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EFFector - Volume 18, Issue 25 - Action Alert: House Votes for PATRIOT Act Renewal - Don't Let the Senate Make the Same Mistake!


EFFector - Volume 18, Issue 25 - Action Alert: House Votes for PATRIOT Act Renewal - Don't Let the Senate Make the Same Mistake!

EFFector       Vol. 18, No. 25       July 28, 2005

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 341st Issue of EFFector:

Action Alert: House Votes for PATRIOT Act Renewal - Don't Let the Senate Make the Same Mistake!

The battle over the USA PATRIOT Act has reached a crisis point. The House has already passed a bill to renew many of PATRIOT's most dangerous, privacy-corroding provisions without meaningful safeguards to prevent abuse. Unless you act now, the Senate could make the same mistake.

The current Senate bill, S. 1389, contains new checks on two notorious PATRIOT provisions: Section 215 - the "library records" provision - and Section 505, which allows FBI-issued National Security Letters (NSLs) that a federal court has already found unconstitutional. But there's no guarantee that these checks will survive debate on the floor. What's worse, there's no guarantee that the Senate won't include additional language to expand PATRIOT even further.

Tell your Senators to let these dangerous provisions expire and introduce new checks to protect your rights!

Make your voice heard with the EFF Action Center:

More about PATRIOT Sections 215, 505, and the other "sunset" provisions:

Microsoft's Lockware Strategy - How Much Control Will You Have Over Your PC?

Recent headlines blare that Microsoft has forged a new "alliance" with Hollywood, but what does that mean for people who use or create software and hardware that works with Microsoft products?

Seth Schoen, EFF's staff technologist and resident expert on "trusted computing," attended this year's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) to find out. In a four-part series of updates on Microsoft's security and lockware strategy for Windows, Schoen explores the implications of the latest developments on your ability to control your own computer, create or use interoperable products, exercise your fair-use rights, protect your privacy, and maintain computer security.

Part 1: "Microsoft Trusted Computing Updates":

Part 2: "The Dangers of Device Authentication":

Part 3: "Protected Media Path, Component Revocation, Windows Driver Lockdown":

Part 4: "Microsoft Sells Out the Public on CGMS-A":

Blogging WIPO: Third Development Agenda Meeting Ends Without Consensus

For the last year, EFF has joined a group of developing nations, scholars, and public interest groups in asking the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to change the way it works. Specifically, we've been participating in meetings to establish a "Development Agenda" - an initiative to require WIPO to consider how its work impacts development and public-interest goals. What's at stake in the meetings is more than the harmony of global intellectual property regimes. WIPO decisions affect everything from the price of AIDS drugs to technological innovation to the information architecture of the Internet.

The third meeting on the Development Agenda has just concluded, and the news isn't good. This was a historic opportunity to make progress on reform. Sadly, it appears that we may be in for more of the status quo.

Just as it was in the first and second meetings, the stumbling block was how the discussion should proceed. The 14 countries in the "Group of Friends of Development," supported by the clear majority of WIPO Member States, argued for extending the discussions for a year, with three further gatherings of the specially convened Intergovernmental Inter-sessional Meeting (IIM). That way, participants could move beyond talking about talking and address the substantive issues at hand.

But the US and Japan wouldn't agree. Rather than working towards fulfilling the putative goal of the meetings - providing the WIPO General Assembly with specific recommendations for reform - these countries argued that all discussions should be transferred to a moribund committee. The meeting ended without consensus, and the WIPO General Assembly will now be asked to decide in what forum future discussions should take place.

So what happens now? We wait for the September WIPO General Assembly meeting to learn the future of the Development Agenda proposal.

"In light of the clear mandate given to these meetings, it's hard not to question the motivations of those continuing to insist on transfer to another forum. Why switch to a different and controversial forum when discussions have been underway for several months in a specially convened meeting?" asked Gwen Hinze, who directs EFF's international affairs. "As the delegate from India noted, transferring to another forum now amounts to switching from a horse to a mule midstream."

For the original version of this piece online, including blog notes from the meeting:

More about the Development Agenda:

Senator Clinton, Burned by "Hot Coffee," Proposes Grand Theft of Free Speech

Recently, Rockstar Games got into hot water after people who play its already-controversial game, "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas," discovered how to unlock a sexually graphic mini-game known as "Hot Coffee." Rockstar's parent, Take Two Interactive, has admitted to creating the hidden portion, and, under pressure, decided to pull the game off store shelves in anticipation of a "caffeine-free" version to be released this fall. In the meantime, Senator Hilary Clinton has vowed to introduce legislation that would fine retailers for selling minors video games that the industry rates as "mature" or "adults only."

Of course, the Senator's proposed video game censorship bill would violate the First Amendment. While courts have found that some sexual content is "harmful to minors," and that distribution of such material to children can be regulated, courts have also repeatedly held that violent speech, be it in video games or other media, is fully protected by the First Amendment. Courts have also repeatedly found that government enforcement of private ratings schemes (like the MPAA's ratings for films) is plainly unconstitutional. Video games are no different.

Senator Clinton, being a lawyer herself, knows that her proposed bill would immediately be challenged and struck down if ever signed into law - just like every similar bill that has been passed by city councils and state legislatures, only to be followed by a video game industry lawsuit the next day. In fact, the industry filed its latest sure-to-win First Amendment challenge just this week to fight an Illinois law regulating violent video games.

