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EFFector - Volume 18, Issue 4 - EFF Announces New Privacy Tool


EFFector - Volume 18, Issue 4 - EFF Announces New Privacy Tool

EFFector       Vol. 18, No. 04       February 11, 2005

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 320th Issue of EFFector:

EFF Announces New Privacy Tool

Logfinder Helps Eliminate Unwanted Logging of Personal Data

San Francisco, CA - EFF this week released logfinder, a software tool to help people reduce the unnecessary collection of personal information about computer users. Often computer network servers automatically log information about who has visited a website and when, or who has sent and received email. Such data tells a lot about a user's browsing and email habits and could be used in privacy-invasive ways. Moreover, log data must be turned over to government entities with court orders and can be subpoenaed by opposing sides in court cases.

By finding unwanted log files, logfinder informs system administrators when their servers are collecting personal data and gives them the opportunity to turn logging off if it isn't gathering information necessary for administering the system.

Logfinder was conceived by security consultant Ben Laurie and written by EFF Staff Technologist Seth Schoen. It's intended to complement EFF's recent white paper, "Best Practices for Online Service Providers," in which the organization argues that administrators should remove as many logs as possible and delete all personally identifying data from them.

"People who choose to follow our recommendations in the white paper might not know what kinds of logs they have," said Schoen. "Logfinder is an example of one way a system administrator could become aware of the presence of logs, as well as discover sensitive information being collected in known logs."

For this media alert:

To download logfinder:

EFF white paper: "Best Practices for Online Service Providers":

EFF Urges Congress to Vote "No" on Real ID Bill

Standardizing driver's licenses has long been recognized as a bureaucratic back-door to a national ID system - the hallmark of a totalitarian state. With its required linking of databases and ability of the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish a single format for licenses, the "Real ID Bill" (HR 418) takes us well along that road. Yet it fails even to pay lip service to civil liberties and privacy concerns.

This week, EFF joined a diverse left-right coalition of privacy and civil liberties organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Electonic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, and the Gun Owners of America (GOA) in sending a letter urging Congress to reject the bill.

"This bill would create a single nationwide database of every driver by forcing all states to link their DMV records, while repealing existing requirements for privacy-respecting procedures," said Lee Tien, EFF's senior privacy attorney. "It's a toxic concentration of data."

Coalition letter opposing HR 418:

GOA action alert:

More about national ID proposals:

Bruce Schneier's Crypto-Gram: "National ID Cards":

Mandatory Student IDs Contain RFIDs

Parents and Civil Liberties Groups Urge School District to Terminate Use of Tracking Devices

San Francisco - Parents in a northern California public school district and civil liberties groups are urging a school district to terminate the mandatory use of Radio Frequency Identification tags (RFIDs) by students.

Several civil liberties groups, including the ACLU of Northern California (ACLU-NC), Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), sent a letter this week expressing alarm at the Brittan School District's use of mandatory ID badges that include an RFID device that tracks the students' movements. The device transmits private information to a computer on campus whenever a student passes under one of the scanners. The ID badges also include the student's name, photo, grade, school name, class year, and the four-digit school ID number. Students are required to prominently display the badges by wearing them around the neck at all times.

"Forcing my child to be tracked with a RFID device - without our consent or knowledge - is a complete invasion of our privacy," said Michael and Dawn Cantrall. "Our 7th grader came home wearing the ID badge prominently displayed around her neck - if a predator wanted to target my child, the mandatory school ID card has just made that task easier." The Cantralls filed a formal complaint against the Brittan Elementary School Board in Sutter, California on January 30th after meeting with several school officials.

"The monitoring of children with RFID tags is comparable to the tracking of cattle, shipment pallets, or very dangerous criminals in high-security prisons. Compelling children to be constantly tracked with RFID-trackable identity badges breaches their right to privacy and dignity as human beings," said Cedric Laurant, Policy Counsel with EPIC.

"It is dehumanizing to force these children to wear RFIDs, and their parents are rightfully outraged," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien. "We are doing everything we can to support the parents in this fight to protect student privacy."

For the full media release:

Joint letter from ACLU-NC, EFF, and EPIC to the Brittan School: (PDF)

For more about RFID use in schools:

AP article: "Parents Protest Student Computer ID Tags":

BayFF Event: EFF Celebrates Innovation, Feb. 22

Check Out the Latest Gadgets and Hang Out with EFF at our February BayFF!

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2005
7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

WHAT: "Inventive Gizmos - A Celebration of Innovation"

Innovation. We love it.

