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Podcast Episode: Antitrust/Pro-Internet

EFFector - Volume 20, Issue 41 - Action Alert: Tell the House to Hold the Line -- No Telecom Immunity!


EFFector - Volume 20, Issue 41 - Action Alert: Tell the House to Hold the Line -- No Telecom Immunity!

EFFector Vol. 20, No. 41  October 15, 2007

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
ISSN 1062-9424
In the 445th Issue of EFFector:
  • Action Alert: Tell the House to Hold the Line -- No Telecom Immunity!
  • Illegal Government Surveillance Opens Door to More Privacy Violations
  • San Jose Mercury News Features Op-Ed by EFF Attorney
  • EFF Documents Detail Pentagon Demands for Financial Records
  • Capitol v. Thomas: The Key Appeal Issue
  • Is DRM "Enabling New Business Models"?
  • Posts Badware Guide for Casual Internet Users
  • EFF Website Overhaul!
  • Thanks to All for EFF's Web 2.0 Compliance Bootcamp Success!
  • Foresight 2007 Vision Weekend Now Open to EFF Members
  • miniLinks (6): Qwest CEO Claims U.S. Withdrew Contracts as Punishment
  • Administrivia

For more information on EFF activities & alerts:

Make a donation and become an EFF member today!

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

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

This Wednesday, the RESTORE Act enters the final round in 
the House of Representatives, where it will be presented to 
the entire House for a floor vote. Within the next 48 
hours, all House representatives must hear the same, clear 
message -- keep telecom immunity out of the RESTORE ACT.

Last week, we initiated a targeted campaign to call key 
House committee members to demand that they resist pressure 
from the telecoms and the Bush administration to give 
immunity to lawbreaking telephone companies. Thanks to your 
calls, grassroots efforts, and renewed news coverage, the 
RESTORE Act does not currently give the telecoms immunity 
for helping the executive branch spy on Americans. But 
that's a momentary comfort in an environment where 
President Bush has threatened to veto any bill lacking 
telecom immunity, and where a contingent of House 
representatives is trying to sneak immunity into the bill 
at every opportunity.

We're now asking you to call all representatives in the 
House. Call now and demand that they hold the line -- no 
telecom immunity in the RESTORE Act!

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* Illegal Government Surveillance Opens Door to More 
Privacy Violations

EFF Tells Congress About Hidden Costs of Dragnet Spying

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) 
has told a congressional committee that the government's 
illegal dragnet electronic surveillance opens the door to 
even more privacy violations for ordinary Americans.

The sheer volume of personal information collected and the 
databases in which that information is stored create a 
giant target for attackers who want to steal or expose 
Americans' personal data. In a response to questions asked 
of EFF by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, EFF 
Legal Director Cindy Cohn explained in comments submitted 
Friday that an increase in the number of databases 
introduces more points of vulnerability into the system, 
putting sensitive personal information from millions of 
people at risk.

"We have all heard about security problems with government 
databases. A report from the Department of Homeland 
Security found 477 breaches in 2006 alone," said Cohn. "The 
warrantless domestic surveillance going on now isn't just 
illegal -- it could expose your personal information to 
thieves and criminals."

The committee asked EFF for input as part of its review of 
the Protect America Act, deeply flawed legislation that 
broadly expanded the National Security Agency's authority 
to spy on Americans without warrants. Next week, the House 
is set to vote on the RESTORE Act, a bill designed restore 
the civil liberties lost under the previous law.

