Game Over for Automatic Facebook Tag Suggestion in Europe
In a victory for consumer privacy, Facebook has agreed to suspend the automatic use of its facial-recognition tool in Europe. The tool suggests people to tag in users’ photographs when registered users upload them to Facebook pages. Facebook Europe has agreed that by Oct. 15, it will give EU users the choice as to whether to allow the use of facial recognition software.
Fast-growing online payment provider Stripe announced on Friday that they were embracing transparency around government requests. When the company receives a legal request to shut down a user’s account, Stripe will send a copy to the transparency website Chilling Effects, a site maintained by EFF and law school clinics that accepts and publishes take down notices from across the web. Stripe is the first payment provider to participate in Chilling Effects. Stripe’s actions will help ensure that attempts by the government to silence sites by shutting down their revenue source will be open to public scrutiny and debate.
The government of the Philippines today has passed the troubling Cybercrime Prevention Act. The Act covers a range of offenses, but—as we wrote last month—is particularly problematic because of a libel provision that criminalizes anonymous online criticism.
In addition to criminalizing online libel, Section 19 of the Act would also allow the country’s Department of Justice to block access to “computer data” that is in violation of the Act; in other words, a website hosting criminally libelous speech could be shut down without a court order.
Some good news for Kyle Goodwin and Megaupload users: the Court stated today that it will hold a hearing to find out the details about Mr. Goodwin's property - where it is, what happened when the government denied him access to it, and whether and how he can get it back. The Court has asked Mr. Goodwin and the government to each propose a format for the hearing, which remains unscheduled at this point.
Today's news is one more step toward getting innocent users their rightful property back - something that is long overdue. We are glad that Mr. Goodwin will finally get to make his case in court and we look forward to helping the judge fashion a procedure to make all of Megaupload's consumers whole again by granting them access to what is legally theirs.
Earlier this week, Chris Dodd, a 30-year veteran of the Senate and now chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), spoke in San Francisco at an event aimed at addressing “the shared future of the content and technology industries.” It's a testament to the continuing impact of January's blackout protests against Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that Dodd should frame the discussion this way, and his conciliatory words during the talk struck a refreshing tone. But given that less than a year ago he was the nation’s leading advocate for a bill that would have censored large parts of the Internet, there’s still a long way to go.
From its inception, YouTube’s algorithmic copyright cop, Content ID, has been rife with problems — at least from the user’s perspective. Overbroad takedowns, a confusing dispute process, and little in the way of accountability turned the “filter” into an easy censorship tool. On Wednesday, however, YouTube announced several changes that should help users fight back against bogus takedowns, and help prevent those takedowns in the first place.
EFF is deeply concerned to hear of the arrest of Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sánchez, along with her husband, journalist Reinaldo Escobar, and blogger Agustín Díaz. According to reports, the trio was arrested in the eastern province of Bayamo, where they had traveled to attend the trial of a Spanish political activist facing vehicular homicide charges in the crash that killed democracy activists Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero. The purpose of Carromero's visit to Cuba was to meet with human rights activists.
The official reason for their arrest is currently unknown. Global Voices has compiled reactions to the arrests from Cuban bloggers.
Imagine this: A government, faced with public evidence that its foreign spy service was conducting domestic surveillance on its residents—instead of claiming the information is somehow secret and the people responsible are above the reach of the law—admits in public and in the courtroom that it violated basic rights.
EFF has a long-term mission to encrypt as much of the Web as possible — in fact, to encrypt all of it. We have been making quite a lot of progress.
The Department of Homeland Security’s 70 counterterrrorism "fusion centers" produce "predominantly useless information," "a bunch of crap," while "running afoul of departmental guidelines meant to guard against civil liberties" and are "possibly in violation of the Privacy Act."
These may sound like the words of EFF, but in fact, these conclusions come from a new report issued by a US Senate committee. At the cost of up to $1.4 billion, these fusion centers are supposed to facilitate local law enforcement sharing of valuable counterterrorism information to DHS, but according to the report, they do almost everything but.
Yesterday, EFF filed its latest brief in the Jewel v. NSA case, aiming to stop the government from engaging in mass warrantless collection of emails, phone calls, and customer records of ordinary Americans. The matter is set for hearing on December 14, 2012 in federal court in San Francisco, on the question of whether these Americans will get their day in court.
Despite protests from civil society organizations, but with applause from the entertainment lobby, Canada announced on October 9th that it has officially joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations. Canada joins the TPP not as an equal partner in the agreement but as a “second-tier” negotiator, which means it will have far less input into the agreement than the countries currently negotiating. Some Canadian politicians did find some of the conditions imposed by the USA and other countries unpalatable, but nobody offered any real details as to why.
