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February 16, 2010

Questions You Need to Ask Before Buying a Digital Book

San Francisco - What questions should consumers ask before buying a digital book or reader? Today the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) published "Digital Books and Your Rights," a checklist for readers considering buying into the digital book marketplace.

Over the last few months, the universe of digital books has expanded dramatically, with products like Amazon's Kindle, Google Books, Internet Archive's Text Archive, Barnes and Noble's Nook, and Apple's upcoming iPad poised to revolutionize reading. But while this digital books revolution could make books more accessible than ever before, there are lingering questions about the future of reader privacy, consumers' rights, and potential censorship.

EFF's checklist outlines eight categories of questions readers should ask as they evaluate new digital book products and services, including:

*Does the service protect your privacy by limiting tracking of you and your reading?

*When you pay for a book, do you own the book, or do you just rent or license it?

*Is the service censorship resistant?

"As these new services roll out, we need to know if they will respect or hamper the traditional rights and expectations of readers. Physical books have many natural protections for readers, and other protections have been created over time by libraries and bookstores," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "These questions will help book lovers decide what they want their digital book future to look like and then vote with their feet to get to that future."

As other ebook readers and reader services develop, a federal judge is considering final approval of a settlement that would pave the way for a huge expansion of Google Books, giving Google the green light to scan and digitize millions of books and allow users to search for and read those books online. Unfortunately, Google's system monitors what books users search for, how much of the books they read, and how long they spend on various pages, and Google refuses to require a warrant before providing that information to the government. EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn will appear before the court at a hearing in New York on February 18, representing a coalition of authors including Michael Chabon, Jonathan Lethem, and many others concerned about reader privacy.

"Our coalition is asking the court to ensure that Google's huge new digital library/bookstore maintains the strong protections for reader privacy that traditional libraries and bookstores have fought for and largely won," said Cohn.

For more information on next week's hearing, email press@eff.org.

For the full report "Digital Books and Your Rights":
https://www.eff.org/wp/digital-books-and-your-rights

For more on digital books:
http://www.eff.org/issues/digital-books

Contacts:

Corynne McSherry
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

Cindy Cohn
Legal Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
cindy@eff.org

Related Issues:
February 16, 2010

Police Gathered Suspect's Data Without a Warrant

Redwood City, Calif. - On Thursday, February 18, at 9:00 a.m., the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will urge a judge in Redwood City, California, to suppress evidence illegally gathered from an iPhone.

Police in Daly City, California, seized the suspect's phone during his arrest. Hours later, investigators searched through the data on the device -- including contacts, called phone numbers, emails, text messages, Internet search history, and photos -- without a search warrant. Police later obtained a search warrant for the phone, based in part on information gathered during the initial illegal search.

In Thursday's hearing, EFF Senior Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann will ask the court to suppress the illegally gathered evidence and quash the warrant based on that improperly collected information.

For more information on attending the hearing, email press@eff.org.

WHEN:
Thursday, February 18, 2010
9:00 a.m.

WHERE:
Department 2A
San Mateo County Superior Court
400 County Center
Redwood City, CA 94063

Contacts:

Marcia Hofmann
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
marcia@eff.org

Jennifer Stisa Granick
Civil Liberties Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jennifer@eff.org

Related Issues:
February 11, 2010

Appeals Court Takes on First Sale Doctrine in Vernor v. Autodesk

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), joined by a coalition of public interest, consumer, and library groups, urged a federal appeals court Thursday to preserve consumers' rights and the first sale doctrine in a battle over an Internet auction of used computer software.

Timothy Vernor is an online software reseller who tried to auction four packages of Autodesk's AutoCAD software on eBay. Autodesk threatened Mr. Vernor with a copyright lawsuit, claiming that its software is only "licensed," never sold. With the assistance of the public interest litigators at Public Citizen, Vernor filed suit in Seattle against Autodesk, asking the court to clarify his right to resell the AutoCAD software packages. He prevailed before the district court in 2009, prompting Autodesk to appeal.

"For too long, software companies have tried to strip consumers of their rights as owners of software by pretending that all software is licensed, rather than sold," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "But if software companies can strip us of our rights with a license agreement, there's nothing to stop book publishers, record labels, and movie studios from using the same trick to shut down libraries, archives, used bookstores, and online auctions. For more than a century, the first sale doctrine in copyright law has stood for the principle that if you bought it, you own it, and you can resell it or give it away."

In an amicus curiae brief filed Thursday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, EFF -- joined by the Consumer Federation of America, the American Library Association, Association of Research Libraries, Association of College and Research Libraries, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and Public Knowledge -- argued that Autodesk cannot trump the first sale doctrine with a "license agreement" included with its software.

"What's at stake in this case is the ability of consumers actually to own the things they pay for. We can't let the fine print used by the copyright holder gain complete control over every aspect of a work's use," said Sherwin Siy, deputy legal director for Public Knowledge. "If that happens, then everything becomes a potential copyright infringement. The simple things we take for granted, like buying and selling used books or CDs, or even software, would disappear under the threat of massive fines or possible criminal charges."

For the full amicus brief:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/vernor_v_autodes/VernorAmicus.pdf

Contact:

Fred von Lohmann
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
fred@eff.org

Related Issues:
February 9, 2010

Panel Rules Law Does Not Protect Identities of Lobbyists

San Francisco - Today a federal appeals court rejected a government claim of "lobbyist privacy" to hide the identities of individuals who pressured Congress to grant immunity to telecommunications companies that participated in the government's warrantless electronic surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans. As the court observed, "There is a clear public interest in public knowledge of the methods through which well-connected corporate lobbyists wield their influence."

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has been seeking records detailing the telecoms' campaign for retroactive legal immunity under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Telecom immunity was enacted as part of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

"Today's ruling is an important one for government and corporate accountability," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "The court recognized that paid lobbyists trying to influence the government to advance their clients' interests can't hide behind privacy claims to keep their efforts secret."

This decision is the latest setback for the government in its long-running attempt to delay disclosure of the documents EFF seeks. So far, EFF has obtained thousands of pages of records through this litigation.

"AT&T, Verizon and Sprint expended millions of dollars to lobby the government and get an unconstitutional grant of retroactive immunity for their illegal spying on American citizens," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "The public deserves to know how our rights were sold out by and for telecom lobbyists."

The appeals court sent part of the case back down to the district court for further consideration, including whether disclosure of the lobbyists' identities would reveal intelligence sources and methods and whether communications between the agencies and the White House can be withheld under the presidential communications privilege or other grounds.

For the full opinion:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/foia_C0705278/opinion2909.pdf

For more on this case:
http://www.eff.org/issues/foia/cases/C-07-05278

Contacts:

Marcia Hofmann
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
marcia@eff.org

Kurt Opsahl
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
kurt@eff.org

Nate Cardozo
Open Government Legal Fellow
Electronic Frontier Foundation
nate@eff.org

Related Issues:
February 8, 2010

Government Should Come Back With a Warrant If It Wants Location Information

UPDATE: The hearing has been moved to Friday, February 12, at 9:30am.

Philadelphia - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will be arguing this Friday before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia, urging the court to block a government attempt to seize telephone company records detailing a cell phone user's past locations without first getting a search warrant.

EFF is serving as a friend of the court or "amicus," joined by co-amici the ACLU, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and the Center for Democracy & Technology. Professor Susan Freiwald of the University of San Francisco, who submitted a separate amicus brief to the panel, will be joining EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston in arguing on Thursday that federal privacy statutes in combination with the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protect the privacy of cell phone users and require the government to show probable cause before obtaining cell phone location information.

WHAT:
Oral argument In the Matter of the Application of the United States of America for an Order Directing a Provider of Electronic Communication Service to Disclose Records to the Government

WHEN:
Friday, February 12th
9:30am

WHERE:
Albert Branson Maris Courtroom (19th floor)
U.S. Courthouse
601 Market St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106

For more information on attending Thursday's hearing, contact press@eff.org.

For the full EFF amicus brief to the Third Circuit:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/celltracking/Filed%20Cell%20Tracking%20Brief.pdf

For more on the issue of cell phone tracking:
http://www.eff.org/issues/cell-tracking

Contacts:

Kevin Bankston
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
bankston@eff.org

Jennifer Stisa Granick
Civil Liberties Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jennifer@eff.org

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Issues:
February 5, 2010

Another Big Win for EFF's Patent Busting Project

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has won reexamination of an illegitimate patent on voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) that could cripple the adoption of new VoIP technologies.

A company named Acceris Communications Technologies, now C2 Communications Technologies, was awarded the bogus patent for hardware, software, and processes for implementing VoIP using analog telephones as endpoints -- covering many telephone calls made over the Internet. EFF and the law firm Fenwick & West LLP filed a reexamination request showing that both a prior patent and published reference materials described the underlying technology long before Acceris made its claim. Today the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted EFF's reexamination request, ruling that there were substantial new questions of patentability.

"Our American patent system is meant to encourage invention and innovation," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "Undeserved patents instead serve to quash competition and hurt business and consumers."

"We are pleased that the USPTO agrees with the substantial new questions of patentability raised in EFF's request, and we look forward to the USPTO's ultimate decision on this patent," said Nikhil Iyengar of Fenwick &West.

The challenge to this patent is part of EFF's Patent Busting Project, which combats the chilling effects of bad patents on the public and consumer interests. So far eight patents targeted by EFF have been busted, invalidated, narrowed, or had a reexamination granted by the Patent Office.

For more on EFF's Patent Busting Project:
http://www.eff.org/patent/

Contacts:

Cindy Cohn
Legal Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
cindy@eff.org

Nikhil Iyengar
Fenwick & West LLP
niyengar@fenwick.com

Related Issues:
January 25, 2010

Public Discussion Set for Thursday at UC Berkeley School of Law

Berkeley, CA - On Thursday, January 28, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is hosting a day-long public roundtable in Berkeley, California, exploring the privacy challenges posted by new developments in technology. Three experts from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) are taking part.

Panels at Thursday's roundtable include "Technology and Privacy," where EFF Staff Technologist Peter Eckersley will discuss the arms race between tracking technologies and privacy-enhancing technologies. Also on the agenda is "Privacy Implications of Mobile Computing" with EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston addressing privacy issues of location-based services and "Technology and Policy" with EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien discussing how privacy can be designed into new products. Other panels will tackle social networking services and cloud computing.

