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EFFector - Volume 21, Issue 3 - Action Alert: Your Photos and Videos Needed at

EFFector Vol. 21, No. 03  January 24, 2008

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
ISSN 1062-9424

In the 456th Issue of EFFector:
 * Action Alert: Your Photos and Videos Needed at!
 * Opposition to Telecom Immunity Swells
 * AT&T's Proposed Net Filtering Plan Gets Attention
 * Time Warner Puts a Meter on the Internet
 * DHS Issues REAL ID Standards; Congressional Leaders
 * Filtering and Copyright Extension Fail to Find a Home in
 * Cyberlaw and Cyberlawgs
 * Come See EFF at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology
 * miniLinks (4): DoJ, ACLU Cool to Specter's FISA Deal
 * Administrivia

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

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* Action Alert: Your Photos and Videos Needed at!

Let's show our elected representatives that we the people
-- concerned Americans and voters from across the country
-- oppose telecom immunity. Visit for
details on making photos and videos to drive the point
home: no immunity for lawbreaking telecoms!

The Senate has begun discussing telecom immunity and the
FISA Amendments Act on the Senate floor, and by many
indications a vote is imminent. Congress needs to hear from
citizens like you on this issue!

It is likely that there will be several rounds of
amendments and filibusters in the Senate. In addition, the
House version of the surveillance bill does not include
immunity for telecoms, setting the stage for an inevitable
reconciliation of differences in the House and Senate bills
if the Senate does pass retroactive immunity. Congressional
champions that have so far remained resolute in rejecting
telecom immunity to defend the rule of law and privacy
rights need your support now more than ever!

So visit now to speak out against telecom

For the campaign's Flickr page featuring submitted photos:

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* Opposition to Telecom Immunity Swells

With Congress back in session and the Presidential election
season in full swing, the fight to prevent the
Administration from granting immunity to the telecoms for
illegal spying is heating up once again. Activists and
bloggers alike are keeping the heat on.

First, Credo Mobile (formerly Working Assets) urged its
members to write to Senators Clinton, Obama and McCain, the
three presidential candidates who are still in the Senate
and who have said that they would oppose immunity. The
results were tremendous: 67,000 emails were sent to the

Meanwhile, Jane Hamsher from Firedoglake has been urging
folks to write to former Senator Edwards. Edwards can make
telecom immunity a debate issue for the presidential
candidates who still have a vote in Congress.

And of course, the amazing Glenn Greenwald continues to
point out how Senator Harry Reid has the power to help stop
the immunity train by supporting Senator Dodd and the
handful of others who are willing to lay down on the
tracks, but instead, Senator Reid seems to be shoveling in
more coal.

Additionally, the Melman Group, a national polling
organization commissioned by the ACLU, recently published a
poll finding that 57 percent of likely voters opposed
immunity for the telecommunications carriers that
participated in the government's warrantless surveillance
program, while only a third supported letting the telecoms
off the hook.

For the Melman Group poll:

For the complete post by EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt

For this complete post by EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn:

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* AT&T's Proposed Net Filtering Plan Gets Attention

The Internet brought us three terrific discussions about
AT&T's plan to filter the internet this week.

First, over at, Tim Wu asks: "Has AT&T Lost Its
Mind?" pointing out that the company risks losing its
immunity from copyright liability if it takes an active
role in selecting which content can travel over its
network. He says: "An Internet provider voluntarily giving
up copyright immunity is like an astronaut on the moon
taking off his space suit."

Second, filtering was discussed again in lively debate on
the New York Times Bits Blog between Tim Wu and Rick Cotton
of NBC Universal.

Finally, in an act of media heroism, Joel Johnson of Boing
Boing Gadgets went on the AT&T-sponsored The Hugh Thompson
Show and did the unspeakable: instead of discussing gadgets
he talked about AT&T's plan to filter the Internet and
asked the audience whether they wanted AT&T to be reading
their emails and instant messages. Not surprisingly, even
the AT&T-picked studio audience thought turning the phone
company into Big Brother was a bad idea. The producers
stopped the interview after a few minutes, then sanitized
it with another take, but Joel had a friend tape the
original and posted it.

Let's hope this is the start of a trend. The tombstone on
this bad idea should read: "Internet Filtering: Killed by
the Power of the Internet."

For Tim Wu's article "Has AT&T Lost Its Mind?":

For the online debate between Tim Wu and Rick Cotton of NBC

For the video of Joel Johnson discussing filtering on an
AT&T sponsored show:

For this post by EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn:

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* Time Warner Puts a Meter on the Internet

Time Warner Cable has confirmed that it will be rolling out
metered pricing for Internet access in Beaumont, TX. On
balance, we think this is a fair choice among a bunch of
bad options. Providing transparent, metered access is
certainly preferable to Comcast's arbitrary, undisclosed
practice of selectively hobbling particular protocols.

Overall, business models that keep ISPs thinking of
themselves as "pipe" rather than "content" are good. Better
that your ISP worry about the tolls to pay for the highway,
rather than scheming to force you to use their preferred
offramps and eat in their preferred diners.

Transparency also encourages innovation and competition.
Already, Verizon is gloating publicly, saying that its more
modern FIOS fiber-optic service will not have caps. This
also may encourage new broadband technology providers to
enter the market, as they will have another way to
differentiate their offering from cable broadband.

