"I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this."
Pete Seeger, 1955, testimony pursuant to subpoena before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
EFF is bringing the security and privacy of HTTPS Everywhere to an important new frontier: your Android phone. As of today, you can install HTTPS Everywhere on Firefox for Android (until now, it could only protect desktop browsers). With HTTPS Everywhere installed, Firefox for Android encrypts thousands of connections from your browser that would otherwise be insecure. This gives Firefox a huge security advantage over every other mobile browser available today.
As the popularity of Bitcoins has increased, government officials are concerned about criminal activity associated with the virtual currency. But a recent subpoena issued by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs to 19-year-old Bitcoin developer and MIT student Jeremy Rubin goes too far, and we're fighting back by moving to quash it.
The patent troll model relies on small businesses and individuals not being able to afford going through a multi-million dollar lawsuit—nor, in many cases, being able to afford legal representation at all.
Free speech is equally important whether it’s shouted in a town square or posted to a personal website. The Supreme Court made that clear way back in 1997 in Reno v. ACLU, but it bears repeating as the Internet matures. Ensuring that online speech isn’t relegated to second-class status when it comes to the First Amendment is at the heart of two amicus briefs just submitted on behalf of EFF and the rock star First Amendment scholars Erwin Chemerinsky and Lyrissa Lidsky in a pair of cases currently before the Texas Supreme Court.
Beginning in 2011, a patent troll named Innovatio IP Ventures, LLP, began a massive shakedown campaign. Armed with some patents purchased from Broadcom, Innovatio sent thousands of letters targeting hotels and cafes that provide Wi-Fi for customers. The troll demanded as much as $2,500 per location. Router manufacturer Cisco stepped in to defend its customers and yesterday settled with Innovatio for just 3.2 cents a unit. The settlement counts as a victory. But we still need reform to stop the next abusive troll.
In 2013, we learned digital surveillance by the world’s governments knows no bounds. The NSA and other investigative agencies are capturing our phone calls, tracking our location, peering into our address books, and collecting our emails. They do this in secret, without adequate public oversight, and in violation of our human rights. We won’t stand for this anymore. On Tuesday February 11, the world is fighting back.
In anticipation of the first united, worldwide action against mass spying, we asked Katarzyna Szymielewicz, co-founder and President of the digital rights organization, Panoptykon Foundation, a signatory to the 13 Principles against mass surveillance, to let the world know how her team is fighting back.
Since 1990, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been fighting to make sure when you go online your rights come with you. For the LGBT community, these rights are especially important.
En 2013, nos enteramos que la vigilancia digital por los gobiernos del mundo no conoce límites. La NSA y otras agencias de investigación vienen capturando nuestras llamadas telefónicas, haciendo seguimiento de nuestra ubicación, escudriñando nuestras libretas de direcciones y haciendo acopio de nuestros correos electrónicos. Lo hacen en secreto, sin la adecuada supervisión pública, y en violación de nuestros derechos humanos. No vamos a tolerar esto más. El martes 11 de febrero, el mundo ha dicho basta.
EFF is proud to be one of the three non-profits selected for CREDO's February giving pool. If you're CREDO customer, vote for EFF on the February ballot to help direct as much as $150,000 to support the defense of digital civil liberties!
Mass surveillance of electronic communications is a vast, new, government intrusion on the privacy of innocent people worldwide. It is a violation of International human rights law. Without checks and balances, its use will continue to spread from country to country, corrupting democracies and empowering dictators.
That’s why, today, on February 11th, around the world, from Argentina to Uganda, from Colombia to the Philippines, the people of the Internet have united to fight back.
Since June, ongoing revelations about the NSA's activities have shown us the expanding scope of government surveillance. Today is the day people around the world are demanding an end to mass spying.
A broad coalition of organizations, companies, and individuals are loudly voicing their stance against unwarranted mass spying—over 6,000 websites have joined together today to demand reform. EFF stands by millions of users—represented by groups like Demand Progress, ACLU, PEN, and Access as well as companies like Google, Twitter, Mozilla, and reddit—to reform governmental collection of innocent users' information.
February 11th is The Day We All Fight Back. From Uganda to Poland, from Colombia to the Philippines, the people of the Internet have united to fight back. The Day We Fight Back’s main international action is to sign and promote the 13 Principles. The 13 Principles outline how communications surveillance can be conducted consistent with human rights and serve as a model for surveillance reform. Over the past year, nearly 370 organizations have come together to support it. Today, these Principles are about to receive their most important endorsement: the people’s.
The Principles make clear:
February 11, 2014—The Day We Fought Back. We started something.
