EFF in the News
So what is surveillance? The US military defines it as "systematic observation". It controls "what we see, what we can do... ultimately, what we say", says Schneier. A director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, Schneier has been a go-to expert for years. He helped analyse some of the more technical documents leaked by Edward Snowden. But he wears his expertise lightly: the book moves fast and references are relegated to pages of notes.
Activists say the battle is half won. "The court left intact Section 69A, the government website blocking procedure, despite the lack of either judicial review or transparency in how or which sites are blocked," says James S Tyre, special counsel for Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based advocacy group. "This is the first time the SC has struck down or limited internet censorship laws. However, the SC has much more to do."
Hanni Fakhoury, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation privacy group, said it was "ridiculous" that it has taken so much prying to glean just basic information about the device and its use.
"It's secrecy for the sake of secrecy," he said. "Now they're dismissing cases rather than disclosing information -- that's not in the public's interest. We're not asking for a blueprint, just some transparency."
“If you have one plate scan of one car, all you have is this car was at this place at this time — not what the driver was doing,” said Jennifer Lynch, senior staff attorney with Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. “But over multiple days, you can get a picture of what someone is doing, where they’re going and why. You can start to make pretty broad assumptions of someone’s life with the more data you have.”
Jacob Hoffman-Andrews, a senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights advocacy group, says these practices raise security and privacy concerns.
“Ideally, customers shouldn’t be in a battle with their ISPs for their privacy. ISPs should be on your side, helping you get a clean connection to the Internet, without interference and without tracking. Unfortunately, that’s not really the case today,” Hoffman-Andrews told DecodeDC.
"There is clear evidence that ShotSpotter can record conversations," Electronic Frontier Foundation activist Nadia Kayyali told Business Insider.
Despite seeming attempts at privacy improvements, critics say the House version of the bill is in most major respects just as problematic as the Senate version. “You have pretty much non-existent privacy protections, along with new powers to spy on and monitor users…all while being provided broad immunity,” says Mark Jaycox, a legislative analyst with the Electronic Frontier Foundation who has closely followed both House and Senate bills. “It creates a perfect storm for sharing personal information with intelligence agencies.”
“I encrypt my iPhone and I didn’t know it was leaking all that,” Hanni Fakhoury, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Daily Dot when he heard the list.
Mark Jaycox, legislative analyst for digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said it’s important to remember that just as the Internet is only about 26 years old, tools to improve private browsing are relatively new, too.
“This is a usability issue. These tools are just beginning to be developed,” Jaycox said. “This is slow moving, and while a minority are changing their privacy settings now, we find that when you show people how to use tools like encryption, they tend to use them.”
Adi Kamdar, activist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said it would come in an era when online start-ups rely on customer data as assets.