In most issues of EFFector, we give an overview of all the work we’re doing at EFF right now. This week, we're presenting information about how you can make an impact while your member of Congress is home.
This year, the House of Representatives has pretty much the entire month of August off. That means they'll be back in their home districts taking meetings and holding town halls. With so many issues vital to digital rights looming in the congressional calendar, this August is a critical time for Internet users to pressure Congress to do the right thing on net neutrality, surveillance, copyright, and giving government agencies the power to shoot down drones.
Constituents can request meetings with members of Congress either by filling out a meeting request form on the member’s official website or by contacting their local office—the one in your area. You can look up your member’s address and phone number on the member’s official website. Though it will depend on timing, hopefully you can get a meeting with the actual member of Congress. If not, meeting with congressional staff will still get your concerns to the member.
Calling the local office will also help you find out if your member of Congress is planning any town halls. The staff may be able to give you the information over the phone and the member’s official website and social media accounts may also post the location and time of any town halls one to three days beforehand. Make sure to carefully follow any instructions about parking and security, and look to see if you need to register ahead of time to attend. Be aware that registering may mean including your name and contact information and that failing to register may mean you can’t get into a town hall with heightened security.
In 2017, the FCC voted to repeal the 2015 Open Internet Order, rolling back the order's clear, enforceable protections for net neutrality. But using the Congressional Review Act (CRA), a simple congressional majority can overturn the FCC’s decision. It’s already passed in the Senate and now we need the House of Representatives to follow suit. The vote has to happen in this session, so August is a key time to check and see where your representative stands and, if they haven’t committed to voting for the CRA, ask them why not. We’ve prepared a guide for how to talk about net neutrality with your representative when they’re home for the recess. You can also adapt parts of that guide—how to set up meetings and how to write op-eds, for example—for any of the issues in this newsletter.
Time and againin the past year, Congress members met to negotiate and craft several bills to revamp many aspects of the country’s immigration process. And time and again, those bills required increased, high-tech government surveillance of citizens and immigrants alike. Any bill that would create a path to citizenship should not include invasive tracking. Please let your members of Congress know that increased surveillance should not be the price of immigration.
S. 2823 is a bill that combines the Music Modernization Act (MMA) with the CLASSICS Act, and now both are being called the MMA. The combined package has already passed the House and is now pending in the Senate. The original MMA simply created a new system for compensating songwriters and music publishers for songs played on digital streaming services. CLASSICS, on the other hand, attaches new federal rights and penalties to sound recordings made before 1972 but doesn’t apply the federal rules about copyright term to those recordings. Most of those sound recordings won’t be in the public domain until 2067, meaning some will have copyrights lasting 144 years or more. And CLASSICS wants to leave that in place but does make it easier for music labels and some artists to collect money on these works. This complicated way of approaching copyright is the new frontier of assaults on the public domain, and members of Congress should be told not to fall for it. Please tell your elected officials not to vote for bills that keep music under the control of a few legacy companies while giving nothing back to the public.
When government agencies refuse to let the public know what they’re doing and where, drones can be an important tool to hold them accountable. However, the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018 (S. 2836) would authorize Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security to “track,” “disrupt,” “control,” “seize or otherwise confiscate,” or even “destroy” unmanned aircraft that pose a “threat” to certain facilities or areas in the U.S. The bill also authorizes the government to “intercept” or acquire communications around the drone for these purposes, which could be read to include capturing video footage sent from the drone. This expansion of powers does not require these agencies to follow the Wiretap Act, Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act before they take down a drone. And it appears that some legislators will try to get this language passed however they can. This measure raises large First and Fourth Amendment concerns that must be addressed. Please ask your members of Congress not to extend the broad authority to destroy or hack drones to the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security.
We're excited to be a part of Black Hat USA! Come by our booth on Black Hat Blvd. (BB3) and learn more about digital civil liberties. EFF Senior Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo will also be hosting two InfoSec- and policy-focused Community Workshops, a new feature of this year's event. Remember that EFF supporters get a $200 discount on Black Hat Briefings registration with the code EFFus18.
Join EFF at BSidesLV in the Tuscany Suites & Casino! 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.
We're seeking an organized, empathetic, and motivated individual with excellent communication skills to join EFF as its Receptionist as a member of our Operations Team. The Receptionist is the often the public’s first point of access to EFF. You will be performing a wide variety of tasks including giving general information about our work, greeting and welcoming the staff and guests, and referring people to a variety of teams within the organization.
The legislative activist will focus on EFF’s work advocating for state laws that protect people’s right to privacy, free expression, and innovation, as well as advocating against laws that would undercut those rights. EFF intervenes in state legislation nationwide with a particular emphasis on the California legislature. This person will also work in other areas as needed including national campaigns and non-legislative work.
"I doubt that most Venmo users realize that their transactions can be seen by the entire internet," says EFF's Tech Policy Director Jeremy Gillula. Sharing that sensitive information should be opt-in from the start. (Gizmodo)
The ACLU revealed that Amazon Rekognition's facial recognition tool falsely matched 28 members of Congress with mugshots in its database. Amazon should stand up for civil liberties and get out of the surveillance business. (Buzzfeed)
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading organization protecting civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, we defend free speech online, fight illegal surveillance, promote the rights of digital innovators, and work to ensure that the rights and freedoms we enjoy are enhanced, rather than eroded, as our use of technology grows. EFF is a member-supported organization. Find out more at https://eff.org.
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