The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has released its much-anticipated report on Section 702, a legal authority that allows the government to collect a massive amount of digital communications around the world and in the U.S. It agreed with EFF and organizations across the political spectrum that the program requires significant reforms if it is to be renewed before its December 31, 2023 expiration. Of course, EFF believes that Congress should go further—including letting the program expire—in order to restore the privacy being denied to anyone whose communications cross international boundaries.
For the past two years, Congress has been trying to revise the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) to address criticisms from EFF, human and digital rights organizations, LGBTQ+ groups, and others, that the core provisions of the bill will censor the internet for everyone and harm young people. All of those changes fail to solve KOSA’s inherent censorship problem: As long as the “duty of care” remains in the bill, it will still force platforms to censor perfectly legal content.
Congress seems hell-bent on surveilling, censoring, and digitally isolating America’s young people. But they are fighting back—in D.C., on Discord, and across the country. We’re offering a special Neon membership level for anyone under 18 who is in the digital rights fight. Help to support our activists, technologists, and attorneys defend privacy, digital creativity, and internet freedom for everyone. (And don't worry, we won't ask you to verify your age!) Over 18? You can also gift a Neon membership.
California often sets the bar for technology legislation across the country. This year, the state enacted several laws that strengthen consumer digital rights. Californians now enjoy the right to repair: S.B. 244, authored by California Sen. Susan Eggman, makes it easier for individuals and independent repair shops to access materials and parts needed for maintenance on electronics and appliances. Another significant win comes with the signing of S.B. 362, also known as the CA Delete Act, which was authored by California Sen. Josh Becker and builds on the state's landmark data privacy law and its data broker registry to make it easier for anyone to exert greater control over their privacy.
Most high-tech patent lawsuits are brought by patent trolls—companies that exist not to provide products or services, but primarily have a business using patents to threaten others’ work—and some politicians are proposing to make that bad situation worse. The Patent Eligibility Restoration Act, S. 2140, (PERA), sponsored by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Chris Coons (D-DE) would be a huge gift to patent trolls, a few tech firms that aggressively license patents, and patent lawyers. For everyone else, it will be a huge loss. That’s why we’re opposing it, and asking our supporters to speak out as well.
Google has rolled out "Privacy Sandbox," a Chrome feature first announced back in 2019 that, among other things, exchanges third-party cookies—the most common form of tracking technology—for what the company is now calling "Topics." While there have been some changes to how this works since 2019, Topics is still tracking your internet use for Google’s behavioral advertising. Firefox and Safari are better browser options if you'd prefer more privacy, but if you’re sticking with Chrome, we’ll show you how to get out of the Sandbox.
Chihuahua state officials and a notorious Mexican security contractor broke ground last summer on the Torre Centinela (Sentinel Tower), an ominous, 20-story high-rise in downtown Ciudad Juarez that will serve as the central node of a new AI-enhanced surveillance regime. With tentacles reaching into 13 Mexican cities and a data pipeline that will channel intelligence all the way to Austin, Texas, the monstrous project will be unlike anything seen before along the U.S.-Mexico border. And that's saying a lot, considering the last 30-plus years of surging technology on the U.S side of the border.
Sound Thinking, the company behind ShotSpotter—an acoustic gunshot detection technology that is rife with problems—is reportedly buying Geolitica, the company behind PredPol, a predictive policing technology known to exacerbate inequalities by directing police to already massively surveilled communities. Sound Thinking acquired the other major predictive policing technology—Hunchlab—in 2018. This consolidation of harmful and flawed technologies means it’s even more critical for cities to move swiftly to ban the harmful tactics of both of these technologies.
Here’s an audio version of EFFector. We hope you enjoy it!
Get the bird’s-eye view of what EFF has been up to. 2022 by the numbers:
- 🔵 17 legal and legislative victories
- 🔵 78 press mentions per day (average)
- 🔵 20 amicus briefs filed
- 🔵 76 Electronic Frontier Alliance members
- 🔵 16.2 million unique page views of EFF.org
- 🔵 154 countries where “How to Fix the Internet” podcast was downloaded
- 🔵 489,400 EFFector newsletter subscribers
- 🔵 nearly 1 in 5 EFF members live outside the U.S.
- 🔵 34% of members are sustaining donors
EFF is conducting the Tor University Challenge, a campaign urging higher education institutions to support free, anonymous speech by running a Tor network relay. Universities answering this call to defend private access to an uncensored web will receive prizes while helping millions of people around the world and providing students and faculty a vital learning experience. Tell your alma mater to join the network today!
Don’t miss out on our new member t-shirt for 2023! Donate at the Copper Level or above to receive our new Watchers t-shirt.
"It's actually really hard to spy on the entire world and do it within the rule of law in a way that never allows any misuse. It's a hard and expensive thing to do, and they're not doing it very well," EFF’s Cindy Cohn said.
Federal Communications Commission chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said she intends to seek a vote to restore US net neutrality rules that were nixed by the Trump administration. EFF’s Corynne McSherry explains why this is good for internet users across America, and sets a good example for the world.
EFF’s Matthew Guariglia warns how home security camera companies could be sharing your footage with law enforcement without your knowledge, much less your permission. "Your footage could be used to enable police harassment or surveillance of neighbors, pedestrians, or your family without you even knowing."
“An app built to flag people into binary filings of good or bad based on their (often completely legal) association with sex work is really, really, stupid,” said EFF’s Daly Barnett. “Clumsy work like this… tends to make trafficking worse and consensual sex work more dangerous.”