EFF in the News
You could download Comma.ai’s new open-source Python code from Github, grab the necessary hardware, and follow the company’s instructions to add semi-autonomous capabilities to specific Acura and Honda model cars (with more vehicles to follow). Comma.ai’s CEO George Hotz told IEEE Spectrum last week that Comma.ai’s code has safety features, but what would happen if there’s a bug and your car crashes into a building, another car, or a pedestrian? Self-driving-cars are notoriously difficult to test for safety. Kit Walsh, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, writes in an email that “code is like a set of instructions, and publishing instructions generally cannot be punished consistent with the First Amendment—even if those instructions involve something dangerous like making a weapon or to try to eat a spoonful of cinnamon that will probably wind up in your lungs.”
If Twitter wanted to, it would be well within its rights to suspend Donald J. Trump’s account. “The problem is not necessarily in what he’s saying but that he’s the president saying it,” said Jillian York, a free speech advocate at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “If that sort of speech were censored for everyone, I would have a big problem with it,” she said. “It would be very much a violation of the spirit of freedom of expression to not allow me to critique a union leader or a journalist or a president.”
For the past three years, Credo, represented by the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation, has been fighting in court both the constitutionality of the FBI’s request and the bureau’s demand that Credo stay silent. The fight over the legality of the request is ongoing, but earlier this year, the Federal District Court for Northern California said the FBI failed to show the need for the gag order. The government dropped its appeal of that decision, and Credo subsequently published redacted versions of the two national security letters. “It’s a totally one-off basis ― it’s the government deciding on its own, ‘OK, you can publish these,’” Andrew Crocker, a staff attorney at EFF, said of the Yahoo and Google disclosures.
The Federal Communications Commission has told wireless carriers it has “serious concerns” about plans that exempt in-house services like Verizon’s Go90 or AT&T’s DirecTV Now from counting against customers’ data caps. Verizon and AT&T also have “sponsored data” programs in which video providers or other app makers can pay the companies to get their services included in free-data offers. “This current skirmish with the (Federal Communications Commission) and AT&T is basically going to send a signal of what’s going to pass muster and what isn’t,” said Corynne McSherry, legal director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The foundation opposes zero-rated programs.
WASHINGTON — Despite the rampant conspiracies that were shared widely during the presidential election and the subsequent uproar over fake news, disinformation, and propaganda, Congress is highly unlikely to take steps to regulate Facebook, even as the platform-titan presides over the distribution of news. “I don’t think there is a way to regulate them in a way that’s consistent with the First Amendment,” David Greene, the civil liberties director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation told BuzzFeed News. “We don’t regulate the press in this country. Even if it were possible to define fake news, there’s still a lot of very strong First Amendment protection for false speech.”
With this category of toys — including dolls, cars, drones and robotics — expected to grow faster than any other this holiday season, according to data research firm NPD, parents need to pay more attention to privacy and security when they buy and register toys with manufacturers, cybersecurity experts warned. The vast majority of toy manufacturers do not invest enough in making sure a toy's hardware is secure, and collect far more data than they actually need for marketing purposes, said cybersecurity experts. "A lot of time manufacturers don't want to spend the money [to keep information safe]," said Corynne McSherry, legal director of digital watchdog the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Uber has been on thin ice with privacy-conscious users since late November, when its app update asked iOS users to grant Uber the ability to track their location continuously. Before the update, users had been able to choose between three settings for location tracking: “Never,” “While Using the App,” and “Always.” Uber eliminated the “While Using the App” option, which it said only allowed for data collection while its app was open on someone’s home screen and hindered its ability to glean important details of trips. The company said riders who wished to opt out of constant location tracking could select “Never” and enter their pickups and destinations manually. That explanation didn’t sit well with privacy advocates. The change has “absolutely no respect for user privacy, just none,” Nate Cardozo, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Quartz.
A court in Florida has said a suspected voyeur can be made to reveal his iPhone passcode to investigators.T he defendant was arrested after a woman out shopping saw a man crouch down and aim what she believed was a smartphone under her skirt. The decision was criticised by senior staff attorney, Mark Rumold, at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group. "I think they got it wrong," he told the BBC
It's not clear how Trump's administration will treat issues like mass surveillance — an area which was controversial for the Obama administration — but his Cabinet picks raise concern, said Corynne McSherry, legal director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. McSherry said Pompeo poses a particularly worrying risk to American citizens' privacy, as he has advocated for things like the routine mass collection and use of "social data" from third parties, like Facebook and Alphabet's Google.
Cindy Cohn has a lot to do. The bespectacled 53-year-old civil rights lawyer has her hands full in her new job overseeing the digital advocacy work of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a sort of ACLU for the tech set. Now there’s an extra sense of urgency. “Until the new administration is named, it’s pretty difficult to tell what they will be doing. The early signs are not good for civil liberties and may require us to fight some old battles in addition to the new ones,” she said.