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EFFector - Volume 29, Issue 15 - Taking DRM to court

EFFector! Electronic Frontier Foundation

In our 702nd issue:

DMCA 1201: The Law That Locks Down Tech

Some day, your life may depend on the work of a security researcher. Whether it’s a simple malfunction in a piece of computerized medical equipment or a malicious compromise of your networked car, it’s critically important that people working in security can find and fix the problem before the worst happens.

And yet, Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) casts a dark legal cloud over the work of those researchers. It gives companies a blunt instrument with which to threaten that research, keeping potentially embarrassing or costly errors from seeing the light of day. EFF believes that 1201 is unconstitutional, and today, we’re taking our case to court.

Copyright law shouldn’t cast a legal shadow over activities as basic as popping the hood of your own car, offering commentary on a shared piece of culture, or testing security infrastructure. It’s time for the courts to revisit Section 1201 and fix Congress’ constitutional mistake.

EFF Updates

Security Experts: Tell the W3C To Protect Researchers Who Investigate Browsers

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has taken the extraordinary, controversial step of standardizing digital rights management (DRM) technology in the official HTML5 specifications. Because of laws protecting DRM, that means that security researchers who reveal flaws in HTML5-compliant browsers could face serious legal repercussions. We’re calling on security researchers to help us urge the W3C to protect their important work.

Ninth Circuit Panel Backs Away From Dangerous Password Sharing Decision—But Creates Even More Confusion About the CFAA

Three judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have taken a step back from criminalizing password sharing, limiting the dangerous rationale of a recent decision issued by the same court. That’s good news, but the new decision creates even more confusion about how to interpret the notoriously vague Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

New EEOC Rules Allow Employers to Pay for Employees’ Health Information

The Affordable Care Act provisions for employee wellness programs give employers the power to reward or penalize their employees based on whether they complete health screenings and participate in fitness programs. Wellness programs put employees in a bind: give your employer access to extensive, private health data, or give up potentially thousands of dollars a year.

California Grounds Two Bad Drone Bills

Two bills were introduced in the California legislature this session to regulate the use of drones. Both were overly restrictive of private drone use, even potentially criminalizing fun and educational drone sports events. Now, we’re happy to announce that both of these drone bills have been grounded.

EFF Joins Stars to Rock Against the TPP and Finally Defeat It

EFF is proud to support Rock Against the TPP, a series of music festivals and rallies around the country to protest the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Fight for the Future is organizing the rallies featuring Tom Morello, Talib Kweli, and many other big names. Together, we can send the message to Congress to refuse to ratify the TPP.

Tell Your Senators: Don’t Give FBI More Power to Spy on Browser History

Despite strong opposition in Congress and from the grassroots, the FBI is still pushing to expand its National Security Letter (NSL) authority. The proposed amendments would allow the FBI to serve companies with NSLs and obtain a wide range of Internet records including browsing history. Take a moment to tell your Senators to vote against expanding NSL powers.

Patents: The Next Open Access Fight

Signs are looking good that Congress will finally pass a bill requiring that publicly funded research be made available to the public. Even if we pass an open access law this year, though, there’s still a major obstacle in the way of publicly funded research fully benefiting the public: patent trolls.

New Court Ruling Underscores the Need to Stop the Changes to Rule 41

A federal court recently held that individuals have no reasonable expectation of privacy in a personal computer located inside their home. In this court’s view, the FBI is free to hack into networked devices without a warrant. This stunning decision makes it clear that we need to stop the changes to Rule 41, amendments that will make it easier for the government to get a warrant to remotely search computers.

With Canada’s Entry, Treaty for the Blind Will Come Into Force

A groundbreaking international agreement to address the “book famine” for blind and print-disabled people is now set to go into force after passing a key milestone. The agreement requires countries to allow the reproduction and distribution of accessible ebooks by limiting the scope of copyright restrictions.

Stupid Patent of the Month: Storage Cabinets on a Computer

This month’s stupid patent claims the idea of using “virtual cabinets” to graphically represent data storage and organization. The patent’s owner has been using it to sue just about anyone who runs a website.

miniLinks

Bulgaria Passes Law Requiring Government Software to Be Open Source (ZDNet)

Bulgaria’s new open source law is a win for transparency and security.

The Fight for the Right to Repair (Smithsonian)

Laws that keep technology locked down make everyone less safe.

Startups Should Be Watching as the Supreme Court Decides Samsung v. Apple (Recode)

A dispute over design patents could have major ramifications for the future of innovation.

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Administrivia

Editor: Elliot Harmon, Activist
editor@eff.org

EFFector is a publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
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Announcements

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, hosted by our friends at 2600.
July 22–24, 2016
New York City, NY

EFF at Security B-Sides Las Vegas

Join EFF at BSidesLV! Catch some great information security talks and don’t forget to stop by the EFF table to learn about the latest news in the digital freedom movement.
August 2–3, 2016
Las Vegas, NV

EFF at Black Hat Briefings USA

Join EFF at Black Hat Briefings! Check out the EFF presentations and stop by our information booth in the Business Hall to find out about the latest developments in protecting digital freedom.
August 3–4, 2016
Las Vegas, NV

EFF at DEF CON 24

Join EFF at DEF CON 24! Catch EFF speakers and stop by our information booth in the Vendor and Contest areas to find out about the latest developments in protecting digital freedom. You can even sign up as an EFF member and pick up some great swag!
August 4–7, 2016
Las Vegas, NV

National Lawyers Guild #Law4thePeople Convention

EFF Director of Grassroots Advocacy Shahid Buttar will speak about simple-yet-powerful tools that social movement activists can employ to help protect their privacy and security when organizing grassroots actions.
August 7, 2016
New York City, NY

EFF at Dragon Con

EFF Investigative Researcher Dave Maass returns (in costume) to Dragon Con’s Electronic Frontiers Forums, where he’ll discuss a range of privacy, activism, and transparency issues around digital civil liberties.
September 2–5, 2016
Atlanta, GA

EFF at The Circle

EFF Director for International Freedom of Expression Jillian York will speak at The Circle of European Communicators’ annual event in Athens, Greece.
September 14–16, 2016
Athens, Greece

Privacy Policy Update

We’ve updated our privacy policy to clarify the use of information in the EFF Action Center and protections for members who join EFF offline.

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