Surprising No One, Users Don’t Actually Want to Be Tracked
In our 776th issue:
Apple’s long-awaited privacy update for iOS is out, and it’s a solid step in the right direction. With the launch of iOS 14.5, hundreds of millions of iPhone users will now have AppTrackingTransparency, which means that apps are required to ask permission if they want to track you and your activity across other apps. Allowing users to choose what third-party tracking they will or will not tolerate, and forcing apps to request those permissions, will give users more knowledge of what apps are doing and help protect them from abuse.
In April, EFF launched Am I FLoCed, a new site that will tell you whether your Chrome browser has been turned into a guinea pig for Federated Learning of Cohorts or FLoC, Google’s latest targeted advertising experiment. If you are a subject, we will tell you how your browser is describing you to every website you visit. Am I FLoCed is part of an effort to bring to light the invasive practices of the adtech industry—Google included—with the hope we can create a better internet for all, where our privacy rights are respected regardless of how profitable they may be to tech companies.
The Maine state legislature is currently considering a piece of legislation that would close the Maine Information and Analysis Center (MIAC), also known as Maine’s only fusion center. Fusion centers are yet another unnecessary cog in the surveillance state—and one that serves the intrusive function of coordinating surveillance activities and sharing information between federal law enforcement, the national security surveillance apparatus, and local and state police. EFF is happy to support this bill in hopes of defunding an unnecessary, intrusive, and often-harmful piece of the U.S. surveillance regime.
Qualified immunity, the legal doctrine that protects government actors from civil lawsuits, directly harms people in two ways. First, many victims of constitutional violations are not compensated for their injury. Second, many more people suffer constitutional violations, because the doctrine removes an incentive to government officials to follow the Constitution. Over and over, qualified immunity has undermined judicial protection of digital rights.
Like many schools, Dartmouth College has increasingly turned to technology to monitor students taking exams at home. And while many universities have used proctoring tools that purport to help educators prevent cheating, Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine has gone dangerously further. Apparently working under an assumption of guilt, the university is in the midst of a dragnet investigation of complicated system logs, searching for data that might reveal student misconduct, without a clear understanding of how those logs can be littered with false positives.
EFF filed a lawsuit against Proctorio on behalf of college student Erik Johnson, seeking a judgment that he didn’t infringe the company’s copyrights when he linked to excerpts of its software code in tweets criticizing the software maker. Proctorio, a developer of exam administration and surveillance software, misused the copyright takedown provisions of the DMCA to have Johnson’s Twitter posts removed. “Copyright holders should be held liable when they falsely accuse their critics of copyright infringement, especially when the goal is plainly to intimidate and undermine them,” said Staff Attorney Cara Gagliano.
In a win for innovation, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that Google’s use of certain Java Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) is a lawful fair use. In doing so, the Court reversed the previous rulings by the Federal Circuit and recognized that copyright only promotes innovation and creativity when it provides breathing room for those who are building on what has come before.
We are launching a new Privacy Breakdown of Mobile Phones "playlist" on Surveillance Self-Defense, EFF's online guide to defending yourself and your friends from surveillance by using secure technology and developing careful practices. This guided tour walks through the ways your phone communicates with the world, how your phone is tracked, and how that tracking data can be analyzed.
May 14, 2021 - 8:00am PDT to May 15, 2021 - 2:00pm PDT, Online
EFF is excited to be a part of PyCon US 2021, put on by the Python Software Foundation! If you're interested in learning about the Python programming language, this is the event for you. You can also stop by and say hi to EFF! We'll be at one of the virtual booths, where you can check out some EFF gear, find some of our one-pager handouts, and chat with us either via video or text. See you there!
May 15, 2021 - 11:00am to 12:00pm PDT, Online
Cypurr Collective, a local organization in the Electronic Frontier Alliance, (not EFF) will host this event. After quite a winter indoors, there are a lot of people looking to celebrate the season by hitting the street, advocating for causes and ideals they believe in. Join Cypurr as we talk things to be aware of for those on the street, or for those simply navigating a surveilled city
May 17, 2021 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm PDT, Online
Portland's Techno-Activism Third Monday's, a local organization in the Electronic Frontier Alliance, (not EFF) will host this event. This month, local Portland tech journalist Kate Kaye will join us to talk about the ways companies and other private entities are surveilling the public and what that means for our privacy and government policies for tech and data use.
