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EFFector - Volume 20, Issue 48 - Action Alert: Telecom Immunity Showdown in the Senate

EFFector Vol. 20, No. 48  December 17, 2007

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
ISSN 1062-9424

In the 452nd Issue of EFFector:
  • Action Alert: Telecom Immunity Showdown in the Senate!
  • EFF Obtains Government Documents on Congressional Intelligence Briefings
  • Copyright in Canada: No Longer Business as Usual
  • Facebook Beacon Roundup: Data Collection Methods Still Troubling
  • Music Industry Pressures EU Politicians for Filtered Internet
  • "PRO IP Act" Aims to Increase Infringement Penalties and Expand Government Enforcement
  • Join EFF in December and Get BookMooch Points
  • Vote for EFF on the Working Assets 2007 Donations Ballot!
  • EFF Seeks Webmaster Who Wants to Make a Difference
  • Nominate a Pioneer for EFF's 2008 Pioneer Awards!
  • miniLinks (5): ACLU files motion against Verizon in Oregon
  • 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: Telecom Immunity Showdown in the Senate!

A make-or-break moment for telecom immunity has arrived --
after months of back-room committee-meetings, the FISA bill
will finally reach the Senate floor on Monday! The clock is
ticking, and the upcoming votes will be critical. Contact
your Senator now:

Almost two years ago, EFF filed suit against AT&T for its
illegal participation in a massive digital dragnet of
Americans' private communications. In recent months, the
Bush Administration has been pressuring Congress to
immunize telecommunications companies against this

Just a few months ago, immunity seemed like a forgone
conclusion. But last month, outcry from thousands of
concerned citizens like you changed the tide, when the
Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that didn't let
lawbreaking telecoms off the hook.

Unfortunately, a previously-reported version of the bill
that grants telecom immunity will be presented to the
Senate extremely early on Monday morning. This vote is our
chance to strip immunity from the bill. If you care about
holding corporations accountable for lawbreaking and
preserving privacy rights, now is the time to take action:

Thanks to all the activists that have emailed their
senators on this critical issue. For those that have a
moment to spare and want to make an additional impact,
please consider making a phone call to your Senator's

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* EFF Obtains Government Documents on Congressional
Intelligence Briefings

Records Released As Lawmakers Debate Changes to
Surveillance Law

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
has received a second set of records from the Office of the
Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) detailing
behind-the-scenes briefings for lawmakers working to make
substantial changes to the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act (FISA).

EFF requested release of the records under the Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) earlier this year, but ODNI dragged
its feet in response. Last month, a federal judge ordered
ODNI to release all documents by December 10. The first
batch of records, made public on November 30, detailed
contentious negotiations between Director of National
Intelligence Mike McConnell and members of Congress that
resulted in the passage of the Protect America Act -- an
expansion of spying powers that undermined the Constitution
and the privacy of Americans.

The second set of records contains more correspondence
between McConnell and members of Congress, as well as
heavily redacted versions of classified testimony delivered
to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and an FAQ
detailing how the National Security Agency performs
electronic surveillance. Withheld records include ODNI
presentation slides used to brief Congress on foreign
intelligence issues and other classified documents.

"Our democratic system works best when citizens are fully
informed about the issues being debated in Congress," said
EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "Unfortunately, the Bush
Administration is continuing to withhold information that
is central to the pending debate on proposed changes to
surveillance law."

The Protect America Act expires in February, and lawmakers
are working on an extension of the bill -- potentially
including more power for the government to spy on Americans
as well as possibly granting amnesty for telecommunications
companies that participated in the warrantless
surveillance. EFF's Freedom of Information Act request also
asked for any documentation of lobbying activity from
telecoms that are facing lawsuits because of their role in
the illegal spying. However, according to ODNI, the agency
located a single document on this subject -- classified
handwritten notes made by an ODNI employee on a telephone
message slip.

EFF represents the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, a
class-action lawsuit brought by AT&T customers accusing the
telecommunications company of violating their rights by
illegally assisting the National Security Agency in
domestic surveillance. The Hepting case is just one of many
suits aimed at holding telecoms responsible for knowingly
violating federal privacy laws.

Part one of the ODNI documents:

Part two of the ODNI documents:

ODNI declaration explaining withholdings:

For more on EFF v. ODNI:

For this release:

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* Copyright in Canada: No Longer Business as Usual

It's been a roller-coaster few weeks for digital rights
activists in Canada. A few weeks ago, rumors began
circulating that the current minority Conservative
government was going to present a copyright reform act
before the new year. It's long been known that the US
government and media companies are pressuring Canada to
"normalize" its IP law with its southern neighbor.

