Skip to main content
Podcast Episode: Chronicling Online Communities

EFFector - Volume 29, Issue 13 - Cool tattoo. Let's defend it.


EFFector - Volume 29, Issue 13 - Cool tattoo. Let's defend it.

EFFector! Electronic Frontier Foundation

In our 700th issue:

Stop the Government’s Tattoo Recognition Experiments

Tattoos are inked on our skin, but their meanings go much deeper. They reveal who we are: our passions, ideologies, religious beliefs, and even our social relationships. That’s exactly why law enforcement wants to crack the symbolism of our tattoos using automated computer algorithms, an effort that threatens our civil liberties.

Right now, government scientists are working with the FBI to develop tattoo recognition technology that police can use to learn as much as possible about people through their tattoos. In examining the kind of tattoo-recognition functionality the scientists are looking to develop, it’s easy to foresee how law enforcement might try to use it in the field, and the potential repercussions for our privacy and right to free expression.

But even more troubling than potential applications of tattoo-recognition research is the way that the research itself is being conducted. An EFF investigation has found that these experiments exploit prison inmates with little regard for the subjects’ privacy. So far, researchers have avoided ethical oversight altogether.

EFF believes that the research program is so fraught with problems that no course correction can redeem it. Please join us in asking the government to suspend the project immediately.

EFF Visits the Cat Ranch

On his podcast WTF, Marc Maron has picked the brains of everyone from President Obama to Carrot Top, and now it’s EFF’s turn.

EFF Staff Attorney Daniel Nazer, who also holds the Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents, sat down with Maron to talk about patent trolls. He gave the latest news about our challenge to Personal Audio’s podcasting patent and about about the ongoing fight for legislative patent reform.

WTF has agreed to match listeners’ donations to EFF for the month of June. Thank you, WTF!

EFF Updates

The Danger of Corporate Facial Recognition Tech

Supporters of unregulated corporate facial recognition systems are waging a sneak attack against our nation’s protection of biometric privacy. On one side are business interests seeking to profit by using invasive facial recognition technologies to identify and track vast numbers of people without their consent. On the other side are EFF and many other digital privacy and consumer rights organizations. Our side won the latest round, but the future of biometric privacy will require constant vigilance.

A Coalition Says to Congress: End 702 or Enact Reforms

Congress has no business approving government programs that neither it nor the public understands. Yet policymakers have repeatedly authorized surveillance activities without doing their homework. Over the eight years since enacting reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), Congress has failed to gain a functional understanding of NSA Internet surveillance, and has never even considered its impacts on democracy.

Three Years Later, the Snowden Leaks Have Changed How the World Sees NSA Surveillance

Three years ago this week, the world received confirmation that the NSA was spying on the digital lives of hundreds of millions of innocent people. The leaks were thanks in large part to whistleblower Edward Snowden, who has been living in Russia for the last three years, unable to return to the United States for fear of spending his life behind bars. Since the Snowden leaks, EFF and other groups have worked to pass legislation reining in NSA spying, but there’s much more to do.

European Commission’s Hate Speech Deal With Companies Will Chill Speech

A new agreement between the European Commission and four major U.S. companies—Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft—recently went into effect. The agreement will require companies to “review the majority of valid notifications for removal of hate speech in less than 24 hours and remove or disable access to such content.” Letting corporations control what constitutes hate speech jeopardizes everyone’s right to free speech.

Stupid Patent AND Trademark of the Month: My Health

This month features not only a stupid patent, but also a stupid trademark to go along with it. My Health has sued 30 companies over a patent that shouldn’t have been issued in the first place. To make things worth, it's also sued three companies for using the term “my health” to describe services that provide health information to their users.

It’s Time to Shut Down the Most Prolific Patent Troll in the Country

Shipping & Transit has filed over 500 lawsuits alleging infringement of its patents on “tracking and messaging technologies.” One company is fighting back with EFF.

Security Win: Burr-Feinstein Proposal Declared Dead for This Year

A few weeks ago, a dangerous proposal began to take hold in Congress that would have undermined security for computers, mobile devices, ISPs, and more. Thanks to thousands of you speaking out to lawmakers, the proposal has died. Make no mistake, though: this won’t be the last time members of Congress try to dismantle encryption.

