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EFFector - Volume 21, Issue 8 - New Telecom Whistleblower Describes Open Surveillance Gateway

EFFector Vol. 21, No. 08  March 7, 2008

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
ISSN 1062-9424

In the 461st Issue of EFFector:
 * New Telecom Whistleblower Describes Open Surveillance
 * Stop Copyright Term Extension in Europe!
 * Julius Baer Drops Case Against Wikileaks After EFF, ACLU
Help Restore Domain Name
 * EFF Takes on RIAA Lawsuit Strategy in Court Hearing
 * Wanted: Prior Art to Bust Firepond/Polaris Patent
 * Top Ten Questions for Journalists to Ask the White House
 * FISA News and Updates
 * EFF to FCC: "Reasonable Network Management" Requires
 * Comcast Caught Again
 * A New Digital Right?
 * EFF at Plutopia! SXSW Interactive Gathering of Tribes
 * miniLinks (8): Net Neutrality: Internet Wrecking Ball?
 * 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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* New Telecom Whistleblower Describes Open Surveillance

Trio of Commerce Chairmen Call for Further Investigation
Based on Latest Spying Allegations

Washington D.C. - Three powerful House Commerce Committee
Chairmen strongly urged their colleagues Thursday to defer
acting on requests for retroactive immunity and to demand
more information from the White House and the
telecommunications companies in the wake of disclosures by
another whistleblower that the government apparently has
been granted an open gateway to customer information and
calls by a major telecommunications company.

Babak Pasdar, a computer security consultant, has gone
public about his discovery of a mysterious "Quantico
Circuit" while working for an unnamed major wireless
carrier. Pasdar believes that this circuit gives the U.S.
government direct, unfettered access to customers' voice
calls and data packets. These claims echo the disclosures
from retired AT&T technician Mark Klein, who has described
a "secret room" in an AT&T facility.

The White House is putting heavy pressure on lawmakers to
grant the telecoms immunity from lawsuits over the spying
as part of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)
legislation pending in Congress. But in today's letter --
written by John Dingell, Chairman of the House Committee on
Energy and Commerce; Ed Markey, Chairman of the House
Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet; and
Bart Stupak, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and
Investigations -- the congressmen argue that lawmakers must
not "vote in the dark" on the immunity issue when "profound
privacy and security risks" are involved.

"When you put Mr. Pasdar's information together with that
of AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein, there is troubling
evidence of telecom misconduct in massive domestic
surveillance of ordinary Americans," said Cindy Cohn, Legal
Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
"Congress needs to have hearings and get some answers about
whether American telecommunications companies are helping
the government to illegally spy on millions of us.
Retroactive immunity for telecom companies now ought to be
off the table in the ongoing FISA debate."

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
widespread domestic surveillance. The Hepting case is just
one of many suits 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 government.

For the full letter:

For more on the telecoms' role in warrantless spying:

For this complete release:

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* Stop Copyright Term Extension in Europe!

Charlie McCreevy, the EU's Commissioner for the Internal
Market and Services, wants to nearly double the European
copyright term in sound recordings - from 50 years to an
astounding 95. Join us and stop overextending copyright:

If you read Commissioner McCreevy's declaration this month
to bring American-style copyright terms for sound
recordings to the EU, you might think that it was all a
done deal. He gave the impression that he had consulted
with everybody who counted in the matter, balanced all the
arguments, and had all the powerful players on his side.

We don't think he has. McCreevy still has to persuade his
fellow Commissioners and the European Parliament before
sound recordings are locked away in Europe for another 45
years. And while the record labels support the government
stretching their contracts far into the future, the facts
stand against term extension. Impartial studies, copyright
scholars, and some of the world's most respected economists
all say that longer terms mean little new wealth for
performers, yet create a disadvantage of a creative world
depleted of its valuable long-promised public domain.

And it's not true that McCreevy and the Commission have
heard from all key figures. They have yet to hear from YOU!
To help the EU's decision makers understand how bad an idea
for innovation and the future copyright term extension is,
EFF has joined forces with Britain's Open Rights Group to
launch a grassroots-led campaign against McCreevy's plans.
Visit Sound Copyright now to learn more (in English, French
or German), and add your voice:

For more about the Open Rights Group:

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

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* Julius Baer Drops Case Against Wikileaks After EFF, ACLU
Help Restore Domain Name

Following a federal district court's reversal of its prior
ruling that disabled one of the domain names of
whistleblower site "Wikileaks," Swiss bank Julius Baer has
decided that it has had enough. On Wednesday, Julius Baer
filed a motion of voluntary dismissal, effectively ending
the case.

