EFF in the News
Electronic Frontier Foundation policy analyst Jeremy Malcolm agrees that this is a positive highlight in the TPP text, but argues that the net neutrality protections it offers are pretty weak. “It doesn’t cover blocking or filtering or anything else that we consider a part of net neutrality,” he says.
More broadly, he points to the myriad other ways the agreement disappoints the EFF and other digital rights groups. The data privacy section of the e-commerce chapter doesn’t go far enough to protect users, he says, and he worries that even the anti-spam section, which the group also supports, is too vague. And, of course, the intellectual property laws are largely what the the organization has long expected and critiqued.
According to Nadia Kayyali of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, this kind of chokehold coming from private companies and organizations, rather than from law enforcement or the courts, is a plain censorship issue—one that compares to the way credit card companies were pressured to block donations to WikiLeaks in 2010.
"What Visa and MasterCard have done with Backpage and in countless other instances, is a censorship that is sort of quasi-governmental, and that's what I would call this," said Kayyali told the Daily Dot. "I also think the important point about financial censorship, which sort of bleeds over into our work with sex workers, is that they're using this threat of one type of user [traffickers] and using it as a blanket cover for shutting down something they just don’t like."
But Nadia Kayyali, an activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said that number doesn't tell the whole story.
"Facebook isn't counting all the people negatively affected by the policy," she said. The Electronic Frontier Foundation was among groups that asked Facebook to change its policy and enforcement because some groups it works with have been cut off from their communities. "People are unsafe," she said.
Technology companies could be compelled to assist in that process. Even if they cannot be ordered to provide an update that would compromise equipment, said Kurt Opsahl, deputy executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, they might be told not to issue an update that patches a security flaw being exploited by the government.
Digital right to repair advocates seek to similarly protect “your right to repair and tinker with your devices, whether it be a phone, a car, or any other device that has embedded software,” explains Corynne McSherry, legal director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco.
Unfortunately, she notes, manufacturers frequently try to use their copyright in the software to impose restrictions on consumers, either through license agreements or through the use of technical restrictions that, if circumvented, could subject the consumer to legal liability under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the bête noire of the digital rights people.
Others looked more to innovations that eroded human health. Individuals voted to scrap cigarettes and heroin. Jillian York, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wants to annul “genetic testing for the masses.”
Among the worst culprits are companies that make consumers jump through countless hoops before finally relenting and agreeing to delete their accounts and data. This is a “wrongheaded approach” that companies think will lock in users and keep them from leaving their services, said Rainey Reitman, activism director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
“While this might seem to make sense in the short term, long term this will only create frustration and resentment for users who feel trapped,” Reitman said.
Electronic Frontier Foundation activist Nadia Kayyali recited the names of several people shot and killed by San Francisco police in recent years before urging the commission to prevent officers from watching body-camera video before making a statement.
“This is not a bloodless conversation,” she said, “and this is not a bloodless policy.”
Mark Jaycox, a legislative analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the warrant exceptions should be tightened to ensure they are not abused.
Under the bill as drafted, he says, “you potentially have a very low bar for emergency use” – a concern even though the bill does require warrants be sought within 48 hours of emergency use and that data be purged if a warrant is not approved.
Jaycox says he’s also concerned that the bill grants an exception for Stingray use under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
“This is a bill that’s implicated in a lot of the mass spying and bulk collection being done,” he says, “so that is a cause for concern because we simply don’t know how that will play out. A lot of that is classified.”
One of the concerning things is the feature is hidden from you in your iPhone. Privacy experts like Noah Swartz of the Electronic Frontier Foundation have long been concerned about the implications of this hidden information.
“This could be used by abusive partners. It could be used by police in an investigation,” said Swartz. “It could be used by your boss or your company if you gave them access to your phone or if you’re using a work phone.