The apparent intent of the government to slip the bill
through at the very end of the Christmas parliamentary
session suggested an administration that believed that
importing IP law was a simple enough trade for US approval
-- a law that would gather nothing more than a muted
protest from those not involved in the backroom

The administration could not have been more wrong! Despite
the unseasonal timing of the bill's announcement, and with
no confirmed text of the bill, Net users in Canada quickly
created their own opportunities for public discussion.
Spearheaded by Canadian law professor Michael Geist, over
20,000 concerned activists joined and co-ordinated their
actions over a Facebook group. Thousands of them sent
letters to their MPs through the Canadian grassroots site,
Online Rights Canada, co-sponsored by EFF, to urge the
government to consider fixing copyright law, not tightening
it. And dozens visited the bill's backer, Industry Minister
Jim Prentice, in person at his constituency Christmas meal
last weekend. They brought food for the charity collection
and hard copyright questions for the minister -- and filmed
and blogged it all.

The day after, Prentice announced he was not going to
introduce the bill on its scheduled date. Days later,
sources close to the ministry were dropping hints that it
would still be introduced before Christmas, but Prentice's
press secretary confirmed that the bill had been delayed
until the new year.

Industry Canada's hesitancy is an indication of how
radically the political scene around IP has changed in the
last few years. Copyright is now a consumer issue, not a
set of deals between private industries. And, thanks to the
Net, consumers can now learn, react, and protest to what
troubles them at a speed that can outrun the usual
government messaging tricks.

For Online Rights Canada's copyright news and activism

For this complete post by International Outreach
Coordinator Danny O'Brien:

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* Facebook Beacon Roundup: Data Collection Methods Still

Facebook has been the the target of much criticism in
recent weeks, thanks to the rapid spread of reports about
Facebook's Beacon, a tool that allows third-party websites
to send information about user activities back to Facebook.

Despite implementing changes that gave the user more
control over the publishing of their information on
Facebook pages, important privacy considerations remain.
Initial reports on Beacon's behavior demonstrated that
Beacon's fundamental technical underpinnings rely on
third-party websites sending information to Facebook
regardless of the user's opt-out/opt-in preferences.
Security researcher Stefan Berteau observed that his
behavior on was being transmitted to
Facebook in several unexpected scenarios, including while
he was completely logged out of Facebook. While his actions
on weren't at risk of being published, it
was still eerie that was telling Facebook
about his actions despite his being logged out.

As a general precaution, we would advise users not to send
information to any part of the Facebook site unless they
are willing to accept a risk that that information could be
seen by more or less anyone.

For Stefan Berteuau's research on Beacon's behavior:

For a post about blocking Facebook's Beacon:

For this complete post:

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* Music Industry Pressures EU Politicians for Filtered

The music and film industry continues to pursue its idea of
a politically "corrected" Internet - one that they imagine
could protect their old business models without requiring
any extra costs on their part. This time, the fix is
Internet-wide filtering. In a memo to European
policy-makers, the International Federation of Phonographic
Industries (IFPI) has called upon ISPs in Europe to filter
the content sent across their networks, block protocols
used by their customers, and cut off access to persistently
infringing sites from the Net.

Disturbingly, European politicians seem open to the idea of
ISPs policing and interfering with their customers'
communications on behalf of rightsholders. Last month, the
European Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and
Energy (ITRE) tabled an amendment to a Parliamentary report
that changed a request to "rethink the critical issue of
intellectual property", into a call for "internet service
providers to apply filtering measures to prevent copyright

EFF sent a letter pointing out that some of the groups
hardest hit by blanket Internet filtering measures would be
artists and teachers. But building filtering and censorship
tools is not just bad for creators and education; it's bad
for all of society. Any country that has a centralized
system in place to pry into its citizen's private
communications creates a very disturbing precedent and a
dangerously powerful tool, vulnerable to misuse. Perhaps
the music industry's European lobbyists have lost sight of
the serious collateral damage their proposals would cause,
but European citizens and their elected policymakers should

For the full IFPI memo requesting filtering from ISPs:

For EFF Europe's letter addressing calls for ISPs to filter
for copyright infringement:

For this post:

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 * "PRO IP Act" Aims to Increase Infringement Penalties and
Expand Government Enforcement

Members of the House Judiciary Committee have introduced
the "Prioritizing Resources and Organization for
Intellectual Property (PRO IP) Act of 2007," a bill that
ratchets up the federal government's role in dealing with
intellectual property infringement. While portions of the
bill seem legitimately targeted at combating mass,
commercial counterfeiting operations, other parts are
devoted to little more than protecting the entertainment
industry's obsolete business models.

