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EFFector - Volume 20, Issue 15 - Action Alert - Visit and Fight the Abuse of Surveillance Powers!


EFFector - Volume 20, Issue 15 - Action Alert - Visit and Fight the Abuse of Surveillance Powers!

EFFector Vol. 20, No. 15  April 16, 2007

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
ISSN 1062-9424

In the 420th Issue of EFFector:

  • Action Alert - Visit and Fight the Abuse of Surveillance Powers!
  • EFF Sues Justice Department for Immediate Release of NSL Abuse Records
  • OPEN Government Act Heads to Senate Floor
  • Recording Industry Target Deserves Day in Court
  • Washington Rejects REAL ID
  • A Win for Kids' Free Speech Rights
  • AACS Key Revocation: The Future of DRM?
  • Dontdatehimgirl Suit Dismissed
  • RIAA and MPAA Try to Gut Anti-Pretexting Bill
  • More Ludicrous Marketing Claims About P2P Filtering
  • EFF Seeks Intake Coordinator
  • miniLinks (13): George Orwell's Predictions Come Home
  • 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 - Visit and Fight the 
Abuse of Surveillance Powers!

Last year, letters from individuals like you helped beat 
back legislation that could have swept the illegal NSA 
spying program under the rug and let companies off the hook 
for illegally assisting the government. But the Bush 
Administration is at it again, pushing a new bill that 
could radically expand surveillance powers and threaten 
cases like EFF's lawsuit against AT&T.

With the Senate Intelligence Committee taking up this topic 
on Tuesday, your representatives need to know that your 
concerns haven't gone away. Congress must reject this 
legislation and take immediate action to stop the illegal 

Make your voice heard now by visiting: is a new site set up by EFF and a 
broad coalition of groups fighting for your privacy and the 
rule of law. With your help, we can press Congress to do 
its job and restore the checks and balances that define our 
democracy. Please help spread the word about the site to 
friends and family, and post our site's graphic on your 
website or blog.

Send a letter to your representatives now:

For more information about EFF's suit against AT&T:

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* EFF Sues Justice Department for Immediate Release of NSL 
Abuse Records

Public Needs Critical Information About FBI's Abuse of 
Surveillance Power

Washington, D.C. - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) 
has asked a judge to issue an emergency order requiring the 
FBI to immediately release agency records about its abuse 
of National Security Letters (NSLs) to collect Americans' 
personal information.

Congressional hearings and a storm of media coverage 
followed a recent Justice Department report detailing the 
FBI's extensive misuse of NSLs -- requests through which 
federal agents may collect telephone, Internet, financial, 
credit, and other personal records about Americans without 
judicial approval. The report and the ensuing uproar also 
sparked the introduction of a bill in the House of 
Representatives to curb the Bureau's NSL authority. In a 
lawsuit filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 
EFF demands that the FBI release all information about NSL 
abuse without delay, so that the records can be part of the 
national debate about domestic surveillance.

"Congress has already dedicated several hearings to the 
FBI's abuse of investigative power and is thinking about 
how to prevent such abuses in the future," said EFF Staff 
Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "But if there is going to be 
meaningful debate about this issue, we need more 
information than what the Administration chooses to make 
public, and we need it now."

The Department of Justice has already agreed that the 
records should be disclosed quickly due to the exceptional 
media attention and the questions the NSL report has raised 
about the government's integrity. However, despite this 
recognition, the Bureau has failed to meet the 20-day time 
limit that Congress set for requests that do not merit fast 

EFF's FOIA request asks for all FBI records discussing or 
reporting violations of current law, guidelines, or 
policies, as well as any communications discussing various 
potential interpretations of current federal investigative 
power. EFF also demands copies of the contracts between the 
FBI and three telephone companies, which were intended to 
allow the FBI to get rapid access to telephone records.

"There are a lot of questions right now about the 
government's integrity when it comes to domestic 
surveillance. The FBI must follow the law and release these 
records to the public," said EFF Senior Counsel David 

For the FOIA complaint:

For the motion for a preliminary injunction:

For more on EFF's FLAG Project:

For this release:

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* OPEN Government Act Heads to Senate Floor

Legislation that would help protect the public's right to 
know is one step closer to passing. The Senate Judiciary 
Committee has marked up the OPEN Government Act, which 
would provide some much needed updates to the Freedom of 
Information Act (FOIA). The bill now heads to the Senate 
floor, and a similar bill has already passed in the House.

Keep up the momentum and tell your representatives to pass 
this bill now:

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* Recording Industry Target Deserves Day in Court

RIAA Must Face Consequences of Meritless File-Sharing 

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) 
has filed a brief with a New York district court, urging a 
judge to allow the target of a recording industry lawsuit 
to fight back with counterclaims of his own.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has 
already moved to dismiss copyright infringement claims 
against Rolando Amurao. However, Amurao alleges that the 
RIAA's case is meritless and intended to harass him, so he 
has countersued for a declaration of non-infringement and a 
finding of RIAA copyright misuse. In its amicus brief, EFF 
argues that giving Amurao his day in court increases RIAA 
accountability in the industry's broad lawsuit campaign 
against file sharing.

