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EFFector - Volume 23, Issue 1 - EFF Fights for Anonymity for Online Critic


EFFector - Volume 23, Issue 1 - EFF Fights for Anonymity for Online Critic

EFFector Vol. 23, No. 01  January 6, 2010

In our 524th issue:

~ EFF Fights for Anonymity for Online Critic
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has asked a federal judge in
San Francisco to quash a baseless subpoena aimed at outing an
anonymous online critic of a Pennsylvania company called USA
Technologies. A hearing in the case took place on Friday, December 18.
The judge has not yet issued a ruling.

Earlier this year, EFF's client -- Yahoo! user "stokklerk" -- posted
to the Yahoo! message board dedicated to the company, criticizing USA
Technologies and its CEO George Jensen, Jr., for plummeting stock
prices, high compensation rates for executives, and consistent lack of
profitability. Another anonymous poster had similar complaints. In
response, USA Technologies filed suit in the Eastern District of
Pennsylvania, alleging that the statements violated federal securities
regulations because they were part of a "scheme" for the authors to
"enrich themselves through undisclosed manipulative trading tactics."
USA Technologies also alleged that the online posts were defamatory.
As part of that lawsuit, USA Technologies issued a subpoena out of the
Northern District of California to Yahoo! asking for the critics'

For the full press release:

~ Lawsuit Demands Answers About Social-Networking Surveillance
EFF, working with the Samuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy
Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law
(Samuelson Clinic), filed suit against a half-dozen government
agencies for refusing to disclose their policies for using social
networking sites for investigations, data-collection, and
Recent news reports have publicized the government's use of social
networking data as evidence in various investigations, and Congress is
currently considering several pieces of legislation that may increase
protections for consumers who use social-networking websites and other
online tools. In response, the Samuelson Clinic made over a dozen
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests on behalf of EFF to the
Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Justice, the Department
of Homeland Security, and other agencies, asking for information about
how the government collects and uses this sensitive information. A
hearing on our lawsuit will be held next week.

For the full press release:

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~ EFF Helps Blogger Subpoenaed by TSA, TSA Backs Down
On December 31, 2009, the Transportation Security Administration
backed off on an ill-considered administrative subpoena it issued to
transportation industry blogger, Christopher Elliott. EFF assisted Mr.
Elliott in responding to the subpoena.

The subpoena was hand-delivered to Mr. Elliot by a TSA representative
on the evening of December 29, 2009. It sought all documents
“concerning your receipt of TSA Security Directive 1544-09-06
dated December 25, 2009.” The much-criticized directive had been
given to hundreds of employees of TSA and the airlines and described
some of the passenger-related security measures put into place in the
immediate aftermath of the unsuccessful attempted bombing of a
Northwest Airlines flight on December 25, 2009. The directive expired
on December 30, 2009. Mr. Elliott obtained it in the course of his
coverage of the situation and had sought TSA comment before
publishing. The subpoena demanded all documents by the close of
business on December 31, 2009, just two days after the agent delivered

~ Most Pirated Movie of 2009…Makes Heaps of Money
According to TorrentFreak, last summer’s Star Trek movie was the
“most pirated movie of 2009.” So it seems that Paramount
Pictures was prescient when it gave testimony before the FCC that used
Star Trek as an illustrative example of how “Internet
piracy” is poised to devastate Hollywood and (though the nexus
here is less than clear) undermine residential broadband in America.

Funny thing is, Star Trek is on course to make more than $100 million
in profits.

~ Doctorow: How to Destroy the Book
Former EFF staffer turned novelist Cory Doctorow gave a stirring
speech entitled “How to Destroy the Book” in November at a
Canadian conference dedicated to literacy. Fittingly, it was
spontaneously transcribed and posted online at The
whole thing is terrific, but the first portion, an elegy to books and
what they mean to us, is highly recommended to anyone who loves

For the full Deep Link:

For the full text of the speech:

~ Fighting Internet Censorship in Australia
Our fellow Internet freedom advocates at Electronic Frontiers
Australia are gearing up for an important fight in the new year as the
Australian government proposes mandatory national Internet filters
with a secret blacklist. EFA is looking for volunteers and colleagues
particularly Australians  to help take on this critical issue.