Going after commercial pirates is a good idea, but
copyright law often fails to distinguish between commercial
counterfeiters and regular folks. If the entertainment
industry wants to pile on extraordinary penalties for the
commercial pirates, it also seems like a good time to make
adjustments that recognize that lesser penalties are
appropriate for noncommercial, personal copying.

Unfortunately, at present, the PRO IP Act is just another
in a long line of "one-way ratchet" proposals that
amplifies copyrights without protecting innovators or
technology users. For example, copyright law currently
allows the RIAA to seek statutory damages per album, while
the new law would allow them to seek damages per song.

Beyond its effects on file sharing litigation, the bill
would create a new, taxpayer-funded federal bureaucracy
focused on policing intellectual property domestically and
overseas. These new publicly-funded federal bureaucrats
would essentially have one responsibility -- protecting the
business interests of the biggest names in movies, music,
and software.

For this complete post:

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* Join EFF in December and Get BookMooch Points

In December, for every $10 you donate to EFF, you'll
receive one BookMooch point, worth one free book of your
choice, from BookMooch founder and EFF board member John
Buckman! Just send the receipt of your donation to to redeem your free BookMooch points.

BookMooch is a community built around exchanging used books
-- it's completely non-commercial and costs nothing to join
or use. Members list books that they are willing to
exchange, list books that they want to receive, and earn
points based on their participation. You get one BookMooch
point when you send someone else a book; you spend one
BookMooch point when you "mooch" (receive) a book from
another member. Take advantage of this promotion to get
some free books while supporting EFF and the ongoing fight
for digital freedom.

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* Vote for EFF on the Working Assets 2007 Donations Ballot!

A telecommunications company wants to support EFF!

That's right. You heard us correctly.

Working Assets offers long distance, wireless and credit
card services that donate a portion of customers' charges
to nonprofit organizations. Since 1985, Working Assets has
raised over $50 million for worthy groups like EFF. Now,
the good folks at Working Assets are continuing to do their
part to make our world a better place by generously
supporting us as a recipient in their 2007 end-of-year
donation campaign.

Are you or your friends Working Assets customers who
rounded up your phone bill all year? Well it's time to
spread the love.

When you fill out your Working Assets 2007 Donations
Ballot, vote to allocate this year's funding to EFF. The
distribution of funds is determined solely by how many
votes each group receives. The more votes you give EFF, the
more money we get. It's that simple.

Voting for EFF is easy. Just go to:

The voting deadline is December 31, so act quickly!

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* EFF Seeks Webmaster Who Wants to Make a Difference

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an Internet civil
liberties nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, is
seeking a full-time webmaster to start immediately. This
person will be responsible for managing content and
building web features on, and helping to build and
maintain EFF's web initiatives and campaigns.

The environment is fast-paced; the work is cutting-edge. A
love of technology and familiarity with related civil
liberties issues is a must.

The ideal candidate will have a broad range of experience
in web production, including:
* XHTML/CSS web design and implementation
* Open-source web technology: PHP, Javascript, Unix,
Apache, etc.
* Graphics production, editing and optimization
* An eye for clean user-centric web design and layout
* Organizing and keeping track of large amounts of complex
web content

Additional familiarity with any of these is a plus:
* Drupal CMS
* Subversion (or similar concurrent versioning system)
* Smarty
* Flash/ActionScript
* Writing blog posts, press releases, web content, etc.

Salary in the low $50s with benefits. To apply, send a
cover letter and your resume with links to some samples of
your work to Please send these materials in
a non-proprietary format. No phone calls please!

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* 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 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

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

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:

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* miniLinks
The week's noteworthy news, compressed.

~ ACLU files motion against Verizon in Oregon
The ACLU wants its case against Verizon to be allowed to go
forward, in light of recent court decisions.

~ House vote on illegal images sweeps in Wi-Fi, websites
The House approved a bill that would force anyone offering
Wi-Fi access to report illegal or "obscene" images.

~ Canadian songwriters and artists call for filesharing
A Canadian proposal would legalize P2P networks and
compensate artists when their music is shared.

~ Shedding light on China's underground cybercrime economy
A new study gives insight into how the black market in
malware and cybercrime in China works.

~ Google keeps what erases's AskEraser program is intended to protect your
privacy by erasing your digital footprints -- but does it do
what it promises?,google-keeps-what-askcom-erases.aspx

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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)	

Richard Esguerra, EFF Activist	

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