Doors across the United States are now fitted with Amazon’s Ring, a combination doorbell-security camera that records and transmits video straight to users’ phones, to Amazon’s cloud—and often to the local police department. By sending photos and alerts every time the camera detects motion or someone rings the doorbell, the app can create an illusion of a household under siege. Recent reports show that Ring has partnered with police departments across the country to hawk this new surveillance system—going so far as to draft press statements and social media posts for police to promote Ring cameras. This creates a vicious cycle in which police promote the adoption of Ring, Ring terrifies people into thinking their homes are in danger, and then Amazon sells more cameras.
The rapid proliferation of this partnership between police departments and the Ring surveillance system—without any oversight, transparency, or restrictions—poses a grave threat to the privacy of all people in the community. It also may chill the First Amendment rights of political canvassers and community organizers who spread their messages door-to-door, and contribute to the unfair racial profiling of our minority neighbors and visitors.
With so much dissatisfaction over how companies like Facebook and YouTube moderate user speech, you might think that the groups that run the Internet’s infrastructure would want to stay far away from the speech-policing business. Sadly, two groups that control an important piece of the Internet’s infrastructure have decided to jump right in.
The organization that governs the .org top-level domain, known as Public Interest Registry (PIR), and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) are expanding their role as speech regulators through a new agreement, negotiated behind closed doors. And they’re doing it despite the nearly unanimous opposition of nonprofit and civil society groups—the people who use .org domains. EFF is asking ICANN’s board to reconsider.
Biometric surveillance by companies against consumers is a growing menace to our privacy, freedom of expression, and civil rights. Fortunately, a federal appeals court has ruled that a lawsuit against Facebook for its face surveillance may move forward. This is an important victory for biometric privacy, access to the courts for ordinary people, and the role of state governments as guardians of our digital liberty.
In response to questions about DataSpii—a report by independent researcher Sam Jadali about the “catastrophic data leak” wrought by a collection of browser extensions—Google officials told Ars Technica that they have “announced technical changes to how extensions work that will mitigate or prevent this behavior.” Here, Google is referring to its controversial set of proposed changes to curtail extension capabilities, known as Manifest V3.
As both security experts and the developers of extensions that will be greatly harmed by Manifest V3, we’re here to tell you: Google’s statement just isn’t true. Manifest V3 is a blunt instrument that will do little to improve security while severely limiting future innovation.
There is no saving grace for the federal government approving what is on its face an illegal horizontal merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. The wireless market is already highly concentrated according to the Department of Justice’s own guidelines, and this merger only exacerbates the problem. Mergers that bring extreme levels of concentration are supposed to be blocked. No supposed benefit to consumers is actually waiting on this merger, including any and all claims about 5G. Here's what this merger really means: people will have fewer choices for wireless services, at higher prices, while innovation suffers.
The California Supreme Court recently rejected the government’s attempt to require a youth probationer, as a condition of release, to submit to random searches of his electronic devices and social media accounts. EFF and the ACLU filed an amicus brief in the case back in 2016, warning that the search condition imposed here was highly invasive, unconstitutional, and in violation of the California Supreme Court’s own standard for probation conditions. We also warned of the far-reaching privacy implications of allowing courts to impose such broad electronic search conditions. We’re pleased that the California Supreme Court heeded our warnings.
EFF Associate Director of Research Gennie Gebhart, will be in Athens, Greece at the International Federation of Library Associations 2019 World Library and Information Congress.
On August 25, at 13:45 pm, Gebhart and a panel of experts will discuss trends in intellectual freedom and freedom of expression. Come along and hear both about recent work associated with the Intellectual Freedom Statement—FLA’s Statement on Censorship, and Guidelines on public internet access in libraries—and to hear expert speakers share their views on what intellectual freedom, and its defense, look like today. This session will be livestreamed.
On August 27, at 8:30 a.m., Gebhart will also participate in a session that will explore some of the key underlying issues in open access from a legal and ethical perspective. It will also bring together a panel of representatives of universities which have unilaterally decided to leave ‘Big Deals’ behind, in order to understand the issues in the non-Open world.
EFF Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel Kurt Opsahl, Staff Technologist Erica Portnoy, and Legislative Activist Hayley Tsukayama will be at this year's DragonCon in Atlanta, GA. The group will participate in the conference's Electronic Frontiers Forums track, discussing a variety of topics including tech policy, cybersecurity, and privacy.
August 31 - September 2
255 Courtland Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30303
For a full list of panels in this track, visit: https://archive.efforums.net/index.php/2019-schedule.html
Every year, EFF opens nominations to the public to recognize leaders on the electronic frontier who are extending freedom and innovation in the realm of information technology. Their contributions may be technical, social, legal, academic, economic, or cultural.
Join us as we gather for our annual celebration of digital rights activism and this year's Barlow winners: danah boyd, Trailblazing Technology Scholar; Oakland Privacy, Influential Surveillance-fighting Group; William Gibson, Groundbreaking Cyberpunk Author; and joining us as this year's keynote speaker, Adam Savage! The celebration will include drinks, bytes, and excellent company! Please register today.
Thursday, September 12, 2019
6:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Delancey Street's Town Hall Room
600 The Embarcadero, San Francisco
6:00 pm Reception
7:30 pm Awards ceremony
9:00 pm Post-event mingling
America's ongoing problem with mass violence—and the difficulty we are having in quelling it—is causing many to call for the elimination of online forums used by the perpetrators. It is also a critical moment to look closely at what is being proposed and pay attention to the potential consequences for us all. (Wired)
Memes and reposting content have always been a part of social media, but it appears that Instagram is moving to embrace creators of repost accounts. Whether that holds up under copyright law is up for debate. (Slate)
Section 230 reflects a simple, common sense principle: If you break the law online, you should be the one held responsible, not the website where it happened. (The Hill)
This special edition offers a memorial to the work, insight and humor, and contributions of EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow. (Duke Law and Technology Review)