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EFFector - Volume 27, Issue 4 - EFF sues Ethiopia over spyware


EFFector - Volume 27, Issue 4 - EFF sues Ethiopia over spyware

EFFector! Electronic Frontier Foundation

In our 656th issue:

American Sues Ethiopian Government for Spyware Infection

EFF is representing an American in federal court in Washington, D.C. suing the Ethiopian government for infecting his computer with spyware that recorded all of his online activities and wiretapped communications. A forensic investigation revealed traces of a program called FinSpy, a suite of surveillance software marketed exclusively to governments. It appears that this spyware is part of a systematic effort on the part of the Ethiopian government to spy on individuals who are perceived to be political opponents and members of the Ethiopian diaspora community around the world.

The Day We Fought Back

Tuesday, February 11th was The Day We Fought Back. Over 6,000 websites and dozens of advocacy organizations stood with us in a global day of action. The results were staggering: over 89,000 Americans called their members of Congress and told them to rein in the NSA. Far more sent emails. Around the world, over 250,000 put their name to a set of founding principles against suspicionless surveillance. The protests engaged a diverse array of organizations, ranging from tech companies to international human rights groups. The battle against NSA spying isn’t over, but on The Day We Fought Back we began to win.

Peering into the Soft Underbelly of Net Neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced how it plans to move forward after a federal court rejected the bulk of the commission's network neutrality rules. But enforcing network neutrality is complicated, and it's important to understand the myriad of connections that keep Internet traffic flowing. EFF investigated the "peering" relationships between ISPs and backbone web companies and found a disturbing history of network discrimination. It's time to shed light on secret peering agreements that may threaten the future of a neutral, open Internet. What's more, a Comcast-Time Warner merger could give the ISP tremendous leverage in peering disputes.

EFF Updates

The History of Surveillance and the Black Community

During Black History Month, we should remember the history of surveillance of the African-American community and let their stories serve as cautionary tales for the expanding surveillance state. Spying is nothing new, and in the 1960s, FBI's infamous COINTELPRO program focused on Black Americans fighting against segregation and structural racism. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Black Panther Party were subjected to surveillance as well as tactics intended to intimidate and shame them, cause divisions among activists, and even manufacture violence against them. As revelations of government surveillance continue, we must not forget the speech-stifling history of U.S. government spying that has targeted communities of color.

White House Makes Good on Patent Reform Promises, More Changes To Come

The White House has taken several steps towards curtailing the patent troll problem. The Patent Office put out a toolkit to help those facing a troll threat, as well as a training program for patent examiners and judges to help them understand functional claiming – which is the practice of patenting what something does, rather than what it is. Additionally, the Patent Office has proposed a new rule to make patents more transparent and has taken new executive actions to address the need for pro bono and pro se legal assistance, better training for patent examiners, and easier mechanisms for discovering prior art.

Venezuela's Internet Crackdown Escalates into Regional Blackout

As protests against the Venezuelan government have escalated, President Maduro has responded with sweeping media censorship, shutting down entire regional ISPs and causing massive Internet blackouts. Certain websites, including Twitter, have also been blocked. What's more, the Venezuelan government has created The Strategic Center for Security and Protection of the Country, which would allow unfettered censorship of information deemed to be a threat to national security.

EFF Submits Letter Opposing Oakland's Domain Awareness Center

EFF has submitted a letter to the Oakland city council urging a no vote on the Domain Awareness Center, a surveillance system that would aggregate data from dozens of sources around the city to create an invasive treasure trove of surveillance data for law enforcement access. The Domain Awareness Center has the potential to facilitate serious civil liberties abuses and privacy violations. EFF joins ACLU of Northern California, the Oakland Privacy Working Group, and hundreds of concerned residents in opposing the project.

National License Plate Recognition Database: What It Is and Why It’s a Bad Idea

Just days after the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency issued plans to create a national database of license plate recognition data, the DHS ordered the initiative to be canceled. The rapid about-face came in the wake of a flood of concerns about how a database of this size and scope would provide a broad window into individuals' movements and personal associations.

Fair Use May Be Headed Down Under

Australia does not currently have a fair use doctrine in its copyright law, but this could soon change. The Australian Law Reform Commission recently issued a set of recommendations that, if adopted, would dramatically update the country’s copyright policy to broaden fair use exceptions. This is a critical moment for Australia to further foster innovation and creativity instead of catering to old and stifling business models.


