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December 2, 2013 - 10:40am 77796

When a group of students from Iowa State University (ISU) contacted us earlier this month about forming an ISU Digital Freedom group, they were facing an unexpected problem: despite their simple goal of fostering a healthy conversation around freedom-enhancing software, the university administration denied them official recognition. The university has since granted the Digital Freedom group the green-light to meet on campus, but under unduly restrictive conditions. These students’ story is instructive to students around the country and the world who are concerned about online privacy.

December 2, 2013 - 1:37pm 77800

A US citizen has become the first foreigner to be charged under the United Arab Emirates' "cybercrime" decree for a satirical video about young people in Dubai.  Shezanne Casim, an Abu Dhabi resident, was arrested in April and charged with, among other things, violating Article 28 of the cybercrimes law, which bans "using information technology to publish caricatures that are 'liable to endanger state security and its higher interestes or infringe on public order'" and is punishable by imprisonment and a fine of up to 1 million dirhams (approximately 272,000 USD).  The law came into effect more than one month after the video* was posted.

December 2, 2013 - 2:38pm 77805

We were disheartened to hear late last week that prominent Egyptian blogger, activist, and friend of EFF Alaa Abd El Fattah was arrested again. According to reports, Abd El Fattah's home was searched, his laptops seized, and wife Manal Hassan beaten by authorities when she demanded to see a warrant.  Their two-year-old child was asleep in the next room at the time.  On Dec. 1, his detention was extended by 15 days.

December 3, 2013 - 8:00am 77812

This week, the full House of Representatives will vote on the Innovation Act (H.R. 3309), the best troll-killing bill we've seen so far. This is a big deal: patent reform is sorely needed.

The bill passed out of the House Judiciary Committee two weeks ago with a strong, bipartisan 33-5 vote. Now that it's facing the whole House, it's time to mobilize.

Use our tool to call your representative and tell him or her to support the Innovation Act. (You can also email your member of Congress and urge them to support the bill.)

December 3, 2013 - 8:06am 77794

Just because a jogger can see the outside of your home on a public street doesn’t mean you’ve surrendered all your privacy expectations in the home. However, that seemingly obvious concept is being put to the test in a federal criminal case in Washington state, which involves the constitutionality of using a camera mounted on a pole outside a house to allow the police to watch the home for almost a month. Senior District Court Judge Edward Shea invited EFF to submit an amicus brief in the case and Monday we filed our brief, arguing prolonged warrantless video surveillance violates the Fourth Amendment

December 3, 2013 - 3:26pm 78150

Year in ReviewAs the year draws to a close, EFF is looking back at the major trends influencing digital rights in 2013 and discussing where we are in the fight for free expression, innovation, fair use, and privacy. Click here to read other blog posts in this series.

December 3, 2013 - 6:08pm 77830

As we did last year and the year before, EFF welcomes the winter season with a new wishlist of some things we'd love to have happen for the holidays—for us and for all Internet users. These are some of the actions we'd most like to see from companies, governments, organizations, and individuals in the new year.

December 4, 2013 - 11:52am 77855

In the next few days, the United Nations General Assembly will vote on a draft resolution reaffirming the right to privacy in the digital age.

The draft resolution passed out of the UN third committee last week with a strong support of 50 Member States. Now that it's facing the whole 193-members of the United Nations General Assembly, it's time for you to tell the world leaders that #privacyisaright. Take action and sign the 13 Principles to end the vast collection of data of innocent individuals at home and abroad.

December 4, 2013 - 9:35pm 77871

Privacy is due for an upgrade. Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation joins a nationwide day of action calling for reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), the 1986 law used by the government to access your online documents, messages, and emails stored in the cloud without a warrant.

December 5, 2013 - 9:46am 77877

Good news! Today, the House of Representatives voted 325-91 in favor of the Innovation Act, the best troll-killing bill we've seen yet. And earlier this week the White House put out a strong statement in support of the legislation. All that's left is the Senate, which has promised to take up the issue before the end of this year.

