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EFFector - Volume 23, Issue 3 - FBI Replaced Legal Process with Post-It Notes to Obtain Phone Records


EFFector - Volume 23, Issue 3 - FBI Replaced Legal Process with Post-It Notes to Obtain Phone Records

EFFector Vol. 23, No. 03  January 6, 2010

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
ISSN 1062-9424

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In our 526th issue:

~ Some Lessons from the AT&T/Facebook Switcheroo
Over the weekend, there was an odd story about people using AT&T's wireless network trying to log in to Facebook and suddenly finding themselves logged in to somebody else's Facebook account. What could have caused such a strange phenomenon to occur? What does it tell us about the innards of the mobile web, and what lessons might it convey for network and application design?

For the full Deep Link, which goes into considerable technical detail:

~ FBI Replaced Legal Process with Post-It Notes to Obtain Phone Records
DOJ's Office of the Inspector General has issued a long-awaited report on the FBI's use of 'exigent letters' to obtain phone records. While the report has many interesting and shocking revelations, three issues jumped out at us: Post-it note process; a secret new legal theory; and the need for accountability for the telecoms.

While we had known since 2007 that the FBI improperly sought phone records by falsely asserting emergency circumstances, the report shows the situation inside the FBI's Communications Analysis Unit (CAU) degenerated even further, sometimes replacing legal process with sticky notes.
Employees of three telecoms worked directly out of the CAU office, right next to their FBI colleagues. According to the report, even exigent letters, which permit the FBI to show its need for a warrant after the fact, became too much work: an FBI analyst explained that "it's not practical to give the [exigent letter] for every number that comes in." Instead, the telecoms would provide phone records pursuant to verbal requests and even post-it notes with a phone number stuck on the carrier reps' workstations.

~ MPAA and RIAA Seek Net Neutrality Copyright Loophole
The MPAA and RIAA have submitted their comments in the FCC's net neutrality proceeding. As anticipated in EFF's comments, the big media companies are pushing for a copyright loophole to net neutrality. They want to be able to pressure ISPs to block, interfere with, and otherwise discriminate against your perfectly lawful activities in the course of implementing online copyright enforcement measures.

Of course, the MPAA and RIAA couch this in language intended to sound inoffensive. The RIAA says "the perfect should not be the enemy of the good" and "justice often takes too long." The MPAA chimes in that "it is essential that government policies explicitly permit ISPs to work with content creators to utilize the best available tools and technologies to combat online content theft."

~ OK Stop: EMI Puts a Stop to Sharing for the Princes of Viral Video
Of all the bands experimenting with the Internet and its role in enriching their creativity and commerce, OK Go has become one of the canonical success stories, having produced two low-budget, immensely successful viral videos that together drew more than 50 million views and broadened their fan base considerably. With their status as the de facto princes of the viral music video, imagine the fans' surprise in seeing OK Go's new video branded with this handy instruction to anyone interested in spreading the word: embedding disabled by request.

~ Hello Streisand Effect: Takedown Hall of Shame Grows by Four
Last October, we launched the Takedown Hall of Shame to highlight the most egregious attempts to silence online speech with bogus intellectual property complaints. Today, we're inducting four more would-be censors into the pantheon of speech bullies.

~ Google in China: Unanswered Questions
It will be a long time before we understand all the ramifications of Google's decision to cease censoring their Chinese services and the cyber-attack on their corporate and user data that prompted that change of heart. Nonetheless some intriguing new details have emerged since the initial announcement, but they raise as many questions as they answer.
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~ Good News: Microsoft's Bing Improves Privacy
The new search engine will delete users' entire IP addresses after 6 months. Google should follow Bing's lead!

~ NYT: Cub Scout on TSA's Watchlist
8 year old Mikey Hicks has been searched repeatedly by airline security -- ever since he was two!

~ French Anti-Piracy Agency Caught Pirating
Hadopi, the agency responsible for France's 3-strikes law, has a new logo that made use of an unlicensed font. First strike?

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* EFF's 20th Birthday with Adam Savage and Friends - February 10, 2010

Join the celebration of EFF's 20th year defending your digital
rights! Our birthday fundraiser on February 10th will be hosted
by beloved TV geek Adam Savage at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco,
where he will celebrate EFF's two decades as only he can, with
the help of many EFF legends and luminaries!

DJs Adrian & the Mysterious D, the duo that founded the seminal,
globe-trotting mashup party "Bootie," will get people moving with
their genre-mashing blend of tracks, with guest DJs dropping sets
throughout the evening.

Doors open at 8 p.m. We'll be asking for a $30 donation at the door
to fund our work defending your digital freedom.

WHAT: EFF's 20th Birthday Fundraiser with Adam Savage and Surprise
Special Guests!

WHEN: Wednesday February 10, 2010
Doors open at 8 pm
Tickets are $30

375 Eleventh Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Please RSVP to This is an all ages event.

Advance ticket purchase is available at:

* VIP Event with Adam Savage, John Perry Barlow, Mitch Kapor, John
Gilmore, Mark Klein and more!

Join EFF for a special VIP event with Adam Savage, and EFF founders
and luminaries! For a special donation of $250, you're invited to
attend our VIP event before the birthday party, where you can meet
many of the amazing people who helped EFF reach this historic
milestone. Special VIP donors receive a free admission ticket to the
birthday party, which starts immediately afterwards, as well as a
commemorative EFF 20th Anniversary poster. The VIP event begins at 7pm.

For more information:
Please also RSVP to

* Help EFF Go to SCaLE!

EFF is looking for donations of airline miles, flight vouchers, and hotel points for the Southern California Linux Expo, as well as other conferences 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.  We are also looking for hotel rewards points to help reduce our overall travel costs.

As a 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!

* EFF Speakers at the National Writers Union

See EFF Boardmember Pam Samuelson and Legal Director Cindy Cohn Speak at the National Writers Union

When: January 22, 2010, 7 p.m.

Topic: The Google Book Settlement: What's in it for Writers?

Where: 2070 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA, 1 block from Berkeley BART
For more information:

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