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EFFector - Volume 18, Issue 16 - Action Alert - Give the Broadcast Flag a TKO!


EFFector - Volume 18, Issue 16 - Action Alert - Give the Broadcast Flag a TKO!

EFFector       Vol. 18, No. 16       May 20, 2005

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 332nd Issue of EFFector:

Action Alert - Give the Broadcast Flag a TKO!

We have the Broadcast Flag on the ropes, but its supporters are flailing back. The Broadcast Flag, a plan to give Hollywood remote control of how you record, copy, transfer, or replay over-the-air digital television, was knocked flat by the courts.

Now the film and TV industries are running to Congress to get the fix in.

The current plan: sneak a few lines of innocuous-sounding law past legislators to give the FCC the sweeping regulatory authority it needs re-instate the Flag. That would restore Hollywood's power to dictate the design of any digital equipment capable of receiving broadcasts - and once again, technology innovators would be forced to beg permission to provide you with the features and functionality for exercising your fair use rights.

The lawyers and lobbyists are moving fast, but you can move faster. Tell your representative you don't want Hollywood to hobble your digital media devices, and knock out the Broadcast Flag for good.

Make your voice heard with the EFF Action Center:

EFF Obtains Draft PATRIOT Bill

Bill Gives Justice Department More Power to Demand Private Records

San Francisco, CA - On Thursday, May 26, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will consider in closed session a draft bill that would both renew and expand various USA PATRIOT Act powers. EFF has obtained a copy of the draft bill, along with the committee's summary of it, and has made them available to journalists and interested citizens on its website.

"Even though Congress is still debating whether to renew the broad surveillance authorities granted by the original USA PATRIOT Act, the Justice Department is already lobbying for even more unchecked authority to demand the private records of citizens who are not suspected of any crime," said Kevin Bankston, EFF attorney and Equal Justice Works/Bruce J. Ennis Fellow. "The Senate's intelligence committee should focus on adding checks and balances to protect against abuse of already-existing PATRIOT powers, or repealing them altogether, rather than working to expand them behind closed doors."

For this release:

Draft bill:


More about the PATRIOT Act:

California Debates Bill to Keep RFIDs Out of IDs

Bill to Protect Californians' Privacy, Personal Safety, and Financial Security Advances in State Senate

Sacramento, CA - The California State Senate this week approved a groundbreaking bill that would prohibit state and local governments from issuing identification documents containing a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag, a device that can broadcast an individual's most private information - including name, address, telephone number, and date of birth - to anyone with an RFID reader. The bill, called the Identity Information Protection Act of 2005 (SB 682), is the first of its kind in the country, and has drawn national attention after the federal government proposed embedding RFIDs in US passports. It will now move to the State Assembly.

RFID tag readers are readily available to the general public, making it easy for anyone to collect personally identifying information. The information could then be used for identity theft, stalking, kidnapping, or worse. It could also be used by the government or individuals to identify and track people in a variety of sensitive contexts, including abortion clinics, political rallies, and religious gatherings. The bill would make such tracking illegal.

"People have a right not to be tracked. The government shouldn't be putting tracking devices into driver's licenses and other ID cards that people need to go about their daily lives," said Lee Tien, Senior Staff Attorney at EFF.

SB 682 has garnered strong bipartisan support. Former Congressman Bob Barr (R-Georgia) recently featured the bill's author, California State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), on his weekly show on Radio America. Other supporters include the Capitol Resource Institute, the Free Congress Foundation, the AARP, The California Alliance Against Domestic Violence, the Statewide California Coalition for Battered Women, California NOW, and the California Commission on the Status of Women.

For the full-length version of the release:

If you're a California resident, tell your representative to support SB 682 today!

Can Florida's Election Officials Ignore the Law?

Circuit Court Deliberates Manual Recount Problems with Touchscreen Voting Machines

Florida - EFF and a coalition of national groups concerned about voting integrity have filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a seminal e-voting case brought by Florida Congressman Robert Wexler and others. Florida law requires manual recounts in close races. In the lawsuit, Congressman Wexler argues that when Florida election officials purchased touchscreen voting machines that do not leave a paper trail, they prevented true manual recounts and violated the law. The case is now on appeal before the 11th Circuit.

"While touchscreen voting machines offer some promising advances, critical shortcomings still exist in both design and implementation, not the least of which is a failure to allow for meaningful recounts," said EFF Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "With better solutions available for Florida voters, systems that can't be audited simply have to go."

"In the aftermath of the 2004 election, we saw county after county engage in phony 'recounts' on touchscreen machines that lacked paper trails. If the 11th Circuit court recognizes that true manual recounts are not possible on these machines, it will not only help Florida voters, it could help encourage election officials across the country to choose voting technologies that increase, rather than decrease, voter confidence," added EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn.