December 5, 2013 - 4:02pm 77884
Hoy, el Congreso Mexicano adoptó - por primera vez en la historia de este país - un Código Nacional de Procedimientos Penales que incluye disposiciones relacionadas a la vigilancia de las comunicaciones. Si bien hubo amplia participación en el proceso legislativo por parte de la sociedad civil mexicana (quienes a su vez presentaron a los legisladores los  Principios Internacionales sobre la Aplicación de los Derechos Humanos a la Vigilancia de las Comunicaciones), lamentablemente al final del día los legisladores mexicanos dejaron de lado los estándares internacionales de derechos humanos.
December 5, 2013 - 5:19pm 77888

An article yesterday in the Washington Post disclosed the NSA's massive cell phone location program. The program, codenamed CO-TRAVELER, is designed to track who meets with whom and covers everyone who carries a cell phone, all around the world.

With neither public debate nor court authorization, CO-TRAVELER collects billions of records daily of cell phone user location information. It maps the relationships of cell phone users across global mobile network cables, gathering data about who you are physically with and how often your movements intersect with other cell phone users. The program even tracks when your phone is turned on or off.

December 6, 2013 - 10:12am 77895

Patent reform is moving along nicely on Capitol Hill, but today we got some more really big news. The Supreme Court has agreed to take on the question of patentable subject matter. Specifically, it's time to talk about software patents.

December 6, 2013 - 8:37pm 77899

Stephanie Lenz’s effort to hold Universal Music Group accountable for abusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) to take down a home video of her toddler “dancing” to Prince in the kitchen is one step closer to fruition. Today, EFF and co-counsel Keker & Van Nest LLP filed an opening brief on behalf of Ms. Lenz in the federal Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. And, as we explain in the brief, the case concerns whether Internet users—from Ms. Lenz to remix artists to scholars to documentary filmmakers—have any real protection against wrongful accusations of copyright infringement.

December 8, 2013 - 2:49pm 77902

For several weeks now, former Navy chaplain and Colorado Assembly candidate Gordon Klingenschmitt has been on a campaign to shut down the YouTube account of People for the American Way's Right Wing Watch (“RWW”) project. RWW reports and comments on the political views of folks like Klingenschmitt, using their own words. As we all learned in Writing 101: show, don’t tell.

Klingenschmitt apparently doesn’t appreciate the criticism those clips engender, so he’s been using false copyright claims to get them taken down. Now, with help from EFF and Hogan Lovells, PFAW is fighting back, demanding that Klingenschmitt end his campaign.

December 9, 2013 - 3:15pm 77901

Today, EFF—along with Engine, the App Developers Alliance, and Public Knowledge—filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to retain some sanity in the law and tighten up the rules around fee shifting. Fee shifting, sometimes called "loser pays," is already in the Patent Act. While the statute currently says that "the court in exceptional cases may award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party," the Federal Circuit has created a standard that makes this law essentially meaningless—fees are granted in but the smallest fraction of cases.

December 9, 2013 - 3:52pm 77914

Today, there are full-page advertisements running in the New York Times, Washington Post, Politico, Roll Call, and The Hill. They all have the same message: big tech companies are calling on Congress to rein in the mass surveillance. You can read the full message on the newly-launched Reform Government Surveillance site.

This is a victory for users—with the companies taking a giant step forward in supporting their customers’ rights. The five basic principles they announced today include:

December 10, 2013 - 2:44pm 77934

Commercial unmanned aerial systems are set to start flying over US airspace in 2015. In November, the Federal Aviation Administration released its final privacy rules for the six drone “test sites” that the agency will use to evaluate how drones will be integrated into domestic air traffic. These new privacy requirements were issued just days after Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced a new bill, the Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act, intended to codify essential privacy and transparency requirements within the FAA's regulatory framework for domestic drones and drone test sites.

December 10, 2013 - 5:01pm 77940

Despite the U.S. Trade Representative's concerted efforts to push through a deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) will not be completed by the self-imposed deadline of the end of this year. That announcement, made in Singapore today at a closed press conference, is welcome: the U.S. Trade Representative's accelerated timeline has served as yet another means of restricting transparency, and a key pressure point in its campaign to get the U.S. Congress to abdicate its oversight role by granting "fast track authority." If you're in the U.S., you can contact your legislators and tell them to oppose that effort.

December 10, 2013 - 7:13pm 77944

Here’s the deal: right now, there’s a petition demanding reform to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (known by its acronym, ECPA), a would-be privacy law passed in 1986. The Justice Department has argued this outdated law gives them the right to read your old emails and the documents you store in the cloud with a simple subpoena, rather than a judge-issued warrant. That’s crazy—and unconstitutional—but we’ve got a chance to fix it.  If we can get 100,000 signatures on this petition before December 12, President Obama will be forced to go on the record on this issue.

