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EFFector - Volume 19, Issue 30 - CA Alert - Critical Vote on Privacy-Leaking Chips in State Ids


EFFector - Volume 19, Issue 30 - CA Alert - Critical Vote on Privacy-Leaking Chips in State Ids

EFFector Vol. 19, No. 30  August 14, 2006

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
ISSN 1062-9424

In the 391st Issue of EFFector:

 * CA Alert - Critical Vote on Privacy-Leaking Chips in 
State Ids
 * EFF Demands FTC Investigation and Privacy Reform After 
AOL Data Release
 * Did AOL Leak Data About Your Friends or Family?
 * EFF's Case Against AT&T To Proceed in California
 * Innocent Target of File-Sharing Lawsuit Deserves 
Attorney's Fees 
 * Embroidery Fans Fight for Anonymity in Online Discussion 
 * EFF Partners with Craigslist for Nonprofit Boot Camp, 
August 19
 * miniLinks (10): Never Mind the Piracy, Feel the Profits  
 * Administrivia

For more information on EFF activities & alerts:

Make a donation and become an EFF member today!

Tell a friend about EFF:

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

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* CA Alert - Critical Vote on Privacy-Leaking Chips in State 

We're close to a major victory in the battle to keep radio 
frequency identification (RFID) tags out of California IDs, 
but we need your help to finish the job.

Without careful safeguards, RFIDs in state-issued IDs can 
broadcast your personal information to anyone nearby with 
cheap, readily-available equipment. Your government could be 
exposing you to the risk of covert tracking, stalking and 
identity theft.

In California, EFF has been working with a diverse range of 
concerned groups to stop insecure ID cards. The result, S.B. 
768, has already passed the Senate and faces a vote in the 
Assembly before reaching the governor.

Use our Action Center to find your Assemblymember's phone 
number, and tell him or her to vote yes on SB 768:

Learn more about RFIDs:

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* EFF Demands FTC Investigation and Privacy Reform After AOL 
Data Release

Internet Company's Publication of Search Logs Exposes 
Customers' Private Lives

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) 
will ask the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today to 
investigate America Online (AOL) and require changes in its 
privacy practices, after the company recently released 
search history logs that exposed the private lives of more 
than a half-million of its customers.

Last week, news reports revealed that AOL published to the 
Internet three months of search queries from about 650,000 
users. In its complaint, EFF argues that the release of this 
data violated AOL's privacy policy and the Federal Trade 
Commission Act and should be investigated. EFF further 
requests that the FTC require AOL to notify customers 
affected by the disclosure and to stop logging search data 
except when absolutely necessary.  

"Search terms can expose the most intimate details of a 
person's life -- private information about your family 
problems, your medical history, your financial situation, 
your political and religious beliefs, your sexual 
preferences, and much more," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia 
Hofmann. "At the very least, AOL should notify every 
customer whose privacy has been jeopardized by the company's 
careless handling of this incredibly private information, 
and AOL should not store this kind of data in the future 
when it doesn't have to."

While AOL has removed the data from its own web site, the 
data is still freely available from other sites on the 
Internet. And although specific AOL screen names were not 
released, the data is associated with unique ID numbers, 
allowing each user's search terms to be grouped together.  
Whether because of users' searches for their own names or 
MySpace profiles, or searches related to their cities and 
neighborhoods, these search histories can expose -- and in 
some cases, already have exposed -- particular users' 
private searches to the world. In support of its complaint, 
EFF will confidentially submit examples of search queries 
containing personally identifiable information and search 
histories that could likely be tied to particular AOL 

"We're asking the FTC to make sure that AOL rectifies the 
damage that's been done and improve its privacy protections 
for the future," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. 
"But this problem isn't limited to AOL -- every search 
company stores this kind of data. Hopefully, AOL's shocking 
violation of its users' privacy will spur Congress to 
clarify that the same law that prevents these companies from 
disclosing our personal emails also applies to our search 

The FTC complaint will be made available here:

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* Did AOL Leak Data About Your Friends or Family?

You can help make sure that AOL prevents another damaging 
data leak from happening ever again.

If you're an AOL member, use our Action Center to call the 
company and find out whether you were one of the AOL 
customers whose search data was leaked:

Regardless, send a link to the Action Center to friends and 
family who use AOL. You can find a sample tell-a-friend 
letter and buttons for your blog or website here:

For more on AOL's data leak:

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* EFF's Case Against AT&T To Proceed in California

On Thursday, a judicial panel transferred to California 
District Court Judge Vaughn Walker 17 cases against telecom 
companies for helping the NSA's illegal spying. This 
decision also means EFF's case against AT&T will remain 
before Judge Walker, who last month allowed our case to go 
forward and rejected the government's and AT&T's motions to 
dismiss. Before the multidistrict litigation panel, the 
government had argued that the cases should be transferred 
to a judge in Washington, DC, but the panel accepted EFF's 
and other plaintiffs' requests to move these cases to San 
Francisco because EFF's case is so far advanced.  
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is now considering whether 
to take an appeal of Judge Walker's initial decision 
allowing the case to go forward despite the government's 
claims based on its state secrets privilege. For more on 
EFF's case against AT&T:

Meanwhile, Congress continues to consider legislative 
proposals that would sweep the NSA's illegal spying program 
under the rug. Take action now to stop the surveillance 

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* Innocent Target of File-Sharing Lawsuit Deserves 
Attorney's Fees

RIAA Should Pay Victim's Legal Costs in Baseless Suit

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), 
along with the American Association of Law Libraries, the 
ACLU, and Public Citizen, filed a brief with an Oklahoma 
district court last Thursday, strongly urging a judge to 
award the innocent target of a file-sharing lawsuit the cost 
of her attorney's fees in battling the baseless allegations 
of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

The RIAA sued Deborah Foster in November of 2004, accusing 
her of illegally downloading copyrighted material. Foster 
denied the allegations and fought back in court, and the 
case was dismissed. But many others who are falsely accused 
accept settlement offers from the RIAA because the cost of 
settling the case is less than what they might spend 
defending themselves.

