Contrary to some recent suggestions in the media, the government is not creating its own "super WiFi network." But its plans will indeed make awesome new WiFi networks possible. Technically, what the FCC is actually trying to do is increase the amount of open spectrum that is available for WiFi networks of all sorts, and for other "unlicensed" uses. This is a very good idea. Increasing the amount of unlicensed spectrum will lead to better functioning routers, tablets, laptops, and smartphones--and to a host of other new products in the marketplace.
The open access movement is focused on fixing a major problem: much of the research funded with public money remains hidden behind paywalls, depriving it of the visibility it deserves. As a result, students and citizens face barriers accessing information they need, and professors have a hard time reviewing and teaching the state of the art. As scholars, researchers, and tuition-payers, students hold a powerful voice in setting the course for the future of knowledge. Here are three quick actions you can take to help promote the open access movement and support the cultural commons.
In the wake of social justice activist Aaron Swartz's tragic death, Internet users around the country are taking a hard look at the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), the federal anti-hacking law. The CFAA's greatest flaw is that makes it illegal to access a computer without authorization or in a way that exceeds authorization, but doesn't clearly explain what that means. This murkiness gives the government lots of leeway to be creative in bringing charges.
Copyright troll Righthaven LLC just doesn't know when to stand down. Faced with six district court judges determining it didn't have the right to sue people over copyrights it didn't own, it turned to a higher power: the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. On Tuesday, EFF appeared before that court to argue against Righthaven on behalf of one of its victims.
The next time you allow a guest into your home for dinner, should you be worried they're secretly video recording every detail of your home for the government? In a new amicus brief filed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, we've asked the court to reconsider a decision finding that allowing someone into your home means you're also placing yourself at the risk of warrantless home video surveillance.
Another day, another patent troll. The troubling trend of suing downstream users and content providers really makes us mad. First it was the app developers, then those who scan documents to email. Now, the latest outrage: podcasters. EFF wants to help organize those facing the threat so that we can gauge the size of the problem and hopefully help people find counsel and a way to work together in response.
Can Congress embrace and enact sensible copyright policy? Four years ago, for a brief shining moment, it seemed the answer might be yes, as various interested stakeholders rallied around long-overdue legislation that would have helped to fix the orphan works problem. In the past several months, however, momentum started slowly building once again toward a solution. The Copyright Office asked the public to weigh in and EFF, along with Public Knowledge, responded.
Last year, we saw more battles in Congress over Internet freedom than we have in many years as user protests stopped two dangerous bills: the censorship-oriented SOPA, and the privacy-invasive Cybersecurity Act of 2012. In 2013, Congress will tackle several bills--both good and bad--that could shape Internet privacy for the next decade. Here's what's ahead in the upcoming Congress.
When you use the Internet, you entrust your thoughts, experiences, photos, and location data to intermediaries--companies like AT&T, Google, and Facebook. But when the government requests that data, users are usually left in the dark. The transparency reports from companies like Google, Twitter, DropBox, and more, have provided an invaluable source of information about the extent of law enforcement access to private data. Still, there are important gaps in our understanding of that issue that won't be filled until even more companies stand up for their users and demonstrate a commitment to transparency.
Following the events of the "Arab Spring," numerous countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa have begun assessing--or reassessing--their regulation of the Internet. Last April, we criticized Iraq's attempt at legislation: a heavy-handed bill that, if passed, would impose life imprisonment for vaguely-worded "crimes" such as promoting "ideas which are disruptive to public order" and lesser sentences for a range of other offenses. Fortunately, it looks as if this bill will not become law.
A newly-updated guide to privacy and free speech policies for companies online makes the case that upholding these user rights is not just the right thing to do, but can be a business advantage.
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The vast majority of new cars sold in the U.S. are equipped with "black box" devices that continuously monitor driver behavior and vehicle performance. The federal government has proposed a new rule mandating these recorders in all new cars, and is seeking comments from the public. We're concerned that this proposed rule fails to address the privacy issues, and will be submitting comments -- but you, too, can submit comments online, even anonymously.
Join us at the Booksmith for a special evening with reknowned author and digital rights activist Cory Doctorow. Cory will present his new novel Homeland, the sequel to the New York Times bestseller Little Brother. If you plan to attend, an RSVP is appreciated but not required. February 7, 2013
San Francisco, CA
This large-scale conference aims to enhance regional Internet freedom policies and to promote best practices in online media regulation for key policymakers and experts. EFF's Director for International Freedom, Jillian York, will speak. February 14-15, 2013 Vienna, Austria
Join us for a drink at a secret location in Washington, D.C.! Raise a glass with us and discover our latest work defending your freedom online. The event is hosted by staff attorneys David Sobel, Marcia Hofmann, and Nate Cardozo. And be sure to catch EFF at the annual ShmooCon hacker convention that weekend. February 15, 2013
As the first-of-the-year Linux/Open Source software expo in North America, SCALE 11X expects to host more than 100 exhibitors this year, along with presenting more than 70 speakers. Come find us at the EFF table. February 22-24, 2013
Los Angeles, CA
EFF takes Austin for the annual South by Southwest festival. Senior Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann will speak at the event titled "Legal Bootcamp for Mobile Developers." Director for International Freedom of Expression Jillian York will speak at the event titled "Cryptowars Deja Vu: Controlling Exports of Tech." More talks to be announced soon. March 8-17, 2013 Austin, TX