EFF in the News
“Most recipients of these things comply and don’t understand it’s just a request,” said Andrew Crocker, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit digital rights group.
Insecure mobile access is a bigger concern in developing countries where many people depend on their phones to access the Web, says Joseph Bonneau, a tech fellow at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). "Of course, for many users they only have Internet access through their mobile devices, so insecurity of mobile browsing means insecurity of all of their browsing," he said in an e-mail.
Cindy Cohn, executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy group, said the FBI's shift "means they realize their first strategy wasn't working." She added, "By shifting the conversation to a 'business model,' they may think they have more leverage against those people."
“In some of the schools we’ve talked to parents about, there’s literally no ability to say, ‘no,’” said Nate Cardozo, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"A proposal to protect our security by weakening our security is going in the wrong direction," said Cindy Cohn, exective director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"If the government were to suggest that no one put locks on their doors because if we were a terrorist it would be harder to get into our house, we would think that was a bad idea," she told TechNewsWorld.
"This is pretty much the digital equivalent of that," Cohn maintained.
"I hope that the law students today are having to watch Butters sing 'What, What (in the Butt)' in their classrooms. I hope that’s the legacy in this case," says Parker Higgins, director of copyright activism at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
For 19 seasons South Park has provided cutting cultural commentary centered around the foul-mouthed adventures of fourth graders Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman.
And while it’s a cartoon for adults, the raunchy animated show has helped establish an important legal entertainment precedent that expands free speech rights.
"When anybody creates anything basically that thing automatically gets copyrighted and for the most part it can’t be used in certain ways without permission," states Higgins. "But there are some really important exceptions to that rule and there are some really important places where we say actually members of the public no matter who they are can use this thing for all sorts of reasons without getting permission."
Privacy advocates expressed dismay with this latest version of the legislation, particularly the opaque way in which a small group of lawmakers drafted the final version of the measure and then incorporated it into a colossal spending bill. "Such key legislation should not be sandwiched into the omnibus or a 2,000-plus page federal spending bill," says Mark Jaycox, legislative analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties and privacy advocacy group. "This legislation should have followed the normal process: a formal conference committee bill that is sent back to the House and Senate separately for an up-or-down vote. Instead, it's being rammed through Congress via the funding bill."
THAT PESKY FIRST AMENDMENT
Any attempt to filter out the online activities of extremist groups would inevitably infringe on the First Amendment rights of Americans, said David Greene, civil liberties director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"Even if you would accept the proposition that some of this speech is illegal, it's impossible to block just that out," Greene said. Any such move would probably also deny Americans access to information about what's going on in places such as Syria and Iraq, he said.
"We have clear policies prohibiting terrorist recruitment and content intending to incite violence and quickly remove videos violating these policies when flagged by our users. We also terminate accounts run by terrorist organizations or those that repeatedly violate our policies."
But mandatory legislation raises a risk that social media firms will overreport to remain in compliance, said Sophia Cope of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and in doing so raises suspicion on many law-abiding citizens.
"These people will be under the cloud of government suspicion for exercising their First Amendment rights," she said.