EFF is glad to see Julius Baer abandon this ill-conceived
lawsuit. The bank was never able to offer satisfactory
answers as to why the case should even be heard in a U.S.
court, let alone why the First Amendment rights of
individuals who wanted access to other materials on the
Wikileaks site should be held hostage while the bank tried
to pull down a handful of disputed documents. Julius Baer
unwittingly demonstrated once again that the "Streisand
effect" remains in force: attempts to censor material
available on the Internet will almost invariably backfire,
causing the information to be widely publicized.

For the dismissal motion by Julius Baer:

For more on the Wikileaks case:

For the complete post by EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt

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* EFF Takes on RIAA Lawsuit Strategy in Court Hearing

Phoenix File-Sharing Suit Based on Bogus "Making Available"

Phoenix, AZ - On Wednesday, EFF urged a federal judge in
Phoenix to block the recording industry's effort to sue two
Arizona residents for simply having music files in a
"shared" folder on their computer.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is
seeking thousands of dollars in damages from the defendants
in the case, Pamela and Jeffery Howell, for alleged
unauthorized distribution of copyrighted digital music.
However, instead of proving that the Howells actually
distributed music files, the RIAA claims only that they had
songs in the "shared" folder of peer-to-peer file-sharing
software Kazaa -- without any proof that anyone other than
their own investigators actually downloaded the songs from

EFF's Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann argued at
Wednesday's hearing that the RIAA cannot take this shortcut
in its lawsuit campaign.

"This amounts to suing someone for attempted copyright
infringement -- something the Copyright Act simply does not
allow," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann.
"If the RIAA wants to keep bringing these suits and
collecting big settlements, then they have to follow the
law and prove their case. It's not enough to say the law
could have been broken. The RIAA must prove it actually was

For more about the case:

For EFF's amicus brief:

For this release:

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* Wanted: Prior Art to Bust Firepond/Polaris Patent

The Patent Busting Project fights back against bogus
patents by filing requests for reexamination against the
worst offenders. EFF has successfully pushed the Patent and
Trademark Office to reexamine four of the ten patents on
our Most Wanted list, and now we need your help to bust

A company called Polaris has a patent on a method for
telling whether or not an incoming message (e.g., an email)
is a simple, standard request that can be answered
automatically, and, if so, for answering it. The method
processes incoming messages by consulting two databases: a
database of IF-THEN rules, and another database of
previously classified messages (cases). In other words,
Polaris claims to have invented the basic concept of almost
any technology that is used to determine whether the
message can be answered automatically or must instead be
forwarded to a human being. To bust this overly broad
patent, we need to find prior art that describes a product
made before 1997 in this way.

We anticipate that a lot of useful prior art will lie in
the area of helpdesk or customer service automation or in
server software. Consider specifically:

    * Helpdesk automation systems that automatically
respond to user queries, or
    * Systems that help customer service operatives
identify solutions to user problems by means of both rule
and case databases.

Where to send information on prior art:

For a more detailed description of the Firepond/Polaris

For this complete post by EFF Intellectual Property Fellow
Emily Berger:

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* Top Ten Questions for Journalists to Ask the White House

Too often the White House spokespeople are able to dodge
and weave their way through questions about the President's
demand for immunity against warrantless surveillance
lawsuits. To help the press corps try to get to the heart
of the matter, here are the top ten questions we'd like to
see Dana Perino or Tony Fratto faced with at their next
press conference.

For this complete post by EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt

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* FISA News and Updates

Recent press reports have hinted at the House advancing
towards a finalized surveillance bill -- though whether
that bill will include telecom immunity remains a
contentious and vital issue.

In Monday's Washington Post, Columnist Dan Froomkin
explained "Why Immunity Matters," extensively picking apart
the Administration's "three-part argument for immunity,
based on concerns about fairness, secrecy and future
cooperation." Froomkin finds flaws in all of the arguments:

In recent weeks, the FISA debate has been poisoned by
fear-mongering attack ads on freshman Representatives in
the House. The ads have triggered a backlash on many
fronts, with lawmakers and others taking a stand against
the dirty tactics:

One attack ad can be viewed on YouTube, where its
scare-tactics sit in sharp contrast to the open,
citizen-focused efforts of civil liberties organizations
like EFF and People for the American Way (PFAW):

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* EFF to FCC: "Reasonable Network Management" Requires

In response to the FCC's inquiry into Comcast's
interference with BitTorrent traffic, EFF filed comments
urging the FCC to make it clear that ISPs must, at a
minimum, adequately disclose their "network management"
practices before they can hide behind the excuse of
"reasonable network management."