Good news! In a decision that is likely to help shape the future of online fair use, a federal court in New York has concluded that digitizing books in order to enhance research and to provide access to print-disabled individuals is lawful.
EFF welcomes a strong voice in the fight against data retention mandates: on Wednesday, a group of Slovak MPs filed a complaint challenging the constitutionality of Slovakia's mandatory data retention law. The law compels telcos and ISPs to monitor the communications of all citizens including those not suspected or convicted of any crime, and in case law enforcement officials demand them for any reason.
The shadow of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is back in Europe. It is disguised as CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union. As reported by EDRI, a rather strange and surprising e-mail was sent this summer from the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union to the Member States and the European Commission. The e-mail explained that the criminal sanctions provisions of the draft CETA are modeled on those in ACTA.
In a welcome move, the full Federal Circuit has agreed to revisit a troubling ruling in a case called CLS Bank v. Alice Corp. This case, along with the Ultramercial case, presents an important opportunity for the courts to insert some long-overdue sanity into the debate over what can and cannot be patented. In light of the Supreme Court's ruling earlier this year in Mayo, we think the Federal Circuit has little choice but to throw out the dangerous patents in both CLS Bank and Ultramercial and make clear once and for all that ideas that are otherwise abstract cannot be patented simply because they are executed on the Internet or in a computer system.
Today marks Ada Lovelace Day, when members of the tech community celebrate the role that women have played in technology. But of course, it’s not enough to do that just once a year. For the past 20 years, as we've honored leaders in our community with our annual EFF Pioneer Awards—prominent technologists, advocates for freedom of expression, and innovators of all stripes—we’ve also had the privilege of recognizing the talented and dedicated women who have pushed our community forward. So on Ada Lovelace Day, we’re taking a special moment to look back and acknowledge the important contributions from the following women, who have won Pioneer Awards.
Courts are investigating the legality of a European Union regulation requiring biometric passports in Europe. Last month, the Dutch Council of State (Raad van State, the highest Dutch administrative court) asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to decide if the regulation requiring fingerprints in passports and travel documents violates citizens’ right to privacy. The case entered the courts when three Dutch citizens were denied passports and another citizen was denied an ID card for refusing to provide their fingerprints. The ECJ ruling will play an important role in determining the legality of including biometrics in passports and travel documents in the European Union.
Defending rights online means more than just standing up for abstract principles. It means supporting the users and developers who want to make technology better. And needless to say, women are an essential part of that project.
That's why we're excited to participate in Ada Lovelace Day, an international celebration of the accomplishments of women in technology and technology policy. Who is Ada and why should you care? Ada Lovelace is believed to have written the first algorithm read by a machine, making her one of the first computer programmers.
EFF's NSA Spying design is back by popular demand. This spot-on graphic depicts the National Security Agency's glowering red-eyed eagle using his talons to illegally plug into Americans' telecommunications system with the help of telecom giant AT&T. Show your support for EFF's fight against warrantless surveillance with the new NSA Spying zip-up hooded sweatshirt! Get your hoodie as a free gift when you become a Titanium level member or for a limited time at EFF's online shop.
On Oct. 23 and 24, EFF will join privacy commissioners from throughout the world in Punta del Este, Uruguay, for the 34th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, the premier global event on privacy issues. A tagline on the event website, “Privacy and Technology: The Debate Is Now,” could not be more apt.
This international meeting brings together commissioners working on privacy regulation and personal data protection with experts, nongovernmental organizations, and academics focused on these crucial issues. The conference is held to foster exchanges and promote knowledge sharing. Discussions will cover data protection and e-Government, the role of technology in open government, issues surrounding geo-location, security of health records, online behavioral advertising, biometrics and more.
Today is Ada Lovelace Day, when EFF and technology users around the Internet celebrate women in science, technology, engineering, and math. What better excuse to revisit how some issues core to EFF's mission particularly impact women?
We often talk about just how dangerous the flawed U.S. patent system is for innovation. Our primary gripes surround software patents, but many misguided patent laws in other subject matter areas negatively affect our society, too. Case in point: ongoing litigation surrounding patents covering naturally occurring human genes that, when present, signal an increased likelihood of developing breast cancer.
On Friday, EFF and the ACLU submitted an amicus brief in United States v. Rigmaiden, a closely-followed case that has enormous consequences for individuals' Fourth Amendment rights in their home and on their cell phone. As the Wall Street Journal explained today, the technology at the heart of the case invades the privacy of countless innocent people that have never even been suspected of a crime.
