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EFFector - Volume 19, Issue 25 - Action Alert: Call Your Senator and Stop the Surveillance Bills!


EFFector - Volume 19, Issue 25 - Action Alert: Call Your Senator and Stop the Surveillance Bills!

EFFector Vol. 19, No. 25 July, 2006

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation ISSN 1062-9424

In the 387th Issue of EFFector:

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

Action Alert: Call Your Senator and Stop the Surveillance Bills!

Last week, the White House and Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) came to a sham compromise that would sweep the NSA's illegal spying program and any further government surveillance under the rug, shuffling legal challenges out of the traditional court system and into the shadowy FISA courts. This bill would stack the deck against anyone suing to stop illegal surveillance such as the wholesale violation of the Fourth Amendment alleged in EFF's suit against AT&T.

One of your Senators is on the Judiciary Committee, which will likely vote on this bill Thursday and possibly an even worse bill authored by Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH). Use EFF's Action Center to find your Senator's phone number and tell him or her to reject these proposals.

Proposed Surveillance Bill Would Sweep NSA Spying Programs Under the Rug

Bill Threatens Future of EFF Case and Other Legal Challenges

San Francisco - Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said last week that he has negotiated a proposed bill with the White House regarding the NSA's illegal spying program. While the final bill is not public, a draft of the bill obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a sham compromise that would cut off meaningful legal review -- sweeping current legal challenges out of the traditional court system and failing to require court review or congressional oversight of any future surveillance programs.

"This so-called compromise bill is not a concession from the White House -- it's a rubber stamp for any future spying program dreamed up by the executive," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "In essence, this bill threatens to make court oversight of electronic surveillance voluntary rather than mandatory."

Although the bill creates a process for the executive branch to seek court review of its secret surveillance programs, it doesn't actually require the government to do so. The bill would, however, require that any lawsuit challenging the legality of any classified surveillance program -- including EFF's class-action suit against AT&T -- be transferred, at the government's request, to the FISA Court of Review, a secret court with no procedures for hearing argument from anyone but the government. The bill would further allow the government to prevent the court from disclosing any information about the government's surveillance programs to opposing counsel, regardless of the court's strict security procedures.

"When the privacy of millions of Americans is at stake, we deserve more than a closed hearing by a secret court," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien.

For the latest draft of the Specter bill:

For this release:

Major Newspapers Slam Surveillance Bill

After seeing Senator Specter's draft legislation, the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and New York Times published editorials criticizing this sham "compromise."

* Washington Post: "Mr. Specter's bill ... has been turned into a green light for domestic spying. It must not pass.... This bill is not a compromise but a full-fledged capitulation on the part of the legislative branch to executive claims of power."

* LA Times: "[Specter's] compromise solution is too much of a compromise and not enough of a solution."

* NY Times: "The bill the president has agreed to accept would allow him to go on ignoring the eavesdropping law.... [The FISA court] is not the right court to make the determination [about the domestic spying program's constitutionality]."

Kudos to these papers for joining the growing chorus of opposition to Specter's surveillance bill. You should make your voice heard, too -- if your Senator is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, go to our Action Center and tell your representatives to oppose Specter's surveillance bill now:

For links to the three editorials and more:

YouTube Sued

According to the Hollywood Reporter Esq., "A Los Angeles video news service sued YouTube Inc. on Friday in federal court for allowing its users to upload copyrighted video footage onto the popular Web site, including the beating of trucker Reginald Denny during the 1992 riots." Read more here:

Many people have wondered whether YouTube may be on the same rocky copyright path that Napster faced. Not so, once you understand the important differences between them, as EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann explains in this article:

Frequently Awkward Questions for the Entertainment Industry

The RIAA and MPAA trot out their spokespeople at conferences and public events all over the country, repeating their misleading talking points. Innovators are pirates, fair use is theft, the sky is falling, up is down, and so on. Their rhetoric shouldn't be given a free pass.

To that end, EFF has prepared a sample list of tough questions for times when you hear entertainment industry representatives speaking and want to challenge their positions. Asking hard questions is a way of "keeping honest people honest" and revealing when they're actually being deceptive. Feel free to republish these and add your own questions, or send additions to us at

For the questions:

Apple Won't Appeal -- Online Journalists' Source Protection Stands

EFF confirmed last week through court filings that Apple Computer will not appeal a May ruling that secured the reporter's privilege for online journalists in California. The lack of an appeal from Apple cements the decision as settled law and provides Internet news-gatherers in the state with the same right to protect the confidentiality of their sources as offline reporters have.