~ Who Knows Who Your Facebooks Friends Are?
As you may have heard by now, one of the biggest problems with
Facebook’s recent privacy overhaul was that it removed
users’ ability to hide their friend lists from the world. This
was one of several changes that were met with substantial criticism
and anger from the media and Facebook users. Facebook's ostensible
goal in this overhaul was to give users more clarity, flexibility and
control. But, with friend lists, they've accomplished exactly the

~ Intelligence Agencies Release Docs Describing Misconduct
The Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, the
Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National
Security Agency released 162 pages of intelligence oversight reporting
in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by EFF in

The reports, made to a presidential advisory committee called the
Intelligence Oversight Board, detail intelligence activities that the
agencies "have reason to believe may be unlawful." EFF has posted the
documents to our website and is in the process of reviewing them.

~ Good News from WIPO: U.S. Delegation Supports Visually Impaired
The World Intellectual Property Organization’s Standing
Committee on Copyright and Related Rights met in Geneva to discuss a
proposed treaty intended to increase access to books and other
information in formats accessible to the world's blind, visually
impaired and print disabled citizens.

There's a chronic shortage of accessible format material across the
world. In the U.S. it's estimated that only 5% of published works are
available in formats accessible to visually impaired persons. In the
U.K. it's 4% and in India it's 0.5%. The treaty is intended to address
two things that have led to this situation: first, the lack of
exceptions in countries' national copyright laws that would permit
creation of accessible format copies of works for the visually
impaired without having to seek prior permission from copyright
owners; second, uncertainty about the legality of importing and
exporting accessible format material created under a national
exception or special license in one country for use by visually
impaired citizens in another country. In a thoughtful and clear
statement, the U.S. delegation to WIPO acknowledged the concerns of
the visually impaired community and suggested how the international
copyright community should proceed in addressing the needs of those
with print disabilities.

~ White House Takes Another Step Towards Greater Transparency
The Obama Administration has issued its long-awaited Open Government
Directive (OGD), a blueprint for transparency that the President
promised on his first full day in office nearly a year ago. The OGD
imposes four broad mandates on the federal bureaucracy: 1) publish
government information online; 2) improve the quality of government
information; 3) create and institutionalize a culture of open
government; and 4) create an enabling policy framework for open
government. The Directive sets time limits, ranging from 45 to 120
days, for agency action to implement specific benchmarks. Hopefully
the OGD is the first of many concrete steps that will be taken to
alter the entrenched culture of secrecy that pervades the federal

~ EFF Submits Key Brief in State Secrets Privilege Case
EFF has filed an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit's en banc review of
Mohamed v. Jeppeson, a case brought by the ACLU challenging the CIA's
extraordinary rendition program. A panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of
Appeals had rejected the government's argument that the case had to be
dismissed at the outset due to the state secrets privilege. The panel
decision is now being considered by a larger, en banc panel of the

~ Terms of (Ab)Use: Are Terms of Service Enforceable?
In the first of a series of white papers on terms of service (TOS)
issues, EFF has released "The Clicks That Bind: Ways Users
“Agree” to Online Terms of Service." The paper aims to
answer a fundamental question: when do these ubiquitous TOS agreements
actually become binding contracts? We discuss how courts have reacted
to efforts by service providers to enforce TOS agreements and suggest
best practices for service providers to follow in presenting terms to
a user and for seeking his or her agreement to them.

~ Google Books Settlement 2.0: Evaluating Censorship
When it comes to evaluating the proposed Google Books settlement, the
principal potential benefit to the public (i.e., increased access to
books online) must be weighed against the potential drawbacks (i.e.,
impediments to competition and inadequate protection for privacy).
Another potential downside for the public in the proposed settlement
is the risk of censorship.

If Google's scans under the proposed settlement are likely to be the
only chance millions of books will have for a digital life, then the
potential for censorship is something to be taken very seriously

~ Destabilizing the UK’s Digital Economy
Much of the coverage of the UK's proposed Digital Economy bill has
centered, and rightly so, on the damaging consequences to civil
liberties for Britons caused by its Internet termination provisions.
Less documented is how damaging these regulations are for the bill's
own namesake: Britain's present and future digital economy.