For more information on attending the roundtable including a full agenda, visit http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/workshops/privacyroundtables/index.shtml

WHAT:
FTC Roundtable "Exploring Privacy"

WHEN:
Thursday, January 28
7:45am to 6pm

WHERE:
University of California, Berkeley, School of Law
Booth Auditorium, Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720

For more information on the roundtable:
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/workshops/privacyroundtables/index.shtml

Contact:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Issues:
January 21, 2010

Court Rules That Mass Surveillance of Americans is Immune From Judicial Review

San Francisco - A federal judge has dismissed Jewel v. NSA, a case from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on behalf of AT&T customers challenging the National Security Agency's mass surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans' phone calls and emails.

"We're deeply disappointed in the judge's ruling," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "This ruling robs innocent telecom customers of their privacy rights without due process of law. Setting limits on Executive power is one of the most important elements of America's system of government, and judicial oversight is a critical part of that."

In the ruling, issued late Thursday, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker held that the privacy harm to millions of Americans from the illegal spying dragnet was not a "particularized injury" but instead a "generalized grievance" because almost everyone in the United States has a phone and Internet service.

"The alarming upshot of the court's decision is that so long as the government spies on all Americans, the courts have no power to review or halt such mass surveillance even when it is flatly illegal and unconstitutional," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "With new revelations of illegal spying being reported practically every other week -- just this week, we learned that the FBI has been unlawfully obtaining Americans' phone records using Post-It notes rather than proper legal process -- the need for judicial oversight when it comes to government surveillance has never been clearer."

Jewel v. NSA is aimed at ending the NSA's dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans and holding accountable the government officials who illegally authorized it. Evidence in the case includes undisputed documents provided by former AT&T telecommunications technician Mark Klein showing AT&T has routed copies of Internet traffic to a secret room in San Francisco controlled by the NSA. That same evidence is central to Hepting v. AT&T, a class-action lawsuit that's currently under appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

For the judge's full order:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/jewel/jeweldismissal12110.pdf

For more on warrantless wiretapping and NSA spying:
http://www.eff.org/issues/nsa-spying

Contacts:

Kevin Bankston
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
bankston@eff.org

Cindy Cohn
Legal Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
cindy@eff.org

Related Issues:
January 14, 2010

Asks FCC to Close Loopholes That Endanger Free Speech and Innovation

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today to close loopholes in its proposed regulations for network neutrality -- loopholes that could let the entertainment industry and law enforcement hinder free speech and innovation.

"The central goal of the net neutrality movement is to prevent ISPs from discriminating against lawful content on the Internet," said EFF Civil Liberties Director Jennifer Granick. "Yet the FCC's version of net neutrality specifically allows ISPs to make those discriminations -- opening the door to widespread Internet surveillance and censorship in the guise of copyright protection and addressing the needs of law enforcement."

Under the FCC's proposed neutrality rules, ISPs would get a free pass to block content in pursuit of copyright infringement or when they voluntarily adopt measures to help law enforcement.

"We know from bitter experience that dragnet copyright enforcement efforts often end up inflicting collateral damage on lawful activities," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "Neutrality regulations should not excuse ISPs that discriminate against or block innocent content just because they claim it was done to protect copyrights or cater to law enforcement."

EFF's comments also question whether the FCC has the authority to regulate the Internet in the first place, citing the lack of any legal basis to enact net neutrality rules. Additionally, EFF calls on the FCC to protect the interests of individuals who offer open WiFi Internet access to their neighbors or local communities.

Also today, EFF launched the Real Net Neutrality campaign to coordinate public support for removal of the copyright-enforcement loophole. On RealNetNeutrality.org, people can sign EFF's petition to the FCC and learn more about issue.

For EFF's full comments to the FCC:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/nn/EFFNNcomments.pdf

For more on Real Net Neutrality:
http://www.realnetneutrality.org/

Contacts:

Jennifer Stisa Granick
Civil Liberties Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jennifer@eff.org

Fred von Lohmann
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
fred@eff.org

Related Issues:
January 6, 2010

Activists Move to Dismiss Improper Trademark Claims, Defend Free Speech

Washington - A group of political activists including members of the Yes Men and the Action Factory have moved to dismiss a meritless lawsuit filed by the United States Chamber of Commerce accusing the activists of infringing the Chamber's trademarks in the course of a political parody highlighting the Chamber's controversial stance on climate change.

In the motion filed Tuesday, the activists -- represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP -- argue that the Chamber's suit was designed to punish core political speech, rather than to vindicate any actual trademark harm, and should therefore be dismissed.

"U.S. courts have long recognized that trademark rights do not include the right to control language and silence critics," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "This political parody was clearly protected by fair use and the First Amendment."

At issue is a "press conference" staged by the activists in mid-October, in which the Chamber of Commerce ostensibly reversed its position and promised to stop lobbying against strong climate change legislation, a stance that has caused several prominent Chamber members to leave the organization. As has been widely reported, only minutes after the press conference got underway, a Chamber of Commerce representative rushed into the room and revealed that the Chamber's position on climate change legislation had not in fact changed.

The Chamber responded by sending an improper copyright takedown notice to the Yes Men's upstream Internet provider, demanding that a parody website posted in support of the action be removed immediately, which resulted in the temporary shutdown of not only the spoof site but hundreds of other sites hosted by May First/People Link. Next, the Chamber filed suit against the activists in federal court, claiming the activism infringed their trademarks.

"The Chamber's lawsuit seeks to punish the Yes Men for exercising their constitutionally-protected free speech right to parody the Chamber of Commerce's controversial position on climate change," said Davis Wright Tremaine LLP attorney Thomas R. Burke.

The Chamber's opposition to the activists' motion is due on January 19.

For the full motion to dismiss:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/yesmen/YesMenMTDwithExA.pdf

For more on this case:
http://www.eff.org/cases/chamber-commerce-v-servin

Contacts:

Corynne McSherry
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

Matt Zimmerman
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org

Related Issues:
December 15, 2009

Message Board Poster Faces Baseless Lawsuit for Criticizing USA Technologies

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has asked a federal judge in San Francisco to quash a baseless subpoena aimed at outing an anonymous online critic of a Pennsylvania company called USA Technologies. A hearing in the case is set for Friday.

Earlier this year, EFF's client -- Yahoo! user "stokklerk" -- posted to the Yahoo! message board dedicated to the company, criticizing USA Technologies and its CEO George Jensen, Jr., for plummeting stock prices, high compensation rates for executives, and consistent lack of profitability. Another anonymous poster had similar complaints. In response, USA Technologies filed suit in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleging that the statements violated federal securities regulations because they were part of a "scheme" for the authors to "enrich themselves through undisclosed manipulative trading tactics." USA Technologies also alleged that the online posts were defamatory. As part of that lawsuit, USA Technologies issued a subpoena out of the Northern District of California to Yahoo! asking for the critics' identities.

"The First Amendment protects the right to speak anonymously so people can express their views without fear of retribution or reprisal," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "USA Technologies might not appreciate the glare of such public criticism, but Internet users like 'stokklerk' have a right to post such criticism in a public forum."

The First Amendment protects the right to speak anonymously, especially about matters of public concern such as the performance of management of publicly traded companies. In addition, several state legislatures -- including California -- have passed laws to further protect individuals against lawsuits targeting them for exercising First Amendment rights. In its reply brief filed Friday, EFF underscores the problems with the USA Technologies lawsuit and asks the court to block attempts to enforce the Yahoo! subpoena.

For more information on attending Friday's hearing, contact press@eff.org.

For the full brief in support of the motion to quash the subpoena:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/usatechnologies/USAT-motiontoquashreply.pdf

For more on this case:
http://www.eff.org/cases/usa-technologies-v-stokklerk

Contact:

Matt Zimmerman
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org

Related Issues:
December 1, 2009

Government Agencies Withholding Information on Data-Gathering from Facebook, Twitter, and Other Online Communities

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), working with the Samuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (Samuelson Clinic), filed suit today against a half-dozen government agencies for refusing to disclose their policies for using social networking sites for investigations, data-collection, and surveillance.

Recent news reports have publicized the government's use of social networking data as evidence in various investigations, and Congress is currently considering several pieces of legislation that may increase protections for consumers who use social-networking websites and other online tools. In response, the Samuelson Clinic made over a dozen Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests on behalf of EFF to the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies, asking for information about how the government collects and uses this sensitive information.

"Millions of people use social networking sites like Facebook every day, disclosing lots of information about their private lives," said James Tucker, a student working with EFF through the Samuelson Clinic. "As Congress debates new privacy laws covering sites like Facebook, lawmakers and voters alike need to know how the government is already using this data and what is at stake."

When several agencies did not respond to the FOIA requests, the Samuelson Clinic filed suit on behalf of EFF. The lawsuit demands immediate processing and release of all records concerning policies for the use of social networking sites in government investigations.

"Internet users deserve to know what information is collected, under what circumstances, and who has access to it," said Shane Witnov, a law student also working on the case. "These agencies need to abide by the law and release their records on social networking surveillance."

For the full complaint:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/social_network/social_networking_FOIA_complaint_final.pdf

Contacts:

Marcia Hofmann
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
marcia@eff.org

Shane Witnov
Law student
Samuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinic
switnov@berkeley.edu

November 13, 2009

Anyone Can Track National Copyright Laws Globally with 'Copyright Watch'

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Electronic Information for Libraries (eIFL.net), and other international copyright experts joined together today to launch Copyright Watch -- a public website created to centralize resources on national copyright laws at www.copyright-watch.org.

"Copyright laws are changing across the world, and it's hard to keep track of these changes, even for those whose daily work is affected by them," said Teresa Hackett, Program Manager at eIFL.net. "A law that is passed in one nation can quickly be taken up by others, bilateral trade agreements, regional policy initiatives, or international treaties. With Copyright Watch, people can learn about the similarities and differences in national copyright laws, and they can use that information to more easily spot patterns and emerging trends."

Copyright Watch is the first comprehensive and up-to-date online repository of national copyright laws. To find links to national and regional copyright laws, users can choose a continent or search using a country name. The site will be updated over time to include proposed amendments to laws, as well as commentary and context from national copyright experts. Copyright Watch will help document how legislators around the world are coping with the challenges of new technology and new business models.

"Balanced and well-calibrated copyright laws are extremely important in our global information society," said Gwen Hinze, International Policy Director at EFF. "Small shifts in the balance between the rights of copyright owners and the limitations and exceptions relied on by those who use copyrighted content can destroy or enable business models, criminalize or liberate free expression and everyday behavior, and support the development of new technologies that facilitate access to knowledge for all the world's citizens. We hope that Copyright Watch will encourage comparative research and help to highlight more and less flexible copyright regimes."

