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EFFector - Volume 17, Issue 14 - EFF Announces New Patent Busting Campaign

EFFector       Vol. 17, No. 14       April 15, 2004

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 286th Issue of EFFector:


EFF Announces New Patent Busting Campaign

Group to Challenge Patents Affecting Nonprofits, Free Speech

San Francisco, CA - In light of growing concerns about illegitimate software and Internet patents, EFF on Monday announced a new initiative to combat the chilling effects bad patents have on public and consumer interests.

"Patents traditionally only targeted large commercial companies," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "Now bad patents are threatening nonprofits, small businesses, and even individuals who use software and Internet technology." These threats target noncommercial personal use, such as building a hobbyist website or streaming a wedding video to your friends.

The new EFF initiative seeks to document these threats and fight back against them. EFF has pledged to file "re-examination" requests with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), asking the agency to revoke patents that are having negative effects on Internet innovation and free expression.

"More and more, people are using software and Internet technology to express themselves," said EFF Staff Attorney Wendy Seltzer. "Patent owners who threaten this expression are creating a chilling effect on free speech."

The EFF announcement comes on the heels of two recent public criticisms of the patent system, one by the Federal Trade Commission and the other by the National Academy of Sciences.

For this media release:
http://www.eff.org/Patent/20040419_eff_pr_patent.php

EFF Patent Busting Project White Paper and related materials:
http://www.eff.org/Patent/

Wired article on the campaign:
http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,63122,00.html

Federal Trade Commission Patent Reform Report:
http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2003/10/cpreport.htm

National Academy of Sciences Patent Reform Report:
http://www4.nationalacademies.org/news.nsf/isbn/0309089107?OpenDocument


Electronic Frontier Foundation Honors Pioneer Award Winners

EFF to Honor Kim Alexander, David Dill, and Aviel Rubin at the 13th Annual Pioneer Awards Ceremony

San Francisco, CA - EFF will hold its 13th Annual Pioneer Awards presentation at 6:30 p.m. on April 22nd at the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, California, in conjunction with the 2004 Computers, Freedom&Privacy (CFP) conference. The online civil liberties group chose to honor Kim Alexander, David Dill, and Aviel Rubin for spearheading and nurturing the popular movement for integrity and transparency in modern elections.

Since 1991, the EFF Pioneer Awards have recognized individuals who have made significant and influential contributions to the development of computer-mediated communications or to the empowerment of individuals in using computers and the Internet.

"I'm so pleased to be able to give this recognition to Kim, David, and Avi. Like many others who often go unrecognized, they have been doing incredibly important work to protect our democracy while using technology," said EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. "I'm proud that EFF is able to honor a few of these generally unsung heroes with our yearly Pioneer Awards."

Kim Alexander

Kim Alexander is president of the California Voter Foundation (CVF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization she started in 1994 to advance new technologies to improve democracy.

Over the past decade, Alexander has led pioneering efforts to develop the Internet into an effective tool for voter education and campaign finance disclosure in California and beyond. Her interest in democracy and technology led her to become involved with voting technology, and she has since become one of the nation's leading voices for secure and verifiable computerized voting systems.

In 1999 she served on California's Internet Voting Task Force, which in 2000 issued the first comprehensive study of Internet voting security and concluded that the Internet was not yet a safe place for securely transacting ballots. In 2003, she served on the California Secretary of State's Ad Hoc Touch Screen Voting Task Force. The task force report included a minority opinion of which Alexander was a co-author. The California Secretary of State adopted the opinion, and as a result, California is the first state in the nation to require that electronic voting machines provide a voter-verified paper trail.

David Dill

David Dill is a Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University with a primary research focus on the theory and application of formal verification techniques to system designs, including hardware, protocols, and software.

In 2003, he turned a critical eye to electronic voting systems, founding VerifiedVoting.org to champion transparent and publicly verifiable elections. The VerifiedVoting.org website educates the public about the problem with relying upon electronic voting machines to record votes without the backup of a voter-verifiable audit trail; points to reasonable solutions that are within reach; and provides a list of actions voters can take, encouraging them to act on their own behalf to ensure that their votes are counted in future elections.

Dill served on the California Secretary of State's Ad Hoc Committee on Touch Screen Voting, and joined Kim Alexander in successfully advocating for voter-verified paper audit trails. He also serves on the IEEE P1583 voting standards committee, and is a member of the DRE Citizen's Oversight Committee for Santa Clara County, California.

Aviel Rubin

Aviel Rubin is Professor of Computer Science and Technical Director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University.

Rubin led the effort to expose security flaws in Diebold computer-based voting systems, combining technical skill and articulation to the public in such a way that his solid technical work could not be ignored by those who would prefer an insecure status quo.

In 2003, Rubin co-authored a report on Diebold that focused a national spotlight on the integrity of electronic voting machines. He also co-authored an analysis of the government's planned SERVE system for Internet voting for military and overseas civilians, which led to the cancellation of that dangerous project.

