EFFector Vol. 20, No. 43 October 31, 2007 firstname.lastname@example.org A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation ISSN 1062-9424 In the 447th Issue of EFFector:
- Action Alert: Telecom Immunity Still Looming in the House -- Call Your Representative Today!
- EFF Wins Reexamination of Bogus Patent
- Newspaper Editorial Boards Oppose Telecom Immunity
- Computer & Communications Industry Association Opposes Amnesty for Telecoms
- Bloggers and Civil Libertarians Petition Congress
- Comcast Needs to Come Clean
- Report Shows that "Copyright Confusion" Obstructs Media Literacy Efforts
- Thanks Slashdot!
- Nominate a Pioneer for EFF's 2008 Pioneer Awards!
- miniLinks (9): Opinion: Studs Terkel on Telecom Immunity
For more information on EFF activities & alerts: http://www.eff.org/ Make a donation and become an EFF member today! http://eff.org/support/ Tell a friend about EFF: http://action.eff.org/site/Ecard?ecard_id=1061 effector: n, Computer Sci. A device for producing a desired change. : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * Action Alert: Telecom Immunity Still Looming in the House -- Call Your Representative Today! If you haven't already done so, pick up the phone and remind your Representative to take a stand against procedural trickery leading to telecom immunity. http://action.eff.org/site/Advocacy?id=321 The first time the House took up the RESTORE Act, the Administration's allies scuttled a floor vote because it did not provide amnesty for lawbreaking telecoms. Though the House has been quiet about the specific dates, RESTORE will be voted upon soon, as the holiday season is just around the corner, and Administration and telecom lobbyists continue to press for immunity. The latest news is that the immunity maneuver will come in the form of a "motion to recommit," a procedural trick that will equate opposition to telecom immunity with being "soft on terror." Remind your Representative that you can see right through the alarmist rhetoric -- that immunizing the telecoms for their role in massive warrantless wiretapping is a paramount example of corruption at work, and that immunity for the telecoms is an issue wholly unrelated to security. Tell your Representative to stand firm in the face of procedural tricks -- no telecom immunity in RESTORE! http://action.eff.org/site/Advocacy?id=321 : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * EFF Wins Reexamination of Bogus Patent Patent Office to Take Second Look at Meritless Claims Threatening Mobile Information Access San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has won reexamination from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) of a bogus patent threatening mobile information access. The reexamination order is the third granted by the PTO after challenges from EFF's Patent Busting Project. NeoMedia Technologies, Inc., claims to own rights to all systems that provide information over computer networks using database-like lookup procedures that rely on scanned inputs, such as a barcode. NeoMedia has used these claims to threaten and sue innovators in the mobile information space. But EFF's reexamination request, filed in conjunction with Paul Grewal and James Czaja of Day Casebeer Madrid & Batchelder, showed that the functionality covered by NeoMedia's bad patent was repeatedly included as part of prior patent applications from other companies. "Overbroad and invalid patents threaten to chill important innovations, especially for startups and other nascent entrepreneurs," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "It's important that technology in the public domain stays there." NeoMedia has the opportunity to file comments defending the patent before the PTO makes its final determination. However, the PTO has narrowed or revoked roughly 70 percent of patents it has decided to reexamine. "Re-examination is an essential part of the patenting process," said Paul Grewal, a partner at Day Casebeer Madrid & Batchelder. "We are pleased that the Patent Office has decided to examine NeoMedia's efforts to claim for itself what the public has long enjoyed." The successful reexamination request for the NeoMedia patent is the latest big victory for EFF's Patent Busting Project, which combats the chilling effects bad patents have on the public interest and innovation. So far, the project has helped kill a bogus patent covering a system and method of creating digital recordings of live performances. The PTO has also granted another EFF reexamination request for an illegitimate patent for online test-taking. For the full reexamination order: http://w2.eff.org/patent/wanted/order_granting_reexam_neomedia.pdf For more information about the NeoMedia patent reexamination: http://www.eff.org/patent/wanted/patent.php?p=neomedia For more on the Patent Busting Project: http://www.eff.org/patent/ For more on Day Casebeer Madrid & Batchelder: http://www.daycasebeer.com For this release: http://www.eff.org/press/archives/2007/10/23 : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * Newspaper Editorial Boards Oppose Telecom Immunity When a key Senate committee voted to include retroactive immunity for telecom lawbreakers in new legislation, they may not have been prepared for the rising tide of criticism coming their way. Newspaper editorial boards and legal scholars from around the country are speaking out in increasingly urgent terms about the threat to the rule of law posed by the immunity provisions. If the bill becomes law, it will let phone companies off the hook for their participation in