We’re pleased to announce that the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office have expanded the exemptions to Section 1201 of the DMCA, which makes it illegal to “circumvent” digital locks that control access to copyrighted works, and to make and sell devices that break digital locks.
This year, EFF proposed expansions of some of the existing exemptions for video creators, repair, and jailbreaking. With this rulemaking, there will be more circumstances where people can legally break digital access controls to do legal things with their own media and devices:
- People who repair digital devices, including vehicles and home appliances, will have more protection from legal threats.
- Filmmakers, students, and ebook creators will be able to use video clips more freely.
- People can now jailbreak and modify voice assistant devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, as they can with smartphones and tablets.
- Security researchers will have more freedom to investigate and correct flaws on a wider range of devices.
But the exemptions are still too narrow and too complex for most technology users, and they don’t save they don’t save the law from being an unconstitutional restraint on freedom of speech. EFF represents entrepreneur Andrew “bunnie” Huang and Professor Matthew Green in a lawsuit seeking to overturn Section 1201. Having finished this year’s rulemaking, we look forward to continuing that case.
Your strong support helped us persuade California’s lawmakers to do the right thing on many important technology bills debated on the chamber floors this year. Here's just a few of the many successes we achieved.
- Our biggest win of the year, the quest to pass California’s net neutrality law and set a gold standard for the whole country, was hard-fought. S.B. 822 not only prevents Internet service providers from blocking or interfering with traffic, but also from prioritizing their own services in ways that discriminate.
- Cameras worn by police officers are increasingly common. Some police departments have withheld recordings of high-profile police use of force against civilians, even when communities demand release. The public now has the right to access those recordings. A.B. 748 goes into effect July 1, 2019.
- With your support, we persuaded lawmakers to recognize how important it is for some of California’s most vulnerable young people—those involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems— to be able to access the Internet, as a way to further their education. A.B. 2448 guarantees that access.
- A.B. 2192 was a huge victory for open access to knowledge in the state of California. It gives everyone access to research that’s been funded by the government within a year of its publication date.
With your help, we look forward to more successes in 2019.
For 20 years, McSweeney’s has been the first name (or last name, actually) in emerging short fiction. But this November, McSweeney’s will debut the first all-non-fiction issue of Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. “The End of Trust” (Issue 54) is a collection of essays and interviews focusing on issues related to technology and privacy compiled with the help of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The collection features writing by EFF’s team, including Executive Director Cindy Cohn, Education and Design Lead Soraya Okuda, Special Advisor Cory Doctorow, board member Bruce Schneier, and Investigative Researcher Dave Maass, exploring issues related to surveillance, freedom of information, and encryption.
We also recruited some of our favorite thinkers on digital rights to contribute to the collection: anthropologist Gabriella Coleman contemplates anonymity; Edward Snowden explains blockchain; journalist Julia Angwin and Pioneer Award-winning artist Trevor Paglen discuss the intersections of their work; Pioneer Award winner Malkia Cyril discusses the historical surveillance of black bodies; and Ken Montenegro and Hamid Khan of Stop LAPD Spying debate author and intelligence contractor Myke Cole on the question of whether there’s a way law enforcement can use surveillance responsibly.
We’ve read and reviewed every piece, and without spoiling anything, we can say that it’s smart, thought-provoking, entertaining, and altogether freakin’ awesome.
Facebook has been using contact information that users explicitly provided for security purposes—or that users never provided at all—for targeted advertising. A group of academic researchers from Northeastern University and Princeton University, along with Gizmodo reporters, found that Facebook harvests user phone numbers for targeted advertising in two disturbing ways: two-factor authentication (2FA) phone numbers and “shadow” contact information. As Facebook attempts to salvage its reputation among users in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it needs to put its money where its mouth is. Wiping 2FA numbers and “shadow” contact data from non-essential use would be a good start.
All across the country right now, major wireless Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are talking to legislators, mayors, regulators, and the press about the potential of 5G wireless services as if they will cure all of the problems Americans face right now in the high-speed access market. But the cold hard reality is the newest advancements in wireless services will probably do very little about the high-speed monopolies that a majority of this country faces. According to a ground-breaking study by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, more than 68 million Americans face high-speed cable monopolies today.
A coalition of civil rights and public interest groups recently issued policies they believe Internet intermediaries should adopt to try to address hate online. There’s a lot to like about these proposals; indeed, they reflect some of the principles EFF and others have supported for years—notably the opportunity for users to appeal content moderation decisions, and expanded transparency from corporate platforms, and we look forward to working together to push them forward. But there’s much to worry about too.
We have sued the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department to gain access to records about search warrants where cell-site simulators—devices that allow police to locate and track people by tricking their cell phones into a connection—were authorized in criminal investigations. EFF determined that the county has used cell-site simulators 231 times in the last year and filed a request under the California Public Records Act in August to obtain search warrant information for six specific searches that were made public by the DOJ. The request contained detailed information about each warrant, such as the nature of the warrants, the precise start and end dates of the warrants, and verbatim quotes about the grounds for each warrant.
Yet San Bernardino denied the EFF request, claiming it was "vague, overly broad," and didn’t describe an "identifiable record." Our lawsuit aims to shine a light on police use of cell-site simulators.
EFF is introducing a new Coders' Rights project to connect the work of security research with the fundamental rights of its practitioners throughout the Americas. To kick off the project, EFF published a whitepaper, “Protecting Security Researchers' Rights in the Americas,” to provide the legal and policy basis for our work, outlining human rights standards that lawmakers, judges, and most particularly the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, should use to protect the fundamental rights of security researchers. The project seeks to support the right of free expression that lies at the heart of researchers' creations and use of computer code to examine computer systems, and relay their discoveries among their peers and to the wider public.
Link tracking allows a company to follow you whenever you click on a link to leave its website. Earlier this year, EFF rolled out a Privacy Badger update targeting Facebook’s use of this practice. As it turns out, Google performs the same style of tracking, both in web search and, more concerning, in spaces for private conversation like Hangouts and comments on Google Docs. From now on, Privacy Badger will protect you from Google’s use of link tracking in all of these domains.
On November 10 and 11, EFF will participate in several events at the annual Aaron Swartz Day Hackathon in San Francisco. Join us at the Internet Archive to celebrate Aaron’s life and work.
Media has the power to influence minds, ideas, behaviors, and attitudes of the masses. If you're in NY, come out as TechActivist.Org discusses the difference between corporate media and media made by the people for the people.
We are now accepting applications for our 2019-2021 Frank Stanton Fellowship. Applicants should be recent law school graduates or law students who will be graduating no later than Spring 2019, and have an interest in developing an expertise in First Amendment issues implicated by new technologies.
Government surveillance disproportionately affects vulnerable populations. EFF wants to add racial justice and civil rights expertise to our existing legal team, and we’re seeking an experienced racial justice litigator to join us and assist in working up and leading impact litigation at the intersection of civil rights, civil liberties, and technology.
Employees at Amazon are pressing their company not to sell facial recognition technology to police. (Medium)
The DEA is expanding its nationwide surveillance network with speed trailers converted into automated license plate readers. (Quartz)
If you use biometrics to secure your phone, some courts have held that police can legally force you to unlock it. (Forbes)
Every law enforcement agency with a high-tech crime unit deploys fake Facebook profiles, a law enforcement official told NBC's Jon Schuppe under condition of anonymity. (NBCNews)
This week we won important petitions submitted to the Library of Congress to make it easier for people to legally remove or repair software in devices we own. (Motherboard)