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EFFector - Volume 16, Issue 25 - Recordng Industry Withdraws Music Sharing Lawsuit

EFFector       Vol. 16, No. 25       September 27, 2003

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 264th Issue of EFFector:

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Action Alert Update: Four Days Left to Voice Concerns About Airline "Security" Plan

JetBlue admitted last week to handing over the personal information of more than one million of its customers to a Pentagon contractor, raising fears among privacy advocates that the airline was roadtesting CAPPS II, a new passenger-profiling system to identify potential terrorists.

Denials abound - but even if JetBlue was not testing CAPPS II, this news foreshadows what's in store. If CAPPS II is implemented, travel authorities will use information from government and commercial databases to "tag" individuals according to how much of a security risk that they appear to pose - sacrificing the privacy and civil liberties of every traveler without any logical connection to how it will make us safer. Worse, it's possible that this sensitive data could then be used for other purposes. If this plan concerns you, you have until September 30th to make your voice heard. Visit EFF's action center now to send a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Links:

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Recordng Industry Withdraws Music Sharing Lawsuit

Lack of Due Process Leads to Mistaken Identity

San Francisco - Seven major record labels last week dismissed charges of copyright infringement leveled at a 65-year-old educator, artist, and grandmother from Massachusetts.

Sarah Ward was one of 261 individuals sued by the recording industry for allegedly sharing copyrighted music using peer-to-peer (P2P) filesharing systems.

What was the problem? The recording industry charged Ward with sharing songs using the KaZaA filesharing software, but she owns only a Macintosh computer which cannot run KaZaA.

Ward strongly denied using any filesharing software and explained that she listens to classical and folk music, not the rock and hip hop music referred to in the complaint.

The seven record labels sued Ward solely on the basis of "screen shots" from the KaZaA network and information obtained from a controversial subpoena issued to Comcast, Ward's Internet service provider, under the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Comcast did not inform Ward before releasing her identity to the recording industry, a step that might have allowed her to clear her name without the need for a lawsuit.

"The Sarah Ward case demonstrates the reckless, frightening nature of the recording industry's campaign against ordinary Americans," said Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "These record labels violated her privacy, sued her for potentially millions of dollars, and forced her to hire a defense lawyer before finally recognizing that they had no case against her."

"I'm particularly concerned about others who may not have the support I did to defend myself and clear my name," commented Ward. "And of course as a grandmother and teacher, I worry about a world where people don't feel the need to apologize or make amends when they make a mistake."

"The recording industry will continue to catch - and terrify - innocent people like Sarah Ward in its dragnet as long as these lawsuits continue," added EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "What we need is a global solution that legalizes file-sharing, gets artists paid, and halts the recording industry's litigation machine."

Although Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) spokesperson Jonathan Lamy told Associated Press that the group is targeting only "proven, egregious offenders," RIAA President Cary Sherman admitted to CNET that the recording industry makes no attempt to contact informally the targets of the lawsuits before suing them.

Links:

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Flawed E-Voting Standard Sent Back to Drawing Board

Electronic Frontier Foundation Seeks Voter Verifiable Norm

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today applauded a technical working group for heeding critics who called for rejection of a flawed electronic voting standard proposal that failed to require adequate security measures.

The working group of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE) drafted the electronic voting standard in an environment plagued by a lack of consensus, procedural misconduct, and serious security oversights.

EFF last week called on IEEE members and other citizens to voice their concerns about the standard. Nearly five hundred people wrote to IEEE leadership pointing out flaws in the draft standard. On September 22, the first working group ballot on the draft failed overwhelmingly, causing the simultaneous ballot at the sponsor level to fail as well.

"Defeat of the initial flawed IEEE electronic voting standard is a victory for IEEE's democratic process," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "We are glad that the majority of the IEEE working group recognizes the serious problems with this current electronic voting standard proposal and hope that the working group will now fix the standard to reflect current security norms."

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What Bloggers Are Saying About It

After EFF issued an advisory about flaws in the IEEE draft e-voting standard, weblog writers, or "bloggers," joined us to sound the general alarm. Follow the links below to read what bloggers are saying.

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VeriSign Gone Wild: "SiteFinder" Harms the Internet

On September 15, 2003, Internet services company VeriSign, which controls portions of the Domain Name System (DNS), abruptly implemented a scheme in which people who mistakenly enter a non-existent domain name are redirected to VeriSign advertising. This move has shocked and outraged network administrators.

"VeriSign's unilateral action harms the Internet," said EFF Staff Technologist Seth Schoen. "It interferes with the delivery of email, causes security software to malfunction, and creates extreme confusion for Internet users. This is a brazen abuse of VeriSign's power as .com and .net operator."

EFF has now conducted a detailed analysis, concluding that the SiteFinder service causes email messages to bounce or disappear, facilitates spam, creates privacy and security risks, masks error conditions and confuses software.

Links:

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Coalition Criticizes Forest Service for Dumping Comments

Sends Letter on Public Participation in Government

San Francisco - A nationwide coalition of public interest groups yesterday sent a letter to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) urging openness in government rule-makings.

EFF initiated the coalition letter after several environmental groups contacted the organization with concerns about U.S. Forest Service policies that would limit public participation in rule-making processes. For instance, the Forest Service uses e-mail filters designed to stop unwanted commercial e-mail ("spam") on public comments, sometimes rejecting thousands of legitimate citizen messages. Additionally, the Forest Service is considering a rule that would ban "substantially similar" comments from portions of the rule-making process. This policy would negatively impact groups that use online action centers to help members communicate with the government.

"The Forest Service's decision to reject comments in their rule-making process has damaged public participation in government," said EFF Activist Ren Bucholz. "Our coalition has asked the Office of Management and Budget to encourage all government agencies to adopt the best practice of receiving and reviewing all public comments related to each government rule-making."

Links:

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EFF T-Shirt Contest!

EFF is holding a contest for the production of our next generation of member t-shirts. The shirt is going to be black, and it must convey the general EFF message (as opposed to focusing on any specific issues we're involved in). Other than that - the sky is the limit! Send us all of your funky ideas. The winner gets a free t-shirt and all the glory she can handle!

Send all t-shirt ideas to: kevin@eff.org. Please send files under 100k to Kevin - we'll take larger submissions once we've gone through the first round of entrants. The contest ends on 9/30/03.

Thanks!

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Deep Links

Deep Links features noteworthy news items 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.
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Administrivia

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