"Details of copyright law used to be important only for a few people in creative industries," added Danny O'Brien, International Outreach Coordinator at EFF. "But now, with the growth of the Internet and other digital tools, we are all authors, publishers, and sharers of copyrighted works. Copyright Watch was created so citizens of the world can share and compare information about their countries' laws."

Funding to create Copyright Watch was generously provided by the Open Society Institute.

Copyright Watch:
http://www.copyright-watch.org

Contacts:

Gwen Hinze
International Policy Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
gwen@eff.org

Danny O'Brien
International Outreach Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
danny@eff.org

Related Issues:
November 12, 2009

Partial Document Release from Government Posted on EFF's Website

San Francisco, CA - Today the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) posted thousands of pages of records detailing behind-the-scenes negotiations between government agencies and Congress about providing immunity for telecoms involved in illegal government surveillance.

The documents include drafts of legislation and communications between Congress and the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) about amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). They were released as a result of litigation that started back in 2007, when Congress first debated granting immunity to the telecommunications companies for taking part in massive, unchecked surveillance of Americans' telephone and Internet communications. EFF used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to request information about communications between the DOJ, ODNI, Congress, and telecom lobbyists.

"The government has finally given up its battle to hide this information from the public and has released a significant portion of the records we've been fighting for," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "We hope that these files include some answers about what happened when the DOJ and ODNI pushed Congress to pass the law getting telecoms off the hook for their role in illegal government surveillance."

The government has said it will continue to try to block the release of additional documents, including communications within the Executive Branch and records reflecting the identities of telecoms involved in lobbying for immunity. The government's appeal will be heard before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in January 2010.

"This case isn't over yet -- there's still more information about the extensive lobbying campaign by the telecoms that helped them get immunity last year," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "The government continues to hide important documents from the public."

FOIA Release: Draft legislation to amend FISA:
http://www.eff.org/fn/directory/4800/360

FOIA Release: Correspondence about amending FISA, bill summaries, and other documents:
http://www.eff.org/fn/directory/4800/359

For more on this case:
http://www.eff.org/issues/foia/cases/C-07-05278

Contacts:

Marcia Hofmann
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
marcia@eff.org

Kurt Opsahl
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
kurt@eff.org

Related Issues:
November 11, 2009

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP Also Joins in Free Speech Fight

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP, will defend the Yes Men and other activists in a lawsuit filed against them by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over political criticism of the Chamber's stance on climate change legislation.

In mid-October, the activists staged a "press conference" in which the Chamber of Commerce ostensibly reversed its position and promised to stop lobbying against strong climate change legislation -- a stance that has caused numerous Chamber members to leave the organization. As has been widely reported, before the press conference was even completed, a Chamber of Commerce representative rushed into the room and revealed that the Chamber's position on climate change legislation had not in fact changed.

"The action was a brilliant piece of political theater, but it had a serious purpose: calling attention to the Chamber's political activities," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "This is core political speech, protected by the First Amendment. We're very pleased that Davis Wright Tremaine -- with its long, successful history of protecting free speech rights of Americans -- has joined us in helping these activists battle a transparent attempt at censorship."

"U.S. courts have recognized that political parody lies at the heart of the First Amendment," said Davis Wright Tremaine LLP partner Bruce Johnson. "Even if the party parodied refuses to giggle--or even panics and sues--free speech will ultimately triumph. We look forward to a prompt dismissal of this case and a reaffirmation of the rights of all Americans to poke fun at the pompous and powerful."

The Chamber has pulled out all the stops in its effort to silence the activists. First, it sent an improper copyright takedown notice to the Yes Men's upstream provider, demanding that a parody website posted in support of the action be removed immediately and resulting in the temporary shutdown of not only the spoof site but hundreds of other sites hosted by May First/People Link. Next, the Chamber filed suit against the activists in federal court, claiming among other things the activism infringed their trademarks.

"Trademark rights do not encompass the right to silence criticism," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "It is our hope that the Chamber will rethink its lawsuit and take a position more consistent with its past support of First Amendment rights."

A response to the Chamber's complaint is due later this month in the U.S. District Court for District of Columbia.

For more on this case:
http://www.eff.org/cases/chamber-commerce-v-servin

Contacts:

Corynne McSherry
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

Matt Zimmerman
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org

November 4, 2009

Join EFF in San Francisco Monday for Discussion on Hollywood vs. Consumers' Rights

San Francisco - Please join the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) for a panel discussion on "The Future of DVD" at the Varnish Gallery in San Francisco on Monday, November 9, at 5:30 p.m.

Panelists include Kaleidescape CEO Michael Malcolm, Real Networks Vice President and General Counsel Bill Way, and EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "The Future of DVD" will examine the legal battles over DVD rentals, ripping, backups, home media servers, and portable media players. The current legal battles involving RealDVD, Kaleidescape, and Redbox underscore the continuing struggle between Hollywood, consumers, and innovators over the future of the DVD.

"The Future of DVD" panel is free and open to the public, and includes a hosted bar. EFF would like to thank Real Networks for helping to make this event possible.

WHAT:
"The Future of DVD" Panel and Happy Hour

WHEN:
Monday, November 9
5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

WHERE:
Varnish Gallery
77 Natoma St.
San Francisco, CA

RSVP:
For more information or to RSVP, please email events@eff.org.

Contact:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Issues:
October 27, 2009

New Website Highlights Outrageous Attempts to Take Down Online Content

San Francisco - Websites like YouTube have ushered in a new era of creativity and free speech on the Internet, but not everyone is celebrating. Some of the web's most interesting content has been yanked from popular websites with bogus copyright claims or other spurious legal threats. So today the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is launching its "Takedown Hall of Shame" to call attention to particularly bogus takedowns — and showcase the amazing online videos and other creative works that someone doesn't want you to see.

"Free speech in the 21st century often depends on incorporating video clips and other content from various sources," explained EFF Senior Staff Attorney and Kahle Promise Fellow Corynne McSherry. "It's what The Daily Show with Jon Stewart does every night. This is 'fair use' of copyrighted or trademarked material and protected under U.S. law. But that hasn't stopped thin-skinned corporations and others from abusing the legal system to get these new works removed from the Internet. We wanted to document this censorship for all to see."

EFF's Takedown Hall of Shame at www.eff.org/takedowns focuses on the most egregious examples of takedown abuse, including an example of a YouTube video National Public Radio tried to remove just this week that criticizes same-sex marriage. Other Hall of Shame honorees include NBC for requesting removal of an Obama campaign video and CBS for targeting a McCain campaign video in the critical months before the 2008 election. The Hall of Shame will be updated regularly, as bad takedowns continue to squash free speech rights of artists, critics, and commentators big and small.

Many of the bogus takedowns come from misuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Under the DMCA, claimants can demand that material be removed immediately without providing any proof of infringement. Service providers, fearful of monetary damages and legal hassles, often comply with these requests without double-checking them, despite the cost to free speech and individual rights.

"The DMCA encourages a 'take down first, ask questions later' approach, creating an unfair hurdle to free speech," said EFF Activist Richard Esguerra. "People who abuse this law to silence critics should be shamed publicly, and that's what we're aiming to do."

The Takedown Hall of Shame is part of EFF's No Downtime for Free Speech Campaign, which works to protect online expression in the face of baseless intellectual property claims.

For EFF's Takedown Hall of Shame:
http://www.eff.org/takedowns

For EFF's No Downtime for Free Speech Campaign:
http://www.eff.org/issues/ip-and-free-speech

Contacts:

Corynne McSherry
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

Richard Esguerra
Activist
Electronic Frontier Foundation
richard@eff.org

October 22, 2009

Business Group Tries to Take Down Parody Site After Embarrassing Prank

San Francisco - Attorneys for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have issued a takedown notice in an attempt to silence a parody website that was posted in support of the Yes Men's embarrassing prank poking fun at the Chamber's stance on climate change legislation.

In a letter sent to the Chamber's attorneys today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) demands that the baseless claims be withdrawn immediately.

"We are very disappointed the Chamber of Commerce decided to respond to political criticism with legal threats," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "The site is obviously intended to highlight and parody the Chamber's controversial views, which have sparked political debate and led high-profile members to withdraw their support from the Chamber."

The effort to take down the website -- currently located at www.chamber-of-commerce.us -- comes on the heels of a Yes Men prank that made international news this week. The group put out a press release and held a spoof news conference on Monday, claiming that the Chamber of Commerce had reversed its position and would stop lobbying against a climate bill currently in the Senate. Several news outlets reported the story before determining it was a prank.

Yesterday afternoon, attorneys for the Chamber sent a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice to the site's upstream provider, Hurricane Electric Internet Services, claiming that the site constituted copyright infringement and demanding that the site be shut down immediately and that the creator's service be canceled.

"Parody is a well-established right, protected under copyright law and the First Amendment," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "Hopefully, the Chamber will reconsider its position and realize that such strong-arm tactics are inappropriate and counter-productive."

For the full text of the letter:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/ip_freespeech/yesmenletter.pdf

For the full text of the DMCA takedown notice:
http://www.eff.org/files/chamber-dmca-notice.pdf

For the parody site:
http://www.chamber-of-commerce.us

Contacts:

Corynne McSherry
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

Matt Zimmerman
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org

October 14, 2009

Mersenne.org Wins EFF's Cooperative Computing Award

San Francisco - A worldwide volunteer computing project called the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS) has discovered a 12-million-digit prime number, netting $100,000 and a Cooperative Computing Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) for discovering a prime number of over 10 million digits.

The GIMPS PrimeNet network made the discovery on a computer at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Mathematics Department. Computing manager Edson Smith installed and maintained the GIMPS software at UCLA, and thousands of other volunteers also participated in the search process. The discovery was hailed by Time magazine as the 29th top invention of 2008.

"Thousands of people and organizations all over the world are part of GIMPS, and discovering this prime number shows how just powerful cooperative computing can be," said PrimeNet's creator, Scott Kurowski.

"We're grateful to the UCLA Mathematics Department for providing its computational resources to the project," said GIMPS founder George Woltman.

The $100,000 prize will be awarded during EFF's Pioneer Awards ceremony on October 22nd at the Westin San Francisco in conjunction with the Web 2.0 Summit, co-produced by O'Reilly and TechWeb.

The winning number is the 45th known Mersenne prime, written shorthand as 2 to the power of 43,112,609, minus 1. A Mersenne number is a positive integer that is one less than a power of two. The GIMPS discovery was announced in the Fibonacci Quarterly journal in August of this year; it is the largest prime number ever discovered.

