EFFector Vol. 19, No. 11 March 17, 2006
A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation ISSN 1062-9424
In the 372nd Issue of EFFector:
- Get the Word out About the Sony BMG Settlement
- Proposed New Jersey Laws Would Chill Free Speech
- Job Opportunity: Develop Tor and Help Protect Online Privacy
- Thank You, Call For Help!
- miniLinks (10): Google's Gaffe Reveals Internal Secrets
- Staff Calendar
Get the Word out About the Sony BMG Settlement
EFF's campaign to help music fans claim their share of the Sony BMG settlement is off to a great start. News reports and EFF's settlement banners have spread around the web, driving over 20,000 hits to our settlement site in one week.
Help us keep the momentum going. Sony BMG won't be held accountable for infecting its customers' computers with dangerous DRM if music fans don't learn about the flawed software, the settlement, and how to submit claims. EFF has created a webpage to guide people through the Sony BMG settlement site, and we've designed several banners that link to this webpage. By posting a banner on your website or blog, you can help music fans protect themselves and get what they deserve.
To get the banners:
To submit your Sony BMG settlement claim:
For litigation documents and frequently asked questions:
Proposed New Jersey Laws Would Chill Free Speech
EFF and Other Groups Call for Bills' Withdrawal
San Francisco - A diverse coalition of companies, public interest organizations, and legal scholars, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), craigslist, Public Citizen, the US Internet Industry Association (USIIA), the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) and Professors Lyrissa C. Barnett Lidsky and Jennifer M. Urban, sent an open letter this week to three New Jersey assemblymen, urging them to withdraw their support from two bills designed to eliminate anonymous online speech.
Assembly bills A1327 and A2623 would require Internet service providers to record users' identities and reveal them in response to any claim of defamation. While aimed at curbing online bad actors, the bills run afoul of the First Amendment -- which protects the right to speak anonymously - - as well as a federal law designed to protect speech in online fora. The bills would require identification of an online poster before the facts were resolved, leading to a flood of unsubstantiated claims designed simply to unmask online speakers.
"Protecting anonymity is vital to maintaining the diversity of viewpoints on the Internet," said EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "Keeping online debates robust enables democracy, even if it allows name-calling and strongly worded opinions about political figures."
The open letter calls for Assemblymen Peter J. Biodi, Wilfredo Caraballo, and Upendra J. Chivukula not to waste taxpayer resources in defending these bills that will inevitably be struck down in court. New Jersey courts are already handling claims of defamation online in a careful and constitutionally appropriate manner, balancing a speaker's anonymity rights with the merits of the plaintiff's claim. The well-established standard in New Jersey and elsewhere for deciding whether to order the identification of anonymous defendants has functioned well to separate ill-founded lawsuits from cases in which identification is appropriate.
As evidence of this balanced approach, the open letter points to the cases available for review on a web site maintained by the Cyberslapp Coalition -- several of whose members signed the open letter -- at www.cyberslapp.org. The Cyberslapp web site provides briefs, evidence, and opinions from nearly four dozen "John Doe" cases in which the standard has been discussed and applied. The site, which permits search both by keyword and by state of decision, is provided free of charge as a resource for litigants on both sides of Doe disputes.
For the full text of the open letter:
The Cyberslapp Coalition:
For this release:
Job Opportunity: Develop Tor and Help Protect Online Privacy
The developers of Tor, a software tool for communicating anonymously online, have funding for one or two C programmers. Due to the nature of the grant, applicants must be students at a university in Ontario, Canada. The position will last for the duration of 2006. To apply, follow the link below. If you know someone who might be interested, please forward this announcement along.
Learn more about this opportunity:
Learn more about Tor: http://tor.eff.org
Thank You, Call For Help!
Last week, G4's Call for Help auctioned off eight editions of Adventures of Superman issue #648 signed by several popular tech podcasters whose logos were featured in the comic. The $2880 raised was donated to EFF -- every penny of which will go to defending free speech, consumer rights, innovation, and privacy online. Thank you to Call for Help and the winning bidders for their generous contributions!
If you want to help support EFF:
Consumer Alert: AdviceBox.com Isn't Anonymous Email
EFF is warning the public about a so-called anonymous email service located at Advicebox.com. Advicebox.com's tagline is "Anonymous email made easy" but this service does not provide real anonymity -- it's a trap for the unwary and should not be used by battered spouses, whistleblowers and others who need real protection.
We were alerted to the AdviceBox.com trap by someone who believed the tagline and paid to send an "anonymous," extremely critical email about a former employer. After the employer ran to court, AdviceBox.com handed the critic's name over and gave our critic less than a three days notice -- not nearly enough time to find an attorney and make a motion to protect his identity. He has lost his current job as a result.
So has AdviceBox.com violated its promise? Certainly if you look at the way this service is marketed. The Website is filled with stuff like "Send your anonymous email here!" and "What is anonymous email? The ability to send email without revealing your identity to the recipient."
But AdviceBox.com doesn't really provide anonymous email -- the small print in the terms of service make this clear. AdviceBox.com won't protect you if anyone "claims that any content violates the rights of third parties." And what critical speech isn't vulnerable to claims that it violates the rights of people being criticized? Advicebox.com will respond to "legal process" like subpoenas, but we've long seen that legal process is used to silence criticism. It's difficult to see how Advicebox.com's service is any more protective of your identity than simply choosing the name firstname.lastname@example.org. Most ISPs don't go around handing out their customer's identities either.
People who need real anonymity would be much better off setting up a free webmail account without giving identifying information and using Tor to hide their IP address. This will not only give them better protection, it will save them the $4.95 per month that AdviceBox.com charges.
For this post:
To learn more about Tor:
To learn more about anonymity online:
miniLinks features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.
Google's Gaffe Reveals Internal Secrets
There's a delicious irony in Google formulating plans to store gigabytes of user data, and then accidentally leaking their own.
EFF's Seth Schoen reports on wiretapping: how it works, and how a simple touch-tone chord can disable it.
Unintended Consequences of Copyright Warnings
The copyright "education" domain publicized on all Canadian CDs expired and has been replaced by a Russian MP3 site.
Save The Music Fan
Music label launches campaign to stop the RIAA suits.
PS3 Delayed to Implement DRM
Blu-Ray DRM issues was a sizeable component of PS3 shipping slippage.
The Other Analog Hole
Everyone has similar "problems" to the MPAA's over analog leakage -- but it's obvious how impossible it would be to legislate against it.
The Truth About Your Battery Life
Handling complex DRM reduces the battery life of iPods and other MP3 players.
SXSW to MPAA: STFU
The MPAA gets short shrift from artists and innovators at South-by-Southwest.
RIAA Says Future DRM Might "Threaten Critical
Infrastructure and Potentially Endanger Lives" RIAA concedes that DRM might have far-reaching consequences, but is reticent to allow circumvention to solve that.
Yale Holding Access to Knowledge Conference
Covering IP issues for developing countries.
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