Deeplinks

January 2, 2014 - 3:25pm 78116

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.

January 2, 2014 - 6:05pm 78033

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.

January 3, 2014 - 11:22am 78179

Much of the debate over modern surveillance—including the NSA mass spying controversy—has centered around whether people can reasonably expect that records about their telephone and Internet activity can remain private when those records belong to someone else: the service providers. Courts have disagreed on whether the 1979 Supreme Court case Smith v. Maryland, which ruled people have no expectation of privacy in the phone numbers they dial, should be extended to cover newer, more invasive forms of technology.

January 7, 2014 - 10:39am 78287

A rare opportunity to change the path of copyright in Europe has emerged, but there's not much time to take advantage of it. The European Commission (EC) has opened up for public comment copyright policy across the European Union for the first time in 15 years. This means that, for once, students, artists, librarians, businesses, Internet users, and everyone in between will have an equal chance to influence future proposals for copyright legislation in Europe.

The Commission's 80-question “Public Consultation on the Review of the EU Copyright Rules,” attempts to cover all areas of users' and creators' experiences. The survey was not widely publicized, and the Commission only gave 60 days (including the winter holidays!) for your comments. The final deadline is Feb. 5th (UPDATE: the deadline has been extended to Mar. 5).

January 7, 2014 - 12:58pm 78051

Last week, press reports revealed more about the National Security Agency's (NSA) elite hacking unit, the Office of Tailored Access Operations (TAO). The press also helped the public grasp other NSA activities, like how it's weakening encryption.

January 8, 2014 - 4:14pm 78297

While 2013 was a banner year in the fight against secret surveillance law, the fight in 2014 got off to an unfortunate start. Last Friday, in a case brought by EFF, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. ruled (pdf) that the Department of Justice could withhold from the public a secret legal opinion of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC).

January 10, 2014 - 7:19am 78309

Somali rebel group (and US-designated terrorist organization) Al Shabaab has reportedly banned the use of the Internet through mobile handsets and fiber optic cables throughout Somalia, giving telecommunications companies 15 days to comply with the order.

Connectivity in Somalia is low, but growing: fiber optics were introduced to the country last year, and 22.5 percent of the population has a mobile phone subscription. However, only 1.38 percent of the country's population uses the Internet, according to a 2012 statistic from the International Telecommunications Union.

January 10, 2014 - 8:50am 78302

In January 2006, EFF filed our first lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of NSA mass surveillance.

In January 2012, the Internet rose up to protest and defeat SOPA, legislation that sought to censor the Internet in the name of copyright enforcement.

And in January of last year, we lost a dear friend and fierce digital rights advocate, Aaron Swartz. We vowed to defend the rights of Internet users everywhere in his memory.

Now we have a new challenge: ending mass surveillance by the NSA.

January 10, 2014 - 11:05am 78314

U.S. Congress members introduced a bill yesterday to “fast track” trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) through Congress. If passed, lawmakers would only have a small window of time to conduct hearings over binding trade provisions and give an up-or-down vote on ratification without any ability to amend the terms before they bind the U.S. government. This legal arrangement is at odds with the spirit of the Constitution, which gives Congress authority over U.S. trade policy. Fast track authority (also known as Trade Promotion Authority or TPA) means that Congress hands that power over to the White House and the U.S. Trade Representative.

January 10, 2014 - 12:09pm 78317

Shezanne Cassim, the US citizen charged under the UAE's Cybercrime Act and sentenced to a year in prison, has returned home. According to a statement from the US Department of State, Cassim was released and deported after getting credit against his sentence for time served and for "good behavior."

Upon returning home to Minnesota, Cassim spoke out against the actions of the UAE's government: "Due to the political situation there, they're scared of democracy. They wanted to send a message to the UAE public, saying, 'Look what we'll do to people who do just a silly YouTube video, so imagine if you do something that's actually critical of the government.' It's a warning message, and we're scapegoats."