Unfortunately, it's we the taxpayers who have to bear the cost of defending these politically motivated, certainly unconstitutional laws in court. And as long as politicians can make hay of the supposed "harm" caused to our younger citizens by violent and sexually explicit speech, they will be an annoyingly persistent part of the political landscape. But it's still worth writing your city council members and state and federal legislators. If your representatives have proposed a law like this, tell them that you're tired of time-wasting games - the political kind.

For this piece online, including links to relevant articles:

Brother, Can You Spare a Patent License?

As stupid and harmful as a patent on "one-click" shopping might be, it's even worse when a company claims exclusive rights to "one-click" activism. If you give a donation to a nonprofit organization like EFF, you want every dollar to go toward fighting for the cause - not paying unfair licensing fees for the system you're using to make the donation.

Staff Attorney Jason Schultz, who leads EFF's Patent Busting Project, and Terri Forman, EFF's development director, have published an op-ed criticizing companies seeking to establish a patent "tax" for online activism and philanthropy.

"[Companies] that provide services to nonprofits are starting to patent their online techniques versus real technical innovations - things as basic as using email to alert friends to pressing social issues that need support or sending an online 'thank you' card to acknowledge a donation," explain Schultz and Forman.

"This has raised concerns [for EFF] and other nonprofits, because while technology patents do help spur some innovation, business method patents are another beast. Already a bane in the for-profit sector, if business method patents take hold in the charitable sector, nonprofits essentially face the prospect of being taxed for employing everyday online fundraising techniques. These patents also might dissuade many nonprofits from using common Internet practices because they cannot afford onerous licensing fees."

Follow this link to read the entire article: (Convio)

EFF Launches Cooperating Techs Listserv

Service Will Connect Technologists with Civil Liberties Cases

Are you a technologist interested in helping out on civil liberties cases? Are you an attorney looking for some help understanding technical issues in lawsuits? EFF is setting up a listserv to help connect technologists to attorneys on cases that are core to EFF's mission but beyond what we can handle in-house.

Over the years, EFF has connected hundreds of tech-savvy lawyers with potential clients through our Cooperating Attorneys listserv. This has worked so well, we thought we'd provide the same service for those who need technical assistance on litigation and civil liberties issues.

Here's how the Cooperating Techs list will work: Attorneys needing technical assistance on cases will contact us and let us know what kind of help they need and whether they can pay. After we receive the request and determine if it is appropriate for our list, we'll post a note to the list with a basic description of the project. (For example: "CA attorney needs a tech familiar with Microsoft Exchange servers to assist in recovering allegedly deleted email messages needed for lawsuit. Can pay reduced fee.") If you're on the list and are qualified and interested, you contact us, and we'll connect you to the attorney. That's it. EFF won't investigate or vouch for either side - we don't have those kinds of resources. We'll simply provide the connection.

Interested in being an Cooperating Tech? Send a note to with your: name, email address, and the city/state in which you reside, and we'll add you to the list. If you're an attorney facing a tech civil liberties issue and could use some technical help, send a note to, and we'll try to help you find someone.

Going Once, Going Twice...Sold to the Digital Freedom Fighter in the First Row!

As a "birthday gift" to EFF this month, recently held a successful auction of cool cellphone gadgets, donating the proceeds to EFF. (Thank you, Rich Brome, Eric Lin, and everyone at Phone Scoop!)

Now you can do the same thing. EFF has registered with eBay Giving Works and Mission Fish, and if you visit , you can auction off anything you like - gizmos and gadgets, memorabilia, conference tickets, etc. - for EFF's benefit.

Pass the word along - and thank you for your support!

Phone Scoop Auction:


miniLinks features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.

Biz School Lesson #1: Don't Sue Your Best Customers
British market research firm study suggests P2P users buy more digital music online than non-users:,12597,1536888,00.html

If I Had A Dime for Every Time Sony Showed Contempt for the Public
...then I'd be like New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, whose investigation forced Sony to pony up $10 million for bribing radio stations in violation of state law. Investigation into other record companies may continue, and the FCC could also get involved:

Grokster and the Anarchist in the Library
Copyright and culture guru Siva Vaidhyanathan sits down with Library Journal to discuss the potential effects of the Grokster ruling:

Remedying Grokster
One month after the ruling, EFF's own Fred von Lohmann looks at ways Congress could help technology innovators escape the corporate death penalty at the hands of unpredictable legal standards:

Crippling Innovation, One DRM System at a Time
Bob Frankston describes how innovation will be frustrated as more devices become like his set-top box, which treats him like a criminal by disabling compatibility with his high-resolution monitor:

TSA Deception Continues
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has confirmed that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) broke the law when it repeatedly lied to the public about collecting and using private data in testing Secure Flight. Now it's blatantly contradicting itself again, revealing in public statements that it intends to use that private information for passenger profiling rather than only confirming identity:

Nitke Ruling Reaction Round-up
Seth Finkelstein, an expert witness in the Nitke v. Gonzales case challenging the constitutionality of the obscenity provisions in the Communications Decency Act (CDA), provides links to weblog commentary and analysis of this week's ruling against Nitke:

EFF Policy Analyst Annalee Newitz on the ruling:

Whose Work Is It Anyway?
Scott Carlson on the debate over proposals for the use of "orphan works" - works of art, music, and literature whose creators or copyright holders cannot be located: Copyright expert Ann Bartow with a reader's guide to the comments submitted to the US Copyright Office in the current proceedings on the issue:

Equal Opportunity IP?
EFF takes a closer at look the US PTO's puzzling decision to turn down a trademark application for "Dykes on Bikes":


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