Skip to main content
Podcast Episode: Chronicling Online Communities

EFFector - Volume 20, Issue 40 - Action Alert: Tell Key House Committees to Hold the Line -- No Telecom Immunity


EFFector - Volume 20, Issue 40 - Action Alert: Tell Key House Committees to Hold the Line -- No Telecom Immunity

EFFector Vol. 20, No. 40  October 9, 2007

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
ISSN 1062-9424

In the 444th Issue of EFFector:
  • Action Alert: Tell Key House Committees to Hold the Line -- No Telecom Immunity!
  • Another House Committee Joins Warrantless Wiretapping Fray, Seeks EFF Comment on Privacy Dangers
  • "No Good Lawyer" Would Buy Warrantless Surveillance Justification
  • EFF Engages Veteran Lobbyists to Take Fight Against Warrantless Wiretapping to Capitol Hill
  • RIAA Convinces Jury to Impose Fines for File Sharing
  • Capitol v. Thomas: What About Bankruptcy?
  • EFF Comments on Terror Watch List
  • EFF Seeks Intellectual Property Staff Attorney
  • miniLinks (7): NSA Tells Reporters What to Say
  • 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

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . :

* Action Alert: Tell Key House Committees to Hold the Line
-- No Telecom Immunity!

In approximately 48 hours, key House committees will make
final changes to the RESTORE Act before it goes to the
House floor. Pick up the phone now and demand that
committee members hold the line -- keep telecom immunity
out of the RESTORE Act:

Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers and
Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes announced
the RESTORE Act -- an attempt to restore civil liberties
lost to the executive branch in August, when Congress
passed the "Protect America Act." The Protect America Act
was rushed legislation that gave the executive branch
unprecedented power to spy on Americans, bypassing the
checks and balances of judicial review that have protected
citizens from warrantless wiretapping since the scandals of

Members of the House Intelligence and House Judiciary
Committees are planning to make final changes to the
RESTORE Act on Thursday, October 11, before bringing it to
a floor vote before the whole House. These committee
meetings will be the perfect opportunity for someone to
sneak retroactive immunity language into the bill, suddenly
shielding telecommunication companies from legal scrutiny.
Including immunity in the RESTORE Act could jeopardize
EFF's case against AT&T -- one of the last, best hopes for
judicial review of the wholesale surveillance of ordinary

Demand that your representative hold the line -- no telecom
immunity! Visit our Action Center, and call your
representative today:

Read Ellen Nakashima's Washington Post report, "Democrats
to Offer New Surveillance Rules":

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . :

* Another House Committee Joins Warrantless Wiretapping
Fray, Seeks EFF Comment on Privacy Dangers

Last week, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce
opened an investigation into warrantless wiretapping,
asking for details from telecommunications providers about
government efforts to obtain customer data. In addition,
several key members of the committee sent letters to EFF
and other civil liberties groups, requesting assistance in
the committee's investigation of the controversial program.
EFF will be happy to respond.

The latest scrutiny from the House Committee on Energy and
Commerce adds to a growing pile of critical inquiries into
the warrantless wiretapping program. Jack Goldsmith, a
former senior Justice Department lawyer, said of the
wiretapping: "It was the biggest legal mess I had ever
encountered." Senator Patrick Leahy of the Senate Judiciary
Committee has tried to obtain the Bush administration's
documents about the legal justification for warrantless
spying to no avail. On top of all this controversy, the
telecommunications companies have been forcefully lobbying
Congress, seeking retroactive amnesty for illegally
violating their customers' privacy.

EFF recently filed suit under the Freedom of Information
Act (FOIA), demanding government records of the telecom
industry's lobbying campaign to block lawsuits. The
campaign is a heavy-handed attempt to derail EFF's class-
action suit against AT&T for its collaboration in the
domestic spying program.

Read the letters:

For the Committee on Energy and Commerce press release:

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

For the full post:

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . :

* "No Good Lawyer" Would Buy Warrantless Surveillance

The New York Times recently published a fascinating article
about a secret government memo purporting to justify
extreme interrogation methods, written even as the
Administration was disavowing torture. The article is well
worth a read in its own right. Deep within the article,
lies an anecdote on another topic -- the legal
justifications for the NSA warrantless surveillance

"An imposing former prosecutor and self-described
conservative who stands 6-foot-8, [Deputy Attorney General
James B. Comey] was the rare administration official who
was willing to confront [Cheney's Chief of Staff and Legal
Counsel David] Addington. At one testy 2004 White House
meeting, when Mr. Comey stated that "no lawyer" would
endorse [John] Yoo's justification for the N.S.A. program,
Mr. Addington demurred, saying he was a lawyer and found it
convincing. Mr. Comey shot back: "No good lawyer,"
according to someone present."

It's time to put an end to the illegal surveillance. Call
Congress today:

Read the New York Times article, "Secret U.S. Endorsement
of Severe Interrogations":

See EFF's page on the NSA's warrantless domestic
surveillance program:

For this post and related links:

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . :

* EFF Engages Veteran Lobbyists to Take Fight Against
Warrantless Wiretapping to Capitol Hill

Thomas J. Downey and Adam M. Eisgrau Will Work to Block
Amnesty for Telecoms

San Francisco - As Congress debates letting the telecom
industry off the hook for its compliance with illegal
government surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans,
the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has enlisted two
veteran lobbyists to try to block amnesty for companies
collaborating with the warrantless spying.

