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EFFector - Volume 18, Issue 30 - Action Alert: Stop Millions of Europeans From Being Treated Like Criminals


EFFector - Volume 18, Issue 30 - Action Alert: Stop Millions of Europeans From Being Treated Like Criminals

EFFector       Vol. 18, No. 28       Sep 2, 2005

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 343rd Issue of EFFector:

Action Alert: Stop Millions of Europeans From Being Treated Like Criminals

Spying on telephone and Internet traffic should be law enforcement's last resort - carefully limited to protect the privacy of innocent people, conducted only during critical investigations. Unfortunately, the European Union is contemplating passing laws that would treat all of its citizens like criminal suspects.

Next week, the Justice and Home Affairs Council of the EU Council of Ministers will consider forcing phone companies and Internet service providers (ISPs) to collect and keep records of their customers' private phone calls and Internet communications, as well as the location data for their mobile devices. And within the month, another wing of the EU, the European Commission, will unveil a draft law to make creating these records of people's private communications compulsory all across Europe.

What will the records contain? If these proposals become law, European telcos and ISPs would be compelled to log and retain for inspection everything from the telephone numbers of every phone call, to the personal computer address of everyone who sends and receives email, to the time stamp, date, and size of every message sent. They may even be forced to log every website Internet users visit. And it doesn't stop there - they could also be required to log and keep records of everyone's actual physical location through their mobile devices.

What's worse, all of this information would remain on file for periods ranging from six months to three years, to be handed over to *any* "competent authority" - not just in serious criminal or terrorist investigations, but for *any* inquiry, for the open-ended purpose of "the prevention, investigation, detection, and prosecution of criminal offenses."

These proposed laws don't just threaten the privacy and freedom of EU citizens, they threaten the privacy and freedom of people all around the world. Any communication routed through Europe could be caught in this dragnet. And if the EU adopts mandatory data retention, it will make it that much easier for other governments, including the United States government, to push for similar measures. Indeed, the US Department of Justice has already expressed interest in just such an arrangement. (See .)

Show European decision makers that they're making a global mistake. Join 30,000 other concerned activists from around the world in signing a petition by European Digital Rights (EDRI), an alliance of more than 20 European civil liberty groups that is leading the fight against these dangerous proposals.

Sign the petition:

The EU Commission's current draft data retention proposal: The EU Council's draft:

EFF's New Guide to Digital Music Services Reveals the Truth About DRM

San Francisco, CA - If you buy music from an online music store, you may be getting much less than you thought. This week EFF released "The Customer Is Always Wrong - A User's Guide to DRM in Online Music," which exposes how today's digital rights management (DRM) systems compromise a consumer's right to lawfully manage her music the way she wants.

The guide takes a close look at popular online music services with built-in DRM created by Apple, RealNetworks, and Napster 2.0, as well as Microsoft's "Plays for Sure" DRM labeling campaign. Although these companies claim their services allow consumers "freedom" and the ability to play music "any way you want it," the reality often does not live up to the marketing hype. When you download in these formats from online music services, the services don't trumpet the fact that your music contains hidden restrictions that complicate your life and limit the universe of devices you can use to play your music. CDs purchased 20 years ago not only continue to play in every CD and DVD player, but can also be used with any of today's PCs and digital music players. Thanks to DRM, however, a similar investment in music downloaded today may be much less valuable to you 20 years from now.

And yet bypassing the DRM to make perfectly legal uses puts people at risk of liability under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). "In this brave new world of 'authorized digital music services,' law-abiding music fans often get less for their money than they did in the old world of CDs," said Derek Slater, the Harvard student and EFF intern who authored the guide. "Understanding how DRM and the DMCA pose a danger to your rights will help you to make fully informed purchasing decisions."

For this release:

"The Customer Is Always Wrong":

Federal Court Slams Door on Add-On Innovation

Shuts Down Open Source Videogame Server Project

St. Louis, MO - In a decision with dangerous implications for competition, consumer choice, reverse engineering, and innovation, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals this week ruled against three software programmers who created a free, open-source program to allow gamers to play games they purchased with others on the platform of their choice. The court held that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) prohibited the reverse engineering needed to create the program and that "click-wrap" and "browse-wrap" licenses are enforceable to prevent reverse engineering.

The software program, called BnetD, allowed legitimate Blizzard videogame owners to set up their own multiplayer games on the Internet and enjoy dozens of additional features instead of being locked into Blizzard's proprietary game service. EFF, co-counsel for the programmers, took the case to defend the fair-use right to reverse-engineer software and create new programs that interoperate with older ones.

"This ruling is bad for gamers, but it could also be terrible for the software industry," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "It essentially shuts down any competitor's add-on innovation that customers could enjoy with their legitimately purchased products. Add-on innovation is one of the hottest areas of creativity and economic growth right now in software, and this decision will slow investment and development in that field."