"If Amurao's allegations are true, then he has the right to 
clear his name," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. 
"It's simply unfair to shield copyright owners from the 
consequences of careless lawsuits. Counterclaims like 
Amurao's help make sure that the RIAA can't simply dismiss 
its case and walk away when an innocent target fights 

The RIAA has sued thousands of individuals for allegedly 
sharing music over the Internet since its campaign began in 
2003. But sloppy investigative methods have left innocent 
people entangled in expensive and draining legal 
proceedings. When the RIAA threatens someone with a 
lawsuit, it offers to settle the case for a carefully 
chosen sum that is smaller than the legal fees required to 
fight the accusations. Faced with this choice, some 
innocent people settle simply because it's the most 
affordable option. However, a few individuals like Amurao 
have decided to battle the RIAA in court. In one Oklahoma 
case, EFF provided amicus support to an innocent target of 
a file sharing lawsuit who is fighting to have the RIAA 
reimburse her attorneys' fees.

For the full amicus brief:

For more on the RIAA's lawsuit campaign:

For this release:

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* Washington Rejects REAL ID

The state of Washington recently passed legislation 
rejecting implementation of the costly, privacy-invasive 
REAL ID Act. REAL ID essentially forces states to create a 
national ID, requiring standardization of drivers' licenses 
and the creation of a vast national database linking all of 
the ID records together. Thankfully, there's a growing 
chorus of opposition to this misguided federal mandate -- 
Washington is the fourth state to reject its 
implementation, and Congress is considering repealing it.

Learn more about REAL ID and take action to stop it here:

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* A Win for Kids' Free Speech Rights

A ruling in the Indiana Court of Appeals last week gave a 
middle school student her free speech rights back.

The girl, who is called "A.B." in the court record, had 
posted comments on a MySpace page criticizing her school's 
policy on body piercings. The post was full of expletives, 
which a judge ruled ""obscene" despite the lack of any 
sexual content. The girl was found to be a "delinquent 
child" and was put on probation for nine months.

However, the girl appealed the ruling, arguing that her 
post was protected political speech. A three-judge panel 
agreed: "While we have little regard for A.B.'s use of 
vulgar epithets, we conclude that her overall message 
constitutes political speech." The judges threw out the 
"delinquent child" finding, holding that the lower court's 
conclusion "contravened her right to speak."

A lot of media coverage focuses on the perceived dangers 
for kids on the Internet. But, expletives or not, this case 
shows how students use the web to discuss issues of 
importance to them. It's heartening that judges like these 
see the importance as well.

For this post and related links:

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* AACS Key Revocation: The Future of DRM?

The AACS encryption scheme that restricts Blu-ray and HD 
DVD discs was thoroughly cracked several months ago. These 
vulnerabilities had their roots in several software 
players, including Corel's InterVideo WinDVD. Now Corel is 
doing what the AACS regime requires them to do -- revoking 
the existing keys, fixing the vulnerabilities, and 
requiring existing users to upgrade or be disabled when 
they insert a new disc that "blacklists" their existing 

LA Times reporter Jon Healey has done a nice summary of 
what this will mean for consumers on his blog, Bit Player 
(and it's worth reading the whole thing):

"The process of revoking software is a blunt instrument; 
everyone using WinDVD and PowerDVD will be affected, 
regardless of whether they traded bootlegged high-def 
movies, made back-up copies for personal use or merely 
played the high-def movies they bought or rented on their 

Because this "revoke and blacklist" approach is a standard 
feature of next-generation DRM systems, legitimate 
consumers are increasingly going to have something to fear 
from "upgrades" and "blacklists" hidden in the media they 
legitimately purchase. (Of course, no blacklists are 
embedded in the versions downloaded from P2P, giving 
consumers yet another incentive to prefer the Darknet.)

Read Healey's article:

Engadget explains why the WinDVD patch won't actually stop 
ripping of HD-DVD discs, thanks to the thorough compromise 
of the Xbox HD-DVD drives:

For this post and related links:

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* Dontdatehimgirl Suit Dismissed

A Pennsylvania judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the 
controversial website, ruling that he 
did not have jurisdiction over the Florida-based site.

But the jurisdiction question was not the only problem with 
this suit. Dontdatehimgirl is a forum created for women to 
share information about men, and the plaintiff in this case 
claims that participants posted defamatory statements about 
him. EFF filed an amicus brief in support of 
Dontdatehimgirl in December, arguing that the site cannot 
be held liable for comments written by others under Section 
230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 
specifically protects hosts of interactive computer 
services from liability and is key to fostering free 
discourse online. Without Section 230, no one would risk 
creating a website where others could post opinions.

