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EFFector - Volume 22, Issue 29 - Obama Sides with Republicans; PATRIOT Act Renewal Bill Passes Senate


EFFector - Volume 22, Issue 29 - Obama Sides with Republicans; PATRIOT Act Renewal Bill Passes Senate

EFFector 22.29: EFF Announces Winners of 2009 Pioneer Awards!

EFFector Vol. 22, No. 29 October 13, 2009

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
ISSN 1062-9424

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In our 520th issue:

EFF Announces Winners of 2009 Pioneer Awards!

Get your tickets now to the 2009 Pioneer Awards and help us honor this
year's winners: hardware hacker Limor "Ladyada" Fried, e-voting
security researcher Harri Hursti, and public domain advocate Carl
Malamud. Given every year since 1991, the Pioneer Awards recognize
leaders who are extending freedom and innovation on the electronic
frontier. The award ceremony will be held at 7 p.m., October 22, at
the Westin San Francisco in conjunction with the Web 2.0 Summit,
co-produced by O'Reilly and TechWeb. LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffmann
will keynote the event, and the celebration will include drinks, fine
food, and excellent company.

Tickets available at:

For the full press release:

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EFF Updates

* Obama Sides with Republicans; PATRIOT Act Renewal Bill Passes Senate
Judiciary Committee Minus Critical Civil Liberties Reforms

It looks like most of the Senators on the Judiciary Committee weren't
swayed by last week's New York Times editorial, which suggested
they consider USA PATRIOT Act renewal a "critical chance to add
missing civil liberties and privacy protections, address known abuses
and trim excesses that contribute nothing to making America safer."
Instead, the Committee passed a bill to renew all of the PATRIOT
powers that were set to expire at the end of the year, with only a
handful of the original reforms that were first proposed by Senators
Feingold and Durbin's JUSTICE Act and Committee Chairman
Leahy's original PATRIOT renewal bill.

No, rather than adding more protections to the bill, the Committee
voted to accept seven Republican amendments to the USA PATRIOT Act
Sunset Extension Act to remove the few civil liberties protections
left in the bill after it was already watered down at the previous
Committee meeting. Surprisingly and disappointingly, most of those
amendments were recommended to their Republican sponsors by the Obama

As Senator Feingold so elegantly stated in his post-vote blog post on
Daily Kos: "In the end...Democrats have to decide if they are going to
stand up for the rights of the American people or allow the FBI to
write our laws."

TAKE ACTION NOW! Tell your Senators to support PATRIOT reforms like
those in the JUSTICE Act:

* Fact Check on FOX News' Misleading PATRIOT Act Reporting

It appears that the only television news network that's been regularly
covering the PATRIOT Act renewal process in Congress has been FOX
News, and its coverage has seemed a lot more like pro-PATRIOT
propaganda than unbiased news reporting. Fortunately, Julian Sanchez
of The Cato Institute has been fact-checking this closely.

For Julian Sanchez's blog post:

For Julian Sanchez's video:

For the full Deep Link:

* Appeals Court Denies Government Motion to Delay Release of Telecom
Lobbying Records

On October 9, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the
government's emergency motion asking for a 30-day stay of Friday's
deadline to release records relating to telecom lobbying. A district
court had imposed that deadline in EFF's Freedom of Information Act
(FOIA) case for records about corporate-government meetings during
last year's telecom immunity debate. Congress eventually passed
legislation giving complete immunity from legal liability to
corporations that participated in government spying.

The government filed another emergency motion with the district court
on the afternoon following the 9th Circuit's decision, again asking
for a stay pending its decision on whether or not to appeal. The
district court held the matter over until this week, when it will
decide whether a further stay is appropriate.

* It's My Browser and I'll Auto-Click if I Want to

Free file hosting provider MediaFire seems to think that when you
follow a link to download a file from its service, it has the right to
control your browser. This is yet another example of a web site owner
forgetting that it's your computer, and you get to choose how to
experience its web pages.

MediaFire's complaint is against SkipScreen, a Firefox plug-in that
automates the process of downloading from free hosting sites like
RapidShare, zShare, MegaUpload, and others (including, until recently,
MediaFire). Some of these ad-supported download sites try to force
downloaders to sit through a "waiting period" before revealing the
actual download link -- a "feature" that these sites probably
tout to advertisers in order to get premium ad rates. SkipScreen
automates this waiting-and-clicking for you.

MediaFire sent a lawyer letter to Mozilla, which owns Firefox and
hosts the SkipScreen plug-in (among thousands of other Firefox
add-ons). EFF is representing SkipScreen's creators, and we've sent a
letter to Mozilla explaining why MediaFire doesn't have a leg to stand

* Amendment Would Deny Protection to Bloggers

Since 2007, Congress has been slowly considering the Free Flow of
Information Act. The bill is intended to prevent reporters from being
forced to reveal the identity of anonymous sources. It was proposed in
the wake of the Valerie Plame scandal, in which New York Times
reporter Judith Miller was jailed for refusing to reveal a source.

It's a critically important bill, which unfortunately contains some
large loopholes. A source can be exposed in cases where corporate
trade secrets have been revealed, where national security could be
harmed, or even where it's simply deemed to be in "the public

Despite these flaws, the bill remains insufficiently dismantled for
the tastes of some lawmakers. Senator Chuck Schumer last week
introduced an amendment that would exempt bloggers, freelancers and
other non-salaried journalists from the protections.

