EFF in the News
Verrilli's position is disappointing and betrays a basic lack of understanding of how APIs work, said Michael Barclay, special counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
EFF last year filed an amicus brief in the case on behalf of more than 70 computer scientists who share Google's position on the right to use the contested Java APIs under fair-use laws. Google's supporters in the case have maintained that APIs are fundamental to interoperability on the Web and that extending copyright protections to APIs would seriously hamper the ability of software developers to write interoperable software.
"The brief is wrong on the facts and wrong on the law," Barclay said. Though it appears persuasive on its face, Verrilli's conclusions about the applicability of copyright laws are off-base, he said.
"What Hubbard writes is true: mobile tech has been really important in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for connecting people internally to one another," said Jillian C. York, the director for international freedom of expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which runs a hub on digital citizenship in the Arab world. "At the same time, the risks are high and Saudis are often using tools and apps that easily surveilled by the government."
New Jersey officials maintain that their investigation found that Tidbit accessed computers owned by individuals without their consent. The non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which represented Rubin, says that this assertion is false.
EFF senior staff attorney Hanni Fakhoury told CoinDesk:
''As the settlement agreement makes clear, the students have not admitted to any wrongdoing. Indeed, as the court presiding over the case found, there was no 'inherently improper or malicious intent or design' behind Tidbit."
The EFF maintains the code was operational for "two days", and that no bitcoins were mined when the program was live. New Jersey continues to allege that the developers' activities constitute violations of the state's Computer Related Offenses Act and Consumer Fraud Act.
"On the fact the pen/trap order makes no reference to a stingray or IMSI catcher at all is really troubling because this order reads like any standard pen/trap application which would be given to a cell phone provider," Hanni Fakhoury, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and a former federal public defender, told Ars by e-mail.
"But of course the scope of information obtained via an IMSI catcher is potentially much greater," Fakhoury said. "So it suggest that unless the officers are telling the judges in the affidavit or when they’re in chambers swearing out the affidavit that they’re planning on using a stingray, there’s nothing to indicate what exactly law enforcement is planning to do. And of course, we find that highly problematic."
All this the government had deemed legal. But on May 7th the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favour of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in a case against the government over Section 215. Looking at metadata remains legal, the court ruled, but its “bulk collection” is not. That, says Mark Jaycox of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil-liberties-minded pressure group, is a partial vindication of Mr Snowden’s whistleblowing.
“We want to have neutral platforms for speech but that comes at a price,” says Corynne McSherry, Legal Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
Hanni Fakhoury, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a former federal public defender in San Diego, said that under California law, there are greater protections for phone records than in federal court. He cited two opinions by the state attorney general that require law enforcement agencies to obtain either a grand jury subpoena or a warrant to install a PEN register, rather than relying on a federal order, which is not reviewed by a judge.
“People have an expectation of privacy under the California Constitution for their phone records,” Fakhoury said.
“It’s a nice confluence of business pressure and public pressure to do something,” says Mark Jaycox of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
According to Jaycox, the revelations of Edward Snowden, which showed how the U.S. government slurps up mass amounts of data from tech and phone companies, is leading more consumers to look for ways to mask their activities online. This could prove a headache for companies that depend on data to sell advertising. Meanwhile, the Snowden affair also threatens the tech industry overseas, where countries have threatened to shun U.S. cloud computing providers.
Templeton has been in the computer industry for several decades -- he's a former director with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and founder of the world's first dot-com company -- and he's very familiar with the risks of making predictions. For him, historical accounts of past forecasts can be cringe-worthy.
This ruling prompted some rethinking of the USA Freedom Act by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The group had previously endorsed each iteration of the act, increasingly reluctantly as it was watered down with each session. In response to the court ruling, though, EFF withdrew its support and went neutral, calling for legislators to now strengthen the act.
Mark Jaycox, a legislative analyst for EFF who has been writing about the USA Freedom Act, still has positive things to say about it, but doesn't want Congress to settle for less than it has to. It's the first reform of NSA surveillance since the 1970s. There should be more to it.
"The USA Freedom Act should be stronger," Jaycox says. "Congress should be pushing for more control for themselves and more for the public." EFF would like Congress to return to the first iteration of the act that called for a stronger adversarial position within the FISA court, not just an adviser. They want Congress to address other authorizations used to justify bulk metadata collection, not just Section 215 and National Security Letters. They want better "minimization" procedures to make sure information that isn't directly connected to an investigation is properly purged. And they want to remove an "emergency exception" that allows the government to snoop on any "non-United States person" for 72 hours without any court authorization at all.