The court ruled that Congress' explicit protections for reverse engineering and add-on innovation in the highly controversial DMCA are too narrow and weak to protect innovators from lawsuits when the software they create is used for illegal copying, even if the copying occurs without the knowledge or participation of the program's creators. The court also ruled that clicking on a EULA's "I Agree" button, common when installing almost any software product purchased today, can be used to force both consumers and competitors out of the marketplace for add-on innovation.

"Those who have been claiming that the DMCA does not threaten reverse engineering are plainly wrong," added Schultz. "The DMCA has become a powerful anticompetitive tool, and that means consumers will see fewer innovative products in the marketplace."

For this release:

For the ruling:

Identities of Anonymous Online Critics Protected

Free Speech Prevails When More Than 100 Defendants Are Dropped from Suit in Utah

Utah - Private information about anonymous online critics was protected last week when a Utah man dropped his lawsuit against people who had allegedly made critical comments about him on message boards and blogs, including the Yahoo! SCOX board. The plaintiff in the case had asked the court to let him use the subpoena process to unmask his anonymous "John Doe" critics.

EFF and the ACLU of Utah opposed his efforts, filing a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that the First Amendment prohibits such subpoenas unless the court first confirms the merits of the litigant's claims. The Utah District Court agreed and demanded that the plaintiff submit additional information showing his good faith efforts to contact the defendants, the likelihood of jurisdiction, and the viability of his claims. Instead, the plaintiff declined to submit the requested information and dismissed the anonymous Yahoo! message board defendants from the case.

"In keeping with the nationwide trend, the Utah District Court recognized that an online speaker's identity should not be exposed unless the litigant can show that the claims are viable and that the litigant has no other way of getting the information," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "The court made the right call."

The plaintiff stated on his website that he had decided "anonymous speech is worth protecting." EFF agrees.

For this release:

For the amicus brief:

ACLU TV Debuts "Beyond the Patriot Act"

Join grassroots groups and households around the country who, during the first two weeks of September, will be hosting premieres of the ACLU's "Beyond the Patriot Act" - a 30-minute program from producers of "Outfoxed" and "Unconstitutional." The program, the first in a series called "The ACLU Freedom Files," is designed to spark action and reveal how civil liberties affect real people every day. It features stirring accounts of current cases, as well as well-known actors, activists, and comedians.

Hosting a showing is easy and energizing - and it's a great way to mobilize people and influence the debate that's about to resume in Congress. You can see the program on television or on the Web, and DVDs are available for purchase. Check out the website for details on scheduled broadcasts and organizing a local showing:

More about the Patriot Act:

EFF Partners with Craigslist for Nonprofit Boot Camp, October 8

EFF is proud to partner with the Craigslist Foundation for its 2nd Annual Nonprofit Boot Camp, a conference aimed at fostering nonprofit leadership and collaboration. Join more than 1,300 emerging nonprofit leaders to get educated in all aspects of successfully starting and running a nonprofit, find inspiration, and get connected with peers and valuable resources.

Registration includes the conference and evening Networking Reception, as well as breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Learn more and register online at:


miniLinks features noteworthy news items from around the Internet. Privacy for Sale
Site offering medical insurance leads has sample client- fishing profiles available for purchase. Information culled from web searches for insurance includes records on treatment for AIDS and curing your smoking habit:

New Trademark Law: Where's the Beef?
Paul Levy of Public Citizen takes a close look at the fair-use failings of the current version of the Trademark Dilution Revision Act: Here's where you can tell your representative you don't support the bill:

Tufte on Google and Privacy
The information design guru argues that users might want to regularly hide their IP addresses:

Web Fame, Chinese Style
How the Chinese authorities are failing to censor an online celebrity:

Snooping con Tutti
How lax wiretapping controls in Italy make hundreds of private conversations public knowledge:,0,1288052.story?coll=la-home-world

The Rise of CALEA
MIT Tech Review on the many reasons why forcing certain broadband and VoIP providers to build backdoors for easy government surveillance is such a terrible idea:

Canada's Big Brother Plan to Reshape the Internet
Michael Geist looks at Canada's new plans for - you guessed it - network surveillance:

High-Tech Hot Spots
Copyfighters Nelson Pavlosky and Siva Vaidhyanathan hit the mainstream with Newsweek's look at the ever-increasing tech smarts of college students:

An Illustrated Guide to IPSec
Today's visual brain-stretcher: a pictorial guide to IPSec, the secure standard for IP:

To DMCA or Not to DMCA - Australia Decides
A consultation on whether there will be DMCA-like anti-circumvention rules Down Under has begun. Kim Weatherall has the scoop:


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Donna Wentworth, Web Writer/Activist

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