the NSA's massive and illegal wiretapping program. Read what the national wires are saying: For the New York Times editorial, "With Democrats Like These...": (Registration unfortunately required.) http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/20/opinion/20sat1.html?ex=1350705600&en=49dc283050802902&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss For the USA Today editorial, "Our view on Your Phone Records: Immunity Demand for Telecoms Raises Questions": http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2007/10/our-view-on-y-1.html For the New Jersey Star Ledger editorial, "No Immunity for Telecoms": http://blog.nj.com/njv_editorial_page/2007/10/no_immunity_for_telecoms.html#more For the Philadelphia Daily News editorial, "Dems, Hold Fast on Wiretap Law: Telecoms Need a Spine, Not Immunity From Lawsuits": http://www.philly.com/dailynews/opinion/20071016_DEMS__HOLD_FAST_ON_WIRETAP_LAW.html Find out what other national newspapers siding with EFF on this issue are saying in our complete post: http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2007/10/newspaper-editorial-boards-oppose-telecom-immunity For more on EFF's class-action lawsuit against AT&T: http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/att : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * Computer & Communications Industry Association Opposes Amnesty for Telecoms Last week, the influential Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) sent a letter to Speaker of the House Pelosi opposing immunity for telecommunications companies involved in the illegal warrantless surveillance program. CCIA encouraged Congress "to reject broad immunity provisions in favor of a better balance between legitimate national security interests and basic Fourth Amendment privacy for U.S. citizens." We applaud CCIA for taking a stand for justice and for the privacy and security of the American people. Read CCIA's letter to Pelosi: http://www.eff.org/files/CCIALtr-10-16-2007Pelosi.pdf For this post: http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2007/10/computer-communications-industry-association-opposes-amnesty-telecoms : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * Bloggers and Civil Libertarians Petition Congress When it comes to putting the pressure on the Senate to stand against retroactive immunity for telecom lawbreakers, bloggers have taken a vital lead. They helped inspire Chris Dodd to pledge a hold on any Senate bill that contains an amnesty, and they prompted Barack Obama's recent unequivocal opposition to immunity. These key bloggers have joined together to send a letter to Harry Reid, urging him to honor Sen. Dodd's hold and stop the immunity legislation currently moving through the Senate. The full letter is at: http://www.noretroactiveimmunity.com/ You can add you own name to the letter there (and join EFF, the ACLU, Working Assets and many others). And don't forget to visit Stop The Spying to call your representatives and urge them to use their vote to oppose telecom immunity in Congress: http://www.stopthespying.org/ : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * Comcast Needs to Come Clean Comcast has been telling the press that its not interfering with its users' traffic, it's just "delaying" it. Let's examine that proposition for a moment. In previous posts to our Deeplinks blog, we discussed Comcast's forging of TCP RST packets to kill users' connections on BitTottent, Gnutella and Lotus Notes. To see just how disingenuous Comcast is being, consider the following analogy: Alice wants to speak to Bob. Alice telephones Bob and hears someone answer the phone in Bob's voice. That voice says, "I'm sorry Alice, I don't want to talk to you," and hangs up. Except, it wasn't actually Bob who answered the phone, it was Comcast using a special device to impersonate Bob's voice. Comcast might describe this as "delaying" Alice and Bob's conversation on the theory that perhaps they'll keep calling each other until some day when Comcast isn't using its special device. Comcast may also invoke the theory that Alice will call other people who are a lot like Bob but aren't on Comcast's network, so her conversation will only be delayed. If "delaying" traffic was Comcast's private intent, it was clearly making absurd and frequently incorrect assumptions about the protocols it was jamming. No doubt that is how Comcast wound up blocking Lotus Notes. Comcast should come clean. The company should explain what it's doing and explain in precise and detailed terms why it's doing it. If Comcast does that, the technical community will be able to evaluate its arguments properly, decide whether they've got any basis at all, and (we're just guessing here) explain to Comcast how to solve its problem correctly and without arbitrarily jamming things. That way, Comcast might not break the very thing it claims to be selling access to: the Internet. Read AP reporter Peter Svennson's article, "Comcast Admits Delaying Some Traffic": http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gxRiQSVfgK4sLbVRE_X4MOlM9q0A For background, "EFF Tests Agree with AP: Comcast Is Forging Packets to Interfere with User Traffic": http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2007/10/eff-tests-agree-ap-comcast-forging-packets-to-interfere For this post and related links: http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2007/10/comcast-needs-come-clean : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * Report Shows that "Copyright Confusion" Obstructs Media Literacy Efforts A recently