EFF in the News
“The government says the Fourth Amendment does not protect these e-mails,” Kevin Bankston, an EFF lawyer, said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “What we’re talking about is archives of our personal correspondence that they would need a warrant to get from your computer but not from the server.”
The Department of Justice is seeking the documents in a case that is under seal, and apparently, the agency hasn't notified the account holder of the request, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, one of the groups opposing the move. The groups argue that federal law and the Constitution's Fourth Amendment clearly require the government to get a search warrant that's based on probable cause a crime has been committed.
The filers include the American Library Association, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Internet Archive, Public Knowledge, and five other groups. They've got a tricky job—getting past the "smoking gun" accusations that Viacom makes of YouTube, and trying to get the court to see the big issue: the harder it becomes for a service provider to paddle into that safe harbor, the more exposed it will be to killer lawsuits from big content.
At the moment the commission is determined to uphold net neutrality and otherwise leave the Web alone. "But we might not like the next FCC," says Fred von Lohmann, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Will we have to worry about the FCC someday announcing an indecency policy for the Internet?"
But the policy has been controversial. ”We understand the real challenges BMO faces in trying to preserve its noncommercial, community character,” Corynne McSherry, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote in a blog post on Friday. ”That said, a benevolent censor is still a censor, and if other event organizers follow suit, assignment and abrogation of rights could become standard Terms of (Ab)use in all ticket contracts.”
What do Google, Microsoft, AT&T, Intel, Americans for Tax Reform, ACLU, the American Library Association, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have in common?
They actually all agree that the law covering government access to today's sophisticated electronic communications is in desperate need of an update.
The release of the draft text comes at a time when the Canadian government is holding cross-country consultations to collect public input for new Canadian copyright laws. Agreeing to the treaty would require Canada to meet certain legal requirements. Many of the legal requirements mimic laws already in place in the United States.
"To Canada this would require quite a change from domestic laws," said Gwen Hinze, international director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "That's a good question to be asking of the Canadian negotiators: 'Is this going to leave a lasting legacy that effectively moots any domestic consultation process on copyright issues?'"
And right now, websites can implement browser fingerprinting without user consent or knowledge, said Seth Schoen, staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
"We might not object to a financial site using these techniques to reduce fraud," Schoen said, "but that doesn't necessarily mean the technique should exist or that browsers shouldn't take measures to reduce distinctiveness. It's a problem when people can be tracked without their knowledge in a way that doesn't let them take measures to control tracking."
Early last month the Electronic Frontier Foundation published a copy of the licensing agreement that developers have to sign to sell their apps through the App Store. Among the requirements: developers who used the company’s software development kit could not sell their work through other platforms, even if Apple rejected it, and a prohibition against discussing the agreement itself. (The group obtained a copy of the document by filing a Freedom of Information Act request after NASA released an iPhone App).
“It’s frustrating to see Apple, the original pioneer in generative computing, putting shackles on the market it (for now) leads,” Fred von Lohmann, a staff attorney with the group, wrote in a blog post at the time.
“The government’s overreaching secrecy claims backfired against it,” says Kevin Bankston, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which assisted the plaintiffs in their case against the federal government.