"Computers sit idle much of the time, waiting for their users do something," said Landon Curt Noll, a mathematician, astronomer, and Cisco employee who serves as the Chair of the EFF Cooperative Computing Award advisory panel. "With EFF's Cooperative Computing Awards, we aim to encourage researchers to pool their computing over the Internet and work together to share resources to solve important problems, fostering new technologies and opportunities for everyone."

GIMPS says it will give $50,000 of the award to the UCLA Mathematics Department and donate $25,000 to charity. The remainder will fund its ongoing research and awards for participants discovering new Mersenne primes.

EFF's first Cooperative Computing Award, given for a prime number of at least a million digits, was awarded nearly 10 years ago, also to a GIMPS participant. Two Cooperative Computing Awards are still up for grabs: EFF will award $150,000 to the first individual or group who discovers a prime with at least 100 million digits, and $250,000 for a prime with at least a billion digits. Prize money comes from a special donation from an individual EFF supporter, earmarked specifically for the project.

Tickets to the Pioneer Awards ceremony are $60 through Friday, October 16, and $80 afterwards. Advance tickets are available at http://action.eff.org/pioneerfundraiser. Members of the media interested in attending should email press@eff.org.

For more on the Cooperative Computing Awards:
http://www.eff.org/awards/coop

For more on the Pioneer Awards:
http://www.eff.org/awards/pioneer

For more on the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search:
http://www.mersenne.org/

Contacts:

Seth Schoen
Staff Technologist
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Landon Curt Noll
Chair
EFF Cooperative Computing Awards Advisory Panel

Scott Kurowski
Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search

[E-mail addresses have been removed from this copy of the press release. For current information on contacting us about the Cooperative Computing Awards, please see the Cooperative Computing Awards rules.]

October 14, 2009

Illegitimate Patent Could Cripple Adoption of Voice-Over-Internet Technologies

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is challenging a dangerous patent on voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) that could cripple the adoption of new VoIP technologies.

A communications company named Acceris was awarded this illegitimate patent for hardware, software, and processes for implementing VoIP using analog telephones as endpoints -- covering many telephone calls made over the Internet. But in a reexamination request filed today with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), EFF and the law firm Fenwick & West LLP show that a prior patent as well as published reference material both describe the underlying technology well before Acceris made its claim.

"Bogus patents like this one highlight the problems with our current patent system," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "Patenting technology that is an obvious combination of well understood technological conventions opens the door to lawsuits against legitimate innovators who are creating new VoIP products in good faith."

"The overly broad claims in Acceris's patent are stifling innovation and creating uncertainty in the important field of Internet telephony," said Nikhil Iyengar of Fenwick &West. "We are confident that the Patent Office will carefully review the arguments we have presented in our reexamination request."

The challenge to the Acceris patent is part of EFF's Patent Busting Project, which combats the chilling effects of bad patents on the public and consumer interests. So far, seven patents targeted by EFF have been busted, invalidated, narrowed, or had a reexamination granted by the Patent Office.

For the full reexamination request:
https://www.eff.org/files/13487_Ex_Parte_reexamination_request_c.pdf

Contacts:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Nikhil Iyengar
Fenwick & West LLP
niyengar@fenwick.com

Related Issues:
October 13, 2009

Baseless Legal Threats Squash Free Speech, Innovation

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) warned Texas Instruments (TI) today not to pursue its baseless legal threats against calculator hobbyists who blogged about potential modifications to the company's programmable graphing calculators.

TI's calculators perform a "signature check" that allows only approved operating systems to be loaded onto the hardware. But researchers were able to reverse-engineer signing keys, allowing tinkers to install custom operating systems and unlock new functionality in the calculators' hardware. In response to this discovery, TI unleashed a torrent of demand letters claiming that the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) required the hobbyists to take down commentary about and links to the keys. EFF represents three men who received such letters.

"The DMCA should not be abused to censor online discussion by people who are behaving perfectly legally," said Tom Cross, who blogs at memestreams.net. "It's legal to engage in reverse engineering, and its legal to talk about reverse engineering."

In fact, the DMCA explicitly allows reverse engineering to create interoperable custom software like the programs the hobbyists are using. Additionally, TI makes its software freely available on its website, so there is no connection between the use of the keys and unauthorized distribution of the code.

"This is not about copyright infringement. This is about running your own software on your own device -- a calculator you legally bought," said EFF Civil Liberties Director Jennifer Granick. "Yet TI still issued empty legal threats in an attempt to shut down discussion of this legitimate tinkering. Hobbyists are taking their own tools and making them better, in the best tradition of American innovation."

For the full letters sent to Texas Instruments by EFF on behalf of their clients:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/coders/TI%20Claim%20Ltr%20101309.pdf

Contact:

Jennifer Stisa Granick
Civil Liberties Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jennifer@eff.org

October 6, 2009

EFF to Honor Limor "Ladyada" Fried, Harri Hursti, and Carl Malamud at San Francisco Ceremony

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is pleased to announce the winners of its 2009 Pioneer Awards: hardware hacker Limor "Ladyada" Fried, e-voting security researcher Harri Hursti, and public domain advocate Carl Malamud.

The award ceremony will be held at 7 p.m., October 22nd, at the Westin San Francisco in conjunction with the Web 2.0 Summit, co-produced by O'Reilly and TechWeb. LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffmann will keynote the event.

Limor "Ladyada" Fried is a pioneer in the field of open-source hardware and software hacking, helping the general public to engineer and adapt consumer electronics to better suit their needs. Her do-it-yourself ethic is founded on the idea that consumer electronics are best modified for use by customers, not corporations. Fried runs her own company, Adafruit Industries, which sells unique and fun do-it-yourself kits to help consumers make gadgets such as backup iPod chargers, green power monitors, and programmable displays for bicycle wheels. She also hosts an Internet video program called "Citizen Engineer" that provides step-by-step instructions to help consumers build and alter their own home devices.

Harri Hursti discovered gaping vulnerabilities in the widely used optical scan voting machines manufactured by Diebold Election Systems in 2005, in collaboration with the Leon County, Florida, Supervisor of Elections and elections watchdog group BBV. The "Hursti Hack," as his breakthrough became known, brought about far-reaching scrutiny of voting machine hardware and software. Research conducted in other states confirmed numerous systematic flaws and led to the decertification of thousands of faulty voting machines. Hursti is currently Chief Technical Officer of the Clear Ballot Group, a Boston company that builds tools to rigorously and transparently verify election results.

Carl Malamud is a technologist, author, and public domain advocate, currently known for his foundation, public.resource.org. As founder of the Internet Multicasting Service, Malamud was responsible for creating the first Internet radio station, for putting the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's EDGAR database on-line, and for creating the Internet 1996 World Exposition. Malamud is the author of eight books, including "Exploring the Internet" and "A World's Fair." He was a visiting professor at the MIT Media Laboratory and is the former chairman of the Internet Software Consortium.

"The Pioneer Award winners this year have empowered all of us as consumers, voters, and citizens, making sure that advances in technology enhance our lives instead of hemming us in," said EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. "We're proud to honor Limor, Harri, and Carl for the invaluable contributions they have made to our digital world."

Awarded every year since 1992, the Pioneer Awards recognize leaders who are extending freedom and innovation on the electronic frontier. Past honorees include World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, Linux creator Linus Torvalds, and the Mozilla Foundation and its chairman Mitchell Baker, among many others.

Each year, candidates are nominated by the public with winners chosen by a panel of judges. This year's panel includes Kim Alexander (President and founder, California Voter Foundation), Cory Doctorow (award-winning author and activist), Mitch Kapor (President, Kapor Enterprises and co-founder and former chairman of EFF), Drazen Pantic (Co-director, Location One), Barbara Simons (IBM Research [Retired] and former president ACM), and James Tyre (Co-founder, The Censorware Project and EFF policy fellow).

Pioneer Awards keynoter Reid Hoffman is Executive Chairman and a co-founder of LinkedIn. Previously, Hoffman was Executive Vice President of PayPal and has also held management roles at Fujitsu Software Corporation and Apple. Hoffman serves on the Board of Directors for SixApart, Kiva.org, and the Mozilla Corporation. Sponsors of the Pioneer Awards ceremony include MetroPCS, eBay, Microsoft, SaurikIT and Facebook.

Tickets to the Pioneer Awards ceremony are $60 through Friday October 16, and $80 afterwards. You can buy your tickets in advance at http://action.eff.org/pioneerfundraiser. Members of the media interested in attending should email press@eff.org.

For more information about the Pioneer Awards:
http://www.eff.org/awards/pioneer

Contacts:

Katina Bishop
Development Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
katina@eff.org

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

September 24, 2009

Government Must Provide More Information on Campaign to Give Telecoms Retroactive Immunity

San Francisco - A judge ordered the government Thursday to release more records about the lobbying campaign to provide immunity to the telecommunications giants that participated in the NSA's warrantless surveillance program. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White ordered the records be provided to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) by October 9, 2009.

The decision is part of EFF's long-running battle to gather information about telecommunications lobbying conducted as Congress considered granting immunity to companies that participated in illegal government electronic surveillance. Telecom immunity was eventually passed as part of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) of 2008, but a bill that would repeal the immunity -- called the JUSTICE Act -- was introduced in the Senate last week.

"Today's ruling is a major victory for government transparency," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "As the court recognized, it was unlawful for the government to deny Americans access to this information in the midst of the debate over telecom immunity last year. We're pleased these records will now be available to the public as Congress considers the JUSTICE Act."

EFF has been seeking information about the telecom lobbying campaign under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) since 2007, as news reports detailed an extensive and expensive lobbying campaign seeking immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in unlawful surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans. Officials at the Bush Administration's Department of Justice (DOJ) and Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) were vocal supporters of the immunity proposals, working closely with telecoms. Using the FOIA, EFF asked the DOJ and the ODNI for any communications between the agencies, members of Congress, and telecom companies related to lobbying for telecom immunity.

The DOJ and ODNI argued that the records requested by EFF were protected by FOIA exemptions covering agency deliberations and other privileged communications. But in today's order, the judge ruled that as the communications were with Congress and lobbyists, the exemptions did not apply. The judge also found that the identities of telecom representatives who lobbied for immunity could not be kept from the public on privacy grounds.

"Today's ruling shows that aggressive use of the Freedom of Information Act is necessary to challenge government secrecy," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "We cannot allow the government to drag its feet in making relevant information available to the American public."