In its amicus brief, EFF lists 17 instances when touchscreen voting machines used in Florida caused significant problems - including throwing election results into doubt - because they were not designed to allow manual recounts. EFF also notes that a number of currently available technologies preserve the ability to conduct manual recounts, meaning that Florida election officials are simply choosing to use machines that flout state law.

Joining EFF on the brief are Common Cause, People for the American Way Foundation,, Center for Constitutional Rights, Computer Scientists for Social Responsibility, and Voters Unite.

For the full release:

For the amicus brief:

More about e-voting:

Cambridge Researchers Analyze Tor Security at IEEE Symposium

Two computer scientists from Cambridge University, Steven Murdoch and George Danezis, presented a paper on the anonymous communication system Tor last week at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy. Entitled "Low-Cost Traffic Analysis of Tor," the paper describes one possible attack on Tor's security that allows an attacker to learn the nodes in a user's circuit, but not the identity of the user. The attacker must also control the server that users are trying to reach. No aspect of the attack compromises user anonymity - Tor users' identities are still secure.

"The paper is useful because it points out problems in some future design directions we were considering," said Tor developer Roger Dingledine. "I'm happy that we're getting serious academic research on Tor, and I'm happy that they didn't discover any attacks that could uncover users' identities. The next research question here is to try to show that their attack becomes weaker as the Tor network grows."

Tor is an open source, anonymous communication tool for the Internet, developed primarily by Dingledine and Nick Mathewson, and is currently supported by EFF.

"The reason Murdoch and Danezis picked Tor for their paper is that Tor is publicly documented, easily accessible, and is a free-route system to research," said Mathewson. "Not only is Tor advancing the state of anonymity research, but it's also getting better each time we learn about a new vulnerability."

"Low-Cost Traffic Analysis of Tor":

Wired: "Tor Torches Online Tracking":,1848,67542,00.html

More about the Tor project:


miniLinks features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.

Canadian Appeals Court Denies P2P Subpoenas
The Canadian Federal Court of Appeals has affirmed a lower court's decision denying the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) the right to subpoena the identities of 29 alleged filesharers. Michael Geist breaks it down:

CopyNight May 24: Freedom is On the March
May's CopyNight was supposed to be about the Broadcast Flag and how it would be forced on every digital device capable of receiving DTV broadcasts by this summer - then the Flag was trounced in court. Join fellow copyfighters in 10 North American cities this coming Tuesday to celebrate:

US Register of Copyrights Misconstrues the Founders
Ed Felten criticizes the US Register of Copyrights' maximalist interpretation of the Founding Fathers' intent for copyright:

Lessig in Technology Review
MIT's Technology Review includes pieces by, and responses to, EFF Board member Lawrence Lessig on copyright and DRM. Ernest Miller gives us a brief tour:
(Importance Of...)

Attack of the Recursive End-User License Agreements
Ben Edelman discovers the fractal EULA for 3D Desktop's Flying Icons Desktop. The click-through license includes, by hyperlink, the EULA of another program installed in concert with the screensaver. That program itself installs a family of at least four other third-party programs. Each has its own separate license, which are included, Russian Doll-style, in the parent EULA. Click once, tacitly agree to three levels of misdirection:

Does TV Filesharing Boost Audiences?
Just as the MPAA begins its smackdown of TV BitTorrent sites, Mark Pesce argues that widespread filesharing may have helped make the new Battlestar Galactica and Dr. Who series mega-hits:

Required Reading for Copyright Reformers in Australia
Kim Weatherall continues her comprehensive coverage of the deliberations over fair use in Australia with this collection of links to government and law reform reports relevant to the proposed copyright exceptions:
(Weatherall's Law)

Swedish Justice Minister Proposes Banning DRM for CDs
Because "it should be possible to make a copy of your own newly-purchased CD for an mp3 player, or to make an extra copy of the CD to have in the car." Hear that, Australia?

Data for Dissidents
Ethan Zuckerman's terrific technical guide to anonymous blogging, written from the perspective of "a government whistleblower in a country with a less-than-transparent government":

University Uses Copyright to Unmask Blog Critics
St. Lawrence University is using copyright claims to discover the identity of the people behind a website that criticizes the faculty:
(Copyfight) Meanwhile, one faculty member is using his blog to defend the right to online anonymity:
(Big Monkey/Helpy Chalk)

Thinking of the Orphans
Joe Gratz helpfully summarizes the reply comments submitted in the Copyright Office's Orphan Works proceeding:

Filtering Still Fallible
Consumer Reports tests show that filtering software has marginally improved, but still blocks perfectly legitimate websites like and National Institute on Drug Abuse:
(Consumer Reports)


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