May 18, 2021 - 3:00am to 4:00am PDT, Online
S.T.O.P.- a local organization in the Electronic Frontier Alliance, (not EFF) will host this event. This session, we'll examine the ways that technology recreates carceral systems beyond the borders of jails and prisons. These technologies include ankle shackles monitoring location and blood alcohol content, voice verification, and facial recognition check-ins. Often marketed as bold reforms, these technologies are violent replacements for incarceration in the criminal and immigration detention contexts.
May 19, 2021 - 1:00pm PDT, Online
Join Cory Doctorow in conversation with Andrew Clement in the Ryerson Center for Free Expression Series: Taming Big Tech: Exploring the Alternatives. Cory is an award-winning author, journalist, and blogger who has worked for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is a MIT Media Lab Research Affiliate, and is a Visiting Professor of Computer Science at Open University. Andrew Clement is the Professor Emeritus in University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information where he coordinates the Information Policy Research Program and co-founded the Identity Privacy and Security Institute.
May 20, 2021 - 9:00am PDT, Online
EFF Special Advisor Cory Doctorow presents a keynote for Montreal's Northsec conference. If our best bet for preventing the next Cambridge Analytica is to trust Facebook to defend our privacy, we are so dead. Big Tech says that we can't have interoperability because they need to be able to exclude competitors to defend us from bad guys... but what if THEY'RE the bad guys? Interoperability is fully compatible with privacy - and security through monopoly is no security at all.
May 21, 2021 - 11:30am to 12:30pm PDT, Online
With the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel now in sight, what will the new normal look like? Have we learned the lessons offered us by the disparate impact of the digital divide on our most impacted neighbors and loved ones? Join Canal Alliance, Digital Marin, Marin Promise Partnership, Marin County of Office of Education, City of San Rafael, County of Marin, Marin Economic Forum, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and our distinguished panelists in exploring the opportunity before us for collective action toward a more just digital future.
May 28, 2021 - 1:00pm to 2:00pm PDT, Twitch
Stalkerware is the class of apps that are sold commercially for the purpose of covertly spying on another person’s device. They can be blatantly marketed as tools for “catching a cheating spouse” or they may euphemistically describe themselves as tools for tracking your children or employees’ devices. The key defining feature of stalkerware is that it is designed to operate covertly, to trick the user into believing that they are not being monitored. Join EFF's Director of Cybersecurity, Eva Galperin, and experts from the Freedom of the Press Foundation, Kaspersky, and Malwarebytes to learn more about what the fight against stalkerware has accomplished, and where we go from here.
June 1, 2021 - 7:45am PDT to June 3, 2021 - 2:35pm PDT, Online
EFF is proud to support LISA21, a computer conference by USENIX! This conference is geared towards connecting professionals who make computing work efficiently across industries.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is looking for a full-time litigator to join EFF’s team of dedicated attorneys. The ideal candidate is someone who is excited about and will help us further our mission of protecting and promoting privacy, civil liberties, and free expression, and ensuring that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows. We’re looking for an excellent writer who thinks big and creatively about how impact litigation can advance human rights in the digital world and who can identify important issues early.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an established San Francisco-based nonprofit organization defending online privacy and free expression, is looking for a full-time energetic and enthusiastic office and facilities manager to join our Operations team and ensure the physical office is a productive and resourceful environment.
Documents released from the Freedom of Information Act reveal that the U.S. Marshal’s Service used drones to spy on protests in Washington D.C. in summer 2020.
A Motherboard investigation found the algorithmic surveillance tools allow racist groups like the KKK while flagging LGBTQ health sites as 'porn'.
After years of investigation, the Office of New York State Attorney General Letitia James has published a report on exactly what happened in 2017–broadband companies funded a secret astroturfing campaign to push the FCC toward repealing net neutrality.
The same Motion Picture Association that wanted to stop you from sharing music and movies that you own wants to prolong the COVID-19 pandemic by opposing efforts to provide vaccines in developing countries.