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EFFector - Volume 18, Issue 19 - EFF Publishes Legal Guide for Bloggers


EFFector - Volume 18, Issue 19 - EFF Publishes Legal Guide for Bloggers

EFFector       Vol. 18, No. 19       June 16, 2005

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 335th Issue of EFFector:

EFF Publishes Legal Guide for Bloggers

Whether you're a newly minted blogger or a relative old-timer, you've been seeing more and more stories pop up every day about bloggers getting into trouble for what they post.

Like all journalists and publishers, bloggers sometimes publish information that other people don't want published. You might, for example, publish something that someone considers defamatory, republish an AP news story that's under copyright, or write a lengthy piece detailing the alleged crimes of a candidate for public office.

The difference between you and the reporter at your local newspaper is that in many cases, you may not have the benefit of training or resources to help you determine whether what you're doing is legal. And on top of that, sometimes knowing the law doesn't help - in many cases the law was written for traditional journalists, and the courts haven't decided yet how it applies to bloggers.

But here's the important part: None of this should stop you from blogging. Freedom of speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Internet bullies shouldn't use the law to stifle legitimate free expression. That's why EFF created the "Legal Guide for Bloggers," compiling a number of FAQs designed to help you understand your rights and, if necessary, defend your freedom.

Follow the links below to read the guide and learn more about ways EFF is fighting to defend bloggers' rights:

EFF: Legal Guide for Bloggers:

EFF: Fighting for Bloggers' Rights:

Press release: "Justice for Bloggers":

BayFF on Bloggers' Rights, July 19

To kick-off EFF's forthcoming 15th Anniversary celebrations, we'll be holding a special BayFF exploring the legal issues surrounding blogging. The roundtable discussion will feature EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl, local bloggers, and companies that create blogging tools.

Opshal, who leads EFF's bloggers' rights campaign, is one of the attorneys representing online journalists in Apple v. Does, the case in which Apple Computer, Inc., is seeking to unmask the journalists' confidential sources for articles about a future Apple product.

More about bloggers' rights and Apple v. Does:

WHAT: BayFF on Bloggers' Rights

WHEN: 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 19, 2005

111 Minna Gallery
111 Minna Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Tel: (415) 974-1719

This event is free and open to the general public. You must be 21+. Refreshments and birthday cake will be served. Please RSVP to (415) 436-9333 x129 or

Why Isn't Secure Flight Grounded?

This week brought yet another privacy scandal for the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) fundamentally flawed "Secure Flight" passenger surveillance program. The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) chief privacy officer, Nuala O' Connor-Kelly, is launching an investigation to find out whether the program broke federal privacy law by hiding from the public the extent to which it has been digging through commercial databases for the private information of innocent Americans.

Secure Flight plans to force airlines and reservations services to hand over your personal travel information in order to match it against names on secret government "watch lists" to decide whether you're allowed to fly.

Not only does this threaten our freedom to travel, there's no reason to believe the plan will work. In March, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that "the effectiveness of Secure Flight in identifying passengers who should undergo additional security scrutiny has not yet been determined." Last week, another government watchdog group stated that the Terrorist Screening Center, which runs the government's central watch list, "could not ensure that the information in that database was complete and accurate."

That puts you and every other passenger at risk of being grounded or made subject to repeated security checks due to information that is false, old, or incomplete.

But that's hardly the worst of it. Airport personnel could squander valuable time and resources on you and other "false positives" instead of focusing on measures that would lower the risk that terrorists could board a plane with weapons or explosives. Trusting "what the computer says" might even lead security officials to overlook danger signs as they wave people through the gate - decreasing, not increasing, passenger safety.

Unfortunately, TSA has not only persisted in pushing for Secure Flight, it's added insult to injury by repeatedly lying about its use of passengers' private information for testing the program. As we reported in March, a DHS report revealed that TSA misled individuals, the press, and Congress in 2003 and 2004. In addition, in the report we quote above, the GAO determined that Secure Flight failed to meet 9 out of 10 conditions the Office set for giving the program the go-ahead. These conditions included providing adequate protection for passengers' privacy and ensuring the accuracy of the data it would use to classify people as terrorist threats.

Now it appears that TSA may not even have shared the whole story in its federally mandated Privacy Act notices. It's now proposing retroactively changing them, with program director Justin Oberman reportedly describing the revisions as "unsurprising" and "technical."

"At this point, there's no reason whatsoever for the American public or anyone else - including the Department of Homeland Security's own privacy officer - to trust TSA or put faith in Secure Flight," said Lee Tien, EFF's senior privacy attorney. "The idea behind Secure Flight is to spend millions of dollars waiting for bad guys to come to the airport. Meanwhile, all Americans must give up their privacy and civil liberties - not to mention time - in order to fly. Maybe the government should spend those Secure Flight dollars on actually looking for the people on the 'no-fly' list."