However, there are some serious potential drawbacks, too.
First, if metered Internet access becomes widespread, it
may discourage users from indulging in new, high-bandwidth
activities, thereby foreclosing innovative new technologies
and markets. For example, we might never have had a YouTube
or a Napster if people were fretting about their bandwidth

Second, much will depend on the pricing of these new
metered plans. The new plans could beneficially be used to
bring basic broadband in at a lower price, or it could be
used badly as a cover for price increases on existing
customers. And the pricing for "overages" should bear some
relation to costs, rather than being exploited for windfall
profits. Broadband industry observer Dave Burstein has
pointed out that the wholesale price to Time Warner for
40gb for a month amounts to about $3.

The last word goes to Harold Feld: "The real solution, of
course, is policies that build out more capacity so that it
becomes too cheap to meter." Now if only we had a real
national broadband policy to get us there.

For Howard Feld's blog post about Time Warner and metered

For the complete post from EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred
von Lohmann:

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* DHS Issues REAL ID Standards; Congressional Leaders

On January 11, 2008, the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) released the final regulations for the implementation
of the REAL ID Act, the flawed plan to create a national
identity card system.

The REAL ID Act was signed into law in 2005 and forces
states to standardize drivers' licenses in a way that turns
them into a national ID. The Real ID Act will create grave
dangers to privacy and impose massive financial burdens
without improving national security in the least.

Several congressional leaders, including Senate Judiciary
Chairman Patrick Leahy, spoke out against the Real ID
regulations, arguing that the provisions pass the cost to
taxpayers, do not improve national security, and do not
protect the privacy of Americans.

For more about the REAL ID Act:

For this complete post:

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* Filtering and Copyright Extension Fail to Find a Home in

The EU's Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) recently
voted on the final form of its report on the Cultural
Industries in Europe and chose to listen to their
constituents, not the music industry's lobbyists.
Amendments proposing ISP filtering and blocking, as well as
a last-minute request for an EU directive extending
copyright terms, were either voted down or withdrawn by
their proposers.

It's not quite over -- the report still has to pass a
plenary meeting of the Parliament, where there could be a
final attempt to introduce yet more loaded language into
the document. But thanks to the many EU citizens who called
and emailed their representatives, many more politicians
across Europe now understand that these "feasible and
reasonable" proposals, as IFPI called ISP spying in its
lobbying documents, are nothing of the sort. As ever, the
more who hear from you, the better the chances for sensible
IP policies in every part of the world.

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

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* Cyberlaw and Cyberlawgs

Eric Menhart may call himself a cyberlawyer, but we think
he has a lot of learn about cyberlaw -- and common sense.
Menhart is the author of a blog about cyberlaw issues
called, logically if not innovatively, "Cyberlawg." (As he
says in the top right corner, "Cyberlawg = Cyberlaw +
blog.") And he is "principal attorney" in a firm called
"CyberLaw P.C." OK, OK, we get it, he practices technology
law. Based on this, he's applied for a trademark on the use
of the term "cyberlaw" in connection with the practice of,
um, cyberlaw. That's like a soda company claiming a
trademark in the use of the word soda in connection with
the sale of soda. Or an apple farmer claiming a trademark
in the use of the term apple in connection with the sale of
apples. Or ... well, you get the picture. What is worse,
he's threatening other lawyers with legal action based on
this silly "mark."

I wish I could say I was surprised by this one, but such
overreaching invocations of intellectual property (IP)
rights are all too common -- even where, as in this case,
there are no actual "rights" to speak of. But an IP lawyer
should know that courts (and trademark examiners, and many
tech companies that might be potential clients) don't look
kindly on efforts to abuse trademark law to control
everyday language. Here's hoping Menhart figures that out

For the complete post by EFF Staff Attorney Corynne

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 * Come See EFF at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology

Heading to San Diego for the O'Reilly Emerging Technology
Conference (ETech) in March?  Plan to catch EFF's "On A
Brighter Note..." panel, where EFF lawyers and activists
will put on their rose-tinted spectacles and describe our
best case scenarios: near-future technology that will help
you defend your rights, real world policy initiatives that
could help save the Net, and techniques and tricks that you
can bake into your work now that will help preserve all our
freedoms, for now and for good.

Also, don't forget to come to EFF's Pioneer Awards ceremony
on March 4. And don't forget to visit our booth and grab
some EFF schwag during exhibit hours.

The O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference (ETech) takes
place March 3-6 in San Diego, CA. ETech hones in on the
ideas, projects, and technologies that the alpha geeks are
thinking about, hacking on, and inventing right now. From
robotics, health care, and space travel to gaming, finance,
and art, ETech explores promising technologies that are
influencing everyday life and inspiring the future.

The good folks at O'Reilly are offering a discount to
EFFector readers; enter code "et08eff" when you register
online to save 20%!

For more about ETech:

For more information about O'Reilly:

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* miniLinks
The week's noteworthy news, compressed.

~ DoJ, ACLU Cool to Specter's FISA Deal
Parties on both sides of the issue are unenthusiastic about
Senator Specter's offer of a compromise on FISA reform.

~ Supreme Court Declines To Hear Orphan Works Case
An appeal brought by Open Content Alliance founders was
turned down by the Supreme Court.

~ Are the 59 Million Users of Facebook Suckers?
UK Guardian reporter says Facebook was founded by right
wingers with an agenda.

~ Social Networking Gets Political
A new website aims to give ordinary people the same
knowledge currently limited to lobbyists and insiders
through social networking.

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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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