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EFFector - Volume 24, Issue 32 - Don't Let Privacy Law Get Stuck in 1986. Demand a Digital Upgrade!


EFFector - Volume 24, Issue 32 - Don't Let Privacy Law Get Stuck in 1986. Demand a Digital Upgrade!

EFFector! Electronic Frontier Foundation

In our 587th issue:

Don't Let Privacy Law Get Stuck in 1986. Demand a Digital Upgrade!

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act—the primary law that protects our mobile and online privacy against government intrusion—is turning 25 years old this October. Since 1986, our communications technologies have changed drastically, but the law has not kept up. Please join us and a broad coalition of privacy organizations and Internet companies in pushing Congress to upgrade the woefully outdated ECPA to better protect our digital privacy in the 21st century. Sign our petition and demand that ECPA be reformed to make clear that if government agents want to track our cell phones or read through our email and social network accounts, they have to go to court and get a search warrant first!

Newly Released Documents Reveal Defense Department Intelligence Violations

EFF just received documents that reveal additional post-9/11 Defense Department misconduct, including attempts by the Army to investigate participants at a conference on Islamic law at the University of Texas Law School and Army-issued National Security Letters (NSLs) to telecommunications providers in violation of the law. Among other things, the documents confirm once again that the U.S. government has been improperly targeting Muslims in the United States.

Whistleblowers, Intelligence Experts, and Veterans Join EFF in Fight Against 'State Secrets'

EFF and a coalition of whistleblowers, intelligence experts, and veterans urged a federal appeals court Wednesday to reject government attempts to bury yet another lawsuit challenging illegal surveillance with baseless claims of "state secrets." The Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation alleges in its lawsuit that federal agents illegally wiretapped calls between the charity and its lawyers. The government has refused to confirm or deny any court order authorizing surveillance, arguing only that the state secrets privilege protects the government from any litigation.

EFF Updates

Privacy Win: Apple and Dropbox Join Fight to Reform Electronic Privacy Law

In April we launched "Who Has Your Back," a campaign calling on major Internet companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft to stand with their users when it comes to government demands for users’ data. Now we’re pleased to see that two of the thirteen companies highlighted in our petition, Apple and Dropbox, have agreed to one of our requests: that they stand up for user privacy in Congress by joining the Digital Due Process coalition.

Government Violates Free Speech Rights with Domain Name Seizure

EFF uged a federal appeals court to order the return of two domain names seized by the U.S. government in violation of the First Amendment. The domain names -- and, owned by Spanish company Puerto 80 -- were seized by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as part of "Operation in Our Sites," a deeply-flawed initiative ICE claims will help stop piracy.

Senate Committee Agrees That Violating Terms of Service Shouldn't Be a Crime

The Senate Judiciary Committee recently approved a trio of data security and data breach notification bills. One of the bills, which was sponsored by Committee Chairman Senator Leahy, includes a crucial amendment to clarify that it's not illegal to violate agreements like website terms of service or acceptable use policies under the notoriously vague Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

EFF’s Open Source Security Audit Uncovers Security Vulnerabilities in Messaging Software

EFF's Open Source security audit uncovered and helped to fix vulnerabilities in the popular open source messaging clients Pidgin and Adium. We were motivated by our desire to bolster the security of cryptographic software that we often recommend to individuals and organizations as a defense against surveillance.

Austin Police Department’s "Operation Wardrive" Postponed in Light of Criticisms from Digital Rights Activists

Digital activists alerted us to a worrying situation in Austin, Texas: officers at the local police department had announced a plan to search out all of the individuals running open wifi connections in Austin and warn them about running an open network. Thankfully, quick mobilization by our friends at EFF Austin helped stall this plan before it could take effect.

EFF To Appeals Court: Border Is Not An “Anything Goes” Zone

EFF continues to push for legal limits on the government’s sweeping authority to search electronic devices at the border in an amicus brief we recently filed along with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). We urged the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear and reverse its disturbing decision in United States v. Cotterman.

This Week in Internet Censorship: Blocking Social Sites in Pakistan and Syria; Freedom House Releases New Report

This week brings new restrictions in Syria and Pakistan, while watchdog group Freedom House releases a new brief on the growing challenges to Internet freedom.

Nominations Open for EFF's 20th Annual Pioneer Awards

Nominations are now open for EFF’s 20th Annual Pioneer Awards, to be presented at Zeum (soon to be known as the Children's Creativity Museum) on November 15th in San Francisco. EFF established the Pioneer Awards in 1992 to recognize leaders on the electronic frontier who are extending freedom and innovation in the realm of information technology. Nominations will be open until Monday, October 17th.


Privacy Advocates Criticise "Unlawful and Secretive" Deal to Share Passenger Information

European home affairs ministers adopted a controversial EU-Australia Passenger Name Records (PNR) agreement that will permit Australian authorities to build profiles on EU travelers, perform intrusive checks, and institute travel bans merely on the basis of a template profile.

'Stingray' Phone Tracker Fuels Constitutional Clash

On Nov. 8, the Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether or not police need a warrant before secretly installing a GPS device on a suspect's car and tracking him for an extended period.

U.S. Rep: Copyright Has Actually Been an "Impediment" to Rightsholders

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) has a rejoinder to those who argue copyright laws must be further strengthened: "I think if we were to do nothing on copyright law, we would be getting it just about right."


ISSN 1062-9424

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Editor: Parker Higgins, Activist

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EFF at the United Nations Internet Governance Forum

EFF staffers are participating in presentations, panel discussions, and workshops about privacy, surveillance, and Internet intermediaries.
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Date: September 27-30, 2011

City Club of Cleveland Presents: Conference on Speech

EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn will speak on a panel entitled "Free Speech in the Age of the Internet." The panel will explore ideas such as who owns and controls the online public forum, the relationship between speech and anonymity, the challenges of protecting free speech, the future of journalism and more.
Location: Cleveland, OH
Date: October 10, 2011

Humanities and Technology Association Conference

Bowie State University will hosts the Humanities and Technology Association Conference, examining the impact of technology in society. EFF's Director for International Freedom of Expression, Jillian York, will be the keynote speaker for this event.
Location: Bowie, MD
Date: October 13-15, 2011

EFF at Bioneers: "The New Media Revolution and Political Expression"

Join the EFF's Director for International Freedom of Expression, along with journalist Nora Barrows-Friedman for a panel discussion on the use of new media to fight political repression. The panel will be moderated by Mother Jones' Steve Katz.
Location: San Rafael, CA
Date: October 14, 2011

Hackmeet 2011

Several EFF staff members will be speaking at Hackmeet 2011. Exploring where technology and resistance meet, Hackmeet is a free conference offering workshops and skillshare sessions on issues related to activism and hacking.
Location: San Francisco, CA
Date: October 15-16, 2011

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