EFF also represents the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, a class-action lawsuit brought by AT&T customers accusing the telecom of violating their rights by illegally assisting in widespread domestic surveillance. In June of 2009, a federal judge dismissed Hepting and dozens of other lawsuits against telecoms, ruling that the companies had immunity from liability under the FAA. EFF is appealing the decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, primarily arguing that the FAA's immunity provision is unconstitutional in granting the president broad discretion to block the courts from considering the core constitutional privacy claims of millions of Americans.

For the full order:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/foia_C0705278/OrderGrantSJ-Sep09.pdf

For more on the litigation:
http://www.eff.org/issues/foia/cases/C-07-05278

For more on the JUSTICE Act:
http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/09/eff-supports-justice

Contacts:

Marcia Hofmann
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
marcia@eff.org

Kurt Opsahl
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
kurt@eff.org

Related Issues:
September 8, 2009

Ability to Track Readers Puts Privacy at Risk

New York - A coalition of authors and publishers—including best-sellers Michael Chabon, Jonathan Lethem, and technical author Bruce Schneier—is urging a federal judge to reject the proposed settlement in a lawsuit over Google Book Search, arguing that the sweeping agreement to digitize millions of books ignores critical privacy rights for readers and writers.

The group of more than two dozen authors and publishers, represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Samuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (Samuelson clinic), filed an objection to the settlement today. The coalition is concerned that Google’s collection of personal identifying information about users who browse, read, and make purchases online at Google Book Search will chill their readership.

"Google Book Search and other digital book projects will redefine the way people read and research," said Lethem, winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award. "Now is the moment to make sure that Google Book Search is as private as the world of physical books. If future readers know that they are leaving a digital trail for others to follow, they may shy away from important intellectual journeys."

The settlement, currently pending approval from a New York federal district court, would end the legal challenges brought by the Authors' Guild over the Google Book Search project. It would give Google the green light to scan and digitize millions of books and allow users to search for and read those books online. However, Google’s system could monitor what books users search for, how much of the books they read, and how long they spend on various pages. Google could then combine information about readers’ habits and interests with additional information it collects from other Google services, creating a massive "digital dossier" that would be vulnerable to fishing expeditions by law enforcement or civil litigants.

"I believe that the fear of tracking will create a chilling effect on my readers and reduce my readership, and therefore my revenue, from these books," said Schneier, a computer security expert. "Moreover, I write these books in order to participate in the public debate on security issues. Reduced readership negatively impacts my expressive interests as an author."

In the objection filed today, the coalition asks the court to require Google to create a robust privacy policy that gives readers as much privacy in online books as they have in a library or a bookstore and to ensure that the policy is enforceable and overseen by the court on an ongoing basis. The authors and publishers present a list of privacy protections that would improve the settlement, including limiting tracking of users by requiring a court order or judge-approved warrant before disclosure of the information collected, ensuring user control of personal information stored by Google, and making the system transparent to readers. After much pressure from EFF, ACLU, the Samuelson clinic, and others, Google finally issued a privacy policy for Google Books on September 3, 2009. However, that policy doesn’t guarantee that Google will require court approval before disclosing reader information, and it doesn’t sufficiently limit Google’s retention of that information. It is also changeable by Google at any time.

A hearing on the fairness of the proposed Google Book Search settlement is set for October 7, 2009, in New York.

For today's filing:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/authorsguild_v_google/File%20Stamped%20Brf.pdf

For more on this case:
http://www.eff.org/cases/authors-guild-v-google

Contacts:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Jason Schultz
Director
Samuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinic
jschultz@law.berkeley.edu

Robyn Shepherd
Media Relations
American Civil Liberties Union
media@aclu.org

Related Issues:
August 21, 2009

EFF Battles Heavy-Handed Tactics Threatening Free Speech

Chicago - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has asked an Illinois Circuit Court judge to quash subpoenas aimed at outing opponents of a controversial city project.

In December, local residents filed a lawsuit in state court against the city of Chicago and local developers, challenging the legality of a development project in the city's Uptown neighborhood. In response, the "Wilson Yard Defendants," six firms associated with Chicago developer Peter Holsten, issued subpoenas directing Google and a local neighborhood association to unmask anonymous online critics who had discussed either the project or Alderman Helen Shiller, the primary governmental sponsor of the project.

EFF and co-counsel Charles Mudd Jr. obtained a temporary order protecting the anonymous speakers in July, while the defendants asked that the court wait to consider whether to dismiss the subpoenas until after the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. With the amended complaint now filed, providing no support for the subpoenas, EFF and Mudd have moved to quash the subpoenas outright.

"The right to speak anonymously is a fundamental element of the First Amendment. Individuals need to know that they can express their views, and do so without fear of legal reprisal," said EFF Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "Efforts to target critics of government-sponsored activity are precisely what the First Amendment is designed to prevent."

While anonymous online speakers can be unmasked in certain narrow circumstances, none of them apply in this case. In a motion to quash the subpoenas filed Friday, EFF argues that the identities of the critics have no bearing on issue before the court -- a lawsuit that concerns land-use ordinances. EFF has repeatedly tried to resolve the matter with the developer's attorneys but to no avail.

"Enough is enough," said Zimmerman. "The defendants are demonstrating a callous disregard for the First Amendment and cannot be allowed to abuse the judicial process any longer."

The sites targeted by the subpoena to Google were community websites "Uptown Update" (www.uptownupdate.com) and "What the Helen" (defunct since 2007). Also targeted with a separate subpoena was non-profit neighborhood association Buena Park Neighbors (www.buenaparkneighbors.org).

For the full motion to quash the subpoenas:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/fix_wilson_yard/FIXWILSONYARD92109.pdf

Contacts:

Matt Zimmerman
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org

Related Issues:
August 5, 2009

On Locational Privacy, And How to Avoid Losing it Forever

San Francisco - Innovative new technologies can make it easier to pay your bridge toll or bus fare, to search for nearby businesses from your cell phone, and to get in and out of secure areas with a card instead of a key. But these systems also pose a dramatic threat to locational privacy -- your ability to move in public spaces without the systematic recording of where you are and when you are there.

In a report released today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) documents how your location information is collected by various popular electronic devices and services, and argues for concrete technological solutions that would allow you to enjoy these systems' benefits without sacrificing your privacy in your everyday life.

"There are nifty new location-based technologies like electronic road-toll tags and cell-phone apps that alert you when your friends are nearby -- but these systems often create and store records of your movements," said EFF Staff Technologist Peter Eckersley, one of the co-writers of the white paper. "This could make it possible for others to know when you visited a health clinic, what church or bar you spend time in, or who you go to lunch with. It is essential that privacy-protecting algorithms are built into these devices and services, so we can enjoy their convenience without making our private lives into open books."

Systems that track people's movements are gaining in popularity, and over the next decade, it's likely that these technologies will be indelibly woven into the fabric of everyday life. The report tackles specific services in use today, and details encryption strategies and designs that would protect sensitive location information.

"The technical solution to preserving privacy in digital services lies in modern cryptography and careful design," said Stanford University mathematician Andrew J. Blumberg, the white paper's other co-writer. "It may seem counterintuitive, but using cryptography, these systems can function without collecting and storing personal data at all. The best way for systems to protect user data is not to collect it in the first place; then the information is not available for anyone to buy, steal, or obtain by subpoena -- it would stay truly private."

For the full white paper "On Locational Privacy, and How to Avoid Losing it Forever":
http://www.eff.org/wp/locational-privacy

Contacts:

Peter Eckersley
Staff Technologist
Electronic Frontier Foundation
pde@eff.org

Andrew J. Blumberg
Postdoctoral Fellow
Stanford University
blumberg@math.stanford.edu

Related Issues:
July 22, 2009

Free Speech Vindicated, EFF Dismisses Suit

San Francisco - Apple has retracted its legal threats against public wiki hosting site Bluwiki, and, in response, EFF is dismissing its lawsuit against Apple over those threats. The skirmish involved a set of anonymously authored wiki pages in which hobbyists were discussing how to "sync" media to iPods and iPhones using music library playback software other than Apple's own iTunes.

In November 2008, Apple sent a series of legal threats to the operator of Bluwiki, alleging that these hobbyist discussions about interoperability violated copyright law and constituted a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), even though the author(s) of the pages had not yet figured out how to accomplish their goal. In response to Apple's legal threats, Bluwiki took down the wiki pages in question. In April 2009, EFF and the San Francisco law firm Keker & Van Nest sued Apple on behalf of OdioWorks, which runs Bluwiki, asking a court to reject Apple's claims and allow Bluwiki to restore the discussions.

On July 8, 2009, Apple sent letter withdrawing its cease-and-desist demands and stating that "Apple no longer has, nor will it have in the future, any objection to the publication of the iTunesDB Pages." As a result, EFF has moved to dismiss its complaint against Apple.

"While we are glad that Apple retracted its baseless legal threats, we are disappointed that it only came after 7 months of censorship and a lawsuit," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "Because Apple continues to use technical measures to lock iPod Touch and iPhone owners into -- and Palm Pre owners out of -- using Apple's iTunes software, I wouldn't be surprised if there are more discussions among frustrated customers about reverse engineering Apple products. We hope Apple has learned its lesson here and will give those online discussions a wide berth in the future."

For more details:
http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/07/apple-backs-down-blu

For more information about OdioWorks v. Apple:
http://www.eff.org/cases/odioworks-v-apple

Contact:

Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
fred@eff.org

Related Issues:
July 22, 2009

Lawsuit Seeks Public Disclosure of Oversight Records Amidst New Questions About Accountability

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit today against the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a half-dozen other federal agencies involved in intelligence gathering, demanding the immediate release of reports about potential misconduct. EFF filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), requesting records of intelligence agencies' reporting of activities since 2001 that might have been unlawful or contrary to presidential order.

"By executive order, federal intelligence agencies must submit concerns about potentially illegal activity to the Intelligence Oversight Board and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence," said EFF Open Government Legal Fellow Nate Cardozo. "Intelligence agencies are given a wide berth for national security reasons, but at a minimum they're required to act within the limits of the law. These records hold important details about how well the Executive Branch's internal checks operate."

The members of the Intelligence Oversight Board were appointed by the president to advise on intelligence matters. Until last year, all intelligence agencies were required to report to the board "any intelligence activities of their organizations that they have reason to believe may be unlawful or contrary to Executive order or Presidential directive." The board was tasked with reviewing those reports, summarizing them, and forwarding to the president those that it believed described violations of the law. Last year, President Bush reassigned many of these responsibilities, including reviewing agency reports, to the Director of National Intelligence.

