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December 1, 2011 - 6:13pm 67899

Two weeks ago, the New York Times published a letter to the editor from Christopher Wolf, who leads the Internet Task Force of the Anti-Defamation League, in which he suggested:

It is time to consider Facebook’s real-name policy as an Internet norm because online identification demonstrably leads to accountability and promotes civility.

People who are able to post anonymously (or pseudonymously) are far more likely to say awful things, sometimes with awful consequences, such as the suicides of cyberbullied young people. The abuse extends to hate-filled and inflammatory comments appended to the online versions of newspaper articles — comments that hijack legitimate discussions of current events and discourage people from participating.

December 2, 2011 - 2:02pm 67909

Yesterday, EFF asked the U.S. Copyright Office to grant an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for “jailbreaking” smart phones, tablets, and video game consoles.   The exemptions are designed to dispel any legal clouds that might prevent users from running applications and operating systems that aren’t approved by the device manufacturer.  The exemptions stem from section 1201 of the DMCA, which prohibits circumvention of “a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.”

December 5, 2011 - 3:53pm 67924

The Association of American Publishers and the Recording Industry Association of America have decided to cozy up to a copyright troll, filing an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit appeal of Righthaven v. Hoehn.  The Hoehn case is one of many decisions where a district court dismissed the case brought by copyright troll Righthaven. Indeed, Righthaven has lost on the merits every single time a court has considered its arguments (before six judges and counting).

December 7, 2011 - 12:31pm 67930

Last September, in a case initiated by the Belgian Anti-Piracy Federation (BAF), an Antwerp Court of Appeals ordered two major fixed broadband providers (Telenet and Belgacom) to block access to the Pirate Bay at the DNS level. In November, the BAF sent a letter to other Belgian ISPs, threatening legal action unless they also blocked access to the Pirate Bay.

December 7, 2011 - 2:40pm 67931

The Indian Telecommunications Minister met on Monday afternoon with top officials of Internet companies and social media sites, including the Indian units of Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo, to compel them to filter offensive content. The New York Times reported that Minister Kapil Sibal met with executives to discuss the possibility for their companies to create internal mechanisms that would prevent any comments the state deemed “disparaging, inflammatory or defamatory” towards political and religious figures.

December 8, 2011 - 8:45am 67935

Update 12/09/2012: We are proud to announce a new $10,000 matching grant from Blake Krikorian to Power Up donations, starting at 6:30AM today. Thank you to everyone who helped us fly by our first two goals and surpass $40,000 in 12 hours!

Update 12/08/2012: Thanks to such strong support, EFF members helped us surpass the first $10,000 goal in less than 6 hours! Nancy Blachman and David desJardins have powered back up our 4x Power Up Campaign with a new $10,000 matching grant, starting at 12PM.

December 8, 2011 - 9:46am 67936

Proponents of the misguided Internet blacklist legislation — the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) — downplay the idea that the overbroad bills could be used for censorship. But one only needs to look at the way existing copyright laws have been abused to know there’s serious cause for concern.

December 8, 2011 - 11:15am 67941

The truly frightening legislative proposals known as SOPA and PIPA continue to loom in Congress, promising to put a big lump of coal in the stocking of every Internet user.  So we were glad to learn that a bipartisan group of congressional represenatives has come together to formulate a real alternative, called the OPEN Act, as well as a real process for including the Internet users and innovators it may affect. 

December 9, 2011 - 9:58am 67948

The blogosphere has been buzzing about revelations that CNET’s site has been embedding adware into the install process for all kinds of software, including open source software like NMAP.  For the unwary, some of the ads could have been read to suggest accepting the advertised service (e.g., the Babylon translation tool bar) was part of the installation process.  Users who weren’t paying attention may also have clicked “accept” simply by accident.  In either event, after their next restart, they would have been surprised to find their settings had been changed, new tool bars installed, etc.

December 9, 2011 - 11:52am 67949

There are many meaningful ways that you can be part of the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s movement to protect civil liberties online. Participate in our Action Center to fight unjust policies and legislation.  Discuss our issues with local groups.  Join EFF or give a year-end gift to support the cause.

But did you know that you could help direct as much as $3 million to fund EFF’s work — all without spending your own money?

December 9, 2011 - 3:24pm 67951

Yesterday, in part one of our series, we looked at how corporations are already abusing the current copyright system as part of their business model, and how the blacklist bills would increase their ability to do so. Today, we’ll look at how the Justice Department and private companies have already been going after domain names seizures, without due process, and how the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT-IP (PIPA) will make this much easier.