Of course, the battle didn’t begin today. The groups that organized this action have long been pushing hard for real surveillance reform. But we knew that the time was ripe—that the Snowden leaks, unrelenting media pressure, grassroots activism, and even pressure from within Congress—were creating a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give the public—worldwide—the chance to voice its opposition to mass spying. We knew that 6,000+ websites were committing to stand with us in a global day of action, that dozens of advocacy organizations worldwide would fight with us. What we didn’t know was how big today’s stand against mass spying would be.
Academics have joined the fight against mass surveillance. Two open letters were published last month from the academic and research communities. One is signed by U.S. information security and cryptography researchers, and the other is signed by over one thousand scholars from a wide range of disciplines who work in universities all over the world.
This is Michigan Stadium, the largest football stadium by capacity in the United States. It fits 109,901 people.
Imagine two Michigan Stadiums, filled to capacity, with 219,802 people. Imagine that all those people are doing the same thing at the same time—contacting Congress and demanding an end to mass surveillance.
February is Black History Month and that history is intimately linked with surveillance by the federal government in the name of "national security." Indeed, the history of surveillance in the African-American community plays an important role in the debate around spying today and in the calls for a congressional investigation into that surveillance. Days after the first NSA leaks emerged last June, EFF called for a new Church Committee. We mentioned that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the targets of the very surveillance that eventually led to the formation of the first Church Committee.
EFF is offering four pairs of tickets to the sold-out Trustworthy Technology Conference on February 27 in San Francisco, CA. For the next week, we will host auctions for full TrustyCon admission. The winners of the auctions will each receive a year-long EFF Rare Earths Level Membership (normally a $500 contribution level) featuring the renowned NSA Spying hooded sweatshirt. The best part is that every dollar from these auctions will go directly toward funding EFF's digital freedom initiatives, so please bid today.
House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi firmly announced her rejection of the “Fast Track” bill at an event on Wednesday, saying it was “out of the question.” Its passage has become increasingly tenuous since Senate Majority leader Harry Reid came out against it two weeks ago.
UPDATE 2/18/14: After a four-hour trial, Le Quoc Quan's sentence was upheld today. It took 30 minutes for the jury to reach a verdict. EFF condemns this verdict and continues to call for his immediate release.
On February 18, prominent Vietnamese activist and blogger Le Quoc Quan will appear in a Hanoi court to begin the appeal of his politically-motivated October 2013 conviction of evading corporate income tax. The Vietnamese government has pursued a campaign of harassment against Quan for his human rights work since at least 2007, including disbarment, periodic arrests, and an attack by unknown assailants that led to his hospitalization in 2012. The Vietnamese government's latest efforts to silence the human rights lawyers and high-profile blogger began on December 27, 2012, when Quan was arbitrarily arrested and detained while taking his daughter to school.
South Dakota has put forth new legislation to support to a simple principle: if you own something, you ought to be allowed to fix it. The new bill, SB 136, would require manufacturers of electronics and appliances that contain embedded software to make available to consumers and independent repair shops the information and parts they need to repair those devices, and fully disclose any contract provision standing in the way of full repair and reuse.
Another day, another stupid copyright claim silences a lawful use online. Copyright abuse is all too common, but some forms deserve special attention and a place in EFF Takedown Hall of Shame.
EFF submitted a letter to the Oakland City Council opposing the Domain Awareness Center, a surveillance system that would aggregate information from multiple sources across the city—including 35 CCTV cameras, 40 live video surveillance cameras, 25 traffic camera sites, license plate readers, and Oakland’s “[gun]shot spotter” system. The project would also include partnerships with other agencies and intelligence centers, such as the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, a fusion center located in San Francisco that has access to the FBI’s eGuardian database, among others.
Massachusetts police must now get a search warrant before they can track a person's past movements through their cell phone in an important new decision that has implications beyond just cell tracking in the Bay State.
In Commonwealth v. Augustine, state police relied on federal law to obtain an order authorizing the disclosure of two weeks worth of historical cell site records from Sprint in connection with a murder investigation. But the order wasn't a search warrant supported by probable cause. Years after obtaining the records and a criminal case was brought against Augustine, a different judge found the police had violated the Massachusetts state constitution when it failed to get a warrant.
The Australian government may soon introduce major copyright reforms, including the possibility of adding a fair use doctrine similar to that of the United States. Fair use was central among the 30 recommendations to come out of a nearly two-year study by the Australian Law Reform Commission published late last week. As the report states, "Australia is ready for, and needs, a fair use exception now."