January 10, 2014 - 12:16pm 78298

In the next week or two, President Obama will give a press briefing where he plans to announce his plans to reform the NSA's spying activities—which include the collection of users' phone calls, emails, address books, buddy lists,

January 10, 2014 - 6:02pm 78304

One year ago, we lost Aaron Swartz, a dear friend and a leader in the fight for a free and open Internet. The shock was, and remains, a profound one. It's a testament to the power of his commitments and ideals that both in life and in death he has inspired millions around the world, including all of us at EFF, to redouble our own efforts to advance the causes that he believed in, and to untangle the twisted and brutal computer crime laws that were used to persecute him.

Aaron was a passionate activist, but he also stood out as a technologist whose ambitions were always aligned towards a better, more just future. His pioneering work demonstrated a passion for harnessing technology to advance the public interest. As the Internet community confronted massive new challenges to free speech and privacy in 2013, there were many moments when we wondered quietly about what Aaron would have said and done.

January 10, 2014 - 7:11pm 78343

The report from the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies on the U.S. government’s mass spying—domestically and around the globe— has much that’s good in it. As the folks handling the only ongoing case where National Security Letters have been declared unconstitutional, we also especially appreciate the recommendation that NSLs may only be issued after judicial review and subject to significant additional limitations. We appreciate their strong endorsement of strong, non-backdoored encryption. And we never thought we’d see a presidential panel explain the risks posed by the government’s stockpiling of Zero Days rather than making sure that they are fixed.

January 13, 2014 - 1:33am 78359

In the week leading up the two-year anniversary of the SOPA blackout protests, EFF and others are talking about key principles that should guide copyright policy. Every day, we'll take on a different piece, exploring what’s at stake and and what we need to do to make sure the law promotes creativity and innovation. We've put together a page where you can read and endorse the principles yourself. Let's send a message to DC, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Brussels, and wherever else folks are making new copyright rules: We're from the Internet, and we're here to help.

January 13, 2014 - 7:48am 78350

In the week leading up the two-year anniversary of the SOPA blackout protests, EFF and others are talking about key principles that should guide copyright policy. Every day, we'll take on a different piece, exploring what’s at stake and and what we need to do to make sure the law promotes creativity and innovation. We've put together a page where you can read and endorse the principles yourself. Let's send a message to DC, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Brussels, and wherever else folks are making new copyright rules: We're from the Internet, and we're here to help.

January 13, 2014 - 8:07am 78358

Last Friday the Supreme Court granted certiorari in three important cases. This means a busy spring for EFF as we will likely file amicus briefs in all of them.

January 14, 2014 - 4:47am 78370

In the week leading up the two-year anniversary of the SOPA blackout protests, EFF and others are talking about key principles that should guide copyright policy. Every day, we'll take on a different piece, exploring what’s at stake and and what we need to do to make sure the law promotes creativity and innovation. We've put together a page where you can read and endorse the principles yourself. Let's send a message to DC, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Brussels, and wherever else folks are making new copyright rules: We're from the Internet, and we're here to help.

January 14, 2014 - 9:10am 78378

Patent trolls are having a bad week. Today the New York Attorney General announced it had reached a settlement with MPHJ, the so-called scanner troll. That deal, not entirely unlike the one already in place in Minnesota, is great news for New Yorkers who have found themselves facing the notorious patent troll as well as anyone planning to do business in the Empire State. The settlement itself requires that the scanner troll actually investigate before it sends threatening demand letters and prohibits it from bothering businesses it has already contacted. Even better, the settlement allows those who've already taken a license from MPHJ to get a refund.

January 14, 2014 - 2:46pm 78394

In the week leading up the two-year anniversary of the SOPA blackout protests, EFF and others are talking about key principles that should guide copyright policy. Every day, we'll take on a different piece, exploring what’s at stake and and what we need to do to make sure the law promotes creativity and innovation. We've put together a page where you can read and endorse the principles yourself. Let's send a message to DC, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Brussels, and wherever else folks are making new copyright rules: We're from the Internet, and we're here to help.

January 14, 2014 - 3:10pm 78376

In the week leading up the two-year anniversary of the SOPA blackout protests, EFF and others are talking about key principles that should guide copyright policy. Every day, we'll take on a different piece, exploring what’s at stake and and what we need to do to make sure the law promotes creativity and innovation. We've put together a page where you can read and endorse the principles yourself. Let's send a message to DC, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Brussels, and wherever else folks are making new copyright rules: We're from the Internet, and we're here to help.