A storm of media coverage following this month's disclosure that the CIA chose to keep Congress in the dark about a plan to train anti-terrorist assassin teams has brought the lack of transparency in intelligence reporting to a head. Lawmakers have accused the CIA of deliberately misleading Congress and are calling for an investigation into officials' conduct. The reports the agencies have provided to the Intelligence Oversight Board undoubtedly contain information that will shed some light on incidents such as this -- information that is necessary in order to provide appropriate oversight.

In addition to the CIA, EFF's lawsuit names the Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice (including the FBI), the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Energy, and the Department of State -- all of which failed to comply with FOIA requests seeking records and reports of concerns about intelligence activity that might have stepped over the bounds of the law.

"The CIA is not the only agency that has faced questions about the legality of its intelligence programs," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "Electronic surveillance and other intelligence activities have come under increasing scrutiny during the past several years. We're seeking information that will shed light on incidents of intelligence misconduct, how often they happen, and how effective oversight is for controversial programs. The agencies must follow the law and release these records to the public."

For the full complaint:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/intel_oversight/IOB.FOIA.Complaint.pdf

Contacts:

Nate Cardozo
Open Government Legal Fellow
Electronic Frontier Foundation
nate@eff.org

Marcia Hofmann
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
marcia@eff.org

Related Issues:
July 21, 2009

EFF Releases 'Surveillance Self-Defense International' for Iranian Dissidents and Other Protestors

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released "Surveillance Self-Defense International" (SSDI) today, a practical guide to help activists from around the world use the Internet safely under repressive regimes. It is available at: http://www.eff.org/wp/surveillance-self-defense-international.

Recent political protests in Iran, China, and elsewhere have demonstrated the enormous power of the Internet for organizing protests and reporting events to the world. But governments have also used the Internet to track, harass, and undermine. SSDI urges activists to consider the risks in using various technologies and outlines strategies that can allow protestors to continue to use the Internet safely.

"The Internet remains a powerful way to give voice to repressed people around the world," said EFF Staff Technologist Peter Eckersley. "But with increasingly prevalent government censorship and surveillance, citizens seeking free expression must consider the risks and make careful decisions about how they use the Internet. Surveillance Self-Defense International can help them make those decisions well."

Individuals outside of repressive regimes can also read the guide to find ideas for remotely assisting others in circumventing censorship and speaking out anonymously on the Internet. Shortly after the contested Iranian election, many activists sought advice on using their computers to set up proxies or Tor nodes to help Iranian citizens access the web.

"Surveillance Self-Defense International isn't just about what to do when facing down surveillance and censorship in your own country," said Danny O'Brien, EFF's International Outreach Coordinator. "It's about what ordinary Net users can do to help protect others. Whoever you are, and wherever you are, you can help keep the Net safe for free speech."

SSDI is an offshoot of EFF's Surveillance Self-Defense manual, an online how-to guide for protecting private data against government spying in the U.S. SSDI reflects the fact that the best strategies to achieve privacy are very different for people in the U.S. and people living elsewhere, sometimes under authoritarian regimes.

For "Surveillance Self-Defense International":
http://www.eff.org/wp/surveillance-self-defense-international

Contacts:

Peter Eckersley
Staff Technologist
Electronic Frontier Foundation
pde@eff.org

Danny O'Brien
International Outreach Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
danny@eff.org

July 13, 2009

EFF Faces Off Against Obama Administration in Jewel v. NSA

San Francisco - On Wednesday, July 15, at 10:30 a.m., a federal judge in San Francisco will hear arguments in the government's motion to dismiss Jewel v. NSA, a case from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) challenging dragnet government surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans.

The Justice Department moved to dismiss the case in April, arguing that litigation over the warrantless wiretapping program would require the government to disclose privileged "state secrets" -- essentially repeating the arguments made by the Bush Administration in its attempts to block lawsuits over the illegal spying. The Justice Department also claims that the U.S. possesses "sovereign immunity" and cannot be held accountable for illegal surveillance under any federal statutes.

In Wednesday's hearing, EFF will argue that the lawsuit cannot be dismissed based on the government's blanket secrecy assertion, as made clear in previous court decisions concerning NSA spying and the CIA's special rendition program, and that the government is not immune against suit for violating federal wiretapping statutes.

For more information about attending the hearing, please contact press@eff.org.

WHAT:
Jewel v. NSA hearing on the government's motion to dismiss

WHEN:
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
10:30 a.m.

WHERE:
450 Golden Gate Ave., Courtroom 6
San Francisco, CA 94102

For more on Jewel v NSA: http://www.eff.org/cases/jewel

Contact:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Issues:
July 2, 2009

EFF Argues Phones Ringing in Public Do Not Violate Copyright Law

New York - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged a federal court Wednesday to reject bogus copyright claims in a ringtone royalty battle that could raise costs for consumers, jeopardize consumer rights, and curtail new technological innovation.

Millions of Americans have bought musical ringtones, often clips from favorite popular songs, for their mobile phones. Mobile phone carriers pay royalties to song owners for the right to sell these snippets to their customers. But as part of a ploy to squeeze more money out of the mobile phone companies, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) has told a federal court that each time a phone rings in a public place, the phone user has violated copyright law. Therefore, ASCAP argues, phone carriers must pay additional royalties or face legal liability for contributing to what they claim is cell phone users' copyright infringement. In an amicus brief filed Wednesday, EFF points out that copyright law does not reach public performances "without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage" -- clearly the case with cell phone ringtones. If phone users are not infringing copyright law, then mobile phone service providers are not contributing to any infringement.

"This is an outlandish argument from ASCAP," said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "Are the millions of people who have bought ringtones breaking the law if they forget to silence their phones in a restaurant? Under this reasoning from ASCAP, it would be a copyright violation for you to play your car radio with the window down!"

ASCAP has responded by saying that it does not plan to charge mobile phone users, just mobile phone service providers. But if ASCAP prevails, consumers could find themselves targeted by other copyright owners for "public performances." Worse, these wrongheaded legal claims cast a shadow over innovators who are building gadgets that help consumers get the most from their copyright privileges.

"Because it is legal for consumers to play music in public, it's also legal for my mobile phone carrier to sell me a ringtone and a phone to do it," said von Lohmann. "Otherwise it would be illegal to sell all kinds of technologies that help us enjoy our fair use, first sale, and other copyright privileges."

The Center for Democracy and Technology and Public Knowledge also joined the EFF brief.

For the full amicus brief:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/US_v_ASCAP/US%20v%20ASCAP%20EFF%20ATT%20Brief.pdf

For more on this case:
http://www.eff.org/cases/us-v-ascap

Contact:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Issues:
June 24, 2009

Lawsuit Seeks Disclosure of Guidelines Governing Investigations of Americans

Washington, D.C. - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit against the Department of Justice today, demanding the public release of the surveillance guidelines that govern investigations of Americans by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The FBI's Domestic Investigative Operational Guidelines went into effect in December of 2008 and detail the Bureau's procedures and standards for implementing the Attorney General's Guidelines on approved surveillance strategies.

"The Attorney General's Guidelines are troubling, allowing for open investigative 'assessments' of any American without factual basis or reasonable suspicion," said EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel. "The withholding of the Operational Guidelines compounds our concerns. Americans have the right to know the basic surveillance policies used by federal investigators and how their privacy is -- or is not -- being protected."

The FBI's general counsel has acknowledged that "the expansion of techniques available [to the Bureau] has raised privacy and civil liberties concerns." Investigations can include the electronic collection of information from online sources and computer databases, as well as the use of grand jury subpoenas to obtain telephone and email subscriber information. Other recent policy changes allow the FBI to engage in free-ranging investigation of Internet sites, libraries, and religious institutions.

EFF's lawsuit comes after the Department of Justice failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for a complete copy of the Domestic Investigative Operational Guidelines. The suit demands the immediate release of the guidelines, as they are being withheld in violation of federal law.

"These policies have been in effect for more than six months and could have great impact on ordinary Americans' lives," said Sobel. "The FBI must follow the law and release these guidelines to the public."

For the full complaint:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/FBI_guidelines/fbi_diog_complaint_final.pdf

Contact:

David Sobel
Senior Counsel
Electronic Frontier Foundation
sobel@eff.org

Related Issues:
June 17, 2009

Government's 'National Security' Claims Keep IP Treaty Under Wraps

Washington, D.C. - The Obama Administration's decision to support Bush-era concealment policies has forced the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Public Knowledge (PK) to drop their lawsuit about the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). EFF and PK had been seeking important documents about the secret intellectual property enforcement treaty that has broad implications for global privacy and innovation.

Federal judges have very little discretion to overrule Executive Branch decisions to classify information on "national security" grounds, and the Obama Administration has recently informed the court that it intends to defend the classification claims originally made by the Bush Administration.

"We're extremely disappointed that we have to end our lawsuit, but there is no point in continuing it if we're not going to obtain information before ACTA is finalized," said EFF International Policy Director Gwen Hinze. "There's a fundamental fairness issue at stake here. It's now clear that the negotiating texts and background documents for this trade agreement have been made available to representatives of major media copyright owners and pharmaceutical companies on the Industry Trade Advisory Committee on Intellectual Property. Yet private citizens -- who stand to be greatly affected by ACTA -- have had to rely on unofficial leaks for any substantive information about the treaty and have had no opportunity for meaningful input into the negotiation process. This can hardly be described as transparent or balanced policy-making."

"Even though we have reluctantly dropped this lawsuit, we will continue to press the U.S. Trade Representative and the Obama Administration on the ACTA issues," said Public Knowledge Deputy Legal Director Sherwin Siy. "The issues are too far-reaching and too important to allow this important agreement to be negotiated behind closed doors," he added.

Very little is known about ACTA, currently under negotiation between the U.S. and more than a dozen other countries, other than that it is not limited to anti-counterfeiting measures. Leaked documents indicate that it could establish far-reaching customs regulations governing searches over personal computers and iPods. Multi-national IP corporations have publicly requested mandatory filtering of Internet communications for potentially copyright-infringing material, as well as the adoption of "Three Strikes" policies requiring the termination of Internet access after repeat allegations of copyright infringement, like the legislation recently invalidated in France. Last year, more than 100 public interest organizations around the world called on ACTA country negotiators to make the draft text available for public comment.

EFF and Public Knowledge first filed suit against the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in September of 2008 demanding that background documents on ACTA be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Rather than pursuing a lawsuit with little chance of forcing the disclosure of key ACTA documents, EFF and Public Knowledge will devote their efforts to advocating for consumer representation on the U.S. Industry Trade Advisory Committee on IP, the creation of a civil society trade advisory committee, and greater government transparency about what ACTA means for citizens.

