EFF in the News
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recently released a 2010 Top 12 Trend Watch Update of key issues shaping digital rights that the organization had made predictions about earlier in the year. The list includes:
(1) Social Networking Privacy
(2) Attacks on Cryptography
(3) Hardware Hacking
(4) Net Neutrality
(5) Three Strikes
(6) Fair Use of Trademarks
(7) Global Internet Censorship
(8) Books and Newspapers
(9) Location Privacy
(10) Online Video
(11) Congress and Bad Legislations
(12) Web Browser Privacy
Of these 12 trends, net neutrality, social networking privacy, and global Internet censorship made major headlines through the year. This is what EFF had to same about these three issues then and now:
For Firefox, you can opt for ForceTLS, an extension that interacts with sites that use the proposed HSTS method above. You can also opt for HTTPS Everywhere, an extension developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and The Tor Project. HTTPS Everywhere comes with a built-in list that can be modified. (An adaptation of HTTPS Everywhere for Apple's Safari, SSL Everywhere, is undownloadable at this writing, although its development project is still alive at github. Safari doesn't allow extensions to intercept URLs, only redirect, so there's some exposure.)
Why does it matter? If you buy a CD in the United States, Section 109 of the Copyright Act gives you very specific rights under the first-sale doctrine. Fred von Lohmann of the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains those rights:
The first serious infowar is now engaged. The field of battle is WikiLeaks. You are the troops."
So tweeted John Perry Barlow, one of the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and cyberlibertarian activist, as attacks began on the websites of businesses that had spurned Wikileaks after it published cables of American diplomacy.
Civil liberties activist group the Electronic Frontier Foundation has warned of a generation of devices sporting so-called ‘traitorware’ which could ‘act behind your back to betray your privacy’, they warned.
The EFF sums up FinCEN proposed rules as, "The government wants reports on all electronic bank-to-bank transfers, regardless of whether the transfer is $1 or $1,000,000. For money transmitters, reports would be filed for transfers at or above $1,000. FinCEN estimates it will receive 750 million reports every year, and the agency wants to keep the data for ten years. Once the reports are filed with FinCEN, other federal law enforcement agencies - the FBI, IRS, ICE, and the DEA - would all have access to the data."
The EFF opposes FinCEN's proposal for three reasons:
Separately, Righthaven objected to the participation in the case of professor Jason Schultz, co-director of the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at the University of California-Berkeley.
Schultz filed a friend of the court brief listing reasons the suit could be dismissed on fair use grounds and also arguing the Review-Journal had encouraged the online posting by the Oregon center by suggesting that readers share its news online.
Righthaven complained that Schultz made "numerous, unsupported factual assertions" in his brief.
The company said that while Schultz is participating "apparently on the basis that he is a citizen concerned about the application of the Copyright Act," he's really biased against Righthaven since he's a former senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) of San Francisco and the EFF assisted in his participation in the Center for Intercultural Organizing case.
"Schultz is far from a 'friend of the court.' Rather, he is the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing who seeks to mislead this court's fair use analysis for the benefit of EFF's defense of other cases now pending and future cases yet to be filed," Righthaven complained.
The EFF is connecting Righthaven defendants with volunteer attorneys, is representing two Righthaven defendants as a public service and has filed counterclaims charging the Righthaven litigation campaign is an abuse of the court system and the Copyright Act since, the EFF asserts, the lawsuits are frivolous and are filed without warning as part of a settlement shakedown scheme.
Sometimes, the most disturbing part of a discussion is that you need to have it at all. Consider the issue of e-readers, for example. For each of the past two years, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has released a guide to e-book readers and the current one, posted in December, can be found at http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/12/2010-e-book-buyers-guide-e-book-privacy. As the URL telegraphs, this guide isn’t your usual review of whether the Kindle has a sharper image than the Nook or why the iPad is a better bargain than the Sony Reader. Instead, this evaluation is focused solely on the privacy policies associated with each.
Why would someone pay that much for a set of video games? Well, it was for charity. Part of the proceeds went toward Child's Play. The money also went to the developers, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the company who organized the promotion. Buyers were actually able to determine how much of their purchase money would go to each party.
"It's like being forced to walk around with a bar code that a scanner can pick up — except that it's your car," said Lee Tien, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, which advocates for consumer and privacy rights. "This is one of those privacy places where the rubber really meets the road."