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EFFector - Volume 16, Issue 8 - EFF Honors Net Pioneers in NYC

EFFector       Vol. 16, No. 8       March 31, 2003     ren@eff.org

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 247th Issue of EFFector:

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Electronic Frontier Foundation Honors Net Pioneers in NYC

Goodman, Moglen, Sobel Receive Awards at 12th Annual Event

New York - Online civil liberties advocates from the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will honor three pioneers of Internet freedom and innovation at the 12th Annual EFF Pioneer Awards on April 2, 2003, at the Empire State Building in New York. The online civil liberties group will honor Amy Goodman for her long-term commitment to freedom of expression; Eben Moglen for campaigning to reformulate copyright, patent, and privacy laws to fit the digital age; and David Sobel for extraordinary efforts to protect privacy and open government.

The Pioneer Awards will take place in conjunction with the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference in New York.

EFF established the Pioneer Awards in 1991 to recognize leaders of the electronic frontier who are extending freedom and innovation in the realm of information technology.

The award winners are--

~ Amy Goodman
Amy Goodman is a longtime journalist, activist, and host of Democracy Now!, a national, listener-sponsored news show committed to broadcasting marginalized voices. A vocal opponent of censorship, Goodman covers controversial issues ranging from Chevron-related murders in Nigeria to the struggle for independence in East Timor and documents the global, grassroots opposition to a U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Goodman's resistance to the attempted takeover of the Pacifica Radio network served as a rally point to force out a hostile board of directors. She and an alliance of media activists broadcast the show daily on the Internet and through a backdoor to Pacifica's satellite while expanding the program to television.

Democracy Now!'s website allows people to stream the show live, search and browse through story archives, and listen to current guest interviews. The website engages the show's audience in gathering, sharing, and acting on the news, which, in Goodman's words, "expands and preserves our public media spaces, which now more than ever are crucial to a vital democracy."

~ Eben Moglen
A computer programmer and law professor, Eben Moglen makes the case that freedom on the Internet faces real challenges from self-interested corporations and misguided legislators. He has provided a conceptual framework for another digital world based on stewardship, rather than ownership, of online communications whether on peer-to-peer networks or on the airwaves.

Campaigning ceaselessly to reformulate copyright, patent, and privacy laws for the digital age, his essays and articles stand as powerful and thoughtful works.

Moglen is General Counsel and serves on the board of the Free Software Foundation. He is a Professor of Law and Legal History at the Columbia Law School and was formerly a Law Clerk to United States Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

~ David Sobel
David Sobel is General Counsel of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and is well regarded in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) community for his tireless efforts to protect open government.

Sobel recently won two of the most significant FOIA decisions in the last several years. In EPIC v. Office of Homeland Security, Sobel defeated the government's motion to dismiss and has been granted discovery to determine whether the Office of Homeland Security is a federal agency subject to the FOIA. In EPIC v. DOD, a case where EPIC sought records concerning the Total Information Awareness (TIA) project, Sobelprevailed against the government's efforts to use trumped-up fee claims to obstruct public access to government information. Sobel continues to work in close association with many other organizations, including the EFF and the ACLU, on important civil liberties issues.

"David, Amy and Eben are doing amazing work to understand how technology can be co-opted, to explain that to the general public, and to fight to get bad laws changed," stated Shari Steele, Executive Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "We're proud to present them with this year's Pioneer Awards."

The judges for this year's EFF Pioneer Awards were: Herb Brody (Senior Editor, Technology Review), Beth Givens, (Founder and Director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse), Moira Gunn (Host, "Tech Nation," National Public Radio), Donna L. Hoffman (Associate Professor of Management, Vanderbilt University), Peter G. Neumann (Principal Scientist, SRI Intl.; Moderator, ACM Risks Forum), Drazen Pantic (Media & Tech. Director, NYU Center for War, Peace, & the News Media), Barbara Simons (past President, Association for Computing Machinery, & U.C. Berkeley Distinguished Alumnus), and Karen G. Schneider (Technical Director, Shenendehowa Public Library, NY)

The 12th Annual EFF Pioneer Awards ceremony will be held from 7:00 to 9:30pm on April 2, 2003, at the Empire State Building. The ceremony will be held on the 80th floor, just a few floors from the observation deck. Guests are encouraged to arrive early to enjoy the view.

Members of the press are welcome. Please enter at the West 34th Street entrance next to Strawberry's and bring press identification for security purposes.

Links:

Tell Congress to Get Airline Security Plan Under Control!

The Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS II) is designed to crawl through government and commercial databases and issue "threat assessments" for air travelers. Based on automated searches of public and private databases, each passenger is given a color-coded threat level: green for no problem, yellow for passengers who require heightened caution, and red for people who are not allowed to fly.