December 11, 2013 - 11:52am 77942

Alarming information about just how frequently law enforcement officials across the country (not to mention the NSA) are trying to get cell phone data, including your location, seem to be published in the news media every day.  With these privacy concerns in mind, last week we filed an amicus brief in the Connecticut Appellate Court in State v. Smith, urging it to find the state police violated the Fourth Amendment when it obtained cell tower records without a search warrant.

December 11, 2013 - 1:33pm 77962

Yesterday, we learned that the NSA is using Google cookies—the same cookies used for advertisements and search preferences—to track users for surveillance purposes.

These Google cookies—known as “PREF” cookies—last two years and can uniquely identify you. Sniffing one off the Internet as it goes past allows the NSA to recognize your browser whenever you interact with Google from any location or network. Every person who visits a Google site will receive a PREF cookie, regardless of whether they log in or even have an account with Google. Using Google Search without logging in tags you for two years, and that unique tag is sent over the network every time you search even if it’s on a different network (or in a different country).

December 11, 2013 - 4:23pm 77973

We've just seen some amazing reports from the Washington Post about just a few ways NSA is tracking people around the Internet and the physical world. These newly-revealed techniques hijacked personal information that was being transmitted for some commercial purpose, converting it into a tool for surveillance. One technique involved web cookies, while another involved mobile apps disclosing their location to location-based services.

December 11, 2013 - 6:10pm 77717
Update 2013-12-13: it turns out this feature was removed in the recent Android 4.4.2 release :(. You can still get it if you install cyanogenmod or if you have a rooted device, but mainstream Android users are out of luck.

To date, there has been no way to run apps on Android with real and reliable privacy controls. Android version 4.3 and higher take a huge step in the right direction, letting users install apps while denying some of the apps' attempts to collect the user's data.

December 12, 2013 - 11:36pm 77985

Yesterday, we published a blog post lauding an extremely important app privacy feature that was added in Android 4.3. That feature allows users to install apps while preventing the app from collecting sensitive data like the user's location or address book.

The App Ops interface removed in Android 4.4.2

December 13, 2013 - 4:59am 78013

Last week, a United Nations Rights Tribunal condemned the Vietnamese government for the arbitrary detention of Le Quoc Quan, a prominent lawyer, blogger, and human rights activist who has been imprisoned since December 27, 2012.  EFF submitted a petition in March of this year with 11 other advocacy groups calling on the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to determine that Le Quoc Quan’s imprisonment violates international legal standards. This UN condemnation comes at a critical moment as the Communist Vietnamese government’s crackdown on activists, bloggers, and dissidents has been on the rise in 2012 and 2013.

December 13, 2013 - 4:04pm 78034

In Lenz v. Universal Music Group – aka the dancing baby case – EFF and co-counsel Keker & Van Nest, LLP have waged a long battle on behalf of homemaker Stephanie Lenz to ensure that Internet users have protection from unfounded claims of copyright infringement. Today, a broad array of third parties joined the fray, and we couldn’t be more pleased to have their support.

December 16, 2013 - 10:22am 77961

There are any number of controversial proposals in the leaked text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) chapter on intellectual property. Here’s one that’s not getting enough attention: the TPP appears to contain yet another attempt to undermine "termination rights," which grant artists the ability to regain control over copyrights they've assigned away after 35 years.

December 16, 2013 - 12:37pm 78050

Public data that has been generated or commissioned by government bodies should always be available to the public without restrictions on its use by copyright or other laws. That's the spirit behind excluding works authored by the federal government from copyright restrictions, and the strong legal precedent that the law itself cannot be copyrighted. EFF has now joined a growing list of organizations and individuals supporting a set of best practices for federal government agencies that wish to give a clear green light to the reuse of their data.

December 16, 2013 - 3:23pm 78057

In a historic decision, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. today declared that the NSA’s mass phone records surveillance is likely unconstitutional, ruling that the plaintiff’s data should be purged from the system and prohibiting the NSA from collecting further phone records from the plaintiffs.