This upcoming BayFF is a celebration of all the technological wonders we've been able to enjoy thanks to the legal shield provided by the 1984 Sony Betamax ruling. Come check out cool new gizmos from local tech companies Elgato, Slim Devices, and Sling Media. EFF attorneys and tech gurus will talk about how you can help protect the pro-innovation environment that allows gadgets like these to flourish.

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 will be served.

RSVP at (415) 436-9333, x129 or email

111 Minna Gallery is accessible via BART. Get off at the Montgomery station and use the exit marked 2nd and Market. Walk south on 2nd Street for a block and a half, and take a right down the Minna Street Alley. 111 Minna Street is located between Mission and Howard streets.

EFF Seeks Summer Interns

EFF invites outstanding law students to apply for summer internship positions at our high-energy office in San Francisco, where you can work with EFF's legal team to litigate cutting-edge issues surrounding new technologies.

Interns assist in all aspects of litigation, including legal research, factual investigation, and drafting of memoranda and briefs, while also helping with policy research, client counseling, and the development of public education materials.

Summer interships are unpaid and last for 10-12 weeks. Applications are due by February 25, 2005.

For details and an application, see:


miniLinks features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.

He Who Shall Not Be Named (In a Lawsuit)
J.K. Rowling is reportedly considering copyright charges against the US Army for using "Harry Potter" characters in an official Army magazine:,,2091-1472447,00.html

RIAA Sues Dead People
Lawyers representing several record companies filed suit against an 83 year-old woman, claiming that she made more than 700 songs available on the Internet. The rub:
she passed away in December and reportedly hated computers: (Boston Globe)

Yin Yang Alert:
Diebold Launches Voting Machine with Printer

The company that wanted to charge "out the yin yang" for voting machines with printers has finally produced a prototype of what you can get at that price: (AP)

Fantastic Four
Robert Boynton reviews four four-star books on the copyright in the digital era:

Fox Censors Super Bowl Ad About Censorship
The racy commercial for - an Internet domain name registrar - featured a faux hearing on broadcast censorship, complete with (implied) wardrobe malfunction. It's still widely available on the still-uncensored Internet:

The commercial itself:

Patents Leave Japanese Writers at Loss for Words
A Tokyo court has taken word-processing software Ichitaro - the only serious competitor to Microsoft Word - off the market because of a dispute over software patents:

Of Media Savants and Cartoon Ferrets
The New York Times writes about Grokster and the propaganda war between copyright extremists and pro-balance groups:
(Registration unfortunately required.)

Another View on Grokster
Public Knowledge's fearless leader Gigi Sohn with a thoughtful op-ed on the importance of Grokster, the return of Induce, and the need for copyright balance:

Calling All Artists
Larry Lessig's most recent Wired column is a stirring call for artists to fight for the future of (their) music:

Ireland May Toss 50 Million Euros of E-voting Machines
Last year's security dust-up - and the public's vote of no-confidence - may mean the scrap heap for the country's planned switch to e-voting:
(The Register)

German National Library Gets DRM Exemption
The German Federation of the Phonographic Industry has granted the German National Library a license to circumvent protection measures in order to facilitate archiving. It's nice of the federation to grant the license, but it's sad that librarians have to ask permission to do their jobs:
(German National Library, RTF)

Weirdest Defamation Case Ever
In a bizarre show of legal straw-grabbing, a business man has sued CNN for failing to police the postings of "Wolfblitzzer0" on a non-CNN site. The man claims that Wolfblitzzer0's postings are defamatory, and that CNN's failure to assert trademark claims against him/her has caused harm. We assume, by the way, that the poster is not the cuddly anchor of CNN fame:

The Search Engine That Knew Too Much
Did you know that Google tracks every search and the IP address from which it was made? The company may not be evil, but privacy advocates worry that the data could be abused by virtue-challenged government agencies:

Microsoft & Macrovision Launch Joint Copy Protection
The "M&Ms of DRM?" Okay, that was bad, but this news is worse. The two companies intend to saddle analog recordings with even more copy protection cruft:

Kids Down on Free Speech
According to this scary study, over a third of US students think the government should pre-approve news stories:
(USA Today)

New Group Launches to Create Standards for E-voting
The Voting Systems Performance Rating (VSPR) is designed to be a publicly drafted, publicly available alternative to today's flawed voting machine standards:

Blaming CAN-SPAM for Junk Email
Some people think that the year-old law - and its guidelines for sending legal spam - are the reason that junk mail is more popular than ever. Yep:
(Registration unfortunately required.)


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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