Reform or Expire: Don’t Renew the Existing Surveillance State
Reform or Expire: Don’t Renew the Existing Surveillance State - EFFector
In our 763rd issue:
After months of working toward a bill that would have brought modest but necessary reforms to Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, efforts to advance and improve the bill have been suspended. With the March 15 expiration looming, this inaction gives the intelligence community and its allies in Congress the chance to propose a quick and easy solution: a full and clean reauthorization of the invasive surveillance powers continued in Section 215.
Schools are experimenting with the very same surveillance technologies that totalitarian governments use to surveil and abuse the rights of their citizens everywhere: online, offline, and on their phones. What does that mean? We are surveilling our students as if they were dissidents under an authoritarian regime.
Ethos Capital—the mysterious private equity firm trying to buy the .ORG domain registry-- responded last Friday with an announcement that its promises to limit price increases and establish a “stewardship council” would be written into the registry agreement. But Ethos’s weak commitments don’t really address the NGO community’s concerns.
There’s a new and serious threat to both free speech and security online. Under a draft bill that Bloomberg News recently leaked, the Attorney General could unilaterally dictate how online platforms and services must operate. The Graham-Blumenthal proposal is anti-speech, anti-security, and anti-innovation. Congress must reject it.
Without the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, many of the services on which we rely—big and small, commercial and noncommercial—would not exist. At the same time, the DMCA has encouraged private censorship and hampered privacy, security, and competition.
Amazon’s surveillance doorbell company Ring has announced extra layers of security and control for users after a wave of backlash from civil liberties and cyber security organizations like EFF and Mozilla. However, these new technical reforms do nothing to address the larger issue of a massive remote-accessible camera network blanketing neighborhoods.
After a nearly two-year wait, Facebook has finally started rolling out its Off-Facebook Activity tool (originally introduced as “Clear History”). This is a good step for Facebook to take, and we hope it pushes other companies to follow suit. That said, it's an incomplete measure, not least because we know that most users are unlikely to dig into and change their settings.
Twitter has publicly disclosed a security “incident” that points to long-standing problems with how the service handles phone numbers. The best way for Twitter to protect its users is to minimize the number of accounts with phone numbers tied to them, and make it clear to users when and how those numbers might be exposed. That’s why Twitter needs to stop pressuring users to add their phone numbers to their profiles and stop making those phone numbers discoverable by default.
EFF is seeking a Director of Technology Projects to help lead our team of ethical technologists in defending encryption, outwitting censorship, and coding a better digital future. This is a senior leadership role within EFF, and will help guide the organization in charting its overall external technical strategy.
In this five-minute video with EFF’s Cooper Quintin, learn how secure messaging works and how a bad actor can trick someone into giving their security away.
More than 70 cities have adopted parts of the Mobility Data Specification developed by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and its Open Mobility Foundation partners. Partners include Lacuna, a venture capital-backed start-up poised to profit from the specification, while the privacy and safety of city residents remain at risk.
In a TED talk, EFF Cybersecurity Director Eva Galperin describes the horrifying realm of stalkerware, a type of software abusers use to spy on their victims’ devices: "Full access to a person's phone is the next best thing to full access to a person's mind.”