For this piece online:

Wired: "Secure Flight Hits Turbulence":,1848,67875,00.html

Bill Scannell's website: "":

EFF: "It's Official: TSA Lied":

EFF: "TSA and CAPPS II - Anatomy of a Cover-Up":

Popcorn and Free Speech: EFF Co-Presents "The Front," July 24 and August 2

Worried about the erosion of our constitutional rights? Remember the House Committee on Un-American Activities? EFF is co-presenting two showings of "The Front," the 1976 film produced and directed by government blacklist victim Martin Ritt. The first showing will take place on July 24th at the Castro Theater in San Francisco, after which there will be a special panel discussion featuring Walter Bernstein (screenwriter and blacklist victim), Norma Barzman, and Dan Bessie (the son of a blacklist victim). The panel will be moderated by Paul Buhle. The second showing will take place August 2nd at the Roda Theater in Berkeley. For more details and to order tickets, visit:

EFF Offers Security Training for Organizers, June 29

Know Your Rights Under PATRIOT

Political activists and nonprofit organizations have historically been targets of government surveillance, but in the post-9/11 world many of the key legal safeguards against such surveillance have been discarded in the name of fighting terrorism. To help organizations protect their privacy even under the USA PATRIOT Act, EFF's lawyers and technologists have developed "STOP" - the Security Training for Organizers Project. The STOP curriculum, a potent combination of "know-your-rights" legal advocacy and lessons in practical information security, will give you the basic legal and technical knowledge necessary to defend your organization and its members against privacy invasions.

For a flat fee of $35, you can participate in the STOP training session taking place Wednesday, June 29, in downtown San Francisco. If you aren't in the Bay Area, don't despair - we're developing STOP materials for the EFF website and are planning additional training sessions throughout the country. If you'd like to request that EFF present STOP in your community, please contact attorney Kevin Bankston at

WHAT: EFF's Security Training for Organizers WHEN: June 29, 2005, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. WHERE: 706 Mission Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103

TO REGISTER: (CompassPoint Nonprofit Services)

DIRECTIONS: (CompassPoint Nonprofit Services)

EFF Seeks Experienced, Dynamic Membership Coordinator

EFF is searching for a dynamic Membership Coordinator (MC) with a successful track record. The Membership Coordinator reports to the Director of Development and is a key component of EFF's fundraising activities. The MC is responsible for managing contact with EFF's members, helping to develop strategies to grow the membership, donor and membership databases; processing donations, thank-you letters and renewal notices; managing the donation pages of the website; and responding to any issues members may have. The MC also manages EFF's online shop, including order fulfillment. The MC also attends a number of commercial conferences each year, managing the EFF booth presence and speaking informally with conference attendees.

The position requires enthusiasm and a flexible, can-do attitude with a strong affinity for quality customer service. Having the initiative to sniff out and solve problems independently is essential, as is the dedication to perform daily tasks with minimal oversight. The position offers the opportunity to learn about all aspects of nonprofit fundraising, as well as digital civil liberties issues, in a hard-working, fun office environment.

Follow the link below to learn more and apply:


miniLinks features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.

How I Became the Subject of a Secret Service Investigation
A blogger tells how posting a set of Flickr pictures protesting art-gallery censorship ended up bringing the feds to the door:

Take My Privacy, Please!
Ted Koppell with an effective bit of schtick arguing that private data-collection could end up hurting us more than PATRIOT: (NYT; registration unfortunately required.)

Universal DRM Standard Now the Cure for Nonexistent Problem
Techdirt pours scorn on a report claiming that the lack of DRM is holding up media-sharing in the home: "DRM, by its very definition, restricts flexibility, not encourages it":

ISPs (Once Again) Encouraged to Spy on Their Customers
CNET on how ISPs are being pressured to retain their customer logs for use by law enforcement:

An Even-Handed Look at Online Music
Europe's Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) with a balanced report concluding that music distribution needs "reevaluation," while the connection between filesharing and any drop in music sales remains unclear:

Fisking the President
The Washington Post on the misleading numbers the President has been using to justify renewal and/or expansion of PATRIOT powers:

House Votes to Limit PATRIOT
Lawmakers voted 238-187 to block the Justice Department and the FBI from using PATRIOT to paw through library records and bookstore sales slips. Bravo!,1848,67880,00.html

Jack Valenti Unwrapped
J.D. Lasica asks the former MPAA president about the future of the copyfight in a 2004 interview: "Well, the big problem is the analog hole, and that's a technological aberration that can only be solved through technology":

People Don't Criminally Leak Medical Secrets - "Covered Entities" Do
The US government gets out of prosecuting individuals for selling private medical info, saying the HIPAA crime only applies if you're a bad *institution*: (NYT; registration unfortunately required.)

Tor for Anonymous Academic Review
Reviewers of scientific papers want to explore websites without giving away that they're the peers doing the reviewing. Enter Tor:

China Gets its Films on Time
Warner releases a DVD ("The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants") in China at the same time as the US, in a "groundbreaking response to piracy." The best solution to black market: eliminate the market inefficiency that created it:


EFFector is published by:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation
454 Shotwell Street
San Francisco CA 94110-1914 USA
+1 415 436 9333 (voice)
+1 415 436 9993 (fax)

Donna Wentworth, Web Writer/Activist

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General EFF, legal, policy, or online resources queries:

Reproduction of this publication in electronic media is encouraged. Signed articles do not necessarily represent the views of EFF. To reproduce signed articles individually, please contact the authors for their express permission. Press releases and EFF announcements & articles may be reproduced individually at will.

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