It's important to note that the claims against the people 
who posted the messages in the first place still stand. If 
any defamation occurred, it's the speakers who should bear 
the responsibility, not the soapbox.

The plaintiff in this case has not decided if he will 
refile the Dontdatehim girl suit in Florida. However, if he 
does, he will have to take on Section 230 and the strong 
protections it provides to Internet hosts of vigorous 
online debate.

For this post and related links:

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* RIAA and MPAA Try to Gut Anti-Pretexting Bill

Remember the Hewlett-Packard pretexting scandal of last 
year? Private investigators hired by HP obtained phone 
records of journalists and its own board members by 
pretending to be the individuals themselves. The scandal 
was the catalyst for a congressional investigation, and 
some California lawmakers decided consumers needed more 
protection from these privacy violations. State Sen. Ellen 
Corbett introduced SB 328, a bill that would ban the use of 
false statements and other misleading practices to get 
personal information.

Good news for Californians, right? Not if the entertainment 
industry has anything to say about it. The RIAA and the 
MPAA are reportedly lobbying legislators for amendments to 
the bill. According to the Los Angeles Times, those 
amendments would allow pretexting if a company was trying 
to enforce its intellectual property rights. EFF Senior 
Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann believes this carve-out 
would gut the bill altogether. As he said in the Times 
article, "I don't see why the recording industry shouldn't 
have to follow the same laws that everyone else follows.... 
It appears they want to make the loophole so big that 
nobody else has to follow the law, either." 

Copyright shouldn't trump privacy. We hope the California 
State Senate agrees.

For the LA Times story:,1,1936238.story

For this post and related links:

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* More Ludicrous Marketing Claims About P2P Filtering

A few years ago, EFF debunked an anti-P2P packet filtering 
technology sold by Audible Magic. Twice. The notion that 
universities can just buy a piece of software to end file 
sharing on their networks forever is false. But it keeps 
coming back.

The latest product of this sort is from a company called 
SafeMedia. As we explain here, its website makes some 
highly misleading claims about what filtering can 

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* EFF Seeks Intake Coordinator

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an Internet civil 
liberties nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, is 
seeking a full-time intake coordinator.  EFF receives many 
requests for legal and other help from the public for 
Internet-related issues. The intake coordinator screens and 
gives initial responses to everyone who asks for our 

Our offices are located in the heart of San Francisco's 
Mission District. This person will support a dedicated 
staff of lawyers, technologists and activists. The 
environment is fast-paced, our mission is cutting edge, and 
EFF's staff is very smart and fun to work with.

Applicant must have general computer skills and knowledge 
of the Internet. Experience with basic legal issues and 
familiarity with EFF and our specific issues are also very 
helpful. This person must have great interpersonal skills, 
compassion and a sense of humor.

Duties include:

 Greeting visitors
 Answering general organizational telephone and email 
 Performing legal case intake and referrals
 Managing database of cooperating attorneys and 
 Coordinating volunteers and part-time staff for support 
 Assisting staff with assorted administrative tasks

Salary mid '30s plus good benefits package. EOE, we 
encourage diverse applicants to apply. Please email only 
resume and cover letter to Position 
available immediately. No phone calls please!

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* miniLinks
The week's noteworthy news, compressed.

~ George Orwell's Predictions Come Home
How many CCTVs are there around the author of 1984's old 

~ Entertainment IPREDators
How IPRED2 is seen in Italy.

~ China's Latest Export: Web Censorship
How one major player is shifting Web blocking.

~ Harold Feld's "Impossibly Long" Field Guide to the 700 
MHz Auction
A really not very long explanation of an important issue.

~ Lorne Michaels Wishes NBC Would Put More of SNL on 
Viacom's Jon Stewart not happy either.

~ The 403 Checker
Scan a large number of URLs and find the ones that your 
country bans.

~ Twenty-eight Percent of Americans Now Own an HDTV
The clock is ticking for broadcast flag adoption.

~ Australian ISP's Spam Solution: Block Gmail Messages
Another blacklist gone bad.

~ "Aiding and Abetting" Copyright Violations Could Land Our 
CEOs in Jail 
Euro companies getting worried about IPRED2

~ Job Opening at the FSF Running Campaigns
Be an activist supporting free software.

~ Stanford Launches Database of Copyright Renewal Records
Scanned and preserved: the records of book copyright 
registrations between 1950 and 1993. Between 1923-1964, 
books needed to appear in this record to have their 
copyright renewed.

~ German Police Want the Right to Hack Computers
The ping at the door at 4 o'clock in the morning.

~ Eyes of Blue Screen
Dodgy iris scanners make fools of "fast track" travelers.

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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, Activism Coordinator	       

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