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EFFector - Volume 25, Issue 22 - Keep the NSA out of your inbox

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EFFector! Electronic Frontier Foundation

In our 617th issue:

Keep the NSA Out of Your Inbox

The Senate is voting this week on the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, which would let companies like Facebook and Google monitor our online communications and then pass that data to the government without a warrant. We need to amend the bill to put in stronger safeguards for privacy and stop attempts to remove privacy protections while maintaining opposition to the bill.

  • Use the American Library Association's tool to automatically call your U.S. senators' offices. You will be given talking points to help inform your Senators about the importance of privacy.

  • Use EFF's interactive tool to tweet at your U.S. senators using #DefendPrivacy. Show them all the unnecessary personal info this cyber spying bill will collect on everyday Internet users.

Judge Blocks Enforcement of Washington State Statute

A federal district court judge granted a motion by the Internet Archive to block enforcement of an overbroad Washington state anti-sex trafficking statute. The law could make online service providers criminally liable for providing access to third parties' offensive materials and likely violates the First Amendment and the Federal Communications Decency Act. EFF is representing Internet Archive in the case.

EFF Updates

Why the NSA Can't Be Trusted to Run U.S. Cybersecurity Programs

Senators John McCain and Kay Bailey Hutchison have proposed several amendments to the latest cybersecurity bill that would hand the reins of the U.S.'s cybersecurity systems to the National Security Agency (NSA), which has proven it can't be trusted with protecting Americans' privacy.

Washington State 'Cyberstalking' Case Based on Unconstitutional Law

EFF is urging a Washington State judge to dismiss "cyberstalking" charges stemming from rude comments left on a blog. In an amicus brief, EFF argued that the case is based on an unconstitutional law that criminalizes free speech.

Congress Must Act After U.S. Government Admits To Unconstitutional Warrantless Wiretapping For the First Time

As Congress and the president rush to re-authorize the dangerous FISA Amendments Act (FAA), Americans' communications are still being unconstitutionally collected by the government without a warrant. On Friday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) begrudgingly agreed, acknowledging that, "on at least one occasion" the secret FISA court "held that some collection... used by the government was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment."

Why the WikiLeaks Grand Jury is So Dangerous: Members of Congress Now Want to Prosecute New York Times Journalists Too

For more than a year now, EFF has encouraged mainstream press publications like the New York Times to aggressively defend WikiLeaks' First Amendment right to publish classified information in the public interest and denounce the ongoing grand jury investigating WikiLeaks as a threat to press freedom. At a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on July 11th, some members of Congress made it clear they also want New York Times journalists charged under the Espionage Act for their recent stories on President Obama's 'Kill List' and secret U.S. cyberattacks against Iran.

YouTube's Face-Blurring Technology Enables Anonymity

YouTube recently unveiled a new face blurring tool that lets users choose to conceal every face in a video they have uploaded. This is a commendable step towards fostering anonymous speech on the Internet.

EFF Joins EPIC in Calling for TSA to Follow the Law

EFF has joined a diverse collection groups signing on to a brief prepared by the Competitive Enterprise Institute to support the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) in its call for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to conduct a legally required notice-and-comment rulemaking for its "advanced imaging" scanners.

As Secrecy System Veers Into Absurdity, Politicians Argue For More

The U.S. classification system is "dysfunctional" and "clearly lacks the ability to differentiate between trivial information and that which can truly damage our nation's well-being." Those are not the words of EFF, nor any other government transparency advocate, but instead came from the former classification czar himself.

Temporary Copies: A TPP Provision Absurdly Disconnected from the Reality of the Modern Computer

EFF has been among several groups following the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the huge ramifications it would have for the future of the open Internet, access to knowledge, and innovation. One of the most problematic aspects of the TPP's intellectual property chapter as leaked is its proposed language regulating temporary copies. As currently drafted, the related provision creates chilling effects not just on how we behave online, but on the basic ability for people and companies to use and create on the Web.

Red Flag On Biometrics: Iris Scanners Can Be Tricked

At the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas last week, Javier Galbally revealed that it's possible to spoof a biometric iris scanning system using synthetic images derived from real irises. The Madrid-based security researcher's talk is timely, coming on the heels of a July 23 Israeli Supreme Court hearing where the potential vulnerabilities of a proposed governmental biometric database drove the debate.

