Making Safe Harbors Expire Is Dangerous and Unnecessary
Under a new rule from the Copyright Office, website owners could be exposed to massive risk of copyright liability simply for neglecting to submit an online form on time. The rule could eliminate the safe harbor status that thousands of websites receive under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Current law (17 U.S.C. § 512, which was enacted as part of the DMCA) protects the owners of websites and online services from monetary liability based on the allegedly infringing activities of their users or other third parties. Owners must meet many requirements in order to be eligible for that protection, including participating in the notice-and-takedown procedure for allegedly infringing content.
The Internet has been on fire in recent months over two court decisions that threaten to criminalize password sharing. The law at the heart of the cases is the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), a 1986 statute meant to outlaw computer break-ins. Congress passed the CFAA after "War Games"—a techno-thriller film about a teen whose computer shenanigans nearly sparked World War III—put the fear of God into lawmakers about the vulnerability of our computer networks. The law—passed years before the advent of the modern Internet—is seriously showing its age.
Should patent lawsuits filed in federal courts be hidden from the public? We don’t think so, especially where a patent owner may be suing multiple people based on the same claim. Apart from the general principle that legal processes should be open to the public whenever possible, as a practical matter sealed filings prevent other people under legal threat from the same person from learning information that may be crucial to their own defense.
We’re pleased to announce our slick new app, an updated version of EFF Alerts.
Some of the key features:
A Merged Entity Will Have Twice the Incentive to Act as an Internet Gatekeeper
On October 22, AT&T announced it had reached a deal to acquire Time Warner, setting in motion one of the largest vertical mergers in telecommunications history. Not surprisingly, Congress has begun raising concerns. In particular, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to review it with an eye toward the potential for anti-competitive practices—such as carrier-directed, content-discriminatory zero-rating plans.
In a rural, partly Amish community in Indiana, the schools are rapidly adopting educational technology from tech giants like Google. Students may be leaving farms in the morning to come to classrooms with Chromebooks at every desk. As technology becomes more and more integrated into modern education, these schools have to draw on scarce resources to protect the privacy of their students.
In addition to difficult questions concerning the Fourth Amendment, Rule 41, and the limits of government hacking, the Playpen cases raise an important question about the future of digital rights: whether, to what extent, and under what circumstances the government must disclose to criminal defendants how the government carried out its hacking.
In the Playpen cases, the government has provided some information to the accused about how the “network investigative technique,” or “NIT,” operated. But, critically, the government refuses to produce the exploit it used to allegedly take control of suspects' computers.
For the last year, EFF has been battling to free records from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) regarding an ethically dubious research program to promote the development of automated tattoo recognition technology. The agency is months delinquent in providing a variety of information, most notably the list of 19 research entities who received a giant set of tattoo images obtained from prisoners in custody. This delay is particularly alarming as NIST is currently recruiting institutional participants for the next stage of its expanded research, scheduled to begin on Dec. 1.
This weekend you have the chance to add to Aaron Swartz’s legacy by boosting tools for whistleblowers.
The 2016 Aaron Swartz International Hackathon—held in honor of the late Internet and political activist—will take place during the day Saturday and Sunday at the Internet Archive in San Francisco. The hackathon will focus on whistleblower submission system SecureDrop, which was created by Swartz and Kevin Poulsen to connect media organizations and anonymous sources and is managed by the Freedom of the Press Foundation.
EFF works to inform the world about breaking issues in the world of technology policy and civil liberties. And one of our best ways of communicating with our friends and members is through our nearly-weekly newsletter, EFFector. Last week, we sent out a very special EFFector: a deep dive, single-issue edition that got into the nitty-gritty of open access and research. To keep the conversation going, we are publishing it here on the Deeplinks blog as well.
Did you miss it? Don't worry—you can sign up for EFFector here so you're never out of the loop again.
As people spend more and more time using phones and tablets, privacy and security for mobile browsers has become an acute problem. That’s why we’re excited to see a new Android browser called WARP improving the state of the field. WARP was built by Qualcomm and EMbience, and includes ports of EFF's Privacy Badger and HTTPS Everywhere tools to bring privacy and security protections to a wider, mobile audience.
With President-elect Trump's victory last night, the last hopes of the Obama administration passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the lame duck session of Congress have evaporated. The passage of the TPP through Congress was dependent upon support from members of the Republican majority, and there is no realistic prospect that they will now pass the deal given their elected President's firmly expressed opposition to it. Even if they did so, the new President would presumably veto the pact's implementing legislation.
Many have contacted us with concerns about yesterday’s election results. At this critical moment, we want digital civil liberties supporters worldwide to feel confident that EFF remains steadfast in its mission and method: to use law and technology to champion civil liberties and provide a potent check against overreach.
EFF has worked for 26 years to build a free and fair future. When civil liberties come under threat, we challenge the powerful—from those in high office to perpetrators of common malice—to establish limits and protect people. We know that freedom and justice don’t just materialize. They aren’t automatic or made inevitable by technology. If we want our technologies—which today are woven throughout our communities, our laws, our culture, and our very lives—to support freedom and justice, we have to work for it. Hard. We have to fight.
