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EFFector - Volume 27, Issue 5 - EFF fights potential evidence destruction in NSA spying cases


EFFector - Volume 27, Issue 5 - EFF fights potential evidence destruction in NSA spying cases

EFFector! Electronic Frontier Foundation

In our 657th issue:

EFF Fights Potential Evidence Destruction in NSA Spying Cases

EFF is fighting to get to the bottom of disturbing new government claims that seem to indicate that it has been destroying records of their ongoing mass surveillance despite a court order. This is part of our longstanding case against illegal NSA spying, Jewel v. NSA, but also has implications for our First Amendment-focused case, First Unitarian Church v. NSA. After an emergency hearing this week, the judge in the case issued an evidence preservation order in First Unitarian. On top of that, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is demanding answers from the government about its behavior in not telling it about the Jewel v. NSA preservation order. The question of whether the government improperly destroyed evidence so far will be briefed over the next several weeks.

Thousands Speak Out in Favor of Strong Patent Reform from the Senate

This week, EFF joined over 5,600 individuals in a letter pressing the Senate for meaningful patent reform. We joined entrepreneurs, investors, and inventors in calling for changes to the patent system that increase transparency and address excessive costs in litigation, create better programs for challenging bad patents, and protect end-users and consumers.

EFF Victories in Two FOIA Cases: Court Rules Government's Arguments are "Clearly Inadequate" to Support Claims

EFF recently won victories in two FOIA cases. These victories are encouraging, but they also make it clear why better transparency is necessary. In both our cases, we sought information that would shed light on government intelligence activities, and judges have ordered the government to either hand over more documents or come up with new arguments to justify withholding information. These victories create good precedent for future FOIA requesters, but the multiple years and court rulings it has taken to get these records demonstrates why whistleblowers are so important to transparency.

EFF Updates

A Short Guide to the Internet's Biggest Enemies

We've written a short guide to Reporters Without Borders annual Enemies of the Internet index, which tracks the countries that repress online speech, intimidate and arrest bloggers, and conduct surveillance of their citizens. We outline which countries have improved, which have gotten even worse, and which we think are missing from the list.

Former Church Committee Counsel and Staffers Call on Congress to Create Modern Day Church Committee

The Church Committee was formed 40 years ago in response to U.S. intelligence agencies spying on Americans. The Committee delved deep into these abusive practices and brought about desperately needed reform in the 70s. Now, we've published a letter written by 16 former counsel, advisers, and professional staff members of the Church Committee calling on Congress to form a new Church Committee to investigate the NSA and other intelligence agencies in light of the abuses we see today.

EFF Fights Back Against Oakland's Disturbing Domain Awareness Center

EFF submitted a second letter to the Oakland City Council opposing Oakland's proposed Domain Awareness Center, a potent surveillance system that could enable ubiquitous privacy and civil liberties violations against Oakland residents. The letter emphasized how many questions remain about the DAC. Nonetheless, on March 4th, Mayor Jean Quan cast the deciding vote in favor of a motion to remove city cameras and ShotSpotter from the DAC components but move forward with the DAC.

New NSA Slides Reveal Tailored Access Run Amok

New slides from Edward Snowden have revealed the disturbing extent of the aggressive tactics used to gather signals intelligence by the NSA's Tailored Access Unit. These slides show plans to install malware directly onto targets' computers at an "industrial scale," using a system called TURBINE. These implants are clearly excessive, and they make the Internet as a whole less secure. We offer recommendations to increase security, including using HTTPs and other tools.

Why is the Patent Office So Bad At Reviewing Software Patents?

Broad and vague software patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) lead to many of the current problems with the patent system, in particular patent trolling. A large contributor to this problem is the PTO's failure to thoroughly search for prior art--the pre-existing publications and technology that could invalidate a patent by showing that the invention wasn't new. EFF, Public Knowledge, and Engine have submitted written comments urging the PTO to do better at finding the most relevant prior art.

Obama Nominates Former SOPA Lobbyist to Help Lead TPP Negotiations

President Obama has nominated former SOPA lobbyist Robert Holleyman, the former chief executive officer of the Business Software Alliance, to join the team of U.S. negotiators leading the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks. This is an interesting choice in light of the fact that the draconian copyright enforcement sections of TPP, among other areas of concern, have led to a standstill in the negotiations. This is one in a long string of indications of heavy corporate influence on trade talks in which the U.S. is increasingly encountering resistance from other countries. TPP is also facing opposition at home, from both voters and President Obama's political allies. Without the authority to Fast Track TPP, Obama may not be able to pass TPP at all.