EFF is lead counsel for the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T,
one of many lawsuits aimed at holding telecommunications
companies accountable for violating their customers' rights
by illegally assisting the National Security Agency in
domestic surveillance. The opportunity for this critical
case to be decided by a judge is under serious threat as
the White House calls for Congress to provide these
companies with immunity for their role in the illegal

In an effort to preserve the courts' crucial role in
protecting the privacy of all Americans, EFF will now take
its fight against warrantless spying to Capitol Hill.
Thomas J. Downey and Adam M. Eisgrau, both with decades of
experience in Washington, have been retained by EFF to work
to block amnesty for companies who break the law.

"While EFF generally does not engage in Washington-style
lobbying, we need to make Congress understand the
importance of letting our case against AT&T go forward,"
said EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. "By releasing the
telecoms from liability, Congress would be permitting the
widespread flouting of our laws by private companies
entrusted with our most personal communications."

To help with EFF's "Stop the Spying" campaign:

For this release:

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . :

* RIAA Convinces Jury to Impose Fines for File Sharing

Four years after it began, the Recording Industry
Association of America's (RIAA) campaign to intimidate
music fans by randomly singling out individuals for
lawsuits has, for the first time, made it to a jury trial.
Despite the RIAA's previous claim that defendants have no
right to a jury trial, Jammie Thomas had her day in court
in front of a jury sworn to examine the evidence in a fair,
impartial manner. The verdict is now in: Thomas was found
guilty and is liable for $220,000 in penalties -- $9250 per

But despite the verdict, tens of millions of Americans will
continue sharing billions of songs, just as they have since
Napster let the P2P genie out of the bottle nearly eight
years ago. Every lawsuit makes the recording industry look
more and more like King Canute, vainly trying to hold back
the tide. As for EFF, we continue to believe there is a
better way forward.

Read the highlights from Capitol Records v. Thomas in our
complete post:

For the Ars Technica article, "RIAA anti-P2P campaign a
real money pit, according to testimony":

For more background on the RIAA's litigation campaign,
download EFF's: "RIAA v. the People: Four Years Later

Read EFF's white paper, " A Better Way Forward:
Voluntary Collective Licensing of Music File Sharing":

See EFF's file sharing page: Let the Music Play:

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . :

* Capitol v. Thomas: What About Bankruptcy?

In the wake of the $220,000 verdict against Ms. Thomas for
file sharing, some have asked whether she can avoid the
judgment by filing for personal bankruptcy. The question is
a complicated one, and, as it happens, EFF posted a memo
last summer explaining the law in this area, for those who
may be interested. (Note: it has not been updated since
2006, so further research would be necessary to uncover any
more recent precedents.)

Read EFF's bankruptcy memo:

For Declan McCullagh's article, "Four reasons why
the RIAA won a jury verdict of $220,000":

For this post:

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . :

* EFF Comments on Terror Watch List

Since 2003, the government has been building, testing and
stitching together several disparate terrorist watch lists
from various agencies into one vast, centralized database
of suspicious individuals. Information in this database can
be used to decide whether individuals will be allowed to
enter the country, get on an airplane, or become citizens,
or if they will be detained at routine traffic stops. It's
a central factor in other programs, like Secure Flight, the
Transportation Security Administration's proposed plan to
"screen" millions of travelers.

Last week, EFF filed comments on some proposed changes to
the Terrorist Screening Records System (TSRS), which
includes the watch list as well as other records. EFF urged
the FBI to reconsider its 2005 decision to exempt the TSRS
from crucial Privacy Act requirements, which makes it
impossible for citizens to use the courts to access or
challenge false or inaccurate data that may have found its
way into the system.

Read our complete analysis in the post:

For EFF's comments:

EFF's Travel Screening page:

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . :

* EFF Seeks Intellectual Property Staff Attorney

We're hiring!

EFF is seeking an intellectual property staff attorney for
its legal team. Responsibilities will include litigation,
public speaking, media outreach, plus legislative and
regulatory advocacy, all in connection with a variety of
intellectual property and high technology matters.

Qualified candidates should have at least four years of
legal experience, with knowledge in patent law and at least
one other IP specialty (copyright, trademark, trade
secret). Litigation experience is preferred, including
significant experience managing cases, both overall case
strategy and day-to-day projects and deadlines. Candidates
should have good communication skills and interest in
working with a team of highly motivated lawyers and
activists in a hard-working nonprofit environment. Strong
writing and analytical skills as well as the ability to be
self-motivated and focused are essential. Tech savvy and
familiarity with Internet civil liberties and high tech
public interest issues preferred. This position is based in
San Francisco.

Interested applicants should submit a resume, writing
sample, and references to:

For this post:

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . :

* miniLinks
The week's noteworthy news, compressed.

~ NSA Tells Reporters What to Say
The NSA ran seminars for reporters on how to cover
surveillance issues.

~ FCC Won't Investigate Warrantless Wiretapping
The FCC has declined to investigate the NSA's use of
telecoms to spy on Americans.

~ Amazon's Music Is DRM-Free (But Not EULA-Free)
Amazon's MP3s come with a license agreement that restricts
fair use.

~ Background Checks at NASA Lab Blocked
The 9th Circuit Court blocked a Bush administration order
requiring background checks of scientists.

~ Lawsuit Over iPhone Bricking
A California man sues Apple for limiting iPhone use to

~ Unlocking iPhones
Slate's Tim Wu says it's legal, ethical, and just plain

~ DNA Tests for Immigrants in France?
The French government plans to collect DNA from immigrant

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . :

* 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)

Julie Lindner, Education Outreach Coordinator

Membership & donation queries:

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

Reproduction of this publication in electronic media is
encouraged. Signed articles do not necessarily represent
the views of EFF. To reproduce signed articles
individually, please contact the authors for their express
Press releases and EFF announcements & articles may be
reproduced individually at will.

Current and back issues of EFFector are available via the
Web at:

Click here to change your email address:

This newsletter is printed on 100% recycled electrons.

Back to top

JavaScript license information