the use of circumvention software in those countries to bypass Internet censorship. As government censorship of the Internet spreads worldwide, research about the technology, norms and policies determining the flow of information is going to be increasingly vital.
Leaping Over the Firewall blends a non-technical survey method with some lightweight lab testing of circumvention software. This approach is unique, but has some limitations that affect how the report should be read in order to avoid confusion.
EFF is proud to support SB 914, a bill that requires the police to obtain a warrant before searching a recent arrestee’s cell phone.
Update II: Apparently not frightened off by Apple's letter defending its developers, Lodsys went ahead and sued at least seven developers in the Eastern District of Texas for patent infringement. In its original cease-and-desist letters, Lodsys gave developers 21 days to respond. But – apparently in response to Apple's letter – Lodsys went ahead and filed suit sooner, claiming that it needed to "preserve its legal options." We continue to monitor the situation and follow developments in the litigation.
We’ve previously written about the Kerry-McCain "Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights," which tries to create a general federal privacy framework rooted in the Fair Information Practices (although we’re not sure how well it succeeds). Currently, federal privacy law is sector-specific, often applying only to certain types of information or certain categories of "covered entities," and thus leaving gaps in privacy protection. A good comprehensive federal privacy law could fill those gaps.
The PROTECT IP Act, known as PIPA, yesterday passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee with only minimal changes. The current draft bill is here. The good news is that the approval was quickly met by a much-welcome hold on the legislation from Senator Wyden of Oregon.
Wyden sums up our concerns with the bill very nicely:
At the expense of legitimate commerce, PIPA’s prescription takes an overreaching approach to policing the Internet when a more balanced and targeted approach would be more effective. The collateral damage of this approach is speech, innovation and the very integrity of the Internet.
On the more granular side, we have a few additions to the issues raised in our earlier post about PIPA:
EFF recently launched a campaign calling on companies to stand with their users when the government comes looking for data. (If you haven’t done so, sign our petition urging companies to provide better transparency and privacy.) This article will provide a more detailed look at one of the four categories in which a company can earn a gold star in our campaign: fighting for users' privacy rights in court.
EFF today filed a petition with the Department of Justice and the FCC asking the administration to deny AT&T Inc.’s proposed takeover of T-Mobile USA, based on concerns about the risk of non-neutral behavior as a result of decreased competition. You can read EFF’s letter here.
As we said:
EFF has maintained that the preferable way to avoid discriminatory conduct and achieve network neutrality by carriers is through fostering competition and preventing the consolidation of market power. Thus, if the administration, both the Department of Justice and the FCC, seeks to support a more neutral, more innovation-friendly communications infrastructure, it should use its efforts to assist in the creation of more competitors, rather than fewer. The merger represents a step in the wrong direction.
On June 3, EFF will begin live coverage of a critical discussion about online freedom of expression held by the 47 member states of the U.N Human Rights Council during its seventeenth session in Geneva. The meeting will include the introduction of a landmark report to the Council by United Nations Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue that advocates safeguards to protect free expression online including privacy and anonymity.