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EFFector - Volume 16, Issue 12 - Support Fair Labelling for Copy-Protected Media!


EFFector - Volume 16, Issue 12 - Support Fair Labelling for Copy-Protected Media!

EFFector       Vol. 16, No. 12       May 5, 2003

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 251st Issue of EFFector:

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Alert: Support Fair Labelling for Copy-Protected Media!

Senator Ron Wyden recently introduced the Digital Consumer Right-to-Know Act (DCRKA), a bill that would require entertainment companies to label products with copy-protections that limit consumer use. Support the DCRKA if you think the content industry should be ordered to clearly label media that restricts your rights!


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California Law to Protect Whistleblowers, Others Online

Assembly Judiciary Committee to Discuss Identity Disclosure

Sacramento - On May 6, 2003, Assemblymember Joe Simitian (D - Palo Alto) will present to the California Assembly's Judiciary Committee a bill designed to protect the privacy of anonymous Internet speakers.

A broad coalition of organizations -- including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the California Anti-SLAPP Project, the Northern California chapter of the ACLU, and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse -- support the bill. The bill was drafted by the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley.

Assembly Bill 1143 would require that ISPs notify a consumer of any request to divulge the consumer's identity when that consumer's personally identifying information is sought in a civil suit. The bill passed out of the Assembly Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media Committee on April 29, 2003.

The law would provide time and the necessary information for the consumer to object to the disclosure to the court. The legislation would not lessen the accountability of Internet users who are subject to valid legal claims, but it would ensure that individuals have the necessary time and information needed to protect their own privacy, as well as limit the growing problem of frivolous claims filed for the sole purpose of discovering the identity of an otherwise anonymous Internet user.

People speaking online have a wide variety of reasons for remaining anonymous, ranging from inappropriate or untimely disclosure of a medical condition, sexual orientation, or gender identity to the potential for retaliatory job loss, harassment, or violence.

The Assembly Judiciary Committee meets at 8:00am on Tuesday, May 5, Room 4202 of the State Capitol. Assemblyman Simitian plans to present AB1143 between 8:00am and 9:00am, but there is not a set schedule.


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EFF Resists Copy Protection on Cable

Files Comments with FCC on Cable "Plug & Play" Regulations

Is restrictive "content protection" in your digital television future? On April 28, 2003, EFF filed its "reply" comments in the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) regulatory proceeding aimed at ensuring that future digital television devices can directly interoperate with digital cable services, without the need for a "set-top box." EFF urged the Commission not to let these "plug and play" proceedings be hijacked by Hollywood's "content protection" agenda.

For nearly a decade, Congress has been urging the FCC to adopt technical standards to allow a direct connection between your TV products and cable service. (An estimated 70% of American TV viewers subscribe to cable TV.) Unfortunately, just as the cable and consumer electronics (CE) industries began reaching agreement on standards, the motion picture industry got into the act and demanded that content protection technologies be included.

What kind of "protection technologies" are we talking about? Well, one example would be the ability to mark content as "copy never," for example, allowing content owners to eliminate home recording. Another example is "selectable output control," meaning that the content owner can remotely control which outputs work in your living room, blocking analog outputs in favor of "secure" digital ones on a program-by-program basis. In addition, the movie studios want the ability to dictate that products be built "tamper-resistant," which would block open source software-based solutions. And the lynchpin to the whole regime is a requirement that "secure" (read: licensed) devices will refuse to talk to any device that isn't also "secure" (read: licensed). This means that innovators will have to participate in a complex private licensing pool before they are allowed to build anything that can be connected to your television. (In such a world, ReplayTV would never have been permitted.)

In December 2002, the cable and CE industries agreed on a set of "plug and play" standards and submitted them to the FCC. The proposed agreement includes content protection, but tries to offset the impact on consumers by including "encoding rules" aimed at limiting the restrictions that Hollywood can impose on various kinds of content. The FCC asked for public comment on the cable-CE proposal.

EFF filed two sets of comments, urging the FCC to resist Hollywood's content protection agenda. First, EFF urged the FCC to retain its rules requiring that "basic tier" cable remain unencrypted and free of all "content protection" restrictions. Second, EFF urged the FCC to ban the use of "selectable output control" and "down-resolution"-- Hollywood's effort to disable or degrade the analog outputs on digital television devices. Finally, EFF asked the FCC to convene new proceedings to examine whether any "content protection" restrictions are justified for cable television.


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Spotlight on "Dataveillance"

On Tuesday, May 6, government witnesses will talk about DARPA's "Total Information Awareness," TSA's CAPPS II (Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System), and FBI's Trilogy project at a House subcommittee hearing. The hearing is tentatively titled "Can Factual Data Analysis Strengthen National Security?: Part I," and is being held by the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census. Witnesses will include Dr. Anthony Tether (head of the Defense Advanced Reseach Projects Agency), Adm. James Loy (head of the Transportation Security Administration), and Steve McGraw (of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.)

Part II of the hearing is scheduled for May 20. EFF's sources say that Part II will feature nongovernment witnesses, possibly including computer security experts. May 20 is also the due date for the Bush Administration's report to Congress on "Total Information Awareness."

Tuesday, May 6, at 3 p.m.

2154 Rayburn House Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C.

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Deep Links

Deep Links features noteworthy news items, victories, and threats from around the Internet.

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Staff Calendar

For a complete listing of EFF speaking engagements (with locations and times), please visit our online calendar.

  • Wednesday, May 7 - Seth Schoen attending Analog Reconversion Discussion Group (ARDG), Washington, D.C.
  • Friday, May 9 - Seth Schoen testifying at Copyright Office Anticircumvention rule-making hearing, Washington D.C.
  • Friday, May 9 - Cindy Cohn and Lee Tien speaking at First Amendment Project event (PDF), "Uniting Privacy and the First Amendment in the 21st Century." Preservation Park, 1233 Preservation Park Way, Oakland, CA.
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EFFector is published by:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation
454 Shotwell Street
San Francisco CA 94110-1914 USA
+1 415 436 9333 (voice)
+1 415 436 9993 (fax)

Ren Bucholz, Activist

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