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Podcast Episode: Fighting Enshittification

EFFector - Volume 19, Issue 44 - American Travelers to Get Secret 'Risk Assessment' Scores


EFFector - Volume 19, Issue 44 - American Travelers to Get Secret 'Risk Assessment' Scores

In the 405th Issue of EFFector:

  • American Travelers to Get Secret 'Risk Assessment' Scores
  • Self-Help Group Backs Off Attack on Internet Critic
  • Last Days of Lame Duck Congress
  • Major Ohio County Reconsiders E-Voting
  • In Memoriam: Peter Junger, Digital Freedom Fighter
  • Stealing Fair Use, Selling It Back to you
  • Sample Trolls Killing Hip Hop?
  • Fingerprints Used to Track Students in Schools
  • Get Your Holiday Gifts and Support Digital Freedom at the EFF Store!
  • Nominate a Pioneer for EFF's 2007 Pioneer Awards!
  • Nonprofit Software Development Summit in Bay Area This February
  • miniLinks (12): Can FBI Use Cellphone Mics to Monitor Conversations?
  • 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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* American Travelers to Get Secret 'Risk Assessment' Scores

EFF Fights Huge Data-Mining Program Set for Rollout on U.S.

Washington, D.C. - An invasive and unprecedented data-mining
system is set to be deployed on U.S. travelers, despite
substantial questions about Americans' privacy. In comments
sent to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last week,
the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asked the agency to
delay the program's rollout until it makes more details
available to the public and addresses critical privacy and
due process concerns.

The Automated Targeting System (ATS) will create and assign
"risk assessments" to tens of millions of citizens as they
enter and leave the country. Individuals will have no way to
access information about their "risk assessment" scores or
to correct any false information about them. But once the
assessment is made, the government will retain the
information for 40 years -- as well as make it available to
untold numbers of federal, state, local, and foreign
agencies, in addition to contractors, grantees, consultants,
and others.

"The government is preparing to give millions of law-abiding
citizens 'risk assessment' scores that will follow them
throughout their lives," said EFF Senior Counsel David
Sobel. "If that wasn't frightening enough, none of us will
have the ability to know our own score, or to challenge it.
Homeland Security needs to delay the deployment of this
system and allow for an informed public debate on this
dangerous proposal."

Earlier this month, EFF's FLAG Project submitted a Freedom
of Information Act (FOIA) request to DHS seeking more
details about the ATS data-mining program, but the agency
has not yet disclosed the requested information.

For EFF's full comments to DHS:

After EFF sounded the alarm and major press reports, Senator
Patrick Leahy called for immediate scrutiny of the program:

For this release:

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* Self-Help Group Backs Off Attack on Internet Critic

Landmark Forum Withdraws Subpoena for Identity of Anonymous

San Francisco - A controversial self-help group has backed
off its attack on an Internet critic after the Electronic
Frontier Foundation (EFF) intervened in the case.

Landmark Education, known for its Landmark Forum
motivational workshops, served a subpoena for the identity
of an anonymous user of Google Video last month, claiming
that a French documentary posted by the user infringed
Landmark's copyrights. The piece, entitled "Voyage Au Pays
Des Nouveaux Gourous" (Voyage to the Land of the New Gurus),
is highly critical of Landmark and included hidden camera
footage from inside a French Landmark Forum event along with
panel discussions about the group. The piece had also been
posted with English subtitles on popular U.S. video sites
YouTube and the Internet Archive.

In a settlement reached last Tuesday, Landmark agreed to
withdraw the subpoena to Google and end its quest to pierce
the anonymity of the video's poster. Landmark has also
withdrawn its subpoena to the Internet Archive. EFF
represents both the anonymous critic and the Internet

"We're glad that Landmark withdrew its subpoenas, and our
client's right to speak anonymously was preserved," said EFF
Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "Hopefully Landmark has learned
its lesson and will cease its campaign to stifle criticism
by misusing the DMCA."