completed investigation into copyright's effect on media literacy education resulted in the following criticism: lack of knowledge and poor policies inhibit the teaching of critical thinking and communication skills. The report, published by the American University Center for Social Media is titled, "The Cost of Copyright Confusion for Media Literacy." It's the product of extensive interviews conducted throughout 2007 unearthing the real-world challenges faced by teachers, librarians, and others involved in bringing real media examples into the classroom. Appropriately, the report recommends the development of a comprehensive code of practice that can provide clarity on copyright rules and fair use exceptions. This code would help educators freely and lawfully advance media literacy in the classroom. As the report points out, maximalist copyright myths are hampering progress on forging an important link between culture and citizenship. Read the report, "The Cost of Copyright Confusion for Media Literacy": http://www.centerforsocialmedia.org/files/pdf/Final_CSM_copyright_report.pdf Read EFF Activist Richard Esguerra's complete post: http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2007/10/report-shows-copyright-confusion-obstructs-media-literacy-efforts : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * Thanks Slashdot! EFF would like to express profound thanks to Slashdot for hosting a 10 Year Anniversary Charity Auction and donating the proceeds to EFF! We appreciate the generous support of everyone who participated. Items won by Slashdotters include the tower case used to host the site in its early years, an office swag grab bag, an "@slashdot.org" email alias, and a 2 (or 3) digit user ID. Congratulations to the auction winners and to Slashdot for 10 years of community-powered news and commentary! For Slashdot's auction wrap-up: http://meta.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/10/30/1524206 : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * Nominate a Pioneer for EFF's 2008 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 2008. 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 2008 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 email@example.com. We will accept nominations until January 1, 2008. 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 communications. 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 information. 3. The contribution may be technical, social, economic, or cultural. 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 operating 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: http://www.eff.org/awards/pioneer/ : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * miniLinks The week's noteworthy news, compressed. ~ Opinion: Studs Terkel on Telecom Immunity The history of abuse of surveillance powers in the US shows why wiretapping laws must be upheld. (Registration unfortunately required to view.) http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/29/opinion/29terkel.html?ex=1351396800&en=ec8eba2f41b8f92d&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss ~ Freshman Democrats Key in Debate Over Wiretapping The outcome of FISA reform may hinge on newly elected freshman Democrats in the House and Senate. http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/freshman-democrats-key-in-debate-over-wiretapping-2007-10-30.html ~ AT&T Invents Programming Language for Mass Surveillance An AT&T paper from 2001 using software to identify "communities of interest." http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/10/att-invents-pro.html ~ Retailers Want Online Sellers to Fight Theft Should eBay be forced to crack down on unauthorized sales by requiring sellers to identify themselves? http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20071025.wgttheft1025/BNStory/Technology/?page=rss&id=RTGAM.20071025.wgttheft1025 ~ ALA Wants Warrants for Library Searches The American Library Association says requests for patron records should require warrants. http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6495391.html?desc=topstory ~ Password Cracking Chip Causes Security Concerns A new technique uses graphics hardware to crack computer passwords. http://technology.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn12825 ~ Walk on the Wired Side A new jacket uses GPS to let parents track their children's movements. http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2007/oct/23/news.crime ~ Comcast and Net Neutrality Ed Felten on why net neutrality legislation may be harder to write and enforce than it would seem. http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/?p=1218 ~ McCain Defends Fair Use The Senator refuses to discontinue ads that feature brief clips of Fox News shows after Fox complains. http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/horsesmouth/2007/10/fox_news_tells.php : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * 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) http://www.eff.org/ Editor: Richard Esguerra, EFF Activist firstname.lastname@example.org Membership & donation queries: email@example.com General EFF, legal, policy, or online resources queries: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 permission. Press releases and EFF announcements & articles may be reproduced individually at will. Current and back issues of EFFector are available via the Web at: http://www.eff.org/effector/ Click here to change your email address: http://action.eff.org/addresschange This newsletter is printed on 100% recycled electrons.