December 10, 2011 - 6:43pm 67952

Netherlands - On Thursday and Friday last week, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Uri Rosenthal, hosted the Freedom Online Conference in the Hague. The stated purpose of this Google-sponsored event was to forge a coalition of state, corporate, and civil society members to stand for freedom of expression on the Internet, especially for activists and bloggers. Participants included European parliamentarian Marietje Schaake, Tor Project’s Director of Public Policy Karen Reilly, and European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes.

December 11, 2011 - 12:38pm 67942

Congress is debating dangerous legislation that would give the Department of Justice unprecedented power to “blacklist” websites without a trial and give Hollywood copyright holders a new way to shut down a website’s financial services for alleged copyright infringement. It’s nothing short of a bill to create a U.S. censorship regime, and it’s moving fast.

We need your help to stop this legislation before it can undermine Internet security and censor the web.  Ready to join EFF, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Free Software Foundation, Creative Commons, CDT, the Participatory Politics Foundation, and Public Knowledge in the fight? Here are 12 things you can do right now to help us stop the blacklist bills.

December 12, 2011 - 9:25am 67955

When the government claims the right to shut down websites by breaking the Domain Name System and forcing search engines to dump user requests to reach a site, there’s only one word for it: censorship. And when big media groups like the RIAA can essentially cut off the financial services to a website based on accusation alone, it’s censorship at the hands of corporations.

We’re not talking about China or Iran. We’re talking about blacklist legislation being debated by the U.S. House of Representatives this week.

December 12, 2011 - 11:04am 67947

Update: According to her lawyers, Razan has been charged with "establishing an organization that aims to change the social and economical entity of the state" and "weakening the national sentiment, and trying to ignite sectarian strife" and "weakening national sentiment" -- all of which, according to Lebanon's Daily Star, can lead to a penalty of three to fifteen years in prison.

December 12, 2011 - 11:58am 67956
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December 12, 2011 - 3:28pm 67958


On Thursday, prominent blogger and a leader of recent anti-corruption protests, Alexei Navalny was imprisoned for 15 days on charges of resisting the police. Navalny was one of hundreds arrested last week in recent widespread protests against political corruption and election fraud in the country. Navalny has been the leading voice in demanding social and political reform in Russia, spearheading an online campaign against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia party for the past couple of years.

December 13, 2011 - 9:07am 67946

There has been a rolling scandal about the Carrier IQ software installed by cell phone companies on 150 million phones, mostly within the United States. Subjects of outright disagreement have included the nature of the program, what information it actually collects, and under what circumstances. This post will attempt to explain Carrier IQ's architecture, and why apparently conflicting statements about it are in some instances simultaneously correct. The information in this post has been synthesised from sources including Trevor Eckhart, Ashkan Soltani, Dan Rosenberg, and Carrier IQ itself.

First, when people talk about "Carrier IQ," they can be referring to several different things. For clarity, I will give them each a number. You can think of senses 2, 3 and 4 as being "layers" of code that are wrapped around each other.

  1. The company, Carrier IQ, Inc.;
  2. a core software library that is written by Carrier IQ Inc. and which is present on all of the 150 million handsets;
  3. a Carrier IQ application or program running on a phone, which includes the software in layer 2, but also additional porting code written by handset manufacturers (sometimes called "original equipment manufacturers" or "OEMs"), mobile network operators ("telcos"), or baseband chipset manufacturers;
  4. the entire Carrier IQ stack, which includes the program described above as layer 3, but also often includes other code within a phone's Operating System and Baseband Processor OS to send data to layer 3. Like layer 3, this code is written by handset manufacturers, telcos or baseband manufacturers.1
Diagram of Carrier IQ Architecture
Graphic by Parker Higgins
December 13, 2011 - 9:59am 67962

Ever since the Internet has fought back against the the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), top supporters of the dangerous blacklist legislation have tried to mask its full consequences by misconstruing criticism and distorting the opposition’s position. On Saturday, former First Amendment lawyer and current representative of the MPAA and Director’s Guild, Floyd Abrams, wrote a disingenuous op-ed in the Washington Post that put all of Big Content’s misleading arguments and numerous strawmen in one place.

