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EFFector - Volume 19, Issue 17 - Action Alert: Tell Your Senators to Kick Out the Flags


EFFector - Volume 19, Issue 17 - Action Alert: Tell Your Senators to Kick Out the Flags

EFFector Vol. 19, No. 17 May, 2006

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation ISSN 1062-9424

In the 378th Issue of EFFector:

effector: n, Computer Sci. A device for producing a desired change.

Action Alert: Tell Your Senators to Kick Out the Flags

On May 1, Senator Stevens introduced the "Communications, Consumer's Choice, and Broadband Deployment Act" (S.2686). Buried inside this 125-page bill is language that would create a broadcast flag in over-the-air TV transmissions and give the FCC power to create a similar technology mandate for digital radio.

If this bill were to pass, government and the entertainment industry would control what you could do with digital media in your home. The broadcast flag would place TV shows in a DRM ghetto, where your right to copy, back-up, time-shift or convert them into formats convenient to you would be at the whim of the broadcasters. The audio flag would give the FCC matching powers over "digital audio broadcasting," including satellite radio, digital HD radio, and potentially even Internet radio.

There's no benefit here for artists or customers -- no matter how inconvenienced ordinary users would be by a flag, pirates would be able to bypass it. The bill would usher in a new world of anti-consumer electronics and a chance for the MPAA's and RIAA's member companies to seize even greater control over all media distribution and use.

Tell Congress you want control over the digital media in your home. Take action now:

For full text of the bill:

For more on the broadcast flag:

For more on the digital radio flag:

Government Moves to Intervene in AT&T Surveillance Case

DOJ Will Assert Military and State Secrets Privilege and Request Dismissal of Lawsuit

San Francisco—The United States government filed a "Statement of Interest" last Friday in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF's) class-action lawsuit against AT&T, announcing that the government would "assert the military and state secrets privilege" and "intervene to seek dismissal" of the case.

EFF's lawsuit accuses AT&T of collaborating with the National Security Agency in its massive surveillance program. EFF's evidence regarding AT&T's dragnet surveillance of its networks, currently filed under seal, includes a declaration by Mark Klein, a retired AT&T telecommunications technician, and several internal AT&T documents. This evidence was bolstered and explained by the expert opinion of J. Scott Marcus, who served as Senior Advisor for Internet Technology to the Federal Communications Commission from July 2001 until July 2005

Much of the evidence in the case is currently under seal, as AT&T claims public release of the documents would expose trade secrets. A hearing on the issue is scheduled for May 17th.

For the full Statement of Interest:

For more on EFF's suit:

For this release:

Sign EFF's Petition to Congress Opposing RIAA Lawsuits!

Last week, we urged you to sign our petition to Congress opposing the RIAA lawsuits, and now we need another push to reach our goal of 100,000 signatures.

After over 18,000 lawsuits and counting, file sharing has continued to increase rapidly. Meanwhile, music fans, like 12 year-old Brittany LaHara, college student Cassi Hunt, and parent of five Cecilia Gonzalez, are being forced to pay thousands of dollars they do not have to settle RIAA-member lawsuits, and many other innocent individuals are being caught in the crossfire. It's time to stop this madness and find a better way forward.

We're incredibly close to our petition target, and, in just the last two weeks, we've received over 17,000 signatures. After recently clearing out spam, duplicates, and other erroneous entries, we have over 73,000 signatures total.

You can help put the petition over the top and take a stand against these misguided lawsuits. Sign it, and spread the word.

To sign the petition:

To donate to EFF:

To learn more about EFF's Share campaign:

To read EFF's paper "RIAA v. People: Two Years Later":

EFF Challenges FCC's Jurisdiction Over Internet Services

On Friday, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in a suit brought by EFF and a coalition of public interest, industry, and academic groups challenging the FCC's unjustified expansion of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). By forcing broadband Internet and interconnected voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services to become wiretap-friendly, the FCC ignored CALEA's plain language and threatened privacy, security, and innovation.

When Congress controversially passed CALEA in 1994 and gave the FCC powers to mandate backdoors in traditional telephony systems, it expressly exempted "information services" such as the Internet. Yet after a petition from the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies, the FCC ruled last year that companies like Vonage and private institutions that provide Net access must redesign their networks to facilitate wiretaps. On Wednesday, the FCC announced that these service providers would have to foot the bill — an estimated $7 billion dollars for the universities alone.

The FCC completely failed to give the law enforcement petitions the "hard look" that the public deserves when massive government surveillance proposals are on the table. While the FCC's unfunded tech mandate will undoubtedly harm the public, the government made no showing that there was any need to extend CALEA to Internet services at all.