January 14, 2014 - 6:01pm 78403

To the extent there's a poster child for patent abuse, it's MPHJ, the infamous "scanner troll." This week's revelations show us for the first time just how much damage the patent troll has caused. Hint: it's a lot.

MPHJ owns a handful of patents, which it claims covers the basic technology for scanning documents to email. You read that right—simply scanning documents to email.

January 14, 2014 - 7:16pm 78384

Customs & Border Protection recently “discovered” additional daily flight logs that show the agency has flown its drones on behalf of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies on 200 more occasions more than previously released records indicated.

January 15, 2014 - 10:00am 78375

Google recently unveiled a feature that consolidates their products even further. Now you will receive an email in your Gmail inbox if someone sends a message to your Google Plus account, even if they don't know your email address.

January 15, 2014 - 10:40am 78406

In the week leading up the two-year anniversary of the SOPA blackout protests, EFF and others are talking about key principles that should guide copyright policy. Every day, we'll take on a different piece, exploring what’s at stake and and what we need to do to make sure the law promotes creativity and innovation. We've put together a page where you can read and endorse the principles yourself. Let's send a message to DC, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Brussels, and wherever else folks are making new copyright rules: We're from the Internet, and we're here to help.

January 15, 2014 - 8:52pm 78420

UPDATE: We've filled out the scorecard following the speech. More analysis to follow.

January 16, 2014 - 10:28am 78424

In the week leading up the two-year anniversary of the SOPA blackout protests, EFF and others are talking about key principles that should guide copyright policy. Every day, we'll take on a different piece, exploring what’s at stake and and what we need to do to make sure the law promotes creativity and innovation. We've put together a page where you can read and endorse the principles yourself. Let's send a message to DC, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Brussels, and wherever else folks are making new copyright rules: We're from the Internet, and we're here to help.

January 16, 2014 - 12:30pm 78430

The US Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing this morning on the new "fast track" bill that was introduced last week. The bill, formally called the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014 or TPA 2014 for short, would have Congress "fast track," or hand over its power over US trade policy, to the White House. In practice, this means elected representatives would have even less oversight, control, and authority over secretive agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

January 16, 2014 - 3:19pm 78438
Click to view image full-size.

Este viernes, el Presidente Barack Obama anunciará los potenciales cambios y reformas que hará a la Agencia de Seguridad Nacional (NSA, por sus siglas en inglés). ¿Qué podemos esperar? Muchas personas se muestran escépticas a la posibilidad que el Presidente vaya a crear límites significativos a las prácticas de la NSA de rastrear las comunicaciones digitales de millones de personas en todo el mundo y más proclives a creer que en lugar de detener realmente el espionaje apenas podría hacer declaraciones pidiendo más transparencia o capas adicionales de supervisión burocrática. Básicamente; esquivar el tema más importante que podía atender para mostrar su liderazgo: controlar la vigilancia del gobierno.

January 16, 2014 - 4:15pm 78440

Just in time for Copyright Week, we're celebrating a huge win for the open access movement. Today, Congress passed the 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. For the most part, it focuses on government spending and budget cuts we've seen covered in the news. But the bill also contains important language (PDF) promoting public access to federally funded research, making sure that taxpayers get a real return their investment.

January 17, 2014 - 9:46am 78467

President Obama this morning announced a series of reforms his administration will support to rein in surveillance abuses by the National Security Agency.

January 17, 2014 - 10:56am 78470

In the week leading up the two-year anniversary of the SOPA blackout protests, EFF and others are talking about key principles that should guide copyright policy. Every day, we'll take on a different piece, exploring what’s at stake and and what we need to do to make sure the law promotes creativity and innovation. We've put together a page where you can read and endorse the principles yourself. Let's send a message to DC, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Brussels, and wherever else folks are making new copyright rules: We're from the Internet, and we're here to help.

