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EFFector - Volume 19, Issue 34 - Action Alert - Tell Congress to Say No to DOPA


EFFector - Volume 19, Issue 34 - Action Alert - Tell Congress to Say No to DOPA

EFFector Vol. 19, No. 34  September 12, 2006

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
ISSN 1062-9424

In the 395th Issue of EFFector:

 * Action Alert - Tell Congress to Say No to DOPA
 * EFF Project to Uncover Government Surveillance and 
Privacy Invasions
 * Six Tips to Protect Your Online Search Privacy
 * Another Court Refuses to Dismiss NSA Spying Case
 * Podcasters Oppose WIPO Broadcasting Treaty
 * Spread the Word and Tell CA Governor to Sign SB 768!
 * miniLinks (5): MS, Customers Play DRM Cat and Mouse
 * 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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* Action Alert - Tell Congress to Say No to DOPA

Passed by the House in July 2006, the Deleting Online 
Predators Act (DOPA) would require public schools and 
libraries to block access to social networking sites and 
other communication tools as a condition for receiving 
certain government funding. Protecting children online is 
important, but letting federal bureaucrats arbitrarily 
censor legitimate speech is the wrong way to go. Take action 
now, and tell your Senators to oppose DOPA:

Cutting off social networking's legitimate uses is bad 
enough, but DOPA would also give the FCC wide latitude to 
define the block-list. It potentially covers IM, blogs, 
wikis, discussion forums, and other sites far beyond 
MySpace. Despite its limited exceptions, DOPA will restrict 
children's and adults' online research, distance learning, 
and use of community forums, among other activities.

Two Congressionally-commissioned studies say education, not 
blocking access, is the most effective way to keep kids safe 
online. What's more, several new surveys indicate that 
education is already working: online sexual solicitation 
rates are reportedly dropping (or were overestimated to 
begin with), while kids typically ignore solicitations or 
block the offending user. By hampering educators' abilities 
to teach such basic Internet safety skills, DOPA may put 
children more at risk.

This isn't the first time Congress has meddled with school 
and library computers. EFF fought hard against the 
Children's Internet Protection Act, which required use of 
Web filtering. If DOPA passes, where might this slippery 
censorware slope lead next?

Write to your Senator using the form below and help stop 
this dangerous bill:

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* EFF Project to Uncover Government Surveillance and Privacy 

Two Noted Attorneys Lead New FLAG Project in Washington,

Washington, D.C. - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) 
today launched a project to shed light on government 
surveillance activities. The FLAG Project, based at EFF's 
new Washington, D.C., office, will use Freedom of 
Information Act (FOIA) requests and litigation to expose the 
government's expanding use of technologies that invade 
Americans' privacy.

The Freedom of Information Act is a statute that compels the 
government to disclose details about its activities. EFF's 
FOIA requests will zero in on collection and use of 
information about Americans, the increasing cooperation 
between the government and the private sector, and federal 
agencies' development and use of new information 
technologies. The FLAG Project -- FOIA Litigation for 
Accountable Government -- is spearheaded by two experienced 
Freedom of Information specialists: Senior Counsel David 
Sobel and Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann.

"National security and law enforcement demand some level of 
government secrecy, but too much can enable abuses of 
power," said Sobel, who will direct EFF's new project. "The 
NSA's illegal spying program and other recent revelations 
show that the government has radically expanded its 
surveillance of ordinary Americans, obtaining untold access 
to the details of our everyday lives."

"While the government has increased its monitoring of its 
citizens, it's also stepped up efforts to block public 
scrutiny," said Hofmann. "The public deserves to know what 
the government is doing, so that it can keep abuses of power 
in check and challenge violations of privacy."

In his 25-year career, Sobel has handled numerous cases 
seeking the disclosure of government documents on privacy 
policy, including electronic surveillance, encryption 
controls and airline passenger screening initiatives. He 
served as co-counsel in the challenge to government secrecy 
concerning post-September 11 detentions and participated in 
the submission of a civil liberties amicus brief in the 
first-ever proceeding of the Foreign Intelligence 
Surveillance Court of Review. In 1994, Sobel co-founded the 
Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). Hofmann is the 
former Director of EPIC's Open Government Project, where she 
was lead counsel in several FOIA lawsuits. Documents made 
public though her work have been reported by the New York 
Times, Washington Post, National Public Radio, Fox News, and 
CNN, among others.

"EFF is thrilled to be working with David and Marcia," said 
EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. "They have a peerless 
track record of uncovering and widely publicizing government 
activities that raise significant privacy and civil 
liberties issues, and they will enable EFF to have more of a 
Washington, D.C., presence.  We're so happy they have joined 
our legal team."

EFF will make significant FOIA disclosures available to the 
public, the media, and policymakers. EFF will also 
strategically litigate FOIA lawsuits against government 
agencies to develop precedents that will benefit all FOIA 

To reach the FLAG Project:
Electronic Frontier Foundation
1875 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 650
Washington, DC 20009
+1 202 797-9009

For more on the FLAG Project:

For this release:

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* Six Tips to Protect Your Online Search Privacy

How to Defend Yourself from Privacy Invasions Like AOL's
Search Data Disaster

San Francisco - In the wake of AOL's publicly revealing 
customers' Internet search histories, the Electronic 
Frontier Foundation (EFF) has published "Six Tips to Protect 
Your Online Search Privacy."