Mexicans Need Transparency on Secret Surveillance Contracts

The Mexican government shelled out $4.6 billion pesos ($355 million USD) to expand Mexican domestic surveillance equipment over the past year, a set of newly leaked documents has revealed. According to a July 16 press report, the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena) -- the body that oversees Mexico’s Army and Air Force -- awarded five surveillance contracts that were for the procurement of devices capable of intercepting mobile phone and online communications.

Israel's Biometric Database Deemed "Harmful" by High Court Justices

A heated debate is underway about whether Israel's Interior Ministry will move ahead with the creation of a governmental biometric database containing digital fingerprints and facial photographs, which would be linked to "smart" national ID cards. At the heart of the issue is a major concern about privacy: Aggregated personal information invites security breaches, and large databases of biometric information can be honeypots of sensitive data vulnerable to exploitation.

UN Human Rights Council Resolution on Internet and Human Rights a Step in the Right Direction

Earlier this month, the 47 member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) passed a landmark Resolution (A/HRC/20/L.13) to include the "promotion, protection, and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet." The Resolution, which was presented by Sweden, was backed by more than 70 countries in all, both members and non-members of the HRC.

miniLinks

What privacy challenges lie ahead for Facebook?

EFF's Jennifer Lynch explains how facial recognition may create problems for the social network.

Survey on patent demands

Professor Colleen Chien of Santa Clara University School of Law launched a survey on the impact of patent demands, especially on small businesses and entrepreneurs. Help her study the true effects of the patent system.

Obama and Romney have Olympic-themed ads disappear

Again and again, copyright is being used to silence political campaign speech. One of the most recent culprits? The Olympics.

Administrivia

ISSN 1062-9424

EFFector is a publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
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Editor: Adi Kamdar, Activist
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Reproduction of this publication in electronic media is encouraged. Signed articles do not necessarily represent the views of EFF. To reproduce signed articles individually, please contact the authors for their express permission.

Press releases and EFF announcements & articles may be reproduced individually at will.

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Announcements

Humble Music Bundle

The Humble Bundle folks are back with the new Humble Music Bundle, a package of albums from artists like They Might Be Giants and Jonathan Coulton. Pay what you want for DRM-free songs, and allot some of your money to support EFF.

Our Vanishing Civil Liberties -- Why it Matters, Now!

EFF's Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien will speak on a panel about the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and threats to civil liberties. The panel is organized by the San Francisco 99% Coalition.
July 31, 2012
Oakland, CA

Cory Doctorow on "The Coming Century of War Against Your Computer"

Long Now and the Electronic Frontier Foundation bring Cory Doctorow to San Francisco for a glimpse into the future of computing and the increasing fight for control over our freedom both online and offline. The talk is at the Novellus Theater in San Francisco at 7:30 pm.
July 31, 2012
San Francisco, CA

Campus Party

EFF's activism director Rainey Reitman will discuss how civil liberties online are under attack and how we can defend them at Campus Party in Berlin. Rainey will be speaking at three events at Campus Party: "Defending the Free and Uncensored Internet" on the Free Software Stage, a roundtable discussion on privacy, and a workshop on "How to Change the World Through Your Blog."
August 21-26, 2012
Berlin, Germany

EFF Updates Privacy Policy

On July 24, 2012, EFF updated our privacy policy. We changed our logging practices and promises to reflect our use of analytics. We also included "research" as a basis for longer logging -- but on an anonymized basis. We listed situations when third-party websites interact with our own website, such as with our action alert webpages. Agreements with such third parties requires them to keep your information confidential and allows us full control. When we link to services such as Twitter, however, we do not have control or responsibility over their privacy practices.

The updated policy also contains general language that allows for third-party hosting providers. Lastly, we specifically include both donors and website visitors as those whose information we do not sell or rent under any circumstances, or share without prior consent.

Click here for the full policy.

From the Community

After blogging about the NSA's dark history of privacy breaches, Pieter Montolieu asked on our Facebook page, "Why can't we just put you in charge already?" We're flattered, but watching the watchmen is a big enough job already.

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