The government says CAPPS II, which is currently being implemented by Delta Airlines (http://www.boycottdelta.com), will increase security. Perhaps. But the system is extremely dangerous to your rights, in that there are no mechanisms in place for you to learn your own assessment level or to correct false information about yourself. The government is being very secretive about this powerful program, not even revealing which commercial and government databases are involved or who will be allowed to see the data and for what purposes. Write to your Congresspeople and tell them that you want responsible, accountable security that respects your privacy!

Make your voice heard with the EFF Action Center:
http://action.eff.org/action/index.asp?step=2&item=2557

You can also join EFF:
https://secure.eff.org/

Planned Transportation Database to Skirt Privacy Safeguards

Electronic Frontier Foundation Defends Traveler Privacy

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has asked the Department of Transportation to withdraw plans exempting the controversial Aviation Security Screening Records (ASSR) passenger screening database from important Privacy Act procedural safeguards.

The ASSR System appears to be a portion of CAPPS II, the controversial project now being tested by Delta Airlines prior to deployment across all airlines. The proposed ASSR system will aggregate personal data collected through public records and private sector databases for use by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

EFF's comments express concerns that the ASSR system will lead to the creation of extensive, secret files about all U.S. citizens and the traveling public and that these secret files may be used to deny individuals the right to travel and for other purposes.

By excluding the ASSR system from the Privacy Act, the TSA could deny travelers permission to fly based on potentially inaccurate information that the travelers have never had an opportunity to review and correct.

EFF has previously filed comments with the Department of Transportation, outlining the serious privacy and civil liberties deficiencies with the proposed ASSR system, which would compile "risk assessment reports, financial and transactional data," public records, and private sector data.

In comments filed late Friday, EFF, together with cosigners Privacy Activism, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, C.A.S.P.I.A.N., and Michael Stollenwerk, opposed the Department of Transportation's proposed exemption of the entire system of ASSR records from the procedural protections of the Privacy Act on the grounds that it is dangerously overbroad, unjustified under the relevant Privacy Act provisions, and raises significant concerns for individuals' privacy, civil liberties, and the Constitutionally-guaranteed right of freedom to travel.

"Under the proposed exemption, individuals would have no way of learning that the Transportation Security Administration is holding personal records about them, and would have no access to review or correct that information if it's wrong or outdated," noted EFF Staff Attorney Gwen Hinze. "The exemption TSA proposes would completely eliminate all the important safeguards for individuals' privacy that the Privacy Act was passed to protect."

Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien added, "We are extremely concerned about the creation of a centralized database that will contain such extensive personal information with virtually no procedural safeguards and a significant potential for serious misuse."

Links:

Patriot II Analysis: EFF Criticizes Terrorist Bill

Reports Privacy Problems With "PATRIOT II" Legislation

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has released a report criticizing the proposed Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, also know as "PATRIOT II," because the bill decreases privacy protections while giving the government unnecessary authorities unrelated to terrorism.

This report focuses on the risks to privacy and online activities, concluding that the bill will increase privacy invasions, reduce oversight of law enforcement and public access to information about government activities, and continue the unfortunate trend of increasing government authorities unrelated to terrorism under the guise of an anti-terrorism bill.

"The government is building a Tower of Babel rather than a focused system for finding terrorists," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn.

The report highlights several provisions of the proposed bill, recently leaked from the Department of Justice:

  • Increase in the ability of law enforcement to force third parties to turn over information about their customers, friends, clients, and others
  • Eliminate notification requirements to targets of data gathered
  • Eliminate liability for businesses that voluntarily provide personal information to law enforcement

The EFF report notes the disturbing provision that would create extra penalties for those who attempt to protect their privacy by using cryptography. In this time of increased terrorist threats and identity theft, the report warns that government should be encouraging individuals to protect themselves, not discouraging them.

Although no legislator has yet introduced "PATRIOT II," EFF and other civil liberties organizations are concerned based on the passage of PATRIOT I legislation within days of its introduction and with virtually no debate in Congress.

Links:

Federal Court Reverses in Taxes.com Web Publishing Case

Responds to Electronic Frontier Foundation Request

Oakland, CA - A federal court this week agreed with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) that the tax problem help website Taxes.com should not be forced to rewrite truthful information in order to appear less prominently in search engine results.

"The court's decision to reverse an earlier ruling on Taxes.com restores the balance between trademark law and the First Amendment right to publish truthful information," said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann.

On March 22, 2002, the court had ordered Taxes.com to alter web pages that criticize J.K. Harris, one of its chief competitors. The court had reasoned that because these pages showed up prominently in search engine results for "J.K. Harris," they violated trademark law. The court cited a doctrine called "initial interest confusion," which addresses improper diversion of customers.