Since the committee had also sent a list of key questions 
to AT&T and the other major telecommunications firms about 
their involvement in illegal surveillance activities, EFF 
provided the committee with information about the Hepting 
v. AT&T lawsuit. EFF represents the plaintiffs in this 
class-action lawsuit brought by AT&T customers, accusing 
the telecommunications company of violating their rights by 
illegally assisting the NSA's domestic surveillance. The 
Hepting case is just one of many lawsuits aimed at holding 
telecoms responsible for knowingly violating federal 
privacy laws with warrantless wiretapping and the illegal 
transfer of vast amounts of personal data to the 

EFF also provided the committee with a legal analysis of 
the use of so-called "exigent letters" by the government to 
obtain information about Americans and about their 
"communities of interest," two topics also raised by the 
committee in its letters to the telecommunications 
carriers. EFF's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) work 
uncovered this illegal broadening of surveillance 

"We're pleased that the committee is interested in 
obtaining answers from the leading telecommunications 
carriers about whether they have been following the privacy 
laws protecting their customers' communications. 
Congressional oversight of the telecommunications 
companies' activities is long overdue," said Cohn.

For EFF's full comments to the House Committee on Energy 
and Commerce:

For more on EFF's class-action lawsuit against AT&T:

For this release:

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* San Jose Mercury News Features Op-Ed by EFF Attorney

On Sunday, the San Jose Mercury News published EFF Senior 
Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl's comprehensive op-ed about 
Hepting v. AT&T, EFF's landmark case against the telecom 
giant.  The article concisely illuminates the ideologies 
swirling beneath the battle being waged in D.C. -- a 
conflict between the preservation of fundamental, 
constitutional principles and an unprecedented expansion of 
presidential power:

"The Hepting case, along with companion cases pending in 
District Court, represents the country's best hope to test 
the administration's extreme view of executive power in the 
crucible of judicial scrutiny, and to allow the courts to 
determine whether we are truly a nation governed by law or 
by people."

Read the entire op-ed, "Congress Shouldn't Cripple 
Warrantless Wiretapping Suit": (Registration unfortunately 

And check out EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn's SF Chronicle 
op-ed on immunity legislation:

For this post:

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* EFF Documents Detail Pentagon Demands for Financial 

On Saturday, the New York Times published an article based 
on Freedom of Information Act documents obtained by the 
Electronic Frontier Foundation, which provide a glimpse 
into the Defense Department's use of National Security 
Letters to collect bank and credit information in certain 
Pentagon investigations.

Read the New York Times article, "Pentagon Review Faults 
Bank Record Demands": (Registration unfortunately 

See the documents on which the article is based here:

For more on EFF's FOIA work:

For this post:

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* Capitol v. Thomas: The Key Appeal Issue

In the upcoming appeal of the $222,000 judgment against Ms. 
Jammie Thomas, the outcome will likely turn on Jury 
Instruction #15, which equates "making available" with 
"distributing" a copyrighted work. If the appeals court 
rejects that jury instruction, the verdict against Ms. 
Thomas would have to be thrown out and the case re-tried. 

We think there are two distinct things wrong with this 
instruction. Read our analysis here:

For Greg Sandoval's article, "Minnesota Woman to 
Appeal $220,000 RIAA Award":

For Declan McCullagh's article, "Will appeal 
succeed in RIAA's $222,000 'making available' case?":

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*  Is DRM "Enabling New Business Models"?

Advocates for the DMCA's ban on circumventing DRM have long 
argued that legal protection for DRM is necessary to 
"enable new business models" that will "create more choices 
for consumers." A recent blog post by Yahoo Music's general 
manager, Ian Rogers, suggests that the DMCA hasn't actually 
delivered on that rosy promise.

We hate to sound like a broken record here at EFF, but how 
about offering fans a blanket downloading license for a few 
dollars a month?

For EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann's complete 

For Yahoo Music GM Ian Rogers' blog post:

See our white paper, " A Better Way Forward: Voluntary 
Collective Licensing of Music File Sharing":

For more on Digital Rights Management (DRM):

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* Posts Badware Guide for Casual Internet 

Last week, released a report titled "Trends 
in Badware 2007: What Internet users need to know." The 
document is a plain-English explanation of modern security 
threats on the web, covering iframe injections, phishing on 
social networks, and scareware, among other topics. In an 
environment that often offers only arcane cues to malice or 
wrongdoing, the 12-page document is a straightforward way 
to improve security awareness in the casual Internet user.