Let’s look at these claims one at a time.  First, Abrams asserts:

December 13, 2011 - 11:00am 67963

Representative Lamar Smith, the principal sponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a dangerous and unconstitutional Internet blacklist bill now working its way through the House of Representatives, has released a “manager’s amendment” that reworks some of the bill’s worst provisions.  While the new version jettisons some of the most harmful language, it doesn’t go nearly far enough.

The best thing about the new version is it no longer allows a private actor to effectively cut off payment processing for websites with a simple notice. The bill also endeavors to narrow the range of targets to non-U.S. sites.  And, the authors have had the good sense to eliminate language that would have put sites under threat if even a single page was arguably linked to infringement.

December 13, 2011 - 5:26pm 67960

Last week, a federal district court judge in Oregon raised eyebrows when he rejected claims that a self-proclaimed Internet investigative journalist did not enjoy the protections of the state’s reporter’s shield law in a defamation lawsuit brought against her by Kevin Padrick, an Oregon attorney who was one of the targets of her online postings. Judge Marco A.

December 13, 2011 - 6:02pm 67968

The House Committee on Ways and Means will hold a hearing on the status and future negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Wednesday at 10:00 AM EST. The EFF has continually covered this secretive multi-nation trade agreement, which if passed, would export restrictive U.S. intellectual property laws across the globe.

TPP Watch, a New Zealand-based network of groups and individuals opposing the agreement, describes the agreement this way:

December 14, 2011 - 10:34am 67967

Big media groups like the MPAA and the RIAA have historically targeted college campuses with “anti-piracy” measures, and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) — the blacklist bill they’re trying to push through Congress — is no exception. The bill’s supporters insist that it targets only “rogue” foreign sites dedicated to piracy, but its vague language and overbroad enforcement methods all but ensure it could be used to stifle student and educator speech.

Open educational resources

December 14, 2011 - 1:28pm 67977

Last week, two leading Constitutional scholars offered detailed analyses of the Internet blacklist bills now pending in Congress, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect-IP, or PIPA. Both scholars concluded that the proposed law could not pass muster under the U.S. Constitution. So you’d think that the new version of SOPA circulated this week would have resolved those concerns.  

You’d think wrong. While the revised SOPA briefly mentions the First Amendment, the substantive text makes clear that's just lip service.  Here’s a selection of fundamental flaws that remain in both SOPA and PIPA:

December 14, 2011 - 3:25pm 67978

We wrote last week about Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Darrell Issa’s OPEN Act, which addresses many glaring problems with the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate counterpart, the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). Since then, we’ve further reviewed the draft legislation and its process for submitted comments. Our original take remains the same: this proposal represents a more targeted approach to the so-called foriegn site piracy problem, but there's room for improvement. Happily, the sponsors have created a space for just that.

December 14, 2011 - 6:39pm 67979

Yesterday, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) approved a Recommendation on Principles for Internet Policy Making. It contains a set of 14 principles intended as a blueprint guiding Internet policy development for its 34 member states. Many of these principles uphold core values we have long championed: fostering an open Internet, evidence-based policy-making, multi-stakeholder policy development, decentralized online decision-making, effective global privacy protections, and limiting Internet intermediary liability.

December 14, 2011 - 8:02pm 67982

Protect Free Speech!When Carrier IQ threatened Android developer Trevor Eckhart with a lawsuit for publishing commentary about its software, Trevor called EFF to help him assert his rights.  EFF got Carrier IQ to withdraw its threat. What came next was a national firestorm of concerns about mobile privacy and security that could have been swept under the rug.

Whenever your rights to speak freely or innovate online come under threat, EFF is there. We fight for the users.

When you renew your support as an EFF member or give a year-end gift, you help fight not only for the greater good, but also for individuals whose voices should be heard. 

December 15, 2011 - 12:42am 67975

Today, a group of 83 prominent Internet inventors and engineers sent an open letter to members of the United States Congress, stating their opposition to the SOPA and PIPA Internet blacklist bills that are under consideration in the House and Senate respectively.

We, the undersigned, have played various parts in building a network called the Internet. We wrote and debugged the software; we defined the standards and protocols that talk over that network. Many of us invented parts of it. We're just a little proud of the social and economic benefits that our project, the Internet, has brought with it.

December 15, 2011 - 4:21pm 67983

The Internet Blacklist bills — the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate’s PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) — would have a disastrous effect on online freedom of speech. In order to understand the ways a site placed on the blacklist could be denied a chance to connect with an audience, we’ve used our Free Speech is Only as Strong as the Weakest Link chart.