Many commercial search engines review text from websites as part of ranking the websites in search results, so Taxes.com's mentions of J.K. Harris caused the Taxes.com website to appear in search results for "J.K. Harris."

EFF filed an amicus brief with the court pointing out that the information on the pages was completely truthful and useful to consumers and asked it to reconsider its ruling.

In its revised ruling, the court embraced EFF's arguments, holding that using a competitor's name in the course of conveying truthful information does not violate trademark law. The ruling pointed out that: "While the evidence submitted to the Court demonstrates that Defendants' web site does contain frequent references to J.K. Harris, these references are not gratuitous; rather, Defendants' web site refers to J.K. Harris by name in order to make statements about it."

Links:

California Supreme Court Reviews Email Pamphleteer Case

Lower Court Decision Threatens Internet Commerce and Speech

Los Angeles - The California Supreme Court has scheduled review of a lower court ruling that companies can sue those who send unwanted email to their employees.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed an amicus brief in the Intel v. Hamidi case, arguing that the lower court distorted the "trespass to chattels" doctrine when applying it to the Internet.

The California Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments in the Intel v. Hamidi case for 9:00 am on Wednesday, April 2, 2003, at the Ronald Reagan State Office Building, 300 South Spring Street, 3rd Floor, North Tower, Los Angeles.

Each side will have 30 minutes. Justices Baxter and Chin have recused themselves. Justices Perren and Mosk of the Court of Appeal will sit in their place.

Links:

Copyright Office to Hold Public Hearings on DMCA

The Copyright Office is holding public hearings on possible exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's ban on circumventing technological measures that control access to digital works. The hearings will be held in Washington D.C. on April 11, 15, and 30 and May 2, and in Los Angeles on May 14 and 15.

The hearings are open to anyone interested in testifying in support of, or in opposition to, the 50 sets of requested exemptions that were filed with the Copyright Office in December 2002. People interested in testifying need to email a request to testify to the Copyright Office at 1201@loc.gov. The deadlines for requests to testify are:

  • Washington D.C. hearings: 5pm EST on April 1; and
  • Los Angeles hearings: 5pm EST on April 8.

Testifying spaces are limited, and the Copyright Office will decide who testifies and the time allocation. The request to testify has to include certain information, including the proposed exemption ("class of works") that you'd like to testify about and a summary of your testimony. Further details on what's required are listed in the official Federal Register notice available at http://www.copyright.gov/fedreg/2003/68fr13652.html

The hearings are the next stage in the Copyright Office's tri-annual review of the effect on consumers of the DMCA's ban on circumventing technological protection measures controlling access to digital works. The Copyright Office can grant exemptions to the prohibition for particular types of digital works if it decides that the ban has had, or is likely to have, a substantial adverse impact on consumers. EFF has asked the Copyright Office to grant exemptions that would allow consumers to circumvent technological measures to play malfunctioning copy-protected audio CDs, to watch foreign movies on non region 1 DVDs on US DVD players, to fast-forward through unskippable promotional material on DVDs and to make full use of public domain movies that are only available on DVD. EFF will be asking to testify at the California hearings.

EFF encourages anyone interested in having their views heard about the effect of the DMCA's circumvention ban to apply to testify at the Copyright Office hearings.

Links:

Electronic Frontier Foundation on SonicBlue Bankruptcy

San Francisco - SonicBlue recently announced its intention to file for bankruptcy protection.

The company, maker of the ReplayTV digital video recorder, has been spending as much as $1 million a month in litigation expenses to defend a lawsuit brought by more than two dozen entertainment companies. The entertainment companies allege that ReplayTV owners are violating copyright law when they skip commercials. EFF represents five individual ReplayTV owners who have counter-sued the entertainment companies to establish that skipping commercials is legal.

"This bankruptcy sends a clear message to technology companies: you may not innovate without Hollywood's prior approval, on pain of enormous litigation expenses," said EFF Staff Attorney Gwen Hinze.

"This puts the case on hold for the short term," said Ira Rothken of the Rothken Law Firm, lead lawyer on behalf of the individual ReplayTV owners. "Much will depend on the details of the bankruptcy, but we are still very interested in making it clear that Hollywood cannot use copyright law to force consumers to watch commercials."

Links:

Recent Thanks

We'd like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Macromedia for their generous software donation and Wes Garrison for sending us an LCD projector. We're excited to use both! Also, thanks to Vern at PhotoVault.com for his photography expertise.

Deep Links

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

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Editor:
Ren Bucholz, Activist
  ren@eff.org

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