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) allows a content
owner to issue a subpoena for the identity of an alleged
infringer without first filing an actual lawsuit. The
provision can be used to intimidate Internet users who wish
to remain anonymous online. As part of the settlement,
Landmark released any and all claims it may have had against
the anonymous poster, and the poster agreed not to re-post
the video. The video is currently available online from
other sources, including the Australian Cult Awareness &
Information Centre, , and bit-

"Landmark's legal threats took an emotional toll," said the
anonymous poster, known as "John Doe" in the settlement.
"When I found out that my identity might be revealed based
on a bogus copyright claim, I was really worried that
Landmark might try to retaliate against me."

The settlement is part of EFF's ongoing campaign to protect
the right of anonymous speakers on the Internet. Earlier
this year, EFF helped to preserve the anonymity of online
embroidery fans critical of an industry group, and also
protected the identities of users of an online message board
discussing Oklahoma public schools.

For the letter confirming the subpoena withdrawal:

For the full settlement agreement:

For more on Landmark's subpoena campaign:

For the video:

For this release:

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* Last Days of Lame Duck Congress

Yesterday, lame duck legislators returned for their final
week before handing the reins over to the newly-elected
110th Congress next month. While it looks like there won't
be any mischief on the digital freedom front this week,
major record labels might once again try to sneak through
mandatory restrictions in digital radio and satellite
devices. Take action now to protect innovation and your
right to record off the radio:

Legislation related to the illegal NSA spying program also
may be off the table during the lame duck session, but the
president and certain members of Congress could still try to
push through a bad bill. Use our Action Center and call your
representatives now to help stop the illegal spying:

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* Major Ohio County Reconsiders E-Voting

After another election with flawed touch-screen electronic
voting machines, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, may say enough is
enough. The AP reports:

"The commissioners of the state's most populous county are
considering getting rid of touch-screen voting machines and
putting in a new system for the presidential election in

"'Cuyahoga County spent $14 million on the Nov. 7 election
and cannot afford to spend that much every time voters go to
the polls, especially the high volume that a presidential
race generates,' commissioners Tim Hagan and Jimmy Dimora

For this article:

More and more, election officials and voters are starting to
see the pitfalls of e-voting and pursue real reform.
Recently, EFF and a coalition of voting integrity groups,
representing Sarasota County voters, filed suit in state
court in Tallahassee asking for a re-vote in Florida's 13th
congressional district. Learn more about the suit here:

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* In Memoriam: Peter Junger, Digital Freedom Fighter

Last week, digital freedom fighter Peter Junger passed away.
Peter was a truly pioneering legal thinker on digital
issues, and his impact was felt far outside the walls of
academia. In particular, we all owe him a debt of gratitude
for challenging the government's draconian restrictions on
encryption and helping to establish that code is speech
protected by the First Amendment.

Today, strong encryption is taken for granted, whether it's
keeping snoops out of your Internet communications,
protecting your credit card number when you shop online, or
otherwise securing your privacy. But when Peter filed his
lawsuit a decade ago, export controls treated encryption as
a dangerous weapon; in turn, Peter and other researchers who
wanted to publish encryption code were akin to arms dealers.
In 2000, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held that these
restrictions demanded scrutiny under the First Amendment. At
the time, EFF was challenging the export controls in
Bernstein v. US, and we also supported Peter in his efforts.

In Junger v. Daley and beyond, Peter was fearless. His
contributions to the fight for digital freedom will be
sorely missed and forever celebrated.

For anyone who would like to make a donation in Peter's
name, please send your donation to the Cleveland Buddhist
Temple, 1573 East 214th St., Euclid, Ohio 44117.

