EFF in the News
The concept of “net neutrality” has always been a little arcane for the non-techies among us, but I loved the way the Electronic Frontier Foundation (taking a much-deserved victory lap, I might add) described the importance of the ruling: “the FCC has banned ISPs from blocking or throttling their customers’ traffic based on content, applications or services—which means users, hackers, tinkerers, artists, and knowledge seekers can continue to innovate and experiment on the Internet, using any app or service they please, without having to get their ISP’s permission first.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says it has found evidence that the security problems with Superfish could be much worse than first thought.
Superfish caused such a stink when it was discovered last week because the Komodia software it used borks SSL connections. But EFF researchers have found that the Komodia library also accepts false certificates that it should have rejected.
“Privacy crosses political aisles, especially when we see the government expanding domestic spying in secret in so many different ways,” said Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital civil liberties group that has been pushing the bill for years.
Cooper Quintin, a technologist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy watchdog group, answered: “the recommendations about monitoring Pastebin, semantic analysis of hidden services and grabbing snapshots of hidden services are fine and ethical things to do. I am concerned about the customer data monitoring suggestion however. To me, that seems like it could easily become a pretty serious invasion of privacy. Even if the IP address is not collected (as recommended in the report) it may still be possible to de-anonymize someone just through the metadata.”
The Innovation Act isn't an ideal fix for the program patent system. "It's largely a measure to reform patent litigation, but it doesn't do enough to improve the quality of patents," says Daniel Nazer, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which would prefer to see software patents abolished.
“The bills we’ve seen out of Senate Republicans so far have sort of paid lip service to net neutrality, but they’ve stripped a lot of the authority to somehow enforce it,” says Jeremy Gillula, a staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
However, this does not mean there aren’t real concerns with the FCC’s plan, namely how vague some of the language in the plan remains. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, likely the most ardent supporter of net neutrality around, published an open letter demanding the FCC change the language of its “general conduct” policy. In a “Fact Sheet” released by the agency, they distinctly allow themselves the authority to review any practices that could “harm” consumers.
While there is no "silver bullet for net neutrality," April Glaser and Corinne McSherry of the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote in a recent essay, municipal broadband "can help promote competition by doing one essential thing: offering people real alternatives."
That’s a common defense among people who collect links to pirated videos, but judicial precedent doesn’t back it up. The founders of Pirate Bay, a popular BitTorrent hub, made similar arguments in a Swedish court and received prison sentences. Older file-sharing networks such as Napster and Grokster shut down, because U.S. courts ruled that they were emboldening users to break laws. “If you are seen as encouraging people to infringe, then you have a copyright problem,” says Corynne McSherry, the acting legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for consumer rights online. Users are also vulnerable to suits, she says, though most studios and other major rights holders no longer target individual viewers for redress.
While Cuomo officials have suggested that the purge policy is a technical necessity to consolidate email systems, researcher Dave Maass of the Electronic Frontier Foundation said, “There's no technological reason that New York can't maintain these records indefinitely.”