AOL's recent disclosure of its users' search logs exposed 
the private lives of more than a half-million customers. But 
all the major search engines -- not just AOL -- record 
search queries and maintain massive databases that reach 
into the most intimate details of users' lives.  When 
revealed to others, these details can be embarrassing and 
even cause great harm.

In the white paper released today, EFF instructs users on 
how to follow six privacy tips:

* Don't put personally identifying information like your 
name, address, credit card number, or Social Security number 
in your searches.

* Don't use a search engine operated by your Internet 
service provider (ISP).

* Don't log in to your search engine or its related 
services.  So, if you have accounts with services like GMail 
or Yahoo! Mail, don't use Google or Yahoo!'s search engines, 
respectively.  Or, use one browser for your searches and a 
different browser for your other activities.

* Block "cookies" from your search engine.

* Vary your IP address.

* Use web proxies and anonymizing software that mask your IP 
address and other information that can be used to track you.

"These six steps provide a strong shield against the most 
common and probable threats to your Internet search 
privacy," said EFF Staff Technologist Peter Eckersley.

Protecting search privacy is a particularly acute problem 
because of ambiguity in current law and the lack of 
transparency in search providers' data logging practices. 
Recently, EFF asked the Federal Trade Commission to 
investigate AOL and require changes in its privacy 

"Until Congress clarifies the law and strengthens 
protections for this sensitive data, self-defense is the 
best defense," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston.
"Congress should hold hearings and demand clear answers from 
the search providers about how they handle search 

For the full white paper:

For more on the AOL data release:

For this release:

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* Another Court Refuses to Dismiss NSA Spying Case

Last week, a federal judge in Oregon rejected the 
government's attempt to block a lawsuit against the NSA's 
massive and illegal spying program. This is a huge victory 
in the fight to stop the illegal spying -- like Judge Walker 
in EFF's case against AT&T and Judge Taylor in the ACLU's 
case in Michigan, Judge King rejected the government's 
motion to dismiss on the basis of the "state secrets" 

But some Congressmen are still trying to squash this 
vigorous judicial oversight. Fortunately, Senator Specter's 
surveillance bill was once again stalled before it could 
reach a vote last week. Keep your phone calls to Congress 
coming, and stop the surveillance bills:

For more on EFF's case against AT&T:

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* Podcasters Oppose WIPO Broadcasting Treaty

This week, EFF took to WIPO an open letter from over 200 
podcasters that oppose the Broadcasting Treaty. If adopted, 
the treaty would lock down your digital media devices and 
grant to broadcasters and cablecasters broad new IP-like 
rights over anything they transmit. That's bad enough, but 
some countries at WIPO have also supported expanding the 
treaty to cover various Internet transmissions.

Read the statement here:

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* Required Reading for Digital Media Reviewers

The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) has published 
a white paper setting out criteria on which DRM-restricted 
products and services should be judged. The paper should be 
required reading for every product reviewer who evaluates 
digital media products and services, suggesting specific 
questions that reviewers should be asking when examining 
DRM-restricted offerings.

Too many product reviews fail to mention DRM restrictions 
(where were the reviewers when Sony-BMG's rootkit CDs showed 
up?), much less test and evaluate DRM-laden products against 
unrestricted alternatives. (For example, comparing DRM-laden 
products like TiVo against unrestricted alternatives like 

The point is not to rail against DRM, but rather to inform 
potential customers so that they can make informed buying 
decisions. Of course, this will require that reviewers do 
their homework, since the press release and product manual 
likely won't describe what the product has been designed not 
to do. But asking manufacturers hard questions is what we 
pay reviewers to do for us. (And some of them have been 
doing a great job, like The Washington Post's Rob Pegoraro 
and Wired's Eliot Van Buskirk.)

There are a few places where CDT pulls its punches (failing 
to mention that DRM is often used to force us to pay a 
second time for media we've already bought once) and others 
where it falls prey to the Hollywood propaganda machine 
(pretending that DVD ripping is rare when DVD Shrink and 
Handbrake are being reviewed in places like PC Magazine and 
MacWorld). But overall, the paper is a timely clarion call. 
EFF hopes the product reviewers and their editors are paying 

For the paper:

For EFF's review of DRM in major online music services:

For the release:

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* Spread the Word and Tell CA Governor to Sign SB 768!

Recently, the California legislature passed tough new 
privacy safeguards for use of "tag and track" devices known 
as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips embedded in 
state identification cards. You can help this bill, SB 768, 
clear its last hurdle -- the governor's signature. If you 
live in California, follow this link and send a letter of 
support to the governor's office immediately. Regardless, 
forward that link to friends and family who live in 
California and urge their support:

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* miniLinks
The week's noteworthy news, compressed.

~ MS, Customers Play DRM Cat and Mouse
Engadget reports on the continuing saga of FairUse4WM, a 
Windows Media DRM evasion tool.

~ NYT: Music Fans Turning Away From Traditional Gatekeepers
"All told, music consumers are increasingly turning away 
from the traditional gatekeepers and looking instead to one 
another -- to fellow fans, even those they've never met -- 
to guide their choices."

~ Fan-to-Fan Recommendations in MySpace
Over two million unsigned bands can now sell music via their 
fans' pages on MySpace.

~ Amazon's UnBox Is Underwhelming
Yet another DRM-laden online video service.

~ Democracy Player Is Unreal
In a good way -- a one-of-a-kind, free, open source Internet 
TV platform.

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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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