Los Angeles Cops Argue All Cars in LA Are Under Investigation

In a brief filed in opposition to EFF and ACLU's request for a week’s worth of Automatic License Plate Reader (ALPR) data, the Los Angeles Police Department and L.A. Sheriff’s Department have argued that “All [license plate] data is investigatory.” This novel argument is completely counter to the Fourth Amendment and our criminal justice system, which require some indication of criminal activity in order to conduct an investigation. Instead, ALPRs automatically collect information. The law enforcement agencies acknowledge that there is a privacy interest in this information, but ironically argues that this means the data should not be released.

Notice-and-Takedown Gets its Day in Congress

The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony from a range of stakeholders around the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's (DMCA) copyright notice-and-takedown system and safe harbor provisions for service providers. The panelists spoke from a variety of perspectives, with some speaking strongly in favor of legal consequences of abuse of copyright takedown notices, some explaining why treating searches that include the words "free" or "watch" differently would not make sense, and some making suggestions that would almost certainly lead to wiping out fair use. Safe harbor must remain in place, and Congress should consider the actual costs of copyright abuse as it hears testimony about the DMCA.

EFF to the United Nations: Protect Individuals Right to Privacy in The Digital Age

The Human Rights Committee of the United Nations is scrutinizing the United States' mass surveillance practices and its compliance with Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which deals with the right to privacy. EFF urges the Committee to consider the Necessary and Proportionate Principles in this review. These principles, supported by over 400 organizations and 300,000 individuals, take a broad look at how modern communications surveillance technologies can be addressed consistently with human rights and the rule of law.


NSA surveillance program reaches 'into the past' to retrieve, replay phone calls

Newly released Snowden documents reveal the existence of MYSTIC, an NSA program operative in one unnamed country that records 100% of calls into and out of that country, including calls placed from the United States, and retains them for 30 days.

Netizen Report: Russia Shutters Independent News Sites

The attorney general in Russia orders three opposition news websites shut down.

Pentagon watchdog 'not aware' of NSA bulk phone data collection

The Pentagon's deputy Inspector General states that he was unaware of the NSA's bulk phone records collection.

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Editor: Nadia Kayyali, Activist

EFFector is a publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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Work with EFF this Summer

Apply by April 14 be a Google Policy Fellow with our international team this summer.

Boston Area EFF Speakeasy with the Free Software Foundation

EFF and the Free Software Foundation will co-host a Speakeasy. Come chat with EFF activist April Glaser and our friends at the FSF about our work. This event is open to all EFF members and supporters.
March 23, 2014
Cambridge, MA

The Law of Hacking: A Legal Perspective for the World of Cyber

EFF Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury will be speaking at the Monterey Cyber Security Initiative on the law of hacking.
March 25, 2014
Monterey, CA

The 21st Century Fourth Amendment

EFF Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury will be at the University of Texas at Austin's "National Security Agency at the Crossroads" seminar. He'll be speaking on a panel with Benjamin Powell, former general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
April 3, 2014
Austin, TX

Constitutional Limitations on Government Electronic Surveillance

EFF Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury will be at the Indiana Public Defender Council's annual Evidence and Suppression seminar talking about defense challenges to the government's use of electronic surveillance in criminal cases.
April 4, 2014
Indianapolis, IN

404 Day: A Day of Action Against Censorship in Libraries

On April 4th, EFF is bringing attention to the long-standing problem of Internet censorship in public libraries for 404 Day. Join us for a digital teach-in with some of the top researchers and librarians working to analyze and push back against the use of Internet filters on library computers.
April 4, 2014

Yale ISP Big Data Symposium

EFF Activist April Glaser will join the "Big Data and the Global Community – Transnational Law & Institutions" panel at the Big Data Symposium organized by the Yale Information Society Project. The event is free and open to the public.
April 6, 2014
New Haven, CT

EFF at the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly Symposium

EFF Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury will speak on a panel at 10:45 am about "Government, Data Collection, & Surveillance." EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl will speak on a panel at 3:45 pm about "Privacy Solutions." The event is free and open to the public.
April 7, 2014
San Francisco, CA

NSA Spying, Digital Privacy, and Your Rights Online

EFF Activist April Glaser will give a talk at Wesleyan University about government surveillance, EFF's NSA litigation, and activism. This event is free and open to the public.
April 8, 2014
Middletown, CT

Raising Old Fourth Amendment Challenges to New Technologies

EFF Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury will speak at the Southern California Association of Law Libraries 2014 Institute on Privacy.
April 11, 2014
Ventura, CA

Techno-Activism Third Mondays (TA3M)

Techno-Activism Third Mondays (TA3M) are informal meetups that occur on the same date in many cities worldwide. They are designed to connect techno-activists and hacktivists who work on or with circumvention tools, and/or are interested in anti-censorship and anti-surveillance technology.
April 21, 2014
San Francisco, CA

Advancing Technology and the Fourth Amendment

EFF Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury will be discussing a variety of topics on electronic surveillance at the 2014 Roll-Zapata Criminal Law Seminar hosted by the Tucson Federal Bar Association.
April 25, 2014
Tucson, AZ

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