The Electronic Frontier Foundation is back in Austin, TX for South by Southwest (SXSW)! EFF is the world's foremost defender of online civil liberties, so it's only natural that we have boots on the ground at perhaps the most popular showcase of Internet innovation ever. For 23 years, EFF has been uniquely suited to protecting your digital freedom by blending the expertise of lawyers, activists, technologists, and policy analysts to fight for the users. Whether advocating for software patent reform, defending location privacy, uncovering information about domestic drones, or joining forces with international activists to protect free expression, EFF has your back as we continue into the next stage of technology.
The Internet is ready for patent reform.
In the days since Reps. Peter DeFazio and Jason Chaffetz introduced their patent-troll-smashing SHIELD Act (Saving High-tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes), there’s been a steady increase in attention and momentum, both in the press and among the public at large, to the issue of vexatious patent lawsuits.
What happens when a country's government censors the entirety of its domestic web, with no oversight or transparency? It turns out that politicians aren't the only ones with an interest in repressing free expression — and given a lever of control, a black market of censors quickly emerges.
A group of investigators from Chinese magazine Caixin recently uncovered the activities of Beijing's "dark PR" agencies, who take money from private companies to bribe Internet censors to delete unfavourable commentary on Chinese forums and microblogging sites, using the infrastructure that the Chinese authorities have built for political censorship.
Major announcements from the US and Canada today give a clear indication that the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is coming back with a vengeance. ACTA is an agreement negotiated and signed by 11 countries, carrying intellectual property (IP) provisions that would negatively impact digital rights and innovation by ratcheting up IP enforcement measures beyond existing international standards. It will not take effect until six countries ratify the agreement, and Japan is so far the only country to have done so.
The Supreme Court recently heard oral argument in Maryland v. King, a case considering the constitutionality of warrantless DNA collection from arrestees.
The White House has come out today in support of legalizing the unlocking of cell phones for use on different carriers, saying it makes "common sense" that "all consumers deserve that flexibility." The statement came as a response to a recent petition that received over 114,000 signatures.
The 16th round of negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) began in Singapore today, as trade delegates and private stakeholders from 11 participating countries gather to discuss this the contours of Pacific trade. EFF and many others are deeply concerned about TPP, because it appears to contain an intellectual property (IP) chapter that would ratchet up IP enforcement at the expense of digital rights. The TPP could turn Internet Service Providers into copyright cops, prompt ever-higher criminal and civil penalties for sharing content, and expand protections for Digital Rights Management. The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) has announced that they plan to complete the TPP by the fall of this year.
Do you run a web site? Does HTTPS Everywhere affect it? We're asking you to help us make HTTPS Everywhere better and more reliable, by consulting our new HTTPS Everywhere Atlas to see how your site is affected.
EFF's HTTPS Everywhere software, co-developed with the Tor Project, helps protect online privacy and security by asking browsers to go to the secure version of a web site every time, even if the user doesn't specifically ask for it. Using the secure version of web sites helps make it harder for people to spy on or censor the content of the sites you visit, or to steal your account passwords or credentials by intercepting your network connections.
Update 2013-06-07: at the time that we wrote this post, we asked Google whether its Transparency Report included data about secret FISA court orders that would send data to the NSA. The response we received was extremely vague, but seemed to possibly be "no". In the wake of yesterday's revelations that the NSA was harvesting data from Microsoft, Yahoo!, Google, Facebook, AOL, PalTalk, Skype, Youtube and Apple, Google has now clearly confirmed that the numbers in its Transparency Report do not include the number of orders or targets for NSA surveillance.
When EFF considers a job applicant, we ask for the usual information: a resume, references, maybe writing samples. When we decide to hire someone, we require a few more pieces of personal data, the standard HR stuff, to ensure the lucky employee gets paid on time and is covered by health insurance.
What doesn’t EFF demand? Social media passwords.
We don’t require applicants to unlock their Facebook accounts and reveal their private communications, photo albums or calendars. No one here demands the potential employees unlock their Twitter or Google+ accounts to expose their private, direct messages. We certainly don’t want to know what they’re posting about themselves on online dating sites or on closed Bible study messageboards.
This isn’t only because EFF respects its employees’ privacy. It’s because, as of Jan. 1, it’s the law in California.
Many schools have associated nonprofit publishing bodies known as university presses. These institutions usually publish academic books with the intent of disseminating important knowledge and promoting the public good. With this mission in mind, it would seem as though these academic centers would be among the first to support the Fair Access to Science & Technology Research Act, or FASTR, a bill that would provide public access to a huge majority of taxpayer-funded research—much of which happens at colleges and universities.
Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg. All three are credited with creating some of the most successful businesses in the history of the Internet, but they also have something else in common: they got their start by innovating near the edge of the law.
If these titans of industry had faced the sort of overly aggressive prosecution that the late Aaron Swartz did, they could have been threatened with being locked away and branded felons before ever starting Apple, Microsoft, or Facebook. They might have even faced a ban against their use of computers, rather than using them to create hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Their stories are one of the most important reasons why the CFAA must be reformed (please go here to take action).
Members of Congress continue to demand more answers from the Department of Justice (DOJ) about the aggressive prosecution of the late Aaron Swartz. Yesterday, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about general Justice Department oversight, Senator Cornyn—who initiated one of the two congressional investigations into Aaron's death—asked Attorney General Holder about Aaron's prosecution.
Facebook has announced that it’s teaming up with four of the world’s largest corporate data brokers to “enhance” the ad experience for users. Datalogix, Epsilon, Acxiom, and BlueKai obtain information gathered about users through online means (such as through cookies when users surf the web) as well as through offline means (such as through loyalty cards at supermarkets and product warranty cards)1. Through the new relationship with Facebook, companies will be able to display advertisements to Facebook users based on data that these data brokers have on individuals.
H.R. 983 seeks to reform outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, for the latest installment in the popular SimCity video game franchise, which was released this week to massive sales, and then just as quickly, an epic fail as the paying customers were unable to play the game they just bought. The culprit isn't the game itself, which by most accounts is pretty good; no, the problem is the game's DRM scheme.
Google took an unprecedented and fantastic step towards greater transparency earlier this week by releasing data about National Security Letters that it receives, but there is another class of government orders for user data that we are still totally in the dark about: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court orders. More transparency – even in broad brush strokes – related to how FISA orders are used to access user data would be extremely helpful for users concerned about government access and the opaque FISA process.
This week, EFF once again joins a coalition of national and local transparency and press organizations in celebrating Sunshine Week as a way to bring attention to the importance of public records and the need to remain vigilant despite government push-back.
Forty-seven years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) into law, giving the public the right to access records pertaining to government activities. Pronounced “foy-yah” by those who regularly employ it, the law serves as a sort of citizen subpoena process; if you ask for a record that doesn’t fall under a confidentiality exemption, the government has to produce it.
Section 215 of the Patriot Act has been secretly interpreted by the government in ways, according to Senators briefed on the interpretation, that are misleading and would “stun” the American public. Today, EFF will ask a federal judge in Oakland to order the government to turn over those secret interpretations of the law.
As we mentioned yesterday, this week is Sunshine Week – a week dedicated to celebrating the promise of transparent and accountable government. And what better way to celebrate than by fighting against secret surveillance law in federal court?
Since EFF started sounding the alarm about domestic drones in late 2011, the issue has been pushed to the front and center of a nationwide debate over privacy. In just the past two months, thirty-three state legislatures have introduced legislation to restrict drone use in the name of privacy.
On Monday, EFF and over 30 other Internet rights organizations sent a letter to members of Congress demanding they vote no on the "cybersecurity" bill known as CISPA. The letter starts off a week in which Congress will hold three different hearings about CISPA and computer and network security. In addition to the letter, each hearing will provide opportunity to voice many of the bill's problems. We encourage you to join the fight and tell your Representative to say no to CISPA.
Today, a group of entrepreneurs and startups sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee urging it to reform the draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). The letter, organized with the help of TechFreedom, the Competitive Enterprise Insitute, and the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), explains how the CFAA stifles entrepreneurs and cripples the creation of innovative services. The group is part of a larger coalition of groups like EFF, CDT, and the ACLU, which are calling on Congress to reform the CFAA after the aggressive prosecution of Aaron Swartz.
Yesterday, the federal court in Los Angeles held a hearing in a consolidated set of copyright troll cases, filed by the notorious Prenda Law on behalf of holding companies AF Holdings and Ingenuity 13. At first, this case was just one of hundreds of similar lawsuits in which copyright trolls have sued John Doe defendants from all over the country, alleging copyright infringement of pornographic works. These cases don't seem to be filed with the intention of litigating them. Instead, the apparent strategy is to take advantage of the threat of an award of massive damages and the stigma associated with downloading pornographic movies to induce defendants into settling for a payment of roughly $1,500 to $4,000 each—less than the cost of defending a lawsuit.
Have you clicked “like” next to “Bret Michaels” or “I Love Being a Mom” on Facebook?
Did you also click “like” next to “Austin Texas”?
Or maybe you clicked “like” next to “Never Apologize For What You Feel It’s Like Saying Sorry For Being Real,” because you were inspired by the quote sometimes attributed to Lil Wayne.