January 17, 2014 - 4:00pm 78475

President Barack Obama delivered a speech this morning on proposed reforms to the NSA’s mass surveillance program. To help illustrate what human rights and other organizations around the world are saying internationally, we have highlighted some excerpts that raise awareness of the need to protect the privacy rights of everyone everywhere, regardless of national boundaries:

Cindy Cohn, legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

”Mass non-targeted surveillance violates international human rights law. It is disproportionate because it sweeps up the communications and communications records of million of innocent people first and only sorts out second what is actually needed. Obama’s reforms take a step forward in recognizing that foreigners deserve at least some privacy, but to be consistent with the rule of law, the NSA must be forbidden from engaging in mass, untargeted surveillance in the U.S. or abroad.”

January 17, 2014 - 4:13pm 78476

Earlier today, President Obama announced a series of reforms to address abuses by the National Security Agency. We were heartened to see Obama recognized that the NSA has gone too far in trampling the privacy rights of people worldwide. In his speech, the President ensured that National Security Letters would not come with perpetual gag orders, brought new levels of transparency and fairness to the FISA court, and ended bulk collection of telephone records by the NSA. However, there is still much more to be done.

We’ve put together a scorecard showing how Obama’s announcements stack up against 12 common sense fixes that should be a minimum for reforming NSA surveillance. Each necessary reform was worth 1 point, and we were willing to award partial credit for steps in the right direction. On that scale, President Obama racked up 3.5 points out of a possible 12.

January 18, 2014 - 10:39am 78479

In the week leading up the two-year anniversary of the SOPA blackout protests, EFF and others are talking about key principles that should guide copyright policy. Every day, we'll take on a different piece, exploring what’s at stake and what we need to do to make sure the law promotes creativity and innovation. We've put together a page where you can read and endorse the principles yourself. Let's send a message to DC, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Brussels, and wherever else folks are making new copyright rules: We're from the Internet, and we're here to help.

January 18, 2014 - 10:40am 78478

In the week leading up the two-year anniversary of the SOPA blackout protests, EFF and others are talking about key principles that should guide copyright policy. Every day, we'll take on a different piece, exploring what’s at stake and what we need to do to make sure the law promotes creativity and innovation. We've put together a page where you can read and endorse the principles yourself. Let's send a message to DC, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Brussels, and wherever else folks are making new copyright rules: We're from the Internet, and we're here to help.

January 18, 2014 - 12:29pm 78483

In the week leading up the two-year anniversary of the SOPA blackout protests, EFF and others are talking about key principles that should guide copyright policy. Every day, we'll take on a different piece, exploring what’s at stake and and what we need to do to make sure the law promotes creativity and innovation. We've put together a page where you can read and endorse the principles yourself. Let's send a message to DC, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Brussels, and wherever else folks are making new copyright rules: We're from the Internet, and we're here to help.

January 19, 2014 - 12:22pm 78485

As encryption has become more prevalent in online communications as a countermeasure against surveillance, attackers have sought to circumvent these measures by covertly installing malware on targeted computers that can log keystrokes, remotely spy on users with their own webcams, record Skype calls, and listen in on the computer’s built-in microphone. Sometimes the attacker is a criminal, such as the hacker who used a remote access tool (RAT) to take blackmail photos of Miss Teen USA. Sometimes the attacker is acting in support of a state, like the pro-Assad hackers whose malware campaigns against opposition supporters EFF has been tracking for the last two years. Sometimes the attacker is the government or a law enforcement agency.

January 22, 2014 - 12:34pm 75900

Update, January 2014: Polls continue to confirm the trend. In a poll conducted in December 2013 by the Washington Post, 66% of Americans were concerned "about the collection and use of [their] personal information by the National Security Agency." Americans aren't only concerned about the collection. A recent Pew poll found—yet again—that a majority of Americans oppose the government's collection of phone and Internet data as a part of anti-terrorism efforts.

January 22, 2014 - 11:21pm 78511
#FreeAlaa

The military “interim government” in Egypt is cracking down on virtually all meaningful form of assembly, association, or opposition.

Following the passage of a November 2013 law banning peaceful protest, dozens of activists and organizers have been sent to prison. Among them is Alaa Abd El Fattah, software guru, blogger and political activist.

