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EFFector - Volume 19, Issue 24 - EFF Battles Government's Motion to Dismiss AT&T Surveillance Case


EFFector - Volume 19, Issue 24 - EFF Battles Government's Motion to Dismiss AT&T Surveillance Case

EFFector Vol. 19, No. 24 June, 2006

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation ISSN 1062-9424

In the 385th Issue of EFFector:

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

EFF Battles Government's Motion to Dismiss AT&T Surveillance Case

Judge Hears Arguments on 'State Secrets Privilege' and Customer Privacy

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) told a federal judge Friday that the government should not be allowed to use the "state secrets privilege" to preempt the class-action lawsuit against AT&T.

EFF's suit accuses AT&T of collaborating with the National Security Agency (NSA) in illegally spying on millions of Americans -- handing over customers' telephone and Internet records and communications without any legal authority. Department of Justice lawyers argued Friday that even if the NSA program is illegal, pursuing the case might expose "state secrets." However, EFF attorneys asked the judge to allow the case to proceed, considering the privilege in regards to specific evidence and situations instead of derailing the suit all together.

"We have shown that AT&T is diverting traffic wholesale to the NSA," said EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "It is not a secret, and it is no reason to deny AT&T customers the opportunity to show the court that this dragnet surveillance program violates the law and their privacy rights."

U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker also heard motions to dismiss from AT&T Inc. and AT&T Corp. Additionally, Walker heard requests from media groups to intervene and unseal critical evidence filed in the lawsuit.

"We can be safe, secure, and keep within the rule of law," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "Our legal system demands that the court decide whether this wholesale surveillance program is proper."

For more on the AT&T lawsuit:

For this release:

DoJ Reports on Criminal IP Enforcement

This week the Department of Justice issued a 100-page "progress report" measuring its activities in the intellectual property arena (copyright, trademark, patents, trade secrets). This "progress report" is fascinating reading, describing the DoJ's current enforcement priorities in the intellectual property realm.

The feds have been staffing up on cybercrime generally, with more than 230 attorneys working either as CHIP Coordinators or directly assigned to CHIP Units. The number of CHIP Units around the country, moreover, has nearly doubled from 13 to 25 since 2004. (CHIP Units are specially-trained federal cybercrime prosecutors concentrated in a particular region.) CCIPS has also grown, with 35 attorneys, 14 of which are exclusively devoted to prosecuting IP crimes. (Based in Washington DC, CCIPS is DoJ's "brain trust" on cybercrime.)

The report mentions several high-profile copyright enforcement actions, including the colorfully named Operations Gridlock, Copycat, and Western Pirates. All of the featured copyright prosecutions involve commercial piracy or large-scale "release groups." (Notably overlooked was the federal indictment in Nashville of two Ryan Adams fans for uploading a few tracks from pre-release promotional CDs.)

The report details a wide variety of new international initiatives, including pressuring countries in treaty negotiations, developing an international "24/7 network" of law enforcement contacts for computer crime cases, and adding DoJ "attaches" in Asia and Eastern Europe.

The report endorses the proposed Intellectual Property Protection Act, which would dramatically expand the scope of criminal copyright infringement, adding attempt liability, conspiracy liability, and asset forfeiture. As we've discussed previously, these proposals are an outrage, effectively allowing the feds to put people in jail without having to prove that any actual copyright infringement ever took place.

All of this suggests that we can expect to see a marked increase in criminal IP cases being brought by the DoJ.

For the full DoJ "progress report":

For more analysis:

EFF Seeks Staff Technologist

EFF is seeking a fulltime Staff Technologist to work in our Mission District office in San Francisco.

EFF works in that difficult space where law and technology collide. Unlike other nonprofit law firms, EFF is known for our technical expertise. Along with our webmaster and sysadmin, EFF's tech staff includes a couple of technologists who translate technical issues to two major audiences: 1) EFF attorneys, who need to understand the specifics of how technology works in order to do their legal work and 2) the general public, which looks to EFF to explain what's really going on in non-technical jargon.

The staff technologist job includes being part of litigation teams, writing white papers, attending technical meetings, public speaking, preparing evidence or declarations to be presented to courts, and working with the rest of EFF's staff. Technical expertise is absolutely required, as is great writing skill and a healthy respect for deadlines. As part of the tech team, the staff technologist will sometimes be asked to pitch in and assist with whatever tech issue happens to be causing a problem at the moment. A willingness to be a team player is a must. The job requires some travel.


* Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, computer science or a related technical field (mathematics, physics, etc.), or equivalent experience;

* Strong writing and public speaking skills. Must have technical writing sample(s) illustrating the explanation of a technical topic to an intelligent lay audience;

* Detailed knowledge of and experience using and programming for at least one computer operating system;

* Detailed knowledge of and experience using at least one (preferably low-level) programming language, such as C;

* Knowledge of or willingness to learn about information security topics such as cryptography and digital rights management (DRM); and

* Familiarity with Internet architecture and network protocols.

In addition, the ideal candidate will have:

* Experience with radio frequency technologies and communications; * Detailed knowledge of the Microsoft Windows platform (development, debugging, reverse engineering, etc.);

* Hardware engineering experience;

* System administration or system programming experience; and/or

* Experience presenting at technical conferences.

Yearly salary is $45,000 plus benefits. To apply, send a cover letter and your resume to Please send these materials in a non-proprietary format. No phone calls please! Principals only.

For this job description:

Support EFF Through is a new search engine that donates half its revenues to charities, schools, and nonprofits designated by its users. Before doing a search, simply enter "Electronic Frontier Foundation" in the "I'm Supporting" box, and your searches will contribute to our cause. And check out the site on June 29, when EFF will be the featured Charity of the Day.


miniLinks features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.

Bill Gates' "Piracy" Confession
Billg watches unauthorized videos on YouTube. Perhaps he was escorted from the premises, after all?

EFF in Business 2.0's People Who Matter
Next time we'll beat Oprah...

AT&T Rewrites Rules: Your Data Isn't Yours
The perils of privacy policies, as spotted by the SF Chronicle.

Twelve Minutes of Script Is Enough to Sue
Hollywood studio files injunction over short film based on tiny part of leaked Oliver Stone script.

Podcasters' Rights and the WIPO Broadcast Treaty Petition
Podcasters from around the world are joining up to stop the treaty.

Is the NSA Spying on U.S. Internet Traffic?
Salon investigates rumors of NSA taps at the heart of the domestic Net.

Public Policy and the XBox Hackers
Ed Felten asks what place the law should have in the battle to install Linux on the Xbox.

UK Music Label Petitions to Stop Music Industry
Prosecutions A fine companion to EFF's Stop the RIAA Petition.

Template for News Stories on Government Data Gathering
REPEAT UNTIL (fixed OR (privacy == nil))

Alleged MPAA Hacker Named
TorrentSpy reveals the identity of Canadian who says he was paid by MPAA to infiltrate their systems.


EFFector is published by:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation
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Derek Slater, Activist

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