December 16, 2011 - 10:02am 67993

We've written before about Maikel Nabil Sanad and Alaa Abd El Fattah, two Egyptian bloggers under fire.  Though their cases differ dramatically--Sanad was arrested for content written on his blog, while Abd El Fattah was charged in relation to his alleged involvement in the October 9 Maspero massacre--the two men have two things in common: both are being targeted for their opposition to military rule, and both--as civilians--have refused to recognize the right of a military court to try their cases.

December 16, 2011 - 3:07pm 68003

Yesterday and today, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee has hunkered down in the Capitol for markup sessions of SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act. The basic facts looked bleak: this Internet blacklist bill is a disaster that stands at odds with the Constitution, but the deep pockets of its legacy media backers managed to make it enough friends in committee that its quick passage seemed possible. Judiciary Committee Chairman, author of the bill, and “Hollywood’s Favorite Republican” Lamar Smith scheduled just a single hearing, stacked the deck in his bill’s favor, and rushed it through to markup now, at the end of the legislative session.

December 19, 2011 - 4:17pm 68008

Democratic Republic of Congo bans texting

In the not-so-aptly-named Democratic Republic of Congo, SMS was banned by the government last week in an attempt to maintain public order in the wake of contested elections that have left Kinshasa at a standstill. The country joins a growing list of nations, including Syria, Egypt, and Libya, that have cut off communications this year in an attempt to prevent unrest.

December 20, 2011 - 12:04pm 68015

Today the Ninth Circuit handed the Internet a bittersweet and crucial victory by affirming a district court's holding that the safe harbors created by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) protected Veoh, a now-defunct video hosting site, from copyright liability. The case has been pending since 2007, when Universal Music Group (UMG) sued Veoh based on allegedly infringing content in UMG music videos that Veoh users uploaded.  

It's a hefty decision, but here are some highlights:

December 20, 2011 - 1:04pm 68016

With the winter holidays fast approaching, now is the time to make our wish lists. There are plenty of presents EFF would like to receive for the holidays — the defeat of the Internet blacklist bills SOPA and PIPA would make a great start — but here are just a few of the things that companies could do to protect digital civil liberties this season:

December 20, 2011 - 6:22pm 68025

Defend the Global Network with EFFThreats to freedom are global, and EFF works internationally to defend your digital rights. Here are some things EFF achieved this year with the help of our global partners and supporters like you:

Protecting Freedom of Expression Worldwide EFF supported activists around the world as they used the Internet to organize democratic protests against authoritarian regimes. EFF ran a very successful campaign to expand the Tor network, providing much-needed bandwidth services and anonymity to those activists and all Internet users.

December 21, 2011 - 12:13pm 68004

We’ve compiled a list of notable books from the past year that stuck out to us. Even if we don’t necessarily endorse the arguments being made in them, we’ve included them for adding some valuable insight on conversations surrounding our issues and the work that we do.



(In alphabetical order)

Consent of the Networked (Official release in January 2012)

by Rebecca MacKinnon

December 21, 2011 - 1:35pm 68009

As we explained in our post on Carrier IQ's architecture, one of the main factors in determining what the Carrier IQ stack does on a particular phone is the "Profile" that is running on that device. Profiles are files that are typically written by Carrier IQ Inc. to the specifications of a phone company or other client, and pushed to the phone by Carrier IQ Inc. using its own command and control infrastructure. Profiles contain instructions about what data to collect, how to aggregate it, and where to send it.

December 21, 2011 - 1:54pm 68037
In 2011, we have witnessed the incredible power of bloggers and social media users capturing the world’s attention through their activism. At the same time, regimes appear to be quickening the pace of their cat-and-mouse game with netizens, cracking down on speech through the use of surveillance, censorship, and the persecution and detention of bloggers. The increasingly the tech-savvy Syrian regime has been reported to demand login credentials from detainees, for example, while the use of torture in some of the region’s prisons continues. Aware of the threats to their safety, bloggers often devise contingency plans in the event they are detained.
December 21, 2011 - 2:11pm 68038

In the past month—thanks to reporting from the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, as well as WikiLeaks and its media partners—a little sunlight has finally exposed a large but shadowy industry: Western technology companies selling mass spying software to governments. The amazing and dangerous capabilities of these tools are described in hundreds of marketing documents that were recently leaked to the media organizations.