Then you’ve just given enough information to Facebook for someone to profile you as a likely drug-user with a low IQ whose parents divorced before you were 21.
In an important new decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals created the first explicit limits on the government's ability to search electronic devices at the border. The court's decision in United States v. Cotterman (PDF) establishes that government agents must have "reasonable suspicion" before conducting a forensic examination of a computer at the border.
In 2007, Howard Cotterman attempted to enter the United States from Mexico through the Lukeville port of entry in Arizona. Border agents detained Cotterman for 8 hours while they searched, without a warrant, two laptops and a digital camera he was carrying. Ultimately wanting to do a more invasive examination of the devices, the agents let Cotterman enter the U.S. but held onto his electronic devices and took them 170 miles away to Tucson, where they continued their warrantless search for two days.
It's hard to think of a more worthy goal than combating domestic violence. With its recent reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) (PDF), Congress created and expanded federal programs to assist local communities and victims deal with domestic and sexual abuse. But along with these great ideas, Congress unfortunately made some big mistakes that could hurt a lot of Internet speech.
Today Congress heard overwhelming evidence about how patent trolls—companies that assert patents as a business model instead of creating products—are abusing the system to stifle innovation. At a hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, witness after witness testified about patent trolls who use the threat of ruinous defense costs to pressure companies into paying settlements on vague and overbroad patents. The Subcommittee also heard testimony about the disturbing trend of patent trolls targeting end-users—such as cafes providing Wi-Fi or businesses using standard office technology like scanners and email.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued an important copyright judgement today, revisiting its December 2011 decision in Universal Music Group (UMG) v. Veoh in light of last year's Second Circuit decision in Viacom v. YouTube. The court largely affirmed that earlier decision, finding once again that Veoh fell squarely within the safe harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). It's a good ruling, and it puts yet more weight behind the idea that a robust safe harbor is not just beneficial but necessary for user-generated content sites to thrive on the Internet.
In a shocking move, Google has recently deleted AdBlock Plus from the Android Play Store. This is hugely disappointing because it demonstrates that Google is willing to censor software and abandon its support for open platforms as soon as there's an ad-related business reason for doing so.
Until now, the Internet and software development communities have relied on Google to be safely on their side when it comes to building open platforms, encouraging innovation, and giving users maximum choice about how their computers will function. But with today's news, that commitment to openness suddenly looks much, much weaker.
In the wake of social justice activist Aaron Swartz's tragic death, Internet users around the country are taking a hard look at the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), the federal anti-hacking law. The CFAA has many problems and users can contact their representative to demand reform. In this two-part series, we'll explore the specific problems with federal sentencing under the CFAA.
I can not find words to describe my feelings about everything you did for me. What you did saved me and changed my situation to better. Thank you all and big love!
3 February 2013
Bassel Khartabil Safadi”
In March of 2012, Palestinian-Syrian software developer and open source advocate Bassel (Safadi) Khartabil went silent. When we had not heard from him online for a few weeks, his friends—myself included—began to worry. It was unlike Bassel, an active member of the Creative Commons community, to vanish from online discussions. There were rumours that he may have been detained. His last Facebook post, marked “friends only,” is dated March 14, 2012.
On 27 December 2012 prominent Vietnamese activist and blogger Le Quoc Quan was arbitrarily arrested and detained by local authorities while taking his daughter to school. The arrest was the culmination of years of constant surveillance and harassment over his extensive writing on civil rights, political pluralism and religious freedom for the BBC, online newspapers, and on his blog.
As a lawyer, Quan represented many victims of human rights violations, but was disbarred in 2007 on suspicion of engaging in “activities to overthrow the regime.” Despite these threats, he continued with his human rights advocacy and as a result he has been arrested several times since. In August 2012, he was hospitalized after being severely beaten near his home by unknown assailants—an assault which has not been investigated by Vietnamese authorities.
On Wednesday, the Huffington Post reported that lawyers for the late Aaron Swartz have officially accused his prosecutor Steven Heymann of misconduct.
From Huffington Post:
In the document, [Aaron’s lawyer] argues that Heymann withheld exculpatory evidence. At issue was whether the federal government had properly obtained a warrant to search Swartz' computer and thumb drive. Peters argued that the government failed by waiting more than a month to obtain the warrant. Heymann countered that he couldn't get a warrant because he didn't have access to the equipment. But an email in Heymann's possession, which was written to Heymann himself, showed that assertion to be untrue.
Last month, U.S. President Barack Obama announced the launch of a new trade deal between the United States and the European Union. This transatlantic free trade agreement (TAFTA)—or what government leaders are touting as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)—is likely to carry copyright provisions that would pose a serious threat to digital rights. Past and currently negotiated trade agreements have enacted rules that would force ISPs to turn into copyright police, place harsh and disproportionate criminal penalties on file sharers, and seriously impair users' ability to innovate and access content on the Internet.
