In our 717th issue:
EFF is out with a new report that highlights concerns held by parents, students, teachers, and others over the privacy implications of the use of mobile devices and cloud services in K-12 classrooms across the country—so called education technology or “ed tech.” Concerns include a lack of transparency about how technology is used in classrooms, the difficulty of determining the privacy implications of ed tech, the absence of standard privacy precautions, and inadequate technology and privacy training for teachers.
The report is the result of an EFF survey, launched in December of 2015, which elicited responses from over 1000 students, parents, teachers, librarians, school administrators, system administrators, and community members.
While there are educational advantages to incorporating technology into the classroom experience, the survey results reflect an overarching concern that children as young as kindergartners are being conditioned to accept a culture of surveillance. EFF maintains that children should not be taught that using the Internet or technology requires sacrificing personal privacy.
Derechos Digitales, the leading digital rights organization in Chile, has launched a new report in collaboration with EFF that evaluates the privacy practices of Chilean Internet Service Providers (ISPs). This project is part of a series across Latin America, adapted from EFF’s annual Who Has Your Back? report. The reports are intended to evaluate mobile and fixed ISPs to see which stand with their users when responding to government requests for personal information.
Chileans go online more than any other nationality in Latin America. When Chileans use the Internet, they put their most private data, including their online relationships, political, artistic and personal discussions, and even their minute-by-minute movements online. And all of that data necessarily has to go through one of a handful of ISPs.
Companies in Chile are off to a good start but still have a ways to go to fully protect their customers’ personal data and be transparent about who has access to it. Derechos Digitales and EFF expect to release this report annually to incentivize companies to improve transparency and protect user data.
More than a dozen state legislatures are considering a bill called the “Human Trafficking Prevention Act,” which has nothing to do with human trafficking and all to do with one man’s crusade against pornography at the expense of free speech.
The bills would require device manufacturers to pre-install “obscenity” filters on devices like cell phones, tablets, and computers. Consumers would be forced to pony up $20 per device in order to surf the Internet without state censorship. The legislation is not only technologically unworkable, it violates the First Amendment and significantly burdens consumers and businesses.
Perhaps more shocking is the bill’s provenance. According to the Daily Beast, the man behind the model legislation the state bills are based on is a disbarred attorney who has sued major tech companies, blaming them for his pornography addiction, and sued states for the right to marry his laptop.
Fifth Amendment Protections for Passwords at the Border
Lately, a big question on everyone's mind has been: Do I have to give my password to customs agents? As anyone who’s ever watched any cop show knows, the Fifth Amendment gives you the right to remain silent and to refuse to provide evidence against yourself – even at the border.
Fifth Amendment protections do apply at the border, and they protect your right to refuse to reveal your password in most circumstances. That said, individuals passing through the border sometimes choose to surrender their account information and passwords anyway, in order to avoid consequences like missing their flight, being made subject to more constrictive or prolonged detention, or being denied entry to the US.
EFF Tells California Supreme Court to Protect the First Amendment
A bad review on Yelp is an anathema to a business. No one wants to get trashed online. But the First Amendment protects both the reviewer’s opinion and Yelp’s right to publish it.
A California appeals court ran roughshod over the First Amendment when it ordered Yelp to comply with an injunction to take down speech without giving the website any opportunity to challenge the injunction’s factual basis. The case—Hassell v. Bird—is on appeal to the California Supreme Court, and EFF filed an amicus brief asking the court to overturn the lower court’s dangerous holding.
A Look into ISPs’ Hollow Privacy Promises
It’s no surprise that Americans were unhappy to lose online privacy protections earlier this month. But it should come as a surprise that Republicans—including the Republican leaders of the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission—are ardently defending the move and dismissing the tens of thousands who spoke up and told policymakers that they want protections against privacy invasions by their Internet providers.
Now that policymakers have effectively handed off online privacy enforcement to the Internet providers themselves, advocates for the repeal are pointing to the Internet providers’ privacy policies. In blog posts and public statements since the rules were repealed, the major Internet providers and the trade groups that represent them have all pledged to continue protecting customers’ sensitive data and not to sell customers’ individual Internet browsing records. But how they go about defining those terms and utilizing our private information is still going to leave people upset.
Twitter Fights Government Attempt to Unmask Trump Administration Critic
Twitter successfully fended off an attempt by the Customs and Border Protection agency to obtain identifying information about an “alternative agency” Twitter account, @ALT_uscis. A day after Twitter went public and sued the agency, the Justice Department told Twitter that the agency’s request had been withdrawn, and the government was no longer seeking to identify the Twitter user.
EFF applauds Twitter for standing up for users’ free speech and swiftly pushing back on the government's attempts to identify a prominent critic. The government must not be able to use its formidable investigatory powers to intimidate and silence its critics, and CBP made almost no effort to justify its request.
The Ninth Circuit’s Bad Ruling for Sites with Moderators
The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently ruled that websites with moderator-managed communities could be held liable for users' copyright infringement, despite legal protections for sites that host user content.
The case is centered around a LiveJournal celebrity news community, Oh No They Didn't, which was partly managed by moderators who review posts that users submit to make sure they follow the community rules for posting and commenting. A celebrity photo agency sued LiveJournal for copyright-infringing photos posted on the community. LiveJournal took the posts down immediately, and invoked the DMCA safe harbors, asserting that it was simply “hosting content at the direction of a user.” While the district court agreed, the Ninth Circuit said LiveJournal's use of moderators might make the site liable for infringement and sent the case back to the district court.
Making Your Dissent Matter
Over the last year, large numbers of Americans have grown politically active for the first time. However, many seem not to know how to meaningfully raise their voices or participate in the political process.
Training is available for engagement tactics through the Electronic Frontier Alliance, a network of local grassroots groups across the U.S. that remotely convenes each month. Any network of neighbors who share concerns about digital rights is welcome to explore and apply to join the EFA.
Bose Customer Sues over Headphone Tracking
A Bose Corp customer is suing the company, saying it surreptitiously tracks and sells information about what customers listen to on its headphones, according to Reuters.
U.S. Agency Investigating Attempt to Unmask Critic on Twitter
The Department of Homeland Security is investigating the Customs and Border Protection agency’s attempt earlier this month to unmask an anonymous Twitter user who was critical of the Trump administration, according to The Intercept.
NSA Backdoor Impacts Windows Devices
A National Security Agency backdoor leaked last year by Shadow Brokers may impact thousands of Windows computers, according to ArsTechnica.
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Kate Tummarello, Policy Analyst
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