.ORG is Safe, Thanks to You
.ORG is Safe, Thanks to You - EFFector
In our 766th issue:
In a stunning victory for nonprofits and NGOs around the world working in the public interest, ICANN roundly rejected Ethos Capital’s plan to transform the .ORG domain registry into a heavily indebted for-profit entity. This is an important victory that recognizes the registry’s long legacy as a mission-based, not-for-profit institution protecting the interests of thousands of organizations and the people they serve.
As part of EFF’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve edited and compiled our thoughts on digital rights and the pandemic into an ebook: EFF’s Guide to Digital Rights and the Pandemic. To get the ebook, you can make an optional contribution to support EFF’s work, or you can download it at no cost. We released the ebook under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0), which permits sharing among users.
Companies and governments across the world are building and deploying a dizzying number of systems and apps to fight COVID-19. Many groups have converged on using Bluetooth-assisted proximity tracking for the purpose of exposure notification. Centralized systems are unlikely to be more effective than decentralized alternatives. They will create massive new databases of human behavior that are going to be difficult to secure, and more difficult to destroy once this crisis is over.
As COVID-19 has spread around the world and online platforms have scrambled to adjust their operations and workforces to a new reality, company commitments to the Santa Clara Principles on Transparency and Accountability in Content Moderation have fallen by the wayside.
According to a new report from the U.S. Patent Office, examiners are granting more patents and rejecting fewer than they did when they were following a 2014 Supreme Court decision. For people who work with technology, the Patent Office’s self-congratulatory report is bad news. It means there will be more abstract software patents, and more patent trolls who exploit them.
We’ve explained how the EARN IT Act could be used to drastically undermine encryption. Although the bill doesn’t use the word “encryption” in its text, it gives government officials like Attorney General William Barr the power to compel online service providers to break encryption or be exposed to potentially crushing legal liability. The bill also violates the Constitution’s protections for free speech and privacy.
As governments search in vain for a technological silver bullet that will contain COVID-19 and allow people to safely leave their homes, officials are increasingly turning to drones. Any current buy-up of drones would constitute a classic example of how law enforcement and other government agencies often use crises in order to justify the expenditures and negate the public backlash that comes along with buying surveillance equipment.
A core part of EFF’s mission is transparency and access to information, because we know that in a nation bound by the rule of law, the public must have the ability to know the law and how it is being applied. That’s why the default rule is that the public must have full access to court records—even if those records contain unsavory details. Any departure from that rule must be narrow and well-justified.
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has issued an opinion in United States v. Yang, a case challenging the search of an automated license plate reader database under the Fourth Amendment. While we’re disappointed that neither court clearly held ALPR database searches violate the constitution, we’re heartened that Massachusetts’s highest court left the door open for future cases challenging searches of ALPR databases where the defendant can show evidence that the databases draw on an extensive network of cameras.
May 17, 2020 - 2:00pm PDT,
Cryptoparty Ann Arbor will host an event about COVID-19 resources in your community and basic steps you can take for your Digital Privacy during and after the stay-at-home order.
Panic and crisis often cloud our judgment about what's in the public interest. Governments were able to implement invasive technologies after 9/11 by claiming they made us safer even when that wasn't demonstrated, says EFF executive director Cindy Cohn. (The Atlantic)
Watch Reason's latest mini-doc about how activism and fashion are being used to push back against the surveillance state, featuring Adversarial Fashion's Kate Rose and EFF's Dave Maass (Reason)
If you play Animal Crossing, you probably use the word 'weed' while chatting with fellow island representatives about landscaping plans. But on Facebook, talking about in-game weeds may prove to be a problem. (Polygon)