Last week, the Dutch Minister of Safety and Justice asked the Parliament of the Netherlands to pass a law allowing police to obtain warrants to do the following:
- Install malware on targets’ private computers
- Conduct remote searches on local and foreign computers to collect evidence
- Delete data on remote computers in order to disable the accessibility of “illegal files.”
Requesting assistance from the country where the targetted computer(s) were located would be "preferred" but possibly not required. These proposals are alarming, could have extremely problematic consequences, and may violate European human rights law. As if that wasn't troubling enough, lurking in this letter was a request for something more extreme:
- If the location of a particular computer cannot be determined, the Dutch police would be able to break in without ever contacting foreign authorities.
What would cause the “location of a particular computer” not to be determinable?
The relentless expansion of intellectual property from the developed world to the developing world is rooted in a key international agreement: it’s called the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (colloquially, “TRIPS”), and it was enacted in 1994 by the World Trade Organization (WTO). TRIPS was envisioned as a means for expanding markets for intellectual property (IP), and of reducing barriers to international trade in intellectual property, through the effective protection of intellectual property rights. For some, effective protection of intellectual property is associated with high standards of protection and enforcement.
On last Thursday’s Daily Show, Jon Stewart boldly went where no mainstream reporter has gone so far this election cycle: asking President Barack Obama why has he embraced Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program after campaigning against it on civil liberties grounds. While Stewart’s question was commendable, Obama’s answer was puzzling because it seems so obviously untrue.
Stewart first reminded Obama of his Bush-era statements that “we don’t have to trade our values and ideals for our security,” and pointedly asked the President, “do you still believe that?” He then specifically raised warrantless wiretapping, which Obama frequently criticized as a presidential candidate in 2008:
Thanks to the open hardware community, you can now have a 3D printer in your home for just a few hundred dollars, with dozens of printer models to choose from and build upon. Community-designed printers already outclass proprietary printers costing 30 times as much. This incredible innovation is possible because the core patents covering 3D printing technologies started expiring several years ago, allowing projects such as RepRap to prove what we already knew—that openness often outperforms the patent system at spurring innovation.
In less than 10 minutes, you can drastically improve your privacy online and protect yourself against unwanted and invisible tracking.
One year ago, EFF rang alarm bells about SOPA and PIPA — Internet censorship bills threatening online freedom and the very structure of the Internet. Not long after, our members and the Internet community stood up to misguided politicians and deep-pocketed lobbyists and won, sinking SOPA and PIPA forever. It was revolutionary.
You have the power to shape this world, and EFF stands with you. For 22 years, donating members have enabled EFF to bring legal and technological expertise into crucial battles about online rights, from defending free speech online to challenging unconstitutional surveillance.
Two of the biggest threats to the Internet are two international agreements: the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). TPP continues to expand across the Pacific, with Mexico and Canada joining in the next round in New Zealand. With ACTA, it is increasingly doubtful that it was successfully defeated this summer. With these two agreements, both of which contain intellectual property (IP) provisions that would negatively impact digital rights and innovation, the country that sits at the center of play is Japan.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments today in a case called Kirtsaeng v. Wiley, and their final decision could help shape the future of "first sale," a legal doctrine that underpins the right to sell, lend, or give away the things you buy, even if those things contain copyrighted elements.
First sale provides the legal framework for marketplaces like used bookstores, flea markets, garage sales, and eBay. It’s crucial to making sure U.S. copyright holders can’t dictate, for decades, what you do with the books, CDs, DVDs, games, etc., that you buy. But book publisher Wiley says it doesn’t apply if the copyright holder is clever enough to ensure the product in question is manufactured outside of the United States.
If there's one thing Congress got right when it passed the Stored Communications Act (SCA) in 1986, it was prohibiting civil litigants from accessing the contents of electronic communications stored by communications providers. Otherwise, every civil dispute would result in myriad requests for content like emails, tweets, and Facebook postings, with only the communications providers standing between aggressive litigants and your electronic privacy. Now a federal court in Los Angeles will have to decide whether an intellectual property dispute is enough to disregard the strong privacy protections of the SCA. As we tell the court in an amicus brief, the answer to that question is no.
The Supreme Court today heard oral arguments in Kirtsaeng v. Wiley & Sons Company, a case that could further undermine the "first sale doctrine." First sale, described in section 109 of the US Copyright Act, gives people the right to resell, lend, or give away the works that they’ve bought, even if those works contain copyrighted elements.
Textbook publisher Wiley claims that this doctrine only applies to goods that are manufactured in the U.S., and that the defendant, Supap Kirtsaeng, was infringing its copyright by purchasing books at a reduced rate in his native Thailand and selling them below list price in the States.
