While social media platforms are increasingly giving users the opportunity to appeal decisions to censor their posts, very few platforms comprehensively commit to notifying users that their content has been removed in the first place. That raises questions about accountability and transparency, according to EFF’s 2019 “Who Has Your Back: Censorship Edition” report. There is a wave of new government regulations and actions around the world meant to rid platforms of extremist content, but social media companies and platforms have all too often censored valuable speech in response to calls to remove objectionable content.
EFF examined the content moderation policies of 16 platforms and app stores, and only four companies—Facebook, Reddit, Apple, and GitHub—commit to notifying users when any content is censored and stating the specific legal request or community guideline violation that led to the removal.
The rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution don’t fade away at the border. And yet the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) asserts the power to freely search the electronic devices of travelers before allowing them entrance into, or exit from, the United States. This practice will end if Congress passes the Protecting Data at the Border Act.
Under the bipartisan Protecting Data at the Border Act, border officers would be required to get a warrant before searching a traveler’s electronic device. Last month, the bill was re-introduced into the U.S. Senate by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). It is co-sponsored by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and the House companion bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Cal.).
The Tiananmen Square protest is one of the most tightly censored topics in China. The Chinese government’s network and social media censorship is more than just pervasive; it’s sloppy, overbroad, inaccurate, and always errs on the side of more takedowns. Every year, the Chinese government ramps up VPN shutdowns, activist arrests, digital surveillance, and social media censorship in anticipation of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests. To mark the 30th anniversary, the controls were even tighter.
Scratch the surface of most Big Tech giants and you'll find an adversarial interoperability story: Facebook grew by making a tool that let its users stay in touch with MySpace users; Google products from search to Docs and beyond depend on adversarial interoperability layers; Amazon's cloud is full of virtual machines pretending to be discrete CPUs, impersonating real computers so well that the programs running within them have no idea that they're trapped in the Matrix. Adversarial interoperability converts market dominance from an unassailable asset to a liability. And it is the consumer's bargaining chip against coercive company behavior.
Strong privacy legislation in the United States is possible, necessary, and long overdue. EFF emphasizes three concrete recommendations for proposed legislation regarding consumer data privacy. Our biggest priorities are: avoiding federal preemption, ensuring consumers have a private right of action, and using non-discrimination rules to avoid pay-for-privacy schemes. There is a daily drip-drip of bad news about how big tech companies are intruding on our privacy. It is long past time to enact new laws to protect consumer data privacy.
Certbot is a free, open source software tool for enabling HTTPS on manually-administered websites, by automatically deploying Let’s Encrypt certificates. Since 2016, it has been part of EFF’s larger effort to encrypt the entire Internet. Now, it has a new website! We’ve launched a major update that will help Certbot’s users get started even more quickly and easily. The new site will make it clearer what the best steps are for all users, whether that’s understanding the prerequisites to running Certbot, getting clear steps to install and run it, or figuring out how to get HTTPS in their setup without using Certbot at all. Check it out at certbot.eff.org.
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EFF's Director of Cybersecurity, Eva Galperin, will present a briefing at this year's conference titled Hacking for the Greater Good: Empowering Technologists to Strengthen Digital Society.
As in past years, EFF staff attorneys will be present to help support the community. Be sure to stop by our information booth in the Business Hall 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!
Registration is open now, so secure your pass and come see us! Use code 19eff4 to save $200 off Briefings: https://www.blackhat.com/us-19/registration.html
James Orenstein, a United States magistrate judge, warns that prosecutors are often determining how far the police can go in using technology to invade people’s privacy. “Your privacy is not their highest priority,” he writes. (New York Times Opinion)
Nearly eight in 10 Massachusetts voters would support a moratorium on government use of face recognition surveillance, according to poll results released June 18. (Boston Globe)
For now, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all way to prepare for or respond to social-media search demands—or device searches—at the border. (The Parallax)
New research, based on publisher data, has found that using this invasive tracking technique brings publishers just 4% more in revenue, just $.00008 per ad, than ads based on context. (Wall Street Journal)