This case began when Apple sued several "Does," claiming they leaked upcoming product information to some online news sites, including AppleInsider and PowerPage. As part of its lawsuit, Apple subpoenaed PowerPage's email service provider for journalist Jason O'Grady's emails. The court's decision not only shot down that subpoena, but also celebrates the explosion of new outlets for news by providing the online journalists with an order protecting them from additional subpoenas.

With your support, EFF will work to extend this strong protection for the free flow of information to the press to other states.

To learn more about the case:

Support our Bloggers' Rights Campaign:

EFF Turns 16

Last Monday, EFF turned 16, and though much has changed over the years, we remain on the frontlines fighting for your rights. Like our current suit against AT&T, our very first case sought to protect your privacy from unwarranted invasion. On July 10, 1990, EFF was founded and our suit in Steve Jackson Games v. US Secret Service set one of the first precedents establishing that it is illegal for law enforcement to access and read private electronic mail without a warrant.

From day one, we've achieved landmark victories -- please consider giving us a birthday present and donating to EFF today so that we can keep up the fight for many years to come. We're proud to be in this role, and we'd like to thank all of you for your support through the years:

And if you're interested in learning more about EFF's founding, check out "Across the Electronic Frontier," published by EFF Founders Mitch Kapor and John Perry Barlow on July 10, 1990:

Barlow also published on November 8, 1990 an article entitled "A Not Terribly Brief History of the Electronic Frontier Foundation":

Come Visit EFF at OSCON and DefCon

EFF will be at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) in Portland, Oregon on July 26-27. Please visit our booth and grab some schwag:

EFF will also head down to DefCon in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 4-6. Along with hanging out at our booth, EFFers will present two panels, including a special presentation about our case against AT&T:

Prior to DefCon, Vegas 2.0 will once again host a fundraiser for EFF on August 3, from 9 PM until midnight. More details to follow here:


miniLinks features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.

Digital Rights in Ireland
The youthful Digital Rights Ireland lays out its manifesto - - the Broadcast Treaty, Flag, and DRM are highlighted as Irish concerns.

Sony Patents the End of the First Sale Doctrine
Sony adds another paragraph to its suicide letter to consumers, with a patent that would prevent console game rental, borrowing, or resale.,1,2184518.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

New Law Proposed to Bring CALEA to the Net
All routers to include law enforcement backdoors in bill rumored to be proposed by FBI and put forward by Senator DeWine.

San Francisco's Mayor Backs Investigation of NSA AT&T Link
Asks City Attorney to conduct fact-finding on the company.

Hao Wu Released
Chinese cyber-dissident is now with his family after nearly five months in prison.

The Copyright Code in Verse
Mask copyright lasts / For only ten years / The same length to which all / Other ones should be sheared.

Irish Challenge EU Data Retention
It's only procedural (Ireland was one of the first countries to introduce compulsory data collection for its ISPs), but it might delay European implementation of logging.

Douglas County Sheriffs To Spend Tax Dollars Lecturing Wi-
Fi Owners Police department gets Wi-Fi tags and instructions to hunt down and caution those running open access points.

Parody of the MPAA "You Wouldn't Steal A Handbag" Campaign
"The video cost about $65, including the font, a few sandwiches, and a domain name -- we lose that much in an hour at the dog track."

ABC Adman: Let's Block Ad-Skipping
ABC wants to get cable companies to disable ad-skipping in their DVR packages. And these people want a say in how new technology is implemented.

File Sharing From a Musician's Point of View
Subtle and fascinating insight from a professional musician, Will Sheff, who used to work for Audiogalaxy.

Will AOL Drop Subscription Charges?
AOL will be looking for other revenue sources -- including certified mail senders -- if AOL CEO's proposal to drop subscription fees is put in place.

Schneier and Others on the Security of Voting Systems
The Brennan Center runs a threat analysis on US voting systems, concluding that many "have significant security and reliability vulnerabilities."

Why You Don't Need Quality-of-Service
Dan Bricklin explains why the QoS argument against net neutrality does not apply.

Can't Compete With Ownership
Restrictions on use are one of the reasons services like Napster are stumbling in attracting college students. Bill Patry comments on a WSJ article.


EFFector is published by:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation
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Derek Slater, Activist

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