"The RIAA has forced many innocent Americans through an 
expensive and emotionally draining process to clear their 
names. Some, understandably, just give up," said EFF Staff 
Attorney Jason Schultz. "Deborah Foster fought a brave 
battle against unjust charges, and she deserves to have her 
attorney's fees reimbursed."

So far, the RIAA has sued over 18,000 individuals for 
allegedly sharing music over the Internet. But the industry 
uses slapdash investigative methods to find its targets, and 
so innocent people as well as guilty ones can find 
themselves entangled in an expensive and draining process. 
One recent victim was a woman who didn't even own a 
computer. Another lawsuit target was deceased. If Ms. Foster 
is awarded attorney's fees, it will encourage future 
innocent victims to stand up for themselves in court.

"Innocent victims of meritless lawsuits have the right to 
fight back," said Schultz. "The RIAA needs to know that it 
can't continue its sloppy campaign without regard to the 
people ensnared by it."

The amicus brief was filed in the western district of 
Oklahoma with the assistance of attorney A. Laurie Koller of 
Carr & Carr.

For the full amicus brief:

For more on the RIAA's lawsuits:

For this release:

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* Embroidery Fans Fight for Anonymity in Online Discussion 

EFF Battles Heavy-Handed Tactics in Copyright Lawsuit

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has 
filed a motion to block a brazen attempt to unmask the 
identities of anonymous members of an online discussion 
group for embroidery fans.

The online group was created to share information about a 
long-running campaign to threaten purchasers of embroidery 
designs and software with copyright infringement lawsuits. 
The Embroidery Software Protection Coalition (ESPC), a 
purported coalition of embroidery pattern design companies, 
is behind the heavy-handed campaign. Last month, ESPC filed 
defamation claims against some members of the group and then 
issued a subpoena for detailed personal information about 
every single person who joined the discussion group -- 
whether or not they had ever posted a single message.

"ESPC's shotgun approach is aimed not at redressing 
defamation, but at intimidating those who have sought to 
raise public awareness of its ham-fisted tactics," said EFF 
Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "The First Amendment 
forbids such abusive use of the courts and the discovery 

This case is the latest in EFF's long fight to protect 
anonymity online. EFF lawyers have represented or provided 
amicus support in anonymity cases in California, Colorado, 
and Delaware. Most recently, in Oklahoma, a school 
superintendent withdrew his attempt to unmask anonymous 
online critics after EFF filed a motion to quash his 

"The right to engage in anonymous communication is 
fundamental to a free society," said McSherry. "It's 
critical that judges resist these attempts to turn 
courtrooms into vehicles to harass and intimidate people out 
of speaking their minds. Thankfully, court after court has 
recognized that plaintiffs can't pierce anonymity just 
because they don't like what someone has said."

For EFF's motion to quash:

For more on anonymity online:

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* EFF Partners with Craigslist for Nonprofit Boot Camp, 
August 19 

EFF is proud to partner with the Craigslist Foundation for 
its 2nd Annual Nonprofit Boot Camp, a conference aimed at 
fostering nonprofit leadership and collaboration. Join more 
than 1,300 emerging nonprofit leaders to get educated in all 
aspects of successfully starting and running a nonprofit, 
find inspiration, and get connected with peers and valuable 

Registration includes the conference and evening Networking 
Reception, as well as breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Learn 
more and register online at:

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* miniLinks
The week's noteworthy news, compressed.

~ Never Mind the Piracy, Feel the Profits
Ed Felten says that the DRM debate has moved from combating 
piracy to supporting price discrimination...

~ "DRMs Enable Business Models, They Don't Stop Piracy" - 
Universal VP
... as Universal's Jerry Pierce confirms the change of tact.

~ "We Have Already Helped you Filter Out Excess Web Pages!"
Human Rights China documents how Yahoo censors its Chinese 

~ "Lost" in Translation
...while Chinese TV fans bypass censorship by trading and 
translating US shows...

~ Install the Circumventor, Get Paid $10
...and free censorware-bypassing developers offer $10 to 
help free speech.

~ Hoboken Battles Giant Robot, Software Licenses
City's cars trapped in an automatic car lot during software 
payment dispute.,71554-0.html

~ Berkman Center Announces Citizen Journalism Project
Blogging rights resources take another giant step forward...

~ Law Enforcement Use Facebook To Capture Public Urinators
...As police start Net data-mining on the smallest scale.

~ Past Behavior No Indication of Future Temptation
Google's CEO claims that it would "never" let search records 
escape, then backs down.

~ Layperson's Guide to the RIAA Lawsuits
Ray Beckerman attempts to simplify how the music industry 
sues the world.

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* Administrivia

EFFector is published by:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation
454 Shotwell Street
San Francisco CA 94110-1914 USA
+1 415 436 9333 (voice)
+1 415 436 9993 (fax)	

Derek Slater, Activist	

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