The central question in the proceeding is whether Comcast
has violated the four neutrality principles set out in the
FCC's Internet Policy Statement. It seems clear that
Comcast's protocol-specific interference with BitTorrent
traffic violates those neutrality principles. In response,
Comcast (and other ISPs) have offered the excuse that it
was all "reasonable network management" -- a catch-all
exception to the FCC's neutrality principles.

EFF urges the FCC to clarify that the "reasonable network
management" exception to its neutrality principles should
only apply where an ISP has adequately disclosed the
existence and likely consequence to customers of its
discriminatory practices. On that score, Comcast has
obviously fallen short, issuing a series of denials,
evasions, and half-truths for 10 months after its own
customers caught them interfering with BitTorrent traffic.
The FCC needs to send a message to Comcast and other ISPs
that this is unacceptable.

For EFF's comments filed with the FCC:

For this complete post by EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred
von Lohmann:

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* Comcast Caught Again

Comcast has admitted to paying supporters to pack a public
hearing in Massachusetts  a likely attempt to block the
public from voicing concerns about their P2P policies. The
Register has a priceless quote from Comcast spokesman
Charlie Douglas:

    "As is common practice in Washington, we did pay a few
people to stand in line [outside the meeting hall] and then
hold seats for some of our Comcast executives and other
Comcast employees who were attending. We were just trying
to make sure the hearing was well-attended on our side."

For this complete post:

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* A New Digital Right?

The German Constitutional Court (the
Bundesverfassungsgericht) ruled this week on what the
German press is calling "a new basic right" guaranteeing
the confidentiality and integrity of computer systems. It's
easy to see this as a new right in itself -- but perhaps it
is better to understand it, as the court did, in terms of a
reasonable updating of the language of traditional human

Just as EFF has argued that the United States'
Constitution's wording against warrantless searches should
protect the privacy of the contents of your computer and
email as strongly as it does the privacy of real world
"papers and effects," so the German constitutional court
said that the 1949 constitution protects the digital
contents of a PC or laptop (or any other
"informationstechnischer Systeme") against secret
surveillance as tightly as your possessions in the real
world. A virtual trojan horse is as uncivilized a tool of
the police as sneaking an officer into your own home.

Germany, a country with a proud modern tradition of
protecting the privacy of its citizens, now has some
interesting new legal territory to explore. On the modern
Internet, the core of a citizen's private life is
increasingly distributed among many different computers. A
conversation between family members can take place on
Facebook (or StudiVZ, its German equivalent); the private
contents of a home PC may be backed up on an online storage

German law enforcement will have to tread carefully not to
violate its citizens' basic rights in a world where even
the most private life is remotely accessible and spread far
and near. We hope that the techniques they develop will be
shared with the rest of the world's lawmakers and law
enforcement community.

For more about the "general personality right" in Germany:

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

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* EFF at Plutopia! SXSW Interactive Gathering of Tribes

Going to SXSW Interactive? Stop by the Plutopia party on
March 10, 2008, and hang out with EFF! The theme of this
year's gathering is "convergence, sustainability, futurism,
and art."

Author Bill McKibben will be delivering a talk about
sustainability and local-scale enterprise; and geek
comedian Heather Gold will be making a presentation
alongside "Internet rockstar Jonathan Coulton, queer
novelist Michelle Tea, twitter founder Ev Williams, Look
Shiny's Nick Douglas, the other Internet rockstar Ben
Brown, gamemaker Jane McGonigal, surprise guests and you."

The event takes place on Monday March 10, 2008, at Scholz
Garten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd., Austin. It's $10 at the
door or free with a costume and/or your SXSWi badge.

For more about Plutopia:

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* miniLinks
The week's noteworthy news, compressed.

~ Net Neutrality: Internet Wrecking Ball?
Andy Kessler argues that technical fixes won't keep the
Internet free.

~ A Wave of the Watch List, and Speech Disappears
A Treasury Department blacklist apparently has the power to
shut down websites. (login may be required)

~ International Crypto Law Made Easy
A Google map that pinpoints the state of crypto law around
the world.,25.686035&spn=159.49077,360&z=2

~ Nine Inch Nails Releases New Album on Pirate Bay
The band's new album is being released in several formats
at different prices -- including free.,25642,23318742-5014239,00.html
And it's on a Creative Commons license!

~ Teens Ignore CDs
A new report says almost half of teens bought no CDs in

~ The Billboard Liberation Front Strikes Again!
An AT&T billboard now tells the truth about AT&T's work
with the NSA.

~ Humor: The Downside of Google Earth
A fictional video describing how a stalker might make use
of Google Earth.

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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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