UPDATE—February 19, 2014:
According to the Washington Post, just days after the story broke, DHS shelved its plans to create or tap into a national database of license plate recognition data. According to an Immigration & Customs Enforcement spokeswoman, the solicitation "was posted without the awareness of ICE leadership" and "will be reviewed to ensure the path forward appropriately meets [the agency's] operational needs.”
The Intercept recently published an article and supporting documents indicating that the NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ surveilled and even sought to have other countries prosecute the investigative journalism website WikiLeaks. GCHQ also surveilled the millions of people who merely read the WikiLeaks website. The article clarifies the lengths that these two spy organizations go to track their targets and confirms, once again, that they do not confine themselves to spying on those accused of terrorism.
The net neutrality fight is moving in new directions, and quickly. Today FCC Chair Tom Wheeler announced that the FCC would press forward with new “Open Internet” rules, undeterred by last month’s court decision striking down most of the old ones. Last week, Comcast and Time Warner Cable announced plans to merge. The merger would create the largest Internet Service Provider (ISP) in the nation, with five times the subscribers of its closest competitor. With only one or two broadband providers available in most parts of the country, prices may soar while the quality of services plummets. A lack of competition raises serious concerns that huge ISPs will be able to favor particular sites and services.
For the last month, Venezuela has been caught up in widespread protests against its government. The Maduro administration has responded by cracking down on what it claims as being foreign interference online. As that social unrest has escalated, the state's censorship has widened: from the removal of television stations from cable networks, to the targeted blocking of social networking services, and the announcement of new government powers to censor and monitor online. Last night, EFF received reports from Venezuelans of the shutdown of the state Internet provider in San Cristóbal, a regional capital in the west of the country.
The White House updated the nation on its commitment to curtail the patent troll problem and tie up some egregious loose ends in our patent system, announcing progress made on all fronts—as well as three new executive actions. While the Innovation Act (and other patent bills) is pending in the Senate, it is encouraging to see the White House and Patent Office taking steps on their own to address these rampant problems.
The NSA appears to have been involved in the surveillance of privileged attorney-client communications, and the legal community is not happy about it. The New York Times reports that communications between an American law firm and its foreign client may have been among the information one of the NSA’s "five eyes" intelligence partners, the Australian Signals Dictorate, shared with the NSA. The American Bar Association has responded to these allegations by urging the NSA to clarify its procedures for minimizing exposure of privileged information- and rightly so. Surveillance of attorney-client communications is anathema to the fundamental system of justice established by our Constitution.
Congress is scheduled to vote tomorrow on a "phone freedom" bill that is supposed to help solve the cell phone unlocking problem. We're all for phone freedom and we wish we could support the bill. Unfortunately, however, the costs for users outweigh the benefits.
FBI agents arrested a Mexican tycoon named Jose Susumo Azano Matsura at his Coronado, Calif. home on Wednesday as part of a political bribery investigation based on captured emails, seized banking records, and covertly recorded conversations.
The unfolding scandal is soaked in irony: Azano is a surveillance evangelist whose company won a secret, no-bid contract with the Mexican military for computer and mobile phone hacking and spying technology in 2011. He is chairman of a company called Security Tracking Devices SA de CV, and he is now chained to a tracking device—on house arrest.
The U.S. Trade Rep announced last week that it will create a new “Public Interest Trade Advisory Committee,” in an attempt to allow public interest groups to provide more input into U.S. proposals in trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). That aim is important, and underserved by many USTR policies, but this proposal is an inadequate remedy to fix the gross imbalance of influence from corporate interests.
In the latest blow to patent trolls, 42 state and territorial attorneys general—that's right, 42!—wrote a letter today calling on the Senate to pass meaningful patent reform. As the AGs write:
So-called patent trolls stifle innovation and harm our economy by making dubious claims of patent infringement and using the threat of expensive litigation to extort money from small businesses and nonprofits. We have received many complaints from these businesses and nonprofits, our constituents, who are desperate for relief from the misuse of the patent system. While these threats were once focused on tech businesses, they are now levied at all manner of businesses, including banks, hospitals, restaurants and hotels.
Nearly three months since his arrest, the Egyptian blogger, software developer and activist Alaa Abd El Fattah remains imprisoned. Charged in December with organizing a demonstration to protest the failure of the draft constitution in legislating against military court martialing of civilians, Abd El Fattah is awaiting trial in prison.
Open Letter to Tech Companies Includes 10 Principles to Protect Users From NSA Sabotage
In the past nine months, our trust in technology companies has been badly shaken. Today, in collaboration with prominent security researchers and technologists, EFF presents an open letter to technology companies, urging them to protect users from NSA backdoors and earn back the trust that has been lost.