~Senator Bayh Responds on ACTA
Senator Evan Bayh recently responded to a constituent's concerns about
the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Sadly, Senator Bayh's
letter is troubling and frustrating. He echoes the USTR's misleading
conflation of "counterfeiting" and "copyright infringement," doesn't
address the draconian Internet provisions, and, worst of all, fails to
acknowledge the most egregious problem altogether -- that ACTA is
being negotiated in secret and being hidden from Congress and the

~ Surveillance Shocker: Sprint Received 8 Million Law Enforcement
Requests for GPS Location Data in the Past Year
—Armed with a tape recorder, computer security researcher,
oft-times journalist, and current technical consultant for the FTC's
privacy protection office Chris Soghoian attended a closed-door
conference called “ISS World” looking for information
about the scope of the government's surveillance practices in the US.
ISS World — the "ISS" is for "Intelligence Support Systems for
Lawful Interception, Criminal Investigations and Intelligence
Gathering" — is where law enforcement and intelligence agencies
consult with telco representatives and surveillance equipment
manufacturers about the state of electronic surveillance technology
and practice. What Soghoian uncovered, as he reported in his blog, is
more shocking and frightening than anyone could have expected.
Paul Taylor, Sprint/Nextel's Manager of Electronic Surveillance,
complained about the 8 million requests Sprint received from law
enforcement in the past year for precise GPS (Global Positioning
System) location data revealing the location and movements of Sprint's

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~ NYT Editorial: Twitter Tapping
The Times’ editorial board speaks out in support of EFF’s
lawsuit seeking government guidelines for the monitoring of social
networking sites.

~ Indie Music Boss Resigns from UK’s RIAA Over Digital Economy
Anthony Hall says the 3-strikes legislation would bring government
powers that will “haunt the industry.”

~ Yahoo Issues Takedown Notice for Spying Price List
Yahoo's pricelist for legal spying was leaked to Cryptome, and the web
giant responded with a DMCA takedown.

~ Streaming Doesn't Exist
Cory Doctorow explains why streaming music and movies will never solve
the entertainment industry's woes.

~ Hacker Spaces and the Law
EFF's Jennifer Granick at Noisebridge talking about how hacker spaces
can avoid problems with courts and police.

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* Be a Superhero: Give Today and Get an EFF xkcd Shirt!

You have one more week to join EFF and receive a special edition EFF
20th anniversary xkcd t-shirt or hooded sweatshirt! This exclusive
xkcd apparel is only available until January 15!

Donate today to join xkcd in celebrating this milestone in EFF history
and online rights:

* Bloggers' Rights Shirts are Back!

Special edition bloggers' rights shirts are back for a limited time!
The bloggers' rights shirt features EFF's unmistakable red and yellow
bloggers rights graphic on the front and the EFF logo on the back.
Supplies (and sizes) are limited. Show how much you value free speech
and get yours today:

To learn more about your rights, check out EFF's Legal Guide for
Bloggers on our website:

* Help EFF with Airline Miles or Hotel Points!

EFF is looking for donations of airline miles, flight vouchers, or
hotel points for outreach events and speaking engagements. If you have
enough airline miles for a free ticket and would like to send an EFF
staffer to a conference, let us know, and we will help you with the
process of making the reservation. Please note that at this time we
are unable to combine miles from multiple individuals or airlines. We
are also looking for hotel rewards points to help reduce our overall
travel costs.

As thanks for your donation, we can offer a free membership and a
mention in EFFector (if you'd like). Please contact if
you can help!

* Volunteer at EFF!

EFF is looking for volunteers to assist with operations in our
membership department. If you're organized, detail-oriented, and
looking for a hands-on way to support EFF, contact us today!

Duties include:

* Sending out membership packets
* Organizing premiums
* Printing mailings
* Assisting with events

Learn about fundraising operations in the nonprofit world while
supporting your favorite organization in a tangible way! Interest in
grassroots fundraising is a plus, as is familiarity with EFF's issues.
Send a letter of interest to

*EFF at CES in Las Vegas!

EFF will be at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show from
January 7-10 at the Las Vegas Convention Center North Hall in the
Publication and Trade Association Lounge area next to main
registration.  Be one of the first 99 visitors to locate us and score
a free EFF sticker!

Plus catch Fred von Lohmann, Senior Intellectual Property Attorney, in
action with "Rethinking the Future of Creative Works: Business and
Policy Challenges" in the North Hall on Thursday, 1/7, at 1:30 PM.
Session details:

Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) North Hall
3150 Paradise Rd
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Exhibit Hall Hours:
Thursday, January 7:    10-6 PM
Friday, January 8:    9-6 PM
Saturday, January 9:    9-6 PM
Sunday, January 10:    9-4 PM

For More Information:

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EFFector is published by:
The Electronic Frontier Foundation

Eva Galperin, Referral Coordinator

Membership & donation queries:

To support EFF:

General EFF, legal, policy, or online resources queries:

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