Snowden Documents Reveal Covert Surveillance and Pressure Tactics Aimed at WikiLeaks and Its Supporters

Newly released Snowden documents reveal tactics that the U.S. and British governments had considered to heighten surveillance of the Wikileaks website, its publishers, and users.

Unlocking the Secretive Trans Pacific Trade Deal

People around the world have taken to the streets to protest the super-secret Trans Pacific Partnership.

Inside the FCC’s Plan to Take on Hackers

Current and former officials from the the Federal Communications Commission say that the agency has decided to wade in to the cybersecurity fray.

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If you aren't already, please consider becoming an EFF member today.

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Editor: April Glaser, Activist

EFFector is a publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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EFF at SCALE 12x - Southern California Linux Expo

Stop by the EFF booth at SCALE 12x at the LAX Hilton. You can find some cool EFF digital freedom swag, donate to support the cause, and even become an official member!
February 21, 2014
Los Angeles, CA

Spied Upon: Surveillance and Resistance

Join EFF's Nadia Kayyali at the Sudo Room hackerspace in Oakland for a discussion about how surveillance issues affect communities that are too often left out of the conversation in light of national NSA revelations and the local Domain Awareness Center in Oakland.
February 21, 2014
Oakland, CA

Security BSides San Francisco 2014

EFF is proud to support Security BSidesSF! Catch great talks on the cutting edge of infosec. You can register on site at the DNA Lounge. EFF will be there to spread the word about protecting digital freedom and you can even pick up cool swag or sign up as an EFF member!
February 23, 2014
San Francisco, CA

Phare Conference

EFF's Director for International Freedom of Expression, Jillian York, will speak about the global societal implications of surveillance.
February 25, 2014
Ghent, Belgium

The Suits and Spooks Security Town Hall

Join EFF Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo for a debate and discussion about the complexities of balancing security objectives with our privacy rights.
February 27, 2014
San Francisco, CA


TrustyCon welcomes all security researchers, practitioners, and citizens who are interested in discussing the technical, legal, and ethical underpinnings of a stronger social contract between users and technology. All proceeds will be donated to EFF.
February 27, 2014
San Francisco, CA

RightsCon Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley Access is bringing the RightsCon summit back to Silicon Valley, where global human rights experts, investors, corporate leaders, engineers, activists, and government representatives will work to advance solutions to human rights challenges with a concentration on technology. Several EFF staffers will be speaking.
March 3-5, 2014
San Francisco, CA

The Case(s) Against NSA Surveillance

Join EFF Senior Staff Attorney David Greene for special talk at the University of Massachusetts Law School on the two cases where EFF is representing clients in lawsuits against the NSA.
March 3, 2014
North Dartmouth, MA

Pan-Optics: Emerging Perspectives on Visual Privacy & Surveillance

Advances in drone aircraft, networked cameras, and recent disclosures about the NSA’s international and domestic surveillance activities have stimulated public protests, outrage from activists, and new policy discussions among elected leaders. EFF Senior Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch will be on a panel about the policy and technology of visual surveillance.
March 6, 2014
Berkeley, CA


Everything's bigger in Texas, including EFF presentations. If you're in Austin for South by Southwest, make sure to catch at least one of the three amazing talks by EFF'ers: Cory Doctorow, Julie Samuels, and Nadia Kayyali.
March 7-11, 2014
Austin, TX

2014 East West Center International Media Conference

EFF's Director for International Freedom of Expression Jillian C. York will be speaking about the Challenges of a Free Press.
March 12, 2014
Yangon, Myanmar

They're Watching Us/We're Watching Them: Civil Liberities Online

Join EFF Activist April Glaser and EFF Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo for a roundtable discussion with professors, librarians, local activists, and the executive director of the ACLU of Oregon on the affects of mass government surveillance on our basic civil liberties and academic life.
March 10, 2014
Eugene, OR

Seventh Annual Freedom of Information Day Celebration

Join EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel for a discussion of the government's recent positions on Exemption Five of the Freedom of Information Act as part of a daylong event. There is no charge for registration, but CLE credit is available for a fee.
March 18, 2014
Washington, D.C.

The Free Software Foundation is Hiring a Web Developer

The Free Software Foundation is looking for a Boston-area web developer to work closely with the sysadmin team to maintain and improve the FSF's Web presence. The Free Software Foundation is a Boston-based 501(c)(3) charity with a worldwide mission to protect freedoms critical to the computer-using public.

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