EFF in the News
According to Marcia Hoffman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), “This is an important ruling for all Americans […] The Supreme Court has unanimously confirmed that the Constitution prevents unbridled police use of new technologies to monitor our movements.”
You’d think that would be the end of the story, but you’d be wrong. It turns out that the Electronic Frontier Foundation is asking the US Copyright Office to declare that unlocking the operating system of smartphones does not violate DMCA and the organization is not only calling on them to renew the exception, but to also expand it to cover tablets and video games consoles.
A federal judge in Colorado recently handed down a ruling that forced a defendant to decrypt her laptop hard-drive, despite the Fifth Amendment's stricture against compelling people to testify against themselves. The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Marcia Hoffman has commentary on the disappointing ruling:
But Hanni Fakhoury, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the organization believes that doesn't matter. He said the foundation would file a supporting brief with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals when the case gets there.
"We still think the Fifth Amendment protects the compelled disclosure of the password or the decrypted contents of the computer," he wrote in an e-mail.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed an amicus brief in support of the defendant’s Fifth Amendment plea. In it, the organization said:
“EFF’s interest in this case is the sound and principled application of the Fifth Amendment to encryption passwords and encrypted information stored on computers. EFF submits this brief to help the Court apply the Fifth Amendment privilege against selfincrimination in a manner that ensures the constitutional rights of those who use this technological measure to protect their privacy and security.”
In a Denver Post story laying out the case earlier this month, Hanni Fakhoury, a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed a brief in support of Friscou, had said, “if the government wins in this case, and they are able to force her to decrypt the laptop … it’s the erosion of the Fifth Amendment. It’s seeing the Fifth Amendment not keeping up with advances in technology.”
This led to a rapidly cascading series of events that has included a dubious cease-and-desist letter from Carrier IQ to Mr. Eckhart, an apology from Carrier IQ after the Electronic Frontier Foundation interceded on Mr. Eckhart’s behalf, letters from several members of Congress, multiple class-action lawsuits against Carrier IQ and its corporate customers, including Samsung and HTC, and a reported U.S. government probe.
It is troubling that legitimate digital storage services should feel compelled to monitor their users, says intellectual property director Corynne McSherry of the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation. "In terms of privacy, that should be a concern," she says.
What effect are these actions having on the Web, and the legislation? We discuss with Declan McCullagh of CNET and Trevor Timm of the EFF.