Rubin is author and co-author of several books on information security, serves as Associate Editor of ACM Transactions on Internet Technology, and is a member of the advisory board of Springer's Information Security and Cryptography Book Series. He is also a member of the board of directors of the USENIX Association and serves on the DARPA Information Science and Technology Study Group.

Prior Pioneer Award recipients include Tim Berners-Lee, Linus Torvalds, and Vinton Cerf, among many others.

For the full media advisory:
http://www.eff.org/awards/pioneer/2004.php

For more information about the EFF Pioneer Awards:
http://www.eff.org/awards/pioneer/

For details about the 2004 CFP conference:
http://www.cfp2004.org/


Brad Templeton to Emcee Foresight Vision Weekend, May 14-16

EFF Board Chairman Brad Templeton will help to emcee this year's Foresight Vision Weekend, which takes place May 14-16 in Palo Alto, California. Foresight president and EFF supporter Christine Peterson is offering a $200 discount to EFFector readers who join Foresight and register for this annual members' gathering, which will focus on influencing the expected effects of advanced nanotechnology.

To receive the discount, register at the $295 rate and put "EFF" in the comments field:
http://foresight.org/SrAssoc/spring2004


miniLinks

miniLinks features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.

~ Court Strikes Ban on Prisoner Access to the Net
The 9th Circuit rejected a rule that made a nonsensical distinction between information on the Net and the stuff that's printed on paper:
http://www.eff.org/cgi/tiny?urlID=181
(PDF; U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit)

~ And the Webby Goes to...EFF?
We're chuffed to be nominated for a Webby in the "Politics" category, along with Howard Dean's Blog for America and others. Vote now and help us take home a People's Voice award:
http://www.webbyawards.com/peoplesvoice/index.html

~ The Bono Factor
The San Francisco Chronicle on an unfortunate aspect of Sonny Bono's legacy - copyright law that stifles expression:
http://www.eff.org/cgi/tiny?urlID=180

~ Former DirecTV Enforcer Likens Job to Being a "Bag Man for the Mob"
And his wrongful discharge suit claims that 5-10 percent of DirecTV's targets are innocent:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/04/18/directv_accused/

~ German Court Dings Company for Violating the GPL
A company failed to abide by the license's requirements for open source code:
http://www.netfilter.org/news/2004-04-15-sitecom-gpl.html

~ Targeting Microsoft's Big FAT Filesystem Patent
The Public Patent Foundation, a new patent-busting group, shoots for the stars in its war against over-broad patents:
http://news.com.com/2100-7343_3-5193700.html

~ Bush Stumps for the PATRIOT Act
The Prez doesn't want PATRIOT's civil liberties-withering "sunset" provisions to expire next year:
http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,63109,00.html
Here's why they should:
http://www.eff.org/Privacy/Surveillance/Terrorism/PATRIOT/sunset/

~ Copyright Holders Pursue "Shoot First" Policy on Campuses
Universities get thousands of copyright infringement notices each year, but some are now coming with XML baked-in. The reason? A new automated takedown tool that kicks kids off the network without any human intervention or opportunity to protest:
http://news.com.com/2100-1027_3-5194341.html

~ "Personalization" Puts Web Privacy in Peril
Microsoft recently released Newsbot, a "personalized" advertising/ search tool that joins Google's Gmail and Amazon's A9 in the growing stable of cool tools that rely on your personal data to function:
http://www.clickz.com/news/article.php/3341811

~ Spyware Gets Third Degree from FTC
The commission is holding a workshop exploring definitions, dangers, and remedies:
http://news.com.com/2100-1024_3-5191822.html

~ Possible Changes to Gmail? Not So Fast
Sadly, it looks like giving props to Google for considering privacy-enhancing changes to Gmail was premature:
http://www.dmnews.com/cgi-bin/artprevbot.cgi?article_id=27158

~ SCO v. Linux: Year One
Solid reporting from Salon on the story so far:
http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2004/04/15/groklaw/

~ Senators Ask TSA to Come Clean The administration has been flip-flopping over its role in the ongoing passenger data-transfer scandal: http://www.wired.com/news/privacy/0,1848,63067,00.html

~ RealNetworks Gives Apple the Eye
The streaming company wants Apple to open the iPod to another flavor of proprietary DRM:
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/15/business/media/15real.html
(Registration unfortunately required.)

~ Flying Through Airline Security
A man recently flew round-trip between the UK and Italy, showing a passport several times. Unfortunately, security personnel didn't notice that it was his wife's passport:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/oxfordshire/3495299.stm

~ Bad IDea
Bruce Schneier tells us why national ID cards are bad for security:
http://www.startribune.com/stories/1519/4698350.html


Staff Calendar

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

  • April 20-23 -

    Kevin Bankston, Cindy Cohn, Chris Palmer, Fred von Lohmann, Wendy Seltzer, Seth Schoen, and Lee Tien speak at the 2004 Computers, Freedom&Privacy Conference, Berkeley, CA
    http://www.cfp2004.org/program/


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