* FTC Proposes Problematic Regulation of Online Free Speech

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published vague new advertising
rules that require online writers to disclose whether they've been
compensated for product endorsements. The rules are full of
ambiguities and double-standards. Significantly, the new rules place
requirements on social media - rules from which traditional print and
television media are exempt. For instance, if a blogger publishes a
book review, the rules require her to disclose whether she received a
free copy of the book from the publisher. Book reviews in print media
face no such restrictions.

* Google Should Use Extra Time to Add Privacy Into Google Book Search

EFF, along with the ACLU and the privacy authors and publishers we
represent together, the American Library Association, the Association
of Research Libraries and the Association of College and Research
Libraries, CDT, EPIC, SFLC, and Professor James Grimmelman, has sent a
joint letter to Google urging it to include privacy protections along
with its reconsidered Google Book Search Settlement.

For the letter:

For the full blog post:

* It's Still a Duck: Court Re-Affirms That First Sale Doctrine
Can Apply to "Licensed" Software

Building on a prior ruling, a federal court has re-affirmed that a
Seattle man was not infringing copyright law by re-selling software he
obtained from an Autodesk customer.

The ruling is bound to frustrate the copyright industries, which have
struggled for years to convince their customers and the courts that
the only thing you "buy" when you buy software is a limited and
temporary right to use that software under certain conditions. In
other words, they've claimed buyers aren't owners.

* Man Arrested for Twittering Goes to Court, EFF Has the Documents

Everyone has been reporting about last month's arrest of Elliot
Madison for twittering about police movements to protesters during the
G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh, PA. On September 24, the FBI also raided
Mr. Madison's home in Queens, NY. The next day, Mr. Madison
filed a motion in the Eastern District of New York federal court in
Brooklyn for the return of his seized property.

For Mr. Madison's motion:

For the supporting declaration:

For the full blog post:

* In re Bilski: The Supreme Court Takes on Business Method Patents

EFF joined an amicus brief in Bilski v. Kappos, a closely-watched case
to be decided later this year where the Supreme Court will determine
whether or not to limit the patentability of "business methods."

Congress never intended the strong protections of the patent monopoly
to be available for mere services and methods of doing business. There
is already plenty of incentive for innovation in those areas without
the need for patents, driven by a variety of forces, such as
establishing and maintaining first-mover advantages and establishing
reputational capital that cannot be "stolen" by competitors.

* Federal Court Partially Invalidates One of EFF's Most Wanted
Patents: Acacia Research Streaming Media

Ten claims from the Acacia Research Streaming Media Patent have been
invalidated by the U.S.District Court for the Northern District of
California. The court invalidated the remaining claims that had been
asserted in the litigation, after several others had been dropped from
the suit by Acacia. EFF was not involved in the case, which was
brought by Acacia against leading satellite and cable companies
Echostar, DirectTV, Time Warner Cable and CSC Holdings, Inc. Similar
claims in related patents will also be invalid under the court's

* Cops Can't Convert Car Into Tracking Device Without
Court's OK

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts recently held that
officers may not place GPS tracking devices on cars without first
getting a warrant. The case, Commonwealth v. Connolly, was decided
under the state corollary to the Fourth Amendment, and its reasoning
may influence pending GPS tracking cases, including United States v.
Jones, where EFF is an amicus.

Massachusetts and New York are in the forefront of protecting their
citizens' right to location privacy against technological
encroachment. Federal courts should do the same under the Fourth
Amendment. For the Constitution to have continued relevance in a
technological world, it should protect the privacy that individuals
reasonably anticipate as we move through the world, and that means no
pervasive, remote, suspicionless, wholesale tracking by GPS or other

* Washington Legislative Roundup

In DC, the summer doldrums have ended, and Congress has begun a flurry
of activity. Legislators are in the midst of considering several
important bills, including The Informed P2P User Act, the Megan Meier
Cyber-Bullying Prevention Act, and the AWARE Act. Other problematic
legislation continues to lurk in the hallways on Congress.
Congressional Quarterly reported last week that Democratic leadership
is working hard to bring PASS ID, the national identification card
scheme, to the floor. Senators Snowe and Rockefeller continue to
promote The Cybersecurity Act of 2009, which would grant the President
the power to shut down the Internet.

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~ On PATRIOTs and JUSTICE: What We Don't Know
The Emptywheel blog asks what the public doesn't know about the
way the Patriot Act works.

~ Rocky Mountain Bank v. Gmail: The Cloud Is Poached
Blogger Andi Baritchi discusses the recent case in which a Gmail
account was frozen through no fault of the owner.

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* See Jennifer Granick at Social Networks: Friends or Foes? And get
MCLE credit!

EFF Civil Liberties Director Jennifer Granick will be speaking at
Social Networks: Friends or Foes?, a conference hosted by UC
Berkeley's Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic; Berkeley
Center for Law and Technology; and Berkeley Center for Criminal
Justice. Her panel is on access to social network data by government,
criminal defendants and civil litigants. The event is on October 23,
and MCLE credit will be offered. Registration information, more
details and the schedule are available at:

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