Indeed, just this past Monday, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts issued its annual wiretap report — which revealed that only 8 court orders for Internet wiretaps were issued in 2005, down from 12 orders in each of the years 2003 and 2004 — and the report contains no indication that law enforcement had any problems in conducting these electronic surveillances.

Petitioners in American Council on Education v. FCC include the American Library Association, the Center for Democracy and Technology, Electronic Privacy Information Center, EDUCAUSE,, and Sun Microsystems.

More on CALEA and the petitioners' briefs:, "FCC approves Net-wiretapping taxes":

For the 2005 Wiretap Report:

For this post:

Update From the Smithsonian Front

Responding to pressure from Congress, the Smithsonian Institution has said that it will "review" its controversial deal with Showtime Networks, Inc.

As we've discussed in previous posts, the Smithsonian recently inked a controversial deal with Showtime that grants a new Showtime channel exclusive commercial access to Smithsonian collections for anything beyond "incidental" uses. This puts the public domain in jeopardy, because controlling access to the only existing copies of a public domain work can easily become the equivalent of a new copyright.

The Smithsonian claims that critics of the Showtime deal simply do not understand its terms. Of course, it is difficult to evaluate this claim, because the Smithsonian refuses to make the contract terms public. The Smithsonian continues to stonewall, despite requests from historians, librarians, and the Center for American Progress. (EFF represents CAP in connection with their FOIA request to the Smithsonian.)

Let's hope that some sunshine is shed on the Showtime deal during the "review." At a minimum, the Smithsonian should make the Showtime agreement available, so that we can have an informed public debate about it.

Washington Post, "Capitol Hill Joins Criticism of Smithsonian Film Deal":

EFF's earlier post on the deal:

For this post:

Support EFF By Donating a Printer

We are looking for donations of new, high-quality printers. EFF, like all legal firms, has to work with large quantities of paper documents. Can you help by donating a printer of the following minimum specifications?

B/W laser printer, like the HP 4350dtn, with:

  • Ethernet
  • Duplexer (to print both sides of the page)
  • Minimum 1000 sheet input capacity
  • 40 ppm (pages per minute) or better print speed rating

Color laser printer, like the HP 5550dn, with:

  • Ethernet
  • Duplexer
  • 11x17 paper size capacity

We are only interested in printers that are new. If you can help us, please contact

We'll provide you with a receipt of your donation for tax purposes and our extreme gratitude.


miniLinks features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.

~ OECD on DRM Disclosure
The OECD reports on how well companies inform customers of digital rights restrictions and invasive DRM software.

~ "Between the RIAA and a Hard Place"
A 20-year old student's take on the RIAA, and the new IPPA, which threatens to criminalize even more copyright infringement.

~ DMCA: What Is it Good for?
Bill Patry points out that if the DMCA were supposed to create a rich digital market for works, it seems to have failed.

~ Public Citizen Sounds Alarm on Trademark Bill
Good summary of the ongoing problems with the Trademark Dilution Bill.

~ No Comment on the News
A fan of TV news had to shut down his site of small clips and photos after TV stations sent legal letters.

~ Net Neutrality Out, Broadcast Flags In
Senator Stevens drops his draft telecom bill.

~ Librarians Go To Washington
The American Library Association launches its political action center.

~ Studios Scare Themselves with Own Piracy Estimates
Hollywood commissions report on how fast the sky is falling, then tries to cover up its own Internet piracy estimates.

~ Spam Filters Gone Wild!
Somewhat over-excited title for an everyday story of over- vigilant spam filtering.

~ Apple v. Does — Unplugged!
MP3s of the recent oral argument in the online journalist rights case.

~ South African Government to Tap Emails, Other Internet Traffic
Country fails to learn from, condemned to repeat, history at more rapid rate than others.

~ ISPs Reluctant to Turn Themselves Into Data Honeypots
Diana DeGette, the Democrat demanding that ISPs hoard subscriber data for the government, says she is "horrified" that ISPs aren't supporting her plans.

~ An Open Letter From a Blocked Email Sender
A legitimate mailer whose message was blocked, seemingly for including sexual phrases, talks about the effect.

~ Wiretapping: Your Billing Breakdown
Susan Crawford reports from the FCC open meeting that decided to let ISPs and universities pay for their own wiretapping.

~ Who Will Own Your PC?
Bruce Schneier lists who wants to control your computer — including spammers, mail providers, spyware, and the entertainment industry.,70802-0.html


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Derek Slater, Activist

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