The case, Klayman v. Obama, undermines the government’s assertions that its bulk surveillance program, which collects virtually every phone record in the United States, is legal. Judge Richard Leon found the “[b]ulk telephony metadata collection and analysis almost certainly does violate a reasonable expectation of privacy," which, in turn, likely results in a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

December 16, 2013 - 4:49pm 78035

At the end of each year, EFF puts together a list of some of the interesting and noteworthy books that have been published in the past 12 months or so. We don't endorse all of their arguments, but we find they've added some valuable insight to the conversation around the areas and issues on which we work.

Some notes about this list: it's presented in alphabetical order by author's last name, and the links contain our Amazon affiliate code, which means EFF will receive a portion of purchases made through this page.

The Internet Police: How Crime Went Online, and the Cops Followed, by Nate Anderson

December 17, 2013 - 10:34am 78046

Last Monday, eight of the largest Internet companies took the unprecedented step of publicly calling for an end to bulk collection of communications data. Then on Tuesday, a coalition of over 550 of the world’s leading authors (including 5 Nobel prize winners) issued a statement calling for a reassertion of our digital privacy. In the next few days, the United Nations General Assembly is expected to pass a key privacy resolution.

December 17, 2013 - 2:19pm 78039

In a region where censorship is the norm, Morocco has always stood out for its nominally free press, and mostly free Internet. But in the past year, that freedom has been repeatedly challenged, most recently when editor Ali Anouzla was imprisoned under terrorism charges for linking to a news article that linked to a YouTube video. Now, the latest threat to face Moroccans is the Code Numérique, a draft bill that would impose additional restrictions on the country's Internet. I interviewed activist Zineb Belmkaddem and the lawyer pseudonymously known as @IbnKafka to get their take on the threats Moroccan Internet users now face.

December 17, 2013 - 5:24pm 78084

Last week, facing pressure from the Federal Communications Commission, the major wireless carriers promised to unlock mobile devices so that they can be used on other carriers' networks when the customer's contract has expired. This follows the outcry early this year over the Library of Congress's decision to remove legal protection against Digital Millennium Copyright Act suits for people who unlock their devices to change carriers.

December 18, 2013 - 9:33am 78086

Fifty-four civil liberties and public interest groups sent a letter to Congressional leadership today opposing S. 1631, the FISA Improvements Act. The bill, promoted by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), seeks to legalize and extend NSA mass surveillance programs, including the classified phone records surveillance program confirmed by documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden this summer.

December 18, 2013 - 1:14pm 78091

The President's Review Group today recognized the severe risks caused by the government's mass spying on Americans and people around the world, joining the global consensus that the NSA has gone too far. The group's report included over 40 recommendations for promoting transparency, protecting online security tools, and making organizational reforms to the NSA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and the civil liberties oversight bodies. However, the report left open the door for future mass surveillance and failed to address the constitutionality of the NSA's mass spying, recently questioned by the DC federal court and raised by EFF in its multiple lawsuits.

December 18, 2013 - 2:27pm 78094

Today, the 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly unanimously approved a UN privacy resolution entitled "The right to privacy in the digital age."  The resolution, which was introduced by Brazil and Germany and sponsored by more than 50 member states, is aimed at upholding the right to privacy for everyone at a time when the United States and the United Kingdom have been conducting sweeping mass surveillance on billions of innocent individuals around the world from domestic soil.

December 18, 2013 - 4:15pm 78099

Earlier this month, we joined a small group of thinkers and stakeholders—including Rep. Jared Polis—in Boulder to discuss software patent reform (special thanks to the Foundry Group and Jason Mendelson for hosting!). With the Innovation Act having overwhelmingly passed in the House of Representatives just the day before and the Supreme Court stating it would take up the topic of abstract software patents that morning, the symposium was very timely.

December 19, 2013 - 2:00pm 78111

Shezanne “Shez” Cassim, the American citizen currently detained in the UAE for uploading a satirical video to YouTube, remains in a maximum security prison in Abu Dhabi, the judgment in his case postponed for the sixth time.

As we previously wrote, Cassim faces charges under Article 28 of the UAE’s arcane cybercrimes law, instituted in November 2012, one month after he posted the video.  The law has been widely condemned by human rights organizations.

