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EFFector - Volume 16, Issue 20 - Pacific Bell Sues Recording Industry for Customer Privacy


EFFector - Volume 16, Issue 20 - Pacific Bell Sues Recording Industry for Customer Privacy

EFFector       Vol. 16, No. 20      August 4, 2003

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 259th Issue of EFFector:

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Party in the Park at EFF's Freedom Fest 2003!

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is proud to host EFF's Freedom Fest 2003 on Saturday, August 9, from Noon to 5pm at Golden Gate Park's Music Concourse Bandshell. This free event will showcase an eclectic lineup of performers, including award-winning Bay Area musicians and an array of other talented artists.

Hosted by EFF's John Perry Barlow, the afternoon is a celebration of Bay Area talent and an opportunity for them to share their music.

"The day is to celebrate freedom, and we can't think of a better way to do that than through free music and variety performances in Golden Gate Park," said EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. "We're thrilled to have such an impressive lineup for this event. It's truly a reflection of the caliber of talent that resides here in the Bay Area."

Rock to Reggae

EFF's Freedom Fest 2003 will feature a diverse musical lineup, including:

The performers that were selected for this year's event represent an extraordinary combination of Bay Area artists, many of whom have earned critical acclaim and become nationally recognized acts.

"I've known about EFF and its pursuit of digital rights for years," said Tommy Boy/Warner Bros recording artist, Austin Willacy. "When they approached me about performing at EFF's Freedom Fest 2003, it struck me as a great way to both share my music with Bay Area residents and educate the community about EFF and all the great work they're doing on our behalf."

In addition to the musical performers, EFF's Freedom Fest 2003 will also feature a variety of other performers, including:

  • Ashley Foster, the One Wheeled Wonder
  • Willy Bologna and his Sideshow Circus
  • Frantastic Hands, chair massage
  • Art Table with Eleanor
  • Cat Hare, juggler extraordinaire
  • Technomania Circus, vaudeville and variety performers

KFOG 104.5/97.7 morning radio host Peter Finch will be making a special appearance at the event to introduce the bands and host the KFOG booth. Concert attendees can stop by to meet folks from the critically-acclaimed rock station and enter the EFF Freedom Fest 2003 Contest.


For more information please contact Katina Bishop

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Pacific Bell Sues Recording Industry for Customer Privacy

Electronic Frontier Foundation Supports ISP Resistance

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation applauds a lawsuit brought by Pacific Bell Internet Services on July 31 against three organizations that are manipulating copyright laws to violate the privacy of ISP customers.

The case concerns 97 subpoenas directed to Pacific Bell over the past two weeks. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has issued thousands of subpoenas to various ISPs, seeking the identity of music fans who use peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing networks.

The lawsuit alleges that the RIAA, along with MediaForce, a company that issues millions of "cease-and-desist" letters to ISPs, and Titan Media, a gay-themed adult entertainment company, have distorted certain provisions of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) in an attempt to force Pacific Bell to breach its customers' privacy.

Pacific Bell seeks a declaration from the court that any further subpoenas and cease-and-desist letters for peer-to-peer file sharing activity must follow some court-established safeguards ensuring that there is some evidence of illegal activity before divulging personal information about ISP customers.

"The misuse of the subpoena process by an adult entertainment company emphasizes the potential for abuse with insufficient privacy protections in the law," explained EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "Without vetting by any court, companies can issue subpoenas that disclose the identities of targeted individuals and link their names to gay-themed adult porn, making it impossible for them to regain their privacy later even if the allegations are patently false."

This case highlights the privacy problems that led over 44 organizations to join with EFF in opposing the subpoena process in a similar case involving Verizon in Washington, DC, currently pending before a federal appeals court.

"The DC Court dismissed our concerns about subpoena process abuse as premature," added EFF Staff Attorney Gwen Hinze. "The California Court will have an opportunity to consider critical privacy concerns in light of the thousands of subpoenas the RIAA has issued as a clear abuse of the subpoena process."

The RIAA's crusade has already drawn the concerned attention of Congress. Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) recently announced an investigation into the issuance of the subpoenas and the threatened lawsuits.

EFF applauds both Pacific Bell and Senator Coleman and urges concerned citizens to learn more about ways to make filesharing legal while getting artists paid at our Let the Music Play Campaign.


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Congress Considers Bill to Protect Privacy of Citizens

Penalties Proposed for Negligent Uses of Federal Databases

Washington, DC - On July 29, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced to the U.S. Congress the Citizens' Protection in Federal Databases Act (CPFDA), a bill requiring federal agencies that collect personal information to report what information they collect and how they intend to use the information.

The CPFDA bill would require federal agencies to report on accountability mechanisms for federal agents who maliciously or negligently enter or misuse personal information they gather and would forbid federal agencies from conducting searches based on hypothetical scenarios or suppositions.

"The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) supports efforts to protect privacy in the use of information by federal agencies," said EFF Washington Policy Liaison Lisa Dean. "Increased national security also comes from restrictions to ensure appropriate information gathering and measures to protect personal information stored in federal databases."

Once passed, federal agencies would have to report to Congress before obtaining funding for purchases of commercial databases. Within 60 days of the bill's passage, the agencies would have to report to Congress on use of existing databases.

In addition to EFF, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Free Congress Foundation have expressed support for the CPFDA legislation.


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New Maritime Security Regulations Threaten Civil Liberties

Electronic Frontier Foundation Defends Traveler Privacy

San Francisco - On July 31, The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on asked the Department of Homeland Security to reconsider new regulations authorizing maritime vessel owners, such as cruise ship operators, to subject their passengers to indiscriminate I.D. checks and invasive searches.

EFF, together with cosigners PrivacyActivism, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, and travel writer Edward Hasbrouck, argued that the Department of Homeland Security's interim regulations on maritime vessel security raise significant concerns for individuals' privacy, civil liberties, and the freedom to travel guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

"Under these new rules, cruise ship passengers must produce I.D. and submit to a full search in order to board, while remaining subject to searches and demands for their 'papers' throughout the trip," noted EFF Attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow Kevin Bankston. "I.D. checking and invasive searches are quickly becoming the norm for every mode of public transportation, and if this trend continues, Americans will soon be unable to exercise their right to travel without first surrendering their right to privacy."

PrivacyActivism Executive Director Deborah Pierce added, "Given the lack of any demonstrated security benefit from indiscriminate I.D. checking, the Department of Homeland Security's new regulations are a wholly unwarranted invasion of traveler privacy."


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Network Solutions Inc. Screwed Up Domain Dispute

Court Confirms Domain Registries Must Protect Public

San Francisco - On July 28, A federal appeals court ruled that Internet domain names are personal property, so domain registry Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI) can be held responsible for transferring the domain name to an unauthorized party.

The decision agreed with a "friend-of-the-court" brief, filed last year by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), that asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to hold NSI responsible for mistakes the domain registry made while overseeing domain names.

"NSI and other domain name registries are a critical part of the architecture that keeps the Internet running," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "The court's decision provides Internet domain registrants with protection from inappropriate domain name seizures."

The case arises from NSI's actions in taking the domain name from appellant Gary Kremen and giving the domain to another Internet user who presented NSI with fraudulent information.

VeriSign Inc. acquired NSI after the legal case was filed.


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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 see our online calendar.
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EFFector is published by:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation
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Ren Bucholz, Activist

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