For this post and related links:

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* Stealing Fair Use, Selling It Back to you

"Apparently, Hollywood believes that you should have to re-
purchase all your DVD movies a second time if you want to
watch them on your iPod." That's what we said last week,
commenting on the Paramount v. Load-N-Go lawsuit, in which
Hollywood studios claimed that it is illegal to rip a DVD to
put on a personal video player (PVP), even if you own the

Well, this week the other shoe dropped. According to an
article in the New York Times:

"Customers who buy the physical DVD of Warner Brothers'
'Superman Returns' in a Wal-Mart store will have the option
of downloading a digital copy of the film to their portable
devices for $1.97, personal computer for $2.97, or both for

So you buy the DVD, and if you want a copy on your PVP or
computer, you have to pay a second time. Despite the fact
that you bought the DVD, and you have a DVD drive in your
computer that is perfectly capable of making a personal-use
copy. Imagine if the record labels offered you this "deal"
for every CD you bought -- pay us a few dollars extra, and
you can have a copy for your iPod. And a few more dollars,
if you want a copy on your computer, too! As LA Times
reporter Jon Healey puts it in his blog: "So from the
perspective of the studios and federal officials, consumers
have to pay for the privilege of doing the sorts of things
with DVDs that they're accustomed to doing with CDs (and LPs
and cassettes)."

This latest bitter fruit from Hollywood is brought to you by
the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which treats
"protected" content (like the encrypted video on DVDs),
differently from "unprotected" content (like every audio and
video media format introduced before 1996). Thanks to the
DMCA, Hollywood believes fair use personal-use copies simply
do not exist when it comes to DVDs.

Let's hope Congressman Rick Boucher is listening and will
reintroduce his DMCA reform bill first thing next year.

For this post and related links:

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* Sample Trolls Killing Hip Hop?

In a recent article, Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu
identifies an emerging threat to sample-based creativity in
hip hop, the "sample troll":

"The rise of rap presented a golden opportunity for
Bridgeport. After years of demanding fees, in 2001,
Bridgeport launched nearly 500 counts of copyright
infringement against more than 800 artists and labels. The
company, suing in Nashville, Tenn., located every sample of
[George] Clinton or other owned copyrights it could find. It
took the legal position that any sampling of a sound
recording, no matter how minimal or unnoticeable, is still a
violation of federal law. Imagine that the copyright owner
of The Lord of the Rings had sued every fantasy book or
magazine that dared used the words elf, orc, or troll. That
gives you an idea of the magnitude of Bridgeport's

Apparently, having absconded with George Clinton's
copyrights, Bridgeport is now shaking down artists like Jay-
Z. Of course, lawsuits like this also make it harder for
lesser-known sample-based artists to get distribution, radio
play, and CD pressing services. Well worth reading the whole

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* Fingerprints Used to Track Students in Schools

Despite complaints from privacy advocates and parents,
schools in states across the country are considering using
fingerprint scans to track students. Kids at Sandlapper
Elementary in Columbia, South Carolina, have their
fingerprints scanned to pay for their breakfast and check
out library books, while officials at the Hope Elementary
School District in Santa Barbara, California, have just
announced similar plans to use finger scans to charge
students for their lunches.

This is only part of an unsettling trend: schools using
various technologies to track students. For instance, as
part of a test program, a school district in California
forced students to wear school ID cards with privacy-leaking
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips. Thankfully, the
district stopped the program -- schools and parents
shouldn't trade student's privacy for a little bit of

For this post and related links:

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* Get Your Holiday Gifts and Support Digital Freedom at the
EFF Store!

Spread some freedom and holiday cheer through the EFF Store.
Our t-shirts, hats, 4th Amendment shipping tape, and other
items make great gifts -- and the proceeds from your
purchase make a fine gift to EFF:

The store now features the latest in freedom fashion: the
EFF lapel pin. This brand new item measures approximately
0.5" x 1" and features our logo on a silver background:

Donate to EFF here:

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* Nominate a Pioneer for EFF's 2007 Pioneer Awards!