December 19, 2013 - 6:06pm 78117

When you read a book or an article on your Android device, how much power—and access to your personal data—are you giving the app? A new comparison of 17 of the most popular reader apps, compiled by Matt Bernius, answers that question, and in some cases users may be revealing much more than they think. Nearly a quarter of the apps tested required access to location information; half of them ask for "phone state and identity", which would let them grab people's phone numbers and IMEI numbers; and a couple can retrieve a list of other running apps.

Android apps are required to specify what sort of access to the phone they can use, but these "permissions requests" screens can be opaque, and without a chart like this one, it can be difficult to tell if there are subtle but legitimate reasons why a particular class of app needs a particular type of permission.

December 20, 2013 - 11:58am 78125

We were pleasantly surprised by Verizon’s announcement this week that it will become the first major telecommunications company to release a transparency report. In early 2014, Verizon will follow in the footsteps of companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple, and will finally adopt this best practice and begin to tell its customers, and the American public, the details about how often law enforcement comes knocking with requests for user data. Verizon’s welcome announcement came the same day that Google updated its transparency report, which it has regularly released since 2010. Google's latest report details significant and troubling increases in government requests to remove content from the Internet.

December 20, 2013 - 12:56pm 77989

We've certainly learned a lot this year about the surveillance state. Thanks to the cache of intelligence documents leaked by Edward Snowden, as well as the hoards of legal records we liberated through our Freedom of Information Act lawsuits, we've had immense amounts of new information to consume and process. But how many of the details do you remember? It's time for a pop quiz.

And Dec. 21 just happens to be the 100th anniversary of the crossword puzzle.

December 21, 2013 - 4:21pm 78146

U.S. government intelligence officials late last night released some previously secret declarations submitted to the court in Jewel v. NSA — EFF's long-running case challenging the NSA's domestic surveillance program – plus a companion case, Shubert v. Obama.  The documents were released pursuant to the court’s order.

December 23, 2013 - 12:17pm 78153

More than two years into the Syrian conflict, the violence continues both on the ground and in the digital realm. Just as human rights investigators and weapons inspectors search for evidence of chemical weapons, EFF, and the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab have been collecting, dissecting, and documenting malicious software deployed against the Syrian opposition.

December 23, 2013 - 1:01pm 78120

The historic decision handed down by D.C. federal judge Richard Leon last week that found the NSA's bulk collection of phone records likely violated the Fourth Amendment is a crucial first step towards protecting digital privacy from suspicionless government searches. But the importance of the decision extends beyond the NSA's surveillance programs. Judge Leon made two important findings on how the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches should apply at a time when technology can make invasive surveillance -- once considered the stuff of science fiction -- a part of every day life. 

December 25, 2013 - 2:34pm 77988

As the year draws to a close, EFF is looking back at the major trends influencing digital rights in 2013 and discussing where we are in the fight for free expression, innovation, fair use, and privacy. Click here to read other blog posts in this series.

December 25, 2013 - 4:00pm 77937

When it comes to the fight for free expression and privacy in technology, 2013 changed everything.

December 26, 2013 - 4:13pm 78151

2013 in ReviewAs the year draws to a close, EFF is looking back at the major trends influencing digital rights in 2013 and discussing where we are in the fight for free expression, innovation, fair use, and privacy. Click here to read other blog posts in this series.

We've been saying for years that copyright law is broken. 2013 saw the beginning of what could be a meaningful effort to fix it – if Internet users pay attention and stay involved.

December 26, 2013 - 5:03pm 78118

As the year draws to a close, EFF is looking back at the major trends influencing digital rights in 2013 and discussing where we are in the fight for free expression, innovation, fair use, and privacy. Click here to read other blog posts in this series.

There is probably no bigger story in 2013 than that the American people having learned about the secret mass spying programs of the National Security Agency (NSA).

December 27, 2013 - 11:10am 78177

After the D.C. District Court found the NSA’s record collection program unconstitutional just last week, we are obviously disappointed and disagree with Judge Wiliam H. Pauley’s decision in ACLU v. Clapper today. Among other things, the decision relied on government justifications for the program that have been repeatedly disproven, and a 30-year-old Supreme Court decision concerning the call records of a single person over a matter of weeks. Neither provides a legitimate basis for the NSA to vacuum up the call records of hundreds of millions of Americans without any suspicion of wrongdoing, and to keep and search those records for 5 years. EFF filed an amicus brief in the ACLU case on behalf of Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the author of the Patriot Act.


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