EFF Applauds Jury Verdict In Favor of Fair Use in Oracle v. Google

A jury unanimously and correctly found that Google’s use of 37 Java package names and some 11,000 lines of “declaring code” in its Android operating system was lawful fair use, showing once again that our robust fair use doctrine is doing the crucial work of ensuring copyright law doesn’t undermine innovation.


One Injunction to Censor Them All: Doe Injunctions Threaten Speech Online (Knight Foundation)

EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn explains John Doe injunctions, a new trick being used to censor the Internet.

Appeals Court Cuts Music Samplers Some Slack (Los Angeles Times)

A recent court decision has given music sampling some new legal breathing room, and that’s good news for creativity.

Why Google’s Fair Use Victory Over Oracle Matters (The Guardian)

Google vs. Oracle wasn’t just a fight between two companies; it was about the future of technology.

Supported by Donors

Our members make it possible for EFF to bring legal and technological expertise into crucial battles about online rights. Whether defending free speech online or challenging unconstitutional surveillance, your participation makes a difference. Every donation gives technology users who value freedom online a stronger voice and more formidable advocate.

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

Donate Today


Editor: Elliot Harmon, Activist

EFFector is a publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Membership & donation queries:

General EFF, legal, policy, or online resources queries:

Reproduction of this publication in electronic media is encouraged. MiniLinks do not necessarily represent the views of EFF.

Back issues of EFFector

This newsletter is printed from 100% recycled electrons.

EFF appreciates your support and respects your privacy. Privacy Policy.

815 Eddy Street
San Francisco, CA 94109-7701
United States

Join EFF!
Members make it possible for EFF to fight for your rights. Become a member today.


EFF’s 9th Annual Cyberlaw Trivia Night

Tech attorneys from throughout the Bay Area will gather to drink wine and beer, eat delicious food, and prove their prowess in summoning obscure tech law minutiae from the very depths of their oversized brains. In a friendly yet fierce battle of the minds, they’ll vie for the coveted EFF Pub Quiz Cup—and an entire year’s worth of bragging rights.
June 16, 2016
San Francisco, CA

Investigative Reporters & Editors

EFF Investigative Researcher Dave Maass and Staff Technologist Jeremy Gillula will be speaking on various panels at the annual investigative journalism gathering.
June 16–19, 2016
New Orleans, LA

EFF at Allied Media Conference

Join EFF Senior Engineer Mark Burdett at the annual gathering of media practitioners and community organizers.
June 16–19, 2016
Detroit, MI

Crypto Wars 2.0

In this talk, EFF Staff Technologist Jeremy Gillula will explain everything you ever wanted to know about encryption, from how it works to why the FBI wants to make it weaker—and why most computer security experts disagree. You’ll learn all about the history leading up to the Apple vs. FBI case, what the ramifications of the case are, and what the current battleground looks like in the fight between some parts of law enforcement and the digital security community.
June 22, 2016
Walnut Creek, CA

EFF on Drones

Join EFF Staff Technologist Jeremy Gillula for a discussion on drones. He’ll give background on how drones work and why they’re suddenly so popular and discuss some of the privacy and security issues that they present.
June 28, 2016
Hercules, CA

EFF on Drones

Join EFF Staff Technologist Jeremy Gillula for a discussion on drones. He’ll give background on how drones work and why they’re suddenly so popular and discuss some of the privacy and security issues that they present.
June 30, 2016
Moraga, CA

EFF on Online Tracking

Join EFF Staff Technologist Jeremy Gillula to learn how sketchy companies (and shadowy government agencies) track you everywhere you go online, often without your permission. We’ll cover how tracking works, why companies do it, and what tools do (and don’t) work to protect yourself.
July 9, 2016
El Cerrito, CA

EFF at the Eleventh HOPE

We are excited to be a part of the Eleventh HOPE conference! HOPE (Hackers on Planet Earth) returns to New York for its eleventh iteration this year, hosted by our friends at 2600.
July 22–24, 2016
New York City, NY

EFF on
twitter facebook google plus identica

Back to top

JavaScript license information