EFF established the Pioneer Awards to recognize leaders on
the electronic frontier who are extending freedom and
innovation in the realm of information technology. This is
your opportunity to nominate a deserving individual or group
to receive a Pioneer Award for 2007.

The International Pioneer Awards nominations are open both
to individuals and organizations from any country.
Nominations are reviewed by a panel of judges chosen for
their knowledge of the technical, legal, and social issues
associated with information technology.

How to Nominate Someone for a 2007 Pioneer Award:

You may send as many nominations as you wish, but please use
one email per nomination. Please submit your entries via
email to We will accept nominations until
January 15, 2007.

Simply tell us:

1. The name of the nominee,

2. The phone number or email address or website by which the
nominee can be reached, and, most importantly,

3. Why you feel the nominee deserves the award.

Nominee Criteria:

There are no specific categories for the EFF Pioneer Awards,
but the following guidelines apply:

1. The nominees must have contributed substantially to the
health, growth, accessibility, or freedom of computer-based

2. To be valid, all nominations must contain your reason,
however brief, for nominating the individual or organization
and a means of contacting the nominee. In addition, while
anonymous nominations will be accepted, ideally we'd like to
contact the nominating parties in case we need further

3. The contribution may be technical, social, economic, or

4. Nominations may be of individuals, systems, or
organizations in the private or public sectors.

5. Nominations are open to all (other than current members
of EFF's staff and board or this year's award judges), and
you may nominate more than one recipient. You may also
nominate yourself or your organization.

6. Persons or representatives of organizations receiving an
EFF Pioneer Award will be invited to attend the ceremony at
EFF's expense.

More on the EFF Pioneer Awards:

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* Nonprofit Software Development Summit in Bay Area This

Are you involved in developing software for nonprofit and
non-governmental organizations? Want to be? A new Non-Profit
Software Development Summit will be held February 21-23,
2007, in Oakland, California. Learn more about the event

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* miniLinks
The week's noteworthy news, compressed.

~ Can FBI Use Cellphone Mics to Monitor Conversations?
Evidence in recent cases suggests they could.

~ Companies Face New Legal Rules on Keeping Emails, Instant
The more logs your company keeps, the more cash legal
discovery will cost you.

~ Anti-Game Laws Shot Down
Seventh Circuit and a US District Court of Louisiana both
say anti-video game laws are unconstitutional.

~ MPAA Kills California Anti-Pretexting Bill
Said they need to masquerade as others to fight piracy.,72214-0.html?tw=rss.index

~ Sniffing Out Piracy
The Arab Anti-Piracy Union is using sniffer dogs to find
"pirated" optical disks. Apparently, unauthorized
distribution has a certain aroma.

~ UK Music Business Rails Against "Thinkers" After Report
Disapproves of Copyright Extension
"I sincerely hope this government will have the moral fibre
and courage to support talent, creativity, investment and
success and will not duck this critical issue by
conveniently hiding behind academics and other 'thinkers.'",,1958337,00.html

~ The Top 10 Arguments Against DRM
A free format audiobook seller provides a short and sweet
description of the copy controls' problems.

~ What Will a Democratic Congress Mean for Digital Freedom?
EFF's Derek Slater covers the rest of the legislative

~ Telecom Legislation in the New Congress
Public Knowledge's Art Brodsky gives the state of play.

~ Supreme Court not Happy With the Patent System
"At another point, [Chief Justice John] Roberts also
ridiculed the concept of hiring expert witnesses to testify
that a certain innovation was not obvious from prior art.
'Who do you get to be an expert to tell you something's not
obvious?' Roberts asked aloud. 'I mean, the least insightful
person you can find?'"

~ Top Turkeys of the 2006 Legislative Season
Roy Mark roasts Congress for their digitally foul deeds this

~ A Cross-Border Defamation Law for Europe?
Could that be good news for publishers being sued in other

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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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General EFF, legal, policy, or online resources queries:

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