For more on this case:
http://www.eff.org/cases/eff-and-public-knowledge-v-ustr

For more on ACTA:
http://www.eff.org/issues/acta

Contacts:

David Sobel
Senior Counsel
Electronic Frontier Foundation
sobel@eff.org

Gwen Hinze
International Policy Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
gwen@eff.org

Art Brodsky
Communications Director
Public Knowledge
abrodsky@publicknowledge.org

June 16, 2009

Patent Busting Project Wins Another Victory for Developers and Innovators

San Francisco - The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has announced that it will revoke an illegitimate patent on Internet subdomains as a result of the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF) Patent Busting Project campaign.

U.S. Patent No. 6,687,746, now held by Hoshiko, LLC, claimed to cover the method of automatically assigning Internet subdomains, like "action.eff.org" for the parent domain "eff.org." Previous patent owner Ideaflood used this bogus patent to demand payment from website hosting companies offering personalized domains, such as LiveJournal, a social networking site where each of its three million users may have their own subdomain.

In the original reexamination request, EFF and Rick Mc Leod of Klarquist Sparkman, LLP, showed that the method Ideaflood claimed to have invented was well known before the patent was issued. In fact, website developers were having public discussions about how to create these virtual subdomains on an Apache developer mailing list and on Usenet more than a year before Ideaflood filed its patent application. The open source community's public record of the technology development provided the linchpin to EFF's patent challenge.

"In the reexam, the Patent Office systematically rejected each of Hoshiko's arguments as well as the patent claims. We were fortunate to have the Internet Archive and Usenet Archive as proof of the prior work by the open source community," said Rick Mc Leod, who drafted the EFF petition.

"This patent was particularly troubling because the company tried to remove the work of open source developers from the public domain and use it to threaten others," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "Ironically, the transparent open source development process gave us the tools to bust the patent!"

The challenge to the Ideaflood patent is part of EFF's Patent Busting Project, which combats the chilling effects that bad patents have on public and consumer interests. This marks the second patent completely "busted" by the project, which has also resulted in the narrowing of another patent and the ongoing reexaminations of three more. Hoshiko can appeal the decision.

For the notice from the Patent Office:
http://w2.eff.org/patent/wanted/ideaflood/6687746_final_rejection.pdf

For more on EFF's Patent Busting Project:
http://www.eff.org/patent

Contacts:

Cindy Cohn
Legal Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
cindy@eff.org

Rick Mc Leod
Klarquist Sparkman, LLP
rick.mcleod@klarquist.com

Related Issues:
June 11, 2009

Urges Court to Rule Email Privacy Is Constitutionally Protected

Cincinnati - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and other civil liberties groups filed an amicus brief in Warshak v. United States urging the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday to hold that the government's seizure of email without a warrant violated the Fourth Amendment and federal privacy statutes, as well as the Justice Department's own surveillance manual.

During its criminal investigation, the Department of Justice illegally ordered defendant Stephen Warshak's email provider to prospectively "preserve" copies of his future emails, which the government later obtained using a subpoena and a non-probable cause court order. The government accomplished this "back door wiretap" by misusing the Stored Communications Act (SCA), which is only supposed to be used for obtaining emails already in storage with a provider.

In Wednesday's filing, EFF argues that the government's seizure violated federal privacy laws and Warshak's Fourth Amendment expectation of privacy in his email. As a result, the illegally seized emails should have been suppressed by the district court where Warshak was tried. All told, the government acquired over 27,000 emails spanning over six months from Warshak's email provider, all without probable cause.

"The Justice Department not only violated the Fourth Amendment and federal privacy statutes but its own surveillance manual when it conducted this 'back door wiretap' to intercept six months worth of emails without a warrant," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "Thankfully, this abuse has given the appeals court yet another opportunity to clarify that the Fourth Amendment protects the privacy of email against secret government snooping, even when it's in the hands of an email provider."

EFF filed a similar amicus brief with the 6th Circuit in 2006 in a civil suit brought by Warshak against the government for its warrantless seizure of his emails. There, the 6th Circuit agreed with EFF that email users have a Fourth Amendment-protected expectation of privacy in the email they store with their email providers, though that decision was later vacated on procedural grounds.

"The government's illegal email surveillance in this case raises troubling questions about how often the Justice Department has bent the law or broken it outright in other criminal investigations," said Bankston. "This 'back door wiretap' is yet another demonstration of why Congress must update the federal surveillance statutes to require comprehensive reporting on how the government is using its spying authorities."

The amicus brief was also signed by the ACLU of Ohio and the Center for Democracy and Technology.

For the full amicus brief:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/Warshak_EFF_Amicus_Brief.pdf

Contact:

Kevin Bankston
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
bankston@eff.org

Related Issues:
June 4, 2009

New Tool Documents Changes in Policy on the Internet's Biggest Websites

San Francisco - "Terms of Service" policies on websites define how Internet businesses interact with you and use your personal information. But most web users don't read these policies -- or understand that the terms are constantly changing. To track these ever-evolving documents, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is launching "TOSBack": a "terms of service" tracker for Facebook, Google, eBay, and other major websites.

"Terms of service form the foundation of your relationship with social networking sites, online businesses, and other Internet communities, but most people become aware of these terms only when there's a problem," said EFF Activism and Technology Manager Tim Jones. "We created TOSBack to help consumers monitor terms of service for the websites they use everyday, and show how the terms change over time."

At www.TOSBack.org, you can see a real-time feed of changes and updates to more than three dozen polices from the Internet's most popular online services. Clicking on an update brings you to a side-by-side before-and-after comparison, highlighting what has been removed from the policy and what has been added.

The issue of terms-of-service changes -- and how and why they are made -- was highlighted earlier this year when Facebook modified its terms of use. Facebook users worried that the change gave the company the right to use members' content indefinitely. After a user revolt, Facebook announced that it would restore the former terms while it worked through the concerns users had raised.

"Some changes to terms of service are good for consumers, and some are bad," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "But Internet users are increasingly trusting websites with everything from their photos to their 'friends lists' to their calendar -- and sometimes even their medical information. TOSBack will help consumers flag changes in the websites they use every day and trust with their personal information."

For TOSBack:
http://www.TOSBack.org

Contacts:

Tim Jones
Activism and Technology Manager
Electronic Frontier Foundation
tim@eff.org

Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
fred@eff.org

June 3, 2009

Judge Rules Telecoms Have Immunity Under Unconstitutional FISA Amendments Act

San Francisco - A federal judge today dismissed dozens of lawsuits over illegal domestic surveillance of American citizens, ruling that telecommunications companies had immunity from liability under the controversial FISA Amendments Act (FISAAA). The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) California and Illinois affiliates are planning to appeal the decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that FISAAA is unconstitutional.

"We're deeply disappointed in Judge Walker's ruling today," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "The retroactive immunity law unconstitutionally takes away Americans' claims arising out of the First and Fourth Amendments, violates the federal government's separation of powers as established in the Constitution, and robs innocent telecom customers of their rights without due process of law."

Signed by President Bush in 2008, the FISAAA allowed for the dismissal of the lawsuits over the telecoms' participation in the warrantless surveillance program if the government secretly certifies to the court that the surveillance did not occur, was legal, or was authorized by the president. Then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey filed that classified certification with the court in September and demanded that the cases be dismissed.

"The immunity legislation that the court upheld today gives the telephone companies a free pass for flouting the law and violating the privacy rights of millions of their customers," said Ann Brick, ACLU of Northern California staff attorney.

In today's ruling, Judge Walker left the door open to accountability for the government, holding that "plaintiffs retain a means of redressing the harms alleged in their complaints by proceeding against governmental actors and entities who are, after all, the primary actors in the alleged wiretapping activities." EFF is also suing the government for the illegal surveillance in a separate case, Jewel v. NSA.

EFF and the ACLU are co-coordinating counsel for all 46 outstanding lawsuits concerning the government's warrantless surveillance program. Additionally, EFF is representing the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of millions of AT&T customers whose private domestic communications and communications records were illegally handed over to the National Security Agency.

"By passing the retroactive immunity for the telecoms' complicity in the warrantless wiretapping program, Congress abdicated its duty to the American people," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "Now it is up to the Court of Appeals to stand up for the Constitution, and reverse today's decision."

For the full order from Judge Walker:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/att/orderhepting6309_0.pdf

Contacts:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Rebecca Farmer
Media Relations Director
ACLU of Northern California
rfarmer@aclunc.org

Related Issues:
May 27, 2009

New Curriculum Gives Students the Facts About Their Digital Rights and Responsibilities

San Francisco - As the entertainment industry promotes its new anti-copying educational program to the nation's teachers, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today launched its own "Teaching Copyright" curriculum and website to help educators give students the real story about their digital rights and responsibilities on the Internet and beyond.

The Copyright Alliance -- backed by the recording, broadcast, and software industries -- has given its curriculum the ominous title "Think First, Copy Later." This is just the latest example of copyright-focused educational materials portraying the use of new technology as a high-risk behavior. For example, industry materials have routinely compared downloading music to stealing a bicycle, even though many downloads are lawful, and making videos using short clips from other sources is treated as probably illegal even though many such videos are also lawful. EFF created Teaching Copyright as a balanced curriculum encouraging students to make full and fair use of technology that is revolutionizing learning and the exchange of information.

"Today's tech-savvy teens will grow into the artists and innovators of tomorrow," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "They need to understand their digital rights and responsibilities in order to create, critique, and comment on their culture. This curriculum fills an educational void, introducing critical questions of digital citizenship into the classroom without misinformation that scares kids from expressing themselves in the modern world."

The Teaching Copyright curriculum is a detailed, customizable plan that connects students to contemporary issues related to the Internet and technology. Teaching Copyright invites discussion about how creativity is enabled by new technologies, what digital rights and responsibilities exist or should exist, and what roles students play as users of technology. The website at www.teachingcopyright.org includes guides to copyright law, including fair use and the public domain.

"Kids are bombarded with messages that using new technology is illegal," said EFF Activist Richard Esguerra. "Instead of approaching the issues from a position of fear, Teaching Copyright encourages inquiry and greater understanding. This is a balanced curriculum, asking students to think about their role in the online world and to make informed choices about their behavior."

The Teaching Copyright curriculum was developed with the input of educators from across the U.S. and has been designed to satisfy components of standards from the International Society for Technology in Education and the California State Board of Education.