Read the report:

For this post:

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* EFF Website Overhaul!

As you may have noticed, EFF just launched a full site 
redesign and restructure. It's been a long time coming, and 
we're way excited about it!

We've made some design and navigational changes that should 
be immediately apparent. But by far, the biggest change for is that we're now running on the open source 
content management system Drupal. Migrating into a CMS was 
a hefty challenge, as our website is almost as old as our 
organization, and has thousands of pages and files. But we 
did it, and the end result of this Herculean data massage 
should be that we're able to get more information up on our 
website, and to you, more quickly.

This project was a major undertaking for EFF, and we have 
some much-deserved Thank Yous to hand out:

    * Big thanks to all the people who work on Drupal, it's 
a great open source CMS and provides an excellent content 
management solution to many nonprofit & grassroots 
websites. And extra special thanks to the helpers on Drupal 
IRC, who handled quite a few related questions.
    * About halfway through the migration project, we were 
graced with the tech chops of Tim Jones, who ended up 
writing a bunch of custom Drupal modules for us and 
generally making this whole thing come together. Without 
his extensive help there's no way we would have gotten the 
site out the door, and he proved so invaluable that as of 
November he'll be at EFF fulltime.
    * Huge thanks to EFF ally Matt Earp, who handled a lot 
of the messier parts of content migration over the summer.
    * Finally, thanks to EFF staff and associates, who 
helped along the way by answering questions, sifting 
through piles of site content, offering input, and being 
incredibly patient.

One of our main goals with this site migration was to make more usable and organized, and we hope you like it! 
We'd love to hear your feedback and suggestions. Email us 
about the new site at:

For this post:

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* Thanks to All for EFF's Web 2.0 Compliance Bootcamp 

Our first Web 2.0 Compliance Bootcamp was a great success. 
EFF's staff attorneys were assisted by the brilliant legal 
and tech savvy minds of Jennifer Kelly, Jon Band, Colette
Vogele, Aaron Perzanowski, Tom Nolan, Tom Moore, Elizabeth
Rader and Jon Phillips. Kudos to all the attendees and 
speakers for bringing enthusiasm and energy to the event.

We'd like to extend a special thanks to the law firm of 
Fenwick & West, LLP, in Silicon Valley and to Google for 
their generous donations.

If you missed your chance to learn from this great group 
of experts -- stay tuned. We're looking into ways that we 
can continue the program in the near future.

Check out EFF's Bootcamp page:

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* Foresight 2007 "Vision Weekend" Now Open to EFF Members

EFF members can get priority registration to Foresight 
Nanotech Institute's "Vision Weekend" Unconference on 
Saturday, November 3 and Sunday, November 4, 2007. 
Foresight's Unconference will be held at Yahoo Headquarters 
in Sunnyvale, California, and will explore nanotechnology, 
advanced software, life extension and future technologies.

FNI suggests that EFF members interested in attending 
register early to ensure a seat. You can find more 
information here:

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* miniLinks
The week's noteworthy news, compressed.

~ Qwest CEO Claims U.S. Withdrew Contracts as Punishment
Did the NSA punish the telecom for refusing to hand over 
customer data?

~ NSA's Lucky Break
How the U.S. became the switchboard to the world.

~ License Plate Recognition Tools Led to Arrest
A police gadget that scans license plates raises privacy 

~ New TSA Rules Require 72-hour Notice to Fly
Under new proposed rules, passengers could no longer fly on 
the same day they buy their tickets.

~ 1024-bit Encryption Now Less Secure
Researchers have broken a new record in "cracking" a 307-
digit key number.

~ Universal Plans Music Subscription Service
A new subscription music plan from Universal would take on 
Apple's iTunes.

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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)	

Julie Lindner, Education Outreach Coordinator	

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