Last week, the 34th Annual Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners’ Conference was held in Punta del Este, Uruguay. The event brings together international regulators whose mandate is to uphold individuals’ rights to privacy. Preceding the official gathering of data protection authorities was The Public Voice, a daylong event hosted by an international coalition of civil organizations, with the Electronic Privacy Information Center taking the lead on organizing events this year. EFF, a part of this coalition, delivered a presentation during a panel discussion about global developments in privacy standards.
On Monday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Clapper v. Amnesty, an important case that will decide if the ACLU’s challenge to the FISA Amendments Act—the law passed in the wake of the NSA warrantless wiretapping scandal—can go forward. The Court will essentially determine whether any court, short of a government admission, can rule on whether the NSA’s targeted warrantless surveillance of Americans' international communications violates the Constitution.
We’ve seen some absurd trademark threats in recent years, but this one sets the bar at a new low: The Village Voice is suing Yelp for trademark infringement based on Yelp’s creation of various “Best of” lists. Yes, that's correct, the publisher behind the paper (as well as several other weeklies around the U.S.) has managed to register trademarks in the term “Best of ” in connection with several cities, including San Francisco, Miami, St. Louis and Phoenix. And it now claims that Yelp’s use of those terms infringes those trademarks and deceives consumers.
It’s been almost a year since Kyle Goodwin lost access to the lawful property that he stored on Megaupload. EFF, on his behalf, has asked the Court to order his data returned, and, more recently, has also asked the Court to unseal the confidential search warrants surrounding the third-party data at issue. And it appears Mr. Goodwin is making some headway: the Court is at least contemplating holding a hearing to get to the bottom of what really happened when the government shut down Megaupload, seized its assets, and deprived millions of customers of their property.
In July, EFF called for the immediate release of open source developer and Creative Commons volunteer Bassel Khartabil, who had been detained in Syria since March 12, 2012 as part of a wave of arrests made in the Mazzeh district of Damascus. We felt that the situation was especially urgent in light of a recent Human Rights Watch report documenting the use of torture in 27 detention facilities run by Syrian intelligence agencies. Now it appears that our concerns were well-founded.
EFF believes open networks are crucial in hurricane-affected areas
Update: In response to the impact of Hurricane Sandy, Comcast is opening its XFINITY WiFi hotspots to non-Comcast subscribers in PA, NJ, DE, MD, DC, VA, WV, MA, NH and ME until Nov. 7. Users should search for the network "xfinitywifi" and click on "Not a Comcast subscriber?" at the bottom of the sign-in page. Users should select the "Complimentary Trial Session" option from the drop down list. The Open Wireless Movement thanks Comcast for helping out!
In troubled times, it's important to help each other out. Right now, we're witnessing an unprecedented hurricane hitting the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, and the ensuing damage and power outages are crippling rescue efforts, businesses large and small, and personal communications.
Communication is critical in time of crisis, and the Internet allows for the most effective way of getting information in and out. With readily available networks, government officials could use tools like Twitter to quickly spread information, citizen reports could help focus assistance where it is needed most, and social media updates could help reassure friends and loved ones—keeping mobile phone lines open for emergencies.
To take advantage of the Internet, people should not have to attempt to skirt restrictive Terms of Service to attempt to tether their smartphones. And tethering would not be necessary if there were ubiquitous open wireless, so that anyone with a connection and power can share their network with the neigborhood.
In an interview with viEUws, the European Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht, affirms that Europe wants to close the Canadian-European Trade Agreement (CETA) by the end of this year—which would have been today, since the European calendar year ends on October 31.1 CETA is a trade agreement designed to strengthen economic ties between Canada and the EU through “free” trade and increased investment.
The 2012 campaign is almost over, which means Congress may soon be able to get back to business. One of the things it should prioritize is fixing a longstanding tax on innovation that most folks don’t know about, but they should: the unfair legal treatment of Internet radio.
Internet radio is a favorite source of music for many, but there are relatively few big players in the medium. That’s because success in this space depends the ability to navigate through an obscure, rough-and-tumble neighborhood of copyright-land known as digital performance royalties. Thus far, that’s been a tough challenge: Internet radio services like Pandora pay about 50% of their revenues to record labels and artists, while satellite radio pays only about 10% and traditional AM/FM stations pay nothing.
Yesterday, EFF, on behalf of its client Kyle Goodwin, filed a brief proposing a process for the Court in the Megaupload case to hold the government accountable for the actions it took (and failed to take) when it shut down Megaupload's service and denied third parties like Mr. Goodwin access to their property. The government also filed a brief of its own, calling for a long, drawn-out process that would require third parties—often individuals or small companies—to travel to courts far away and engage in multiple hearings, just to get their own property back.