We’ve been working for some time—with your help—to ensure that improvidently granted patents don’t threaten exciting and growing 3D printing technology. The good news is that with the help of the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, we’ve been able to challenge a number of such dangerous patent applications at the Patent Office.
But we’re not done.
On Friday, EFF received the long-awaiting ruling on its 2011 petition to set aside a National Security Letter (NSL) issued to a telecommunications company. The petition challenged the constitutionality of one of five national security letter statutes, 18 U.S.C. § 2709. And what a ruling it was. In a detailed and careful 24-page opinion, Judge Susan Illston of the district court for the Northern District of California methodically addressed the government's attempted justifications for this controversial domestic surveillance tool and found that the statute failed to meet the standards of settled First Amendment law.
A coalition of Internet advocacy organizations and individuals are launching a week of action to combat the CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.
Viewing CISPA as one of the greatest threats to Internet users since SOPA, the coalition intends to leverage popular outrage to oppose the dangerously broad cybersecurity bill.
The objectionable provisions of CISPA include:
CISPA, the cyberspying bill, is back in Congress and plagued with many of the same problems as last year—vague definitions and the grim government access loophole to name just a few. The bill also grants broad immunity to companies as long as a company acts in "good faith." One section of the immunity clause even grants immunity for any "decision made" based on information about a perceived threat.
On Wednesday, the head of the U.S. Copyright Office is going to testify to Congress and call for an update to U.S. copyright law. If Congress takes up the challenge, supporters of free expression and the promise of digital technology will have a great opportunity to forge a copyright law that reflects our fundamental values. Of course, a major reform of copyright law could lead the other way - back towards SOPA and beyond to a world of more centralization, censorship, and technology regulation.
In a long-anticipated decision, the Supreme Court held today that the first sale doctrine applies to works made outside of the United States. In other words, if you bought it, you own it—no matter where it was manufactured. That's a major victory for consumers, and also libraries, used bookstores, and all kinds of groups that depend on the right to lend or resell the goods they've legally purchased.
Today was the first hearing in what many of us hope will be a successful update to the archaic Electronic Communications and Privacy Act in this year's Congress. The law, written in 1986, allows the government to argue that private online messages older than 180 days are not protected by the Fourth Amendment and that the government can access the messages without a warrant. EFF, along with the Digital Due Process coalition has been pushing for the past few years to update the law. Shortly after the hearing in the House, Senators Leahy and Lee introduced final language to reform ECPA in the Senate. With Rep.
Este articulo ha sido escrito por Katitza Rodriguez (EFF) y Olivia Solis (SHARE Defense)
Este artículo ha sido escrito por Katitza Rodriguez (EFF) y Olivia Solis (SHARE Defense)
El informe de Transparencia de Google ofrece información país por país, de las estadísticas sobre las peticiones que recibe Google del estado sobre datos personales de carácter privado. A continuación EFF y SHARE Defense han clasificado los principales países por el número de cuentas de usuario que los estados han demandado con las respectivas poblaciones de Internet, en cada país.
Since the untimely death of activist Aaron Swartz in January, EFF has been pushing for Congress to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), the law that hands out wildly disproportionate penalties for computer crimes, chills innovation, and potentially turns every computer user into a criminal. And new examples of the CFAA’s dangerous reach continue to make headlines.
Este articulo ha sido escrito por Katitza Rodriguez (EFF) y Olivia Solis (SHARE Defense)
Desde que Google comenzó a publicar su reporte de transparencia tres años atras, la demanda de datos de usuarios solo ha incrementado para Google - una tendencia que no muestra signos de disminuir. Cómo Google responde a estas peticiones varia según cada región.
Google ha recibido 33,279 solicitudes de los Estados Unidos, quien lidera en el número de demandas de datos. Las demandada de datos por parte de los Estados Unidos incluyen los emitidos por las autoridades estadounidenses en las investigaciones de Estados Unidos, así como las solicitudes formuladas en nombre de otros Estados de conformidad con los Tratados de Asistencia Legal Mutua (MLAT).
There's a new front in the battle against digital rights management (DRM) technologies. These technologies, which supposedly exist to enforce copyright, have never done anything to get creative people paid. Instead, by design or by accident, their real effect is to interfere with innovation, fair use, competition, interoperability, and our right to own things.
That's why we were appalled to learn that there is a proposal currently before the World Wide Web Consortium's HTML5 Working Group to build DRM into the next generation of core Web standards. The proposal is called Encrypted Media Extensions, or EME. Its adoption would be a calamitous development, and must be stopped.