On the night of November 28th, security forces raided Alaa’s home, beat him and his wife when asked to see their warrant, and took and held him overnight, blindfolded and handcuffed, in an unknown location. Currently, he is held at Tora Prison, Egypt’s notorious maximum security detention center, historically used to house men suspected of violent crimes and terrorism.

January 23, 2014 - 10:07am 78519

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) today issued a report strongly condemning the NSA’s mass telephone records surveillance program. PCLOB is an independent and bipartisan panel appointed by the president to advise the government on ensuring privacy and civil liberties. The report determined that the program, which the administration claims is authorized under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, is illegal under the terms of that same law and doesn’t actually keep us safe.

The board’s first recommendation says it all:

January 23, 2014 - 4:42pm 78523

Television broadcasters sure seem to like paying legal fees.  In the latest twist in their long-running battle to kill any innovation they don't control, television neworks are trying to stifle DISH Networks' Hopper technology in its infancy.  The technology allows DISH subscribers to temporarily record primetime TV and then watch it, commercial free, for eight days.

Having lost their battle to shut the service down in federal district court, and an appeals court, the networks are looking for help from yet another appeals court.   

January 27, 2014 - 8:00am 78554

Network neutrality—the idea that Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data that travels over their networks equally—is a principle that EFF strongly supports. However, the power to enforce equal treatment on the Internet can easily become the power to control the Internet in less beneficent ways. Some people have condemned last week’s court decision to reject the bulk of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Open Internet Order as a threat to Internet innovation and openness. Others hailed it as a victory against dangerous government regulation of the Internet. Paradoxically, there is a lot of truth to both of these claims.

January 27, 2014 - 2:49pm 78566

One of the many ways EFF is fighting illegal NSA spying is in our lawsuit First Unitarian Church v. NSA.  In this case, we represent 24 organizations that want to protect their freedom of association.  We filed a major brief in this case over the weekend detailing how the NSA’s mass collection of phone records has resulted in decreased calls to and from these organizations – an unconstitutional violation of their First Amendment rights.  Our filing came just after the Executive Branch’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) reached the same conclusion, specifically describing the organizations’ injuries as “entirely predictable and rational.”

January 27, 2014 - 4:39pm 78499

The Snowden revelations have confirmed our worst fears about online spying. They show that the NSA and its allies have been building a global surveillance infrastructure to “master the internet” and spy on the world’s communications. These shady groups have undermined basic encryption standards, and riddled the Internet’s backbone with surveillance equipment. They have collected the phone records of hundreds of millions of people none of whom are suspected of any crime. They have swept up the electronic communications of millions of people at home and overseas indiscriminately, exploiting the digital technologies we use to connect and inform. They spy on the population of allies, and share that data with other organizations, all outside the rule of law.

January 27, 2014 - 7:30pm 78583

Today is Data Privacy Day (also known as Data Protection Day), an international festival of our right to control our own personal information and to protect our communications from unchecked surveillance.

It's not been a great year for either belief. Since last year's celebration, the Snowden revelations have exposed how vulnerable private information is from unwarranted inspection by the surveillance state. At the same time, we've seen reports of incident after incident of major privacy breaches at the hands of criminals from large companies. Our personal data seems less secure than ever.

January 28, 2014 - 10:21am 78588

EFF and other public interest groups have sent a letter to lawmakers reiterating our opposition to a “fast track” bill that would restrict Congress ability to have meaningful input into or review trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and others. In particular, we denounce certain “trade objectives” in the bill that encourage a copyright maximalist agenda without upholding fair use rights.

January 30, 2014 - 10:34am 78619

Copyright reform hearings continue to lumber along in the House of Representatives, with Tuesday's in the Judiciary Committee marking the seventh in as many months. This hearing was dedicated to "The Scope of Fair Use," and though the panel of witnesses was more diverse than in some of the earlier hearings, there were still some disappointing trends in the conversation.

One area that got significant attention was the topic of mass digitization, which has been repeatedly determined by courts to be a fair and transformative use. Not only is it fair, but as Professor Peter Jaszi noted during the hearing it is also tremendously beneficial, enabling the indexing and searching of huge sets of works.

January 30, 2014 - 3:44pm 78639

We thought we won the Crypto Wars, the fight to make strong encryption accessible to all, in the 1990s.1 We were wrong.

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