Users around the world have been outraged by the European Commission's proposal to require websites to enter into Shadow Regulation agreements with copyright holders concerning the automatic filtering of user-generated content. This proposal, which some are calling RoboCopyright and others Europe's #CensorshipMachine, would require many Internet platforms to integrate content scanning software into their websites to alert copyright holders every time it detected their content being uploaded by a user, without any consideration of the context.
Observers around the world are scrutinizing the President-elect’s transition team and prospects for digital rights under the incoming administration. Trump’s campaign statements offered few reasons to be optimistic about the next administration’s commitments, making the unrestrained domestic secret surveillance regime that President Trump will inherit an even greater threat not only to privacy, but also dissent, individual autonomy and freedom of conscience, and—ultimately—our democracy.
If you're concerned about the future of digital rights and working with a local group like a hacker space, a student organization, or community coalition, we want to hear from you.
After the election, individuals took to the streets across the country to express their outrage and disappointment at the result of the U.S. presidential election. Many protesters may not be aware of the unfortunate fact that exercising their First Amendment rights may open themselves up to certain risks. Those engaging in peaceful protest may be subject to search or arrest, have their movements and associations mapped, or otherwise become targets of surveillance and repression. It is important that in a democracy citizens exercise their right to peaceably assemble, and demonstrators should be aware of a few precautions they can take to keep themselves and their data safe. Here we present 10 security tips for protesting in the digital age.
If Congress doesn’t act soon, federal investigators will have access to new, sweeping hacking powers due to a rule change set to go into effect on Dec. 1.
That’s why Sens. Chris Coons, Ron Wyden, Mike Lee, and others introduced a bipartisan bill today, the Review the Rule Act, which would push that rule change back to July 1. That would give our elected officials more time to debate whether law enforcement should be able to, with one warrant from one judge, hack into an untold number of computers and devices wherever they’re located.
The results of the U.S. presidential election have put the tech industry in a risky position. President-Elect Trump has promised to deport millions of our friends and neighbors, track people based on their religious beliefs, and undermine users’ digital security and privacy. He’ll need Silicon Valley’s cooperation to do it—and Silicon Valley can fight back.
If Mr. Trump carries out these plans, they will likely be accompanied by unprecedented demands on tech companies to hand over private data on people who use their services. This includes the conversations, thoughts, experiences, locations, photos, and more that people have entrusted platforms and service providers with. Any of these might be turned against users under a hostile administration.
There are fewer than 60 days until President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in, but President Barack Obama can still take steps to improve transparency—and therefore government accountability.
In a letter to the Obama administration this week, EFF and other civil liberties groups—including Demand Progress and OpenTheGovernment.org—are asking that he shed some much-needed light on government actions that impact civil liberties ahead of his departure.
“As your administration winds down and our democracy faces strong headwinds, we urge you to take the following important steps to empower citizens, Congress, and the courts to protect our system of separated powers and make sure that our government continues working as the founders intended,” the letter says.
Fundacion Karisma—the leading Colombian digital rights organization—has published the 2016 ¿Dónde están mis datos? report, which evaluates how well Colombian telecommunications companies protect their customers’ privacy.
Karisma’s second annual report examines publicly-available policies on government surveillance transparency, data protection, privacy, and free expression from five of the biggest telecommunications companies: Claro, Tigo-UNE, Telefónica-Movistar, ETB (Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Bogotá), and DirecTV.
The report shows that Colombian telecommunication companies have not yet stepped up to meet tech industry best practices related to privacy and transparency reporting. Nonetheless, two key members of Colombia’s telecommunications industry—ETB and Telefónica-Movistar—have improved their practices, with ETB leading the way.
Election security experts concerned about voting machines are calling for an audit of ballots in the three states where the presidential election was very close: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. We agree. This is an important election safety measure and should happen in all elections, not just those that have a razor-thin margin.
Voting machines, especially those that have digital components, are intrinsically susceptible to being hacked. The main protection against hacking is for voting machines to provide an auditable paper trail.
However, if that paper trail is never audited, it's useless.
EFF Fights For More Disclosure About Hemisphere Program
Although the government still hides too much information about a secret telephone records surveillance program known as Hemisphere, we have learned through EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits that police tout the massive database of private calls as “Google on Steroids" [pdf].
The clock is ticking. If Congress doesn’t act now, the government will soon be able to use a search warrant to hack an untold number of computers located around the world.
One country’s government shouldn’t determine what Internet users across the globe can see online. But a French regulator is saying that, under Europe’s “Right to be Forgotten,” Google should have to delist search results globally, keeping them from users across the world. That’s a step too far, and would conflict with the rights of users in other nations, including those protected by the laws and Constitution of the United States.
The Onion once ran a piece titled “I invented YouTube back in 2010.” The joke, of course, is that YouTube launched in 2005. This month’s Stupid Patent of the Month is just as ridiculous. US Patent No. 8,856,221, titled ‘System and method for storing broadcast content in a cloud-based computing environment,’ claims a mundane process for delivering media content from remote servers. This might have been a somewhat fresh idea in, say the mid-1990s, but the application for this patent was filed in 2011.