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EFFector - Volume 19, Issue 21 - Appeals Court Corrects Dangerous Web Privacy Ruling

EFFector Vol. 19, No. 21 June, 2006

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation ISSN 1062-9424

In the 382nd Issue of EFFector:

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



Appeals Court Corrects Dangerous Web Privacy Ruling

Judges Agree with EFF Brief in DirecTV Case

San Francisco - The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has corrected a dangerous lower court ruling that threatened Internet privacy. In doing so, it preserved the privacy of password-protected websites as well as the right to read public sites. The decision followed the arguments made in an amicus brief filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

"A real privacy disaster was averted today," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston, who authored the brief. "The court affirmed important legal protections for truly private websites, and also protected your right to read public content on the Internet without getting sued."

The case began when Michael Snow, the publisher of an anti- DirecTV website, sued the company for unauthorized access under the Stored Communications Act (SCA). Snow's site had a banner and purported Terms of Service forbidding DirecTV representatives from entering the site or using its message board, but it was configured such that anyone in the public could do so.

A lower court had rightly dismissed the case, but for the wrong reasons -- holding that the SCA did not protect websites at all, even if they were configured to be private. However, the 11th Circuit clarified that websites are protected by the SCA, except when they are designed to be readily accessible to the general public.

"Through the World Wide Web, individuals can easily and readily access websites hosted throughout the world. Given the Web's ubiquitous and public nature, it becomes increasingly important in cases concerning electronic communications available through the Web for a plaintiff to demonstrate that those communications are not readily accessible," the opinion reads. "If by simply clicking a hypertext link, after ignoring an express warning, on an otherwise publicly accessible webpage, one is liable under the SCA, then the floodgates of litigation would open and the merely curious would be prosecuted. We find no intent by Congress to so permit."

For the full opinion:
http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/Snow_v_DirecTV/200513687.pdf

For EFF's brief:
http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/Snow_v_DirecTV/EFF_amicus.pdf

For this release:
http://www.eff.org/news/archives/2006_06.php#004720



Announcing Line Noise: the EFF Podcast

We've had many requests recently for an audio summary of EFF news. While we thought that dictating all the motions and filings, press releases, newsletters and blog postings that we file every month might make for an exciting six hour commute, audience research indicated that might be a little ... overstimulating. So instead we present Line Noise, a super-compressed, five minute audio summary of the current hot topics at EFF.

For this first podcast, we have a few words with Kurt Opsahl, the EFF attorney who successfully argued for online journalist's rights in the Apple v. Does case at the California Court of Appeal, information on the Sony BMG settlement, and what you can do to help in the AT&T case. We're still experimenting, so do let us know what and who you'd like to hear in future episodes.

You can find a Line Noise RSS feed for MP3 players here, as well as another version with Ogg Vorbis enclosures. And if you're a EFF-supporting podcaster yourself, don't forget we have a selection of public service announcements you can use in your own productions.

For Episode 00.01
http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/podcasts/2006-05-26.mp3

For our mp3 feed:
http://www.eff.org/rss/linenoisemp3.xml

For our ogg feed:

For EFF podcast PSAs:
http://www.eff.org/press/PSA/

For this post:
http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/004710.php



FSF DRM Protest, Saturday, June 10

The Free Software Foundations' DRM activism group, DefectiveByDesign.org sent their thanks to those EFF members in Seattle WA, who attended their launch event on May 23rd. The group is organizing more events at Apple stores in New York, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Chicago and Plano this Saturday -- if you'd like to join, RSVP to appleflash@defectivebydesign.org, or sign up for future actions at:
http://defectivebydesign.org



miniLinks

miniLinks features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.

Forty-Eight Million Americans Have Created Net Content
That's over a third of the US Internet-using population.
http://www.clickz.com/news/article.php/3609461

RIAA Honchos Interviewed
Feel good about prosecuting grandmothers, optimistic about making radio receivers illegal.

Gonzales Says ISP Logging Needed in War Against Terrorism
"'We want this for terrorism,' Gonzales said, according to one person familiar with the discussion."
http://news.com.com/Terrorism+invoked+in+ISP+snooping+proposal/2100-1028_3-6078229.html

Dutch Music Lovers Get Caught in DRM's Ratchet
David Berlind hears about the decreasing rights of the customers of a European music download service.
http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=3108&tag=nl.e539

"The Generative Internet" by Jonathan Zittrain
Or, the future of the Internet and how to save it; Zittrain's take on the open PC-Internet "grid," and the emerging (inevitable?) backlash.
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=847124

Send Your Mail to the Australian Government With Just One
Click A commendable trust in people's ability to not game (or accidentally submit incriminating data) to a government-run spam blacklist.
http://www.theage.com.au/news/technology/spam-help-just-one-click-away/2006/05/30/1148956345871.html

IBM Exploits Data Retention Laws
Sold to corporations in the U.S. for HIPAA and Sarbanes- Oxley compliance, but capable of far more -- IBM sees a bright future for the 56Tb "TotalStorage Data Retention 450."
http://www.infoworld.com/article/04/02/19/HNibmdataretain_1.html



Administrivia

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