Learn more about Teaching Copyright:
http://www.teachingcopyright.org/

Contacts:

Richard Esguerra
Activist
Electronic Frontier Foundation
richard@eff.org

Corynne McSherry
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

May 22, 2009

Student's Computers Were Seized Under Baseless Theory of Computer Hacking

Boston - A justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ordered police to return a laptop and other property seized from a Boston College computer science student's dorm room after finding there was no probable cause to search the room in the first place. The police were investigating whether the student sent hoax emails about another student.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Boston law firm Fish and Richardson are representing the computer science student, who was forced to complete much of the final month of the semester without his computer and phone. Boston College also shut off the student's network access in the wake of the now-rejected search.

"The judge correctly found that there was no legitimate reason to search and seize this student's property," said EFF Civil Liberties Director Jennifer Granick. "Our client was targeted because law enforcement was improperly suspicious of our client's computer skills and misunderstood computer crime laws. We're grateful that the court was able to see through the commonwealth's smokescreen and rectify this mistake."

In her order Thursday, Justice Margot Botsford rejected the commonwealth's theory that sending a hoax email might be unlawful under a Massachusetts computer crime statute barring the "unauthorized access" to a computer, concluding that there could be no violation of what was only a "hypothetical internet use policy." Thursday's decision now stands as the highest state court opinion to reject the dangerous theory that terms of service violations constitute computer "hacking" crimes. Justice Botsford further found that details offered by police as corroboration of other alleged offenses were insufficient and did not establish probable cause for the search.

"No one should be subjected to a search like this based on such flimsy theories and evidence," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "The Fourth Amendment flatly bars such fishing expeditions. Computer expertise is not a crime, and it was inappropriate for the commonwealth to employ such transparent scare tactics in an attempt to hide the fact that they had no case."

EFF had appealed the case to the Massachusetts Supreme Court with Fish & Richardson attorneys Adam Kessel, Lawrence Kolodney, and Tom Brown.

For the full order from Judge Botsford:
http://www.eff.org/files/SJCcalixteorder.pdf

For more on this case:
http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/05/mass-sjc-tosses-calixte-warrant

Contacts:

Jennifer Stisa Granick
Civil Liberties Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jennifer@eff.org

Matt Zimmerman
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org

Related Issues:
May 6, 2009

Broken Promises from the Obama Administration Keep Americans in the Dark About ACTA

Washington, D.C. - Two public interest groups today called on the government to stop blocking the release of information about a secret intellectual property trade agreement with broad implications for privacy and innovation around the world.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Public Knowledge said that the April 30th release of 36 pages of material by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) was the second time the government had the opportunity to provide some public insight into the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), but declined to do so. More than a thousand pages of material about ACTA are still being withheld, despite the Obama administration's promises to run a more open government.

"We are very disappointed with the USTR's decision to continue to withhold these documents," said EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel. "The president promised an open and transparent administration. But in this case and others we are litigating at EFF, we've found that the new guidelines liberalizing implementation of the Freedom of Information Act haven't changed a thing."

EFF and Public Knowledge filed suit in September of 2008, demanding that background documents on ACTA be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Initially, USTR released 159 pages of information about ACTA and withheld more than 1300 additional pages, claiming they implicate national security or reveal the USTR's "deliberative process." After reconsidering the release under the Obama administration's new transparency policies, the USTR disclosed the additional pages last week, most of which contain no substantive information.

However, one of the documents implies that treaty negotiators are zeroing in on Internet regulation. A discussion of the challenges for the pact includes "the speed and ease of digital reproductions" and "the growing importance of the Internet as a means of distribution."

Other publicly available information shows that the treaty could establish far-reaching customs regulations over Internet traffic in the guise of anti-counterfeiting measures. Additionally, multi-national IP industry companies have publicly requested that ISPs be required to engage in filtering of their customers' Internet communications for potentially copyright-infringing material, force mandatory disclosure of personal information about alleged copyright infringers, and adopt "Three Strikes" policies requiring ISPs to automatically terminate customers' Internet access upon a repeat allegation of copyright infringement.

"What we've seen tends to confirm that the substance of ACTA remains a grave concern," said Public Knowledge Staff Attorney Sherwin Siy. "The agreement increasingly looks like an attempt by Hollywood and the content industries to perform an end-run around national legislatures and public international forums to advance an aggressive, radical change in the way that copyright and trademark laws are enforced."

"The USTR's official summary of the process, released last month, recognized the lack of transparency so far while doing nothing to broaden stakeholder input or engage public debate," said International Affairs Director Eddan Katz. "The radical proposals being considered under the Internet provisions deserve a more transparent process with greater public participation."

Litigation in the case will now continue, with USTR asking U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer to uphold its decision to conceal virtually all of the information that EFF and PK seek concerning the ACTA negotiations.

For the documents released so far:
http://www.eff.org/fn/directory/6661/329

For more on ACTA:
http://www.eff.org/issues/acta/

Contacts:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Art Brodsky
Communications Director
Public Knowledge
abrodsky@publicknowledge.org

April 28, 2009

EFF Calls on Congress to Examine the Investigative Data Warehouse

Washington, D.C. - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called on Congress today to examine the Investigative Data Warehouse (IDW) -- a massive FBI data-mining project that includes a billion records, many of which contain personal information on American citizens. Supporting its request, EFF provided Congress with its new report on IDW, published today with information obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation.

EFF sued the FBI for information about the IDW under the FOIA in 2006, but the agency has withheld important details about the collection, maintenance, and use of personal information contained in the huge database. The Department of Justice recently told the court that no additional material will be disclosed, despite the Obama administration's new policies on open government. In a letter sent today to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, EFF says that Congress is the last avenue for accountability and oversight of this potentially dangerous program.

"Nearly two years ago, Senator Leahy noted that the IDW was a system that was 'ripe for abuse,'" said EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel. "We could not agree more. The congressional judiciary committees should examine the IDW and provide the public with needed information about its impact on privacy rights."

While the FBI is still withholding critical information, EFF's lawsuit did uncover some key documents about the IDW. Using these records, EFF has published a report surveying what is known about this massive data collection, and what questions are still unanswered. The report notes that the FBI has identified only 38 of the 53 "data sources" that feed into the IDW. The report also discusses the FBI's efforts to avoid "raising congressional consciousness levels and expectations" about the IDW's privacy impact.

"A data warehouse of the size and power of the IDW requires strict oversight from Congress and the public," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl, who authored the new report. "The IDW includes more than four times as many documents as the Library of Congress, and the FBI has asked for millions of dollars to data-mine this warehouse, using unproven science in an attempt to predict future crimes from past behavior. We need to know all of what's in the IDW, and how our privacy will be protected."

For the full letter to Senator Leahy:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/foia_idw/leahy_IDW_ltr.pdf

For EFF's report on the IDW:
http://www.eff.org/issues/foia/investigative-data-warehouse-report

Contact:

David Sobel
Senior Counsel
Electronic Frontier Foundation
sobel@eff.org

Kurt Opsahl
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
kurt@eff.org

Related Issues:
April 27, 2009

Apple’s Baseless Copyright Claims Squelch Free Speech

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit against Apple Inc. today to defend the First Amendment rights of an operator of a noncommercial, public Internet "wiki" site known as BluWiki.

EFF and the San Francisco law firm of Keker & Van Nest represent OdioWorks LLC, which runs the BluWiki website. Like many "wiki" platforms, such as Wikipedia, it is open to the public for collaborative authoring and editing on any topic. The site is entirely noncommercial, operated by OdioWorks as a public service.

Late last year, after BluWiki users began a discussion about making some Apple iPods and iPhones interoperate with software other than Apple's own iTunes, Apple lawyers demanded removal of the content. In a letter to OdioWorks, the attorneys alleged that the discussions constituted copyright infringement and a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's (DMCA's) prohibition on circumventing copy protection measures. Fearing legal action by Apple, OdioWorks took down the discussions from the BluWiki site.

OdioWorks filed the lawsuit today in order to vindicate its right to restore those discussions. Filed in federal court in San Francisco, the suit seeks a declaratory judgment that the discussions do not violate any of the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions, and do not infringe any copyrights owned by Apple.

"I take the free speech rights of BluWiki users seriously," said Sam Odio, owner of OdioWorks. "Companies like Apple should not be able to censor online discussions by making baseless legal threats against services like BluWiki that host the discussions."

The discussions on the BluWiki site focused on how hobbyists might enable iPods and iPhones to work with desktop media management software other than Apple's own iTunes software. The discussions were apparently spurred by Apple's efforts prevent the iPod Touch and iPhone from working with competing media management software such as WinAmp and Songbird.

"Apple's legal threats against BluWiki are about censorship, not about protecting their legitimate copyright interests," said Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "Wikis and other community sites are home to many vibrant discussions among hobbyists and tinkerers. It's legal to engage in reverse engineering in order to create a competing product, it's legal to talk about reverse engineering, and it's legal for a public wiki to host those discussions."

For the full complaint in OdioWorks v. Apple Inc.:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/odio_v_apple/Final%20Complaint.pdf

For more on this case:
http://www.eff.org/cases/odioworks-v-apple

Contacts:

Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
fred@eff.org

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

April 20, 2009

Legal Battle Over Online Gambling Jeopardizes Free Speech

Frankfort, KY - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky (ACLU of Kentucky) on Friday urged the Kentucky Supreme Court to uphold an appeals court ruling that blocked state officials from ordering out-of-state registrars to turn over control of over 100 overseas Internet domain names accused of violating state gambling laws.

The case began in September when the commonwealth of Kentucky convinced a state court judge to order the seizure of 141 domain names, claiming that the names were "gambling devices" banned under Kentucky law. A Kentucky appeals court later overturned the ruling, but state officials appealed the order. In a friend-of-the-court brief filed with the Kentucky Supreme Court in support of the appeals court ruling, EFF, CDT, and the ACLU of Kentucky argue that the commonwealth's attempt to regulate overseas websites is fatally flawed and, if successful, would violate the First Amendment, the Commerce Clause, and the Due Process Clause.

"No state can order a domain name registrar over which it does not have jurisdiction to do anything. The commonwealth simply hasn't satisfied its burden here," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "Without these important protections, no website would be safe from arbitrary decisions by foreign courts to silence online content that they don't like."

"Under Kentucky's legal theory, any government in the world would be able to seize any website domain name if the site has content that the government does not like," said John Morris, general counsel for CDT. "Such a theory, if upheld, would be devastating to free expression around the world."

EFF, CDT, and the ACLU of Kentucky were joined on the brief by the Media Access Project (MAP), the United States