The patent troll problem is not new. Trolls have been targeting companies large and small for some time, dragging productive businesses into court and extorting licensing fees that have become a nearly unavoidable tax on innovation. This is wrong.
But even worse are the trolls who target end users. These end users are small businesses, startups, and even individuals who find themselves facing lawsuit threats and licensing demands for simply using everyday products. Their stories are compelling and totally depressing.
The law should not allow trolls to prey on end users. Period. We hear some policy makers are considering proposals that would immunize these users. This is precisely the kind of reform the system needs.
Once again, we are seeing entrenched interests try to fight the future with scare tactics and misinformation. This time, it's major journal publishers, and their target is open access to taxpayer-funded research.
First things first: The reason the publishers are on the warpath is that state and federal legislators are looking to expand open access. One of the leading bills is California's open access bill (AB 609). This legislation is being discussed in the Assembly's Appropriations Committee tomorrow. If you're a California resident, now is the time to contact your Assembly member and ask that they support public access to taxpayer-funded research.
In a hearing last week in front of the House Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder announced his support for updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). ECPA, which was written in 1986, is the main privacy law protecting private electronic messages like email, private Facebook messages, and Twitter direct messages. The law has been used by the government to argue that emails older than 180 days can be obtained without a probable cause warrant.
In the past couple of years, there have been striking developments in Internet regulation across the Middle East and North Africa. But while the governments of some countries—such as Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan—have proposed draconian regulation threatening a free and open Internet, civil society across the region is becoming more active than ever in fighting back. EFF has been working with these local groups to find out more about the threats and the opportunities for protecting free speech in fragile or contentious environments.
Twitter rolled out two-factor authentication last week, joining a growing group of tech companies to support the important security feature. Two-factor authentication can help mitigate the damage of a password breach or phishing attack.
The Three Authentication Factors
- A knowledge factor, like a password or PIN. Something you know.
- A possession factor, like a key or a hardware dongle. Something you have.
- An inherence factor, like a fingerprint or an iris. Something you are.
The principle comes from the idea that any authentication system—whether it's the deadbolt on your front door, the lockscreen on your smartphone, or the bouncer at a secret clubhouse—works by confirming something you know, something you have, or something you are. Each of these are called "factors."
The world learned in 2011 that a U.S. company's Internet censorship and surveillance technology is in the hands of the Syrian government. This was notable because Syria is under heavy sanctions by the U.S. government—meaning there’s no way that it was legal for Syria to end up with this American-made hardware and software. While the tech firm, Blue Coat Systems, initially denied knowledge of the sale (which was uncovered by activists at Telecomix and elsewhere), the U.S. Department of Commerce nonetheless launched an investigation into how their equipment found its way into the country.
EFF filed an amicus brief (PDF) in support of Facebook in California state appellate court yesterday, urging the court to protect the privacy rights of social media users by requiring that all requests for their account information—including content—be directed to the users, rather than to third parties like Facebook.
The case involved an alleged domestic violence attacker who issued a subpoena to Facebook seeking the content of his alleged victim's Facebook communications. Facebook rightly objected to the attacker's subpoena, noting that the victim had full access to the requested information and that any demand for her information should go to her. The superior court ordered Facebook to comply anyway, so Facebook sought appellate review on a writ of mandamus.
Today, EFF announced that it was making a formal objection to including consideration of digital rights management (DRM) in the First Public Working Draft from the HTML working group of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). This is part of EFF's long-running involvement in standards processes, fighting the entertainment companies and DRM vendors that want permanent control over disruptive technologies.
You should be able to read and understand the law you are required to follow, right? That’s the mission of Public.Resource.Org, which archives laws and legal standards online for all to see. But earlier this year, a trade association made a wrongheaded copyright claim to stop Public Resource’s publication of a document detailing important building safety standards that have been adopted into federal law. With help from EFF and co-counsel Fenwick & West and David Halperin, Public Resource went to federal court to defend its right to publish the law. But with its bluff called, the trade association is now refusing to defend its position. Today, we asked the judge to issue a formal ruling that will put an end to these shenanigans so Public Resource ca
We need your help to save podcasting. EFF is partnering with leading lawyers to bust a key patent being used to threaten podcasters. But we need your help to find prior art and cover the filing fees for a brand new patent busting procedure.
In Kuwait, dozens imprisoned in an effort to stifle online dissent. In the United Arab Emirates, a sentence of 10 months in prison for describing a court hearing without “honesty and in bad faith.” And in Qatar, a draft cybercrime law that threatens the relative freedom of expression enjoyed by residents.
President Obama gave an influential speech on counter terrorism and national security policy last week, and while much of the media coverage discussed the President remarks on Guantanamo prison and drone strikes, buried in the speech was a line just as critical to civil liberties online.
Half way through the speech, Obama said he wanted to “review the authorities of law enforcement, so we can intercept new types of communication, and build in privacy protections to prevent abuse.”
This week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation received a generous donation of 726 bitcoins – worth $95,070.73 in United States dollars. See the blockchain transaction here.
This is in addition to over $7,000 USD we've received through Bitcoin donations in the last couple weeks.
We wanted to extend our heartfelt appreciation to the Bitcoin community for its steadfast support of our work and explain the unique story behind this particular donation. Above all, we want to commit to using this donation to promote liberty in the digital world. We’ll be using this money to support our impact litigation, advocacy, and technical projects that defend individual privacy, combat government surveillance, support free expression, and promote innovation.