In a win for online fair use and the free speech it makes possible, a federal district court judge has ruled that using a campaign headshot as part of a critical, noncommercial blog post does not infringe copyright.
It's an old legal adage that bad facts lead to bad legal decisions, and today we've got a classic example in Garcia v. Google—the "Innocence of Muslims" case. Based on a copyright claim that is dubious at best, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered Google to take offline a video that is the center of public controversy. We can still talk about it, but we can't see what we are talking about. We're hard-pressed to think of a better example of copyright maximalism trumping free speech.
The Federal District Court in Maryland this week dismissed Du Daobin v. Cisco Systems, a case brought by Chinese dissidents alleging that Cisco knowingly customized, marketed, sold, and provided continued support and service for technologies as part of China's Golden Shield, a digital censorship and surveillance system used by the Chinese government to facilitate human rights abuses. EFF filed an amicus brief urging the court to let the case go forward and we also launched an activism campaign calling on Cisco to stand up for writer Du Daobin and human rights in China.
The only thing standing in the way of patent reform is the United States Senate.
The House passed the Innovation Act in December with a bipartisan 325-91 vote. President Obama has said he'll sign the bill and asked Congress during his State of the Union to "pass a patent reform bill that allows our businesses to stay focused on innovation, not costly and needless litigation."
It's now up to the Senate to help put an end to costly, destructive patent troll litigation and threats. And they need to hear from you: you the inventor, you the entrepreneur, you the investor, and especially you the concerned individual.
Sign this letter urging the Senate to pass meaningful, comprehensive patent reform.
It's time for Congress to follow the Sixth Circuit's lead and update one of the main online privacy laws—the Electronic Privacy Communications Act (ECPA). In the past, the Department of Justice has used the archaic law to obtain private online communications without obtaining a probable cause warrant as the Fourth Amendment requires. A bill co-sponsored by Reps. Kevin Yoder, Tom Graves, and Jared Polis—HR 1852, The Email Privacy Act—seeks to update ECPA by requiring a probable cause warrant whenever the government wants to access your online private messages.
We've made considerable progress in our fight against patent trolls. The House, you may remember, resoundingly passed the Innovation Act last year. The President has since said he would sign it, and make a strong statement in support of reform in this year's State of the Union address. Now, we await on the Senate to act (speaking of which, have you signed our letter urging such action?).
With Coursera lifting restrictions for users of its online educational courses in Syria, but upholding restrictions for users in the sanctioned countries of Cuba, Iran, and Sudan, the need for streamlined communication technology policies for countries sanctioned by the U.S. is more necessary than ever.
Cuba, Syria, Sudan, North Korea, and Iran are all currently under heavy U.S. sanctions, which have a negative impact on what communications technologies individuals in these countries can access and use. EFF believes that all individuals should have the right to access technologies that facilitate communications. And the U.S. government recognizes the need to modify outdated sanctions that restrict vital communications and educational technologies from citizens living in U.S.-sanctioned countries. So what’s the problem?
Tell Europe your views on CopyrightThe European Commission's open consultation on copyright ends in less than a week on Mar. 5. It's a rare and important opportunity for anyone who uses the Internet— whether you are a student or artists, librarian or entrepreneur— to influence the future of innovation policy in the region.
The 80 question "Public Consultation on the Review of the EU Copyright Rules" can be dizzying to tackle on its own, but there are several easy-to-use platforms that can help anyone with navigating the survey.
This week, EFF asked a federal court in Florida to unseal records from the Disney v. Hotfile case describing Warner Brothers' system for sending takedown notices to websites. Warner, and the other plaintiffs in the case, want that information kept secret forever. But Congress is asking for input about the notice-and-takedown system created by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and a hearing is coming up soon. The Patent and Trademark Office is also holding public meetings on the DMCA. It'll be harder for the public to get involved in these conversations without knowing some basic information about how big copyright holders like Warner decide which files to target for takedowns.
On back-to-back days this week, residents in Texas and Washington received some extra legal protection for the contents of their cell phones. These decisions, while only binding on law enforcement within each respective state, could play an important role on the ongoing debate on cell phone privacy specifically, and applying legal protections against unreasonable searches and seizures to new technologies generally.
Texas: a cellphone is not like a pair of pants or shoes
The RightsCon summit is making its way back to Silicon Valley March 3-5, opening its doors to human rights experts, engineers, government representatives, and other activists from around the globe who will discuss solutions to human rights challenges. As such, a number of EFF staff members are looking forward to attending and speaking at the three-day conference, which is hosted by our friends at Access.
While EFF encourages you to attend as many RightsCon events as you can, be sure to catch the following: