Opposition to India's New Intermediary Liability Regulations
The world’s largest democracy has been known to censor online content from time to time, typically under the guise of national security or obscenity. The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team is tasked with issuing blocking orders, while Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure allows police commissioners to identify and order the blocking of material that contains a threat or nuisance to society.
The Nymwars rage on. Over the past several weeks Google has been engaged in a very public struggle with its users over its “real names” policy on Google+, prompting blog posts and editorials debating the pros and cons of allowing pseudonymous accounts on social networking sites. But there is one person for whom insisting on the use of real names on social networking sites is not enough. Unsurprisingly, that person is Facebook’s Marketing Director, Randi Zuckerberg. Speaking last week on a panel discussion about social media hosted by Marie Claire magazine, Zuckerberg said,
Despite a string of courtroom losses, copyright troll Righthaven continues to pursue its misguided infringement litigation. Tuesday, EFF filed an amicus brief in support of a defendant moving to dismiss Righthaven v. Wolf, the lead case in the federal court in Colorado.
Righthaven sued blogger Leland Wolf and his It Makes Sense blog for a parody of a photo printed in the Denver Post documenting a TSA agent performing a pat-down search. In a pattern used in dozens of other cases, Righthaven created the lawsuit by first scouring the Internet for blogs and discussion forums that posted the photo, and then sued for infringement, claiming it had acquired the copyright of the photo before it started legal action.
EFF activist Eva Galperin interviews EFF criminal defense attorney, Hanni Fakhoury, on the newest edition of Line Noise, the EFF podcast. Whether law enforcement wants to search your home computer, tries to browse through your smart phone at a traffic stop, or seeks to thumb through your camera at customs, you should know your rights.
This edition of Line Noise was recorded on-site from the San Francisco studio of Bamm.tv
In a major blow to one of the most pernicious copyright trolls now operating, the US Copyright Group (USCG), federal judge Robert Wilkins of the District of Columbia has effectively dismissed thousands of Doe defendants due to lack of jurisdiction.
Two weeks ago, the Mexican newspaper El Milenio reported on a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Operations Coordination and Planning (OPC) initiative to monitor social media sites, blogs, and forums throughout the world. The document discloses how OPC’s National Operations Center (NOC) plans to initiate systematic monitoring of publicly available online data including “information posted by individual account users” on social media.
Last month, we wrote about Cisco’s plans to help the Chinese government build a massive camera surveillance network in the city of Chongqing. This is the same company that sold equipment to China to build the Great Firewall, which prevents Chinese Internet users from accessing much of the Internet, including online references to the Tiananmen Square protests, information on China’s human rights abuses, and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
In a cursory opinion issued today that left us scratching our heads, a federal judge has ruled that the government does not have to return a domain name seized by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), because its seizure did not create a substantial hardship. Really?
In countries across the world, IP rightholders are pushing website blocking as the latest weapon against online copyright infringement. United Nations’ Human Rights experts, security engineers, law professors and others are pushing back, noting both the enormous collateral damage such blocking can cause and the likelihood that it will do little to actually curb infringement.
By now, we’ve all heard the traditional content industries complain about how technology hurts their business model. But, of course, the story does not end there. While the record labels, movie studios, and video game producers have not figured out a way to compete with free, others have. And this is good news for the rest of us, because it reduces the influence of the traditional gatekeepers who formerly operated an ironclad monopoly on what content we could experience and at what costs, and also because it allows developers and artists without major deals to widely distribute their work and to find new ways to get paid.
This week's news roundup takes us to Iran, where censorship is getting worse, Turkey, where it might be getting better, and Zimbabwe, where a blogger is under threat.
Iran sets out to build ‘national Internet’
Iran already ranks amongst the world’s worst when it comes to online censorship. The country's censors target a variety of content, including political opposition, human rights and news sites, and a range of 'offensive' sites.
Patent law, supposed to spur innovation, is instead unfortunately often full of barriers to innovation: trolls targeting phone app developers, standards making it harder rather than easier to invalidate bad patents, and toothless patent reform legislation, for example. But the law does do some things right, like removing liability for an innocent third party who unknowingly performs one step of a patented process. Yet some patent owners are trying to convince the Federal Circuit to change this law and create a new category of potential patent defendants: third-party users, consumers, and developers, i.e., a group that is likely to lack both requisite knowledge of the patent laws and resources to make a robust defense.
On August 8, AJTU published its revised TOU, attempting to address our concerns. We've looked through the new terms and we're happy to report some good changes.
It's Easier to Find
In Vietnam, being an outspoken blogger can land you in jail.
Pham Minh Hoang, a university professor with dual French and Vietnamese citizenship, was sentenced on August 10 to three years in prison and an additional three years under house arrest, for trying to "overthrow the government." Judge Vu Phi Long ruled that Hoang had "blackened the image of the country" and was guilty of "activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s government."
After several days of destructive riots throughout the UK, British Prime Minister David Cameron is practically tripping over himself in his eagerness to sacrifice liberty for security. In a speech before an emergency session of Parliament today, Cameron highlighted concern over rioters’ use of social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter:
...when people are using social media for violence we need to stop them. So we are working with the Police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality. I have also asked the police if they need any other new powers.
This week, EFF has seen censorship stories move closer and closer to home — first Iran, then the UK, and now San Francisco, an early locus of the modern free speech movement. Operators of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART) shut down cell phone service to four stations in downtown San Francisco yesterday in response to a planned protest. Last month, protesters disrupted BART service in response to the fatal shooting of Charles Blair Hill by BART police on July 3rd. Thursday’s protest failed to materialize, possibly because the disruption of cell phone service made organization and coordination difficult.
Join us on Wednesday, August 31st at Burning Man! EFF's Speakeasy events are free, informal member gatherings that give you a chance to mingle with fellow EFF supporters and meet the people behind the world's leading digital civil liberties organization. It is also our chance to thank you, the EFF members who make this work possible. In the spirit of Burning Man, EFF is welcoming all supporters, well-wishers, and friends on the playa to gather and celebrate online (and offline) freedom.
Egyptian activist faces trial for Tweet
In Egypt, an activist and blogger is facing trial for a Tweet. Asmaa Mahfouz, a prominent young activist, is facing trial by court martial for defaming the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) by posting to Twitter:
If the judiciary doesn't give us our rights, nobody should be surprised if militant groups appear and conduct a series of assassinations because there is no law and there is no judiciary.
Dan Ward, attorney to pro-democracy activist and blogger Du Daobin, issued a statement yesterday that noted the efficacy of EFF's campaign to spread awareness about Cisco’s responsibilities to stand up for human rights:
As I have previously stated, recent events lead us to believe that the safety of our clients in Du v. Cisco is dependent, in no small part, on the fact that the world is watching.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation would like to thank all of the attendees at this year's Black Hat USA, Security BSidesLV, and DEF CON conferences in Las Vegas. We are humbled by the infosec community's outpouring of generosity to sustain EFF's work defending coders rights and upholding our freedoms online.
Google announced yesterday that it has finally struck a deal with the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) and it is calling the deal an important step forward in making sure publishers and songwriters benefit from the creative uses musicians and fans make of copyrighted compositions in YouTube videos. Equally important, the deal may reflect an increased willingness on the part of content owners to focus on how to compensate artists rather than lawyers.
In response to outrage over last week's shutdown of cell phone service in four San Francisco stations on rumors of a planned protest, BART officials have repeatedly claimed their decision was necessary to maintain public safety. BART spokesman Linton Johnson has gone so far as to invent a new Constitutional “right to safety” which trumps the First Amendment. As it happens, we are in full agreement that BART has an obligation to the safety of its passengers. We believe that working cell phones throughout the BART system do not pose a danger to riders; rather, they help to promote public safety.
The parade of cases undermining the first sale exception of copyright law continued this week with an unfortunate ruling from the Second Circuit.
On Tuesday, we reported that Argentina's National Telecommunications Commission (CNC) had issued a directive to local ISPs to block two websites--leakymails.com and leakymails.blogspot.com--in response to an order from a federal judge.
Today, on Google's Latin America blog (in Spanish), Senior Policy Counsel Pedro Less Andrade writes that Google records indicate that some service providers in Argentina are blocking access to the IP address 126.96.36.199, which is linked to more than one million blogs hosted on Google's Blogger service.
This is the first in a two-part series explaining the background around the EFF call to action over Cisco assisting the Chinese government in abusing human rights. This article outlines the background of the issue and the first of our two demands to Cisco: intervening on behalf of dissident writer Du Daobin. Our next post will outline specifically how Cisco and other similar networking companies can pledge to uphold human rights.
We've watched this year as Amazon, Google, and Apple have raced to roll out cloud-based music locker services. Each of these company's services signals something in common: an apparent fear of liability for de-duplicating files uploaded by their customers. (De-duplicating means that the service does not store multiple identical files on its servers, even if more than one customer individually uploads the same file.) This can be a huge waste of storage, to little purpose other than pacifying copyright owners more concerned over form than substance.
Current EFF members and donors are invited to join Senior Staff Attorneys Marcia Hofmann and Kurt Opsahl for drinks at a secret Seattle location on Wednesday, August 31st, to discuss that day's hearings on EFF's warrantless wiretapping cases before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court will consider the legality and constitutionality of the now nearly ten-year-old massive domestic surveillance programs that routinely deliver the everyday communications and communications records of millions of ordinary Americans to the National Security Agency. Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston will argue in Jewel v.
This spring, agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) executed a search warrant at the home of Nolan King and seized six computer hard drives in connection with a criminal investigation. The warrant was issued on the basis of an Internet Protocol (IP) address that traced back to an account connected to Mr. King's home, where he was operating a Tor exit relay.
More than five years ago, EFF filed the first lawsuit aimed at stopping the government's illegal mass surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans' private communications. Whistleblower evidence combined with news reports and Congressional admissions revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) was tapped into AT&T’s domestic network and databases, sweeping up Americans’ emails, phone calls and communications records in bulk and without court approval.
As part of an emerging international trend to try to ‘civilize the Internet’, one of the world’s worst Internet law treaties--the highly controversial Council of Europe (CoE) Convention on Cybercrime--is back on the agenda. Canada and Australia are using the Treaty to introduce new invasive, online surveillance laws, many of which go far beyond the Convention’s intended levels of intrusiveness. Negotiated over a decade ago, only 31 of its 47 signatories have ratified it.
Some bad ideas just won't die. In 2008, the Brazilian Senate passed a cybercrime bill that would have limited freedom of expression and threatened privacy online. Strong public opposition, including a speech by then-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in which he denounced the bill, prevented it from ever becoming law.
Two weeks ago, EFF published an analysis with researchers at Berkeley ICSI about the redirection of search traffic at a number of US ISPs. The company involved, Paxfire, contacted us to discuss its practices, and based upon those discussions and some further analysis we have a number of clarifications and updates to report. These clarifications are of course our own, and not Paxfire's.
UPDATE: We held a very successful Boot Camp on Sept. 9! Thanks very much to our panelists and everyone who participated. We've recorded the panel, which you can access here. Continue to watch this space for additional resources for app developers and other innovators who have been the target of patent trolls.
What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple? Finding half a worm.
What’s worse than discovering that someone has launched a man-in-the-middle attack against Iranian Google users, silently intercepting everything from email to search results and possibly putting Iranian activists in danger? Discovering that this attack has been active for two months.
For years, Tunisians suffered in relative media silence as the Ben Ali regime curtailed digital rights, blocking websites and surveilling citizens. Then, thanks to the hard work of Tunisian free expression advocates who for many years worked to raise awareness of the country’s pervasive Internet controls, censorship fell along with the regime, with Ben Ali promising an end to filtering in his final speech on January 13 before fleeing to Saudi Arabia.
However, with Ben Ali gone, Tunisian courts have become the next critical battleground in the ongoing effort for a censorship-free Internet in Tunisia, with the Agence Tunisienne d'Internet (ATI) or Tunisian Internet Agency caught in the middle of implementing censorship orders and arguing in support of free expression.
EFF has joined Public Knowledge and other public interest groups in asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to clarify that the cell phone shutdown by the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART) earlier this month was a violation of American telecom laws. In an emergency petition filed Monday, the coalition urged the FCC to act quickly, as other governmental agencies may follow BART's illegal actions.
UPDATE: More privacy panels added below.
Every year, the South by Southwest (SXSW) media festival invites the Internet at large to contribute to the SXSW schedule by voting on thousands of submitted panels. Community votes—combined with editorial input from the SXSW staff and advisory board—ultimately decide the final panel schedule.
What follows are some choice panel proposals that address timely, interesting technology and freedom issues, and that usually feature EFF panelists and friends of EFF. If these catch your eye, grant them a thumbs-up vote!