December 21, 2011 - 5:13pm 68030

The European Parliament will vote soon on an agreement to formalize US procedures for retaining and providing EU based Passenger Name Record (PNR) data of EU and US citizens traveling into, out of, and through the United States. The agreement will determine how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be able to use the broad swath of sensitive PNR information that is based in the European Union. PNR data contains a passenger’s travel itinerary and consists of 19 different data metrics ranging from your name and address to your seat number and any general comments made by the ticketing agent. Travel agents, airlines, hotels, car rental companies, and railways collect the data whenever you make a reservation to travel or buy a ticket. The data is stored in central databases called Computer Reservation Systems (CRSs), and is pushed from the CRSs to DHS for passenger screening.

December 22, 2011 - 3:29pm 68050

The United States Government is taking its stance pressuring the European Union to weaken its new strengthened data protection bill. The European Union has a history of strong data protection standards, emboldened by the European Charter’s explicit provisions upholding data protection as a fundamental right. European Digital Rights (EDRi) revealed today a widespread U.S. lobbying effort against the November 29th leaked version of the legislative proposal for a Data Protection Regulation (DPR). DPR will repeal the existing EU Data Protection Directive, which details regulations regarding personal data processing within the European Union, and is due for official release on January, 25th 2012.

December 23, 2011 - 12:17pm 68058

As the year draws to a close, EFF is looking back at the major trends influencing digital rights in 2011 and discussing where we are in the fight for a free expression, innovation, fair use, and privacy. From WikiLeaks to the Arab Spring, from fighting the Internet blacklist legislation to exciting wins for reader privacy, 2011 has been a watershed year for digital rights. 

We'll be posting new articles regularly over the next week in the lead-up to 2012, and culminating our series with a call to action to Internet users everywhere for the coming year. You can follow our series by subscribing to EFF on Twitter,, Facebook, or by checking back to this page. We’ll be listing the articles below.

2011 in Review Series 

December 23, 2011 - 1:15pm 68054

As the year draws to a close, EFF is looking back at the major trends influencing digital rights in 2011 and discussing where we are in the fight for a free expression, innovation, fair use, and privacy.

The government has been using its secrecy system in absurd ways for decades, but 2011 was particularly egregious. Here are a few examples:

December 23, 2011 - 1:47pm 68059

"Israeli spy gear sent to Iran via Denmark," reads the headline from Israeli paper YNet News.  Today, yet another breaking story of a high-tech company selling spyware to an authoritarian regime emerged. As a  detailed report by Bloomberg News' Ben Elgin--who has made a name for himself this year reporting on the surveillance industrial complex--explains, Israeli company Allot Communications Ltd. clandestinely sold its product NetEnforcer to Iran by way of Denmark.

December 23, 2011 - 5:16pm 68064

As the year draws to a close, EFF is looking back at the major trends influencing digital rights in 2011 and discussing where we are in the fight for a free expression, innovation, fair use, and privacy.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) are the House and Senate version of a proposed law that would allow the U.S. Attorney General to create blacklists of websites to censor, cut off from funding, or remove from search engine indexes. Although the current bills are reworked versions of legislation proposed in 2010 (the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, or COICA), 2011 has been a true milestone in the fight against them.

December 25, 2011 - 1:55pm 68051

As the year draws to a close, EFF is looking back at the major trends influencing digital rights in 2011 and discussing where we are in the fight for a free expression, innovation, fair use, and privacy.

2011 saw a narrow but important upgrade in privacy for Californians, both online and offline. In early October, Governor Brown signed a law that EFF sponsored along with the American Civil Liberties Union that updates reader privacy laws for the digital age, and not a moment too soon. 

December 26, 2011 - 6:32am 68063

As the year draws to a close, EFF is looking back at the major trends influencing digital rights in 2011 and discussing where we are in the fight for a free expression, innovation, fair use, and privacy.

December 27, 2011 - 8:18am 68068

As the year draws to a close, EFF is looking back at the major trends influencing digital rights in 2011 and discussing where we are in the fight for a free expression, innovation, fair use, and privacy.

December 27, 2011 - 10:37am 67795

As the year draws to a close, EFF is looking back at the major trends influencing digital rights in 2011 and discussing where we are in the fight for a free expression, innovation, fair use, and privacy.

2010 was very eventful when it came to the issue of location privacy, with EFF bringing home some key court victories.  But 2011 was definitely the year that this issue truly hit the mainstream, with even more action around cell phone and GPS tracking in Congress, in the courts (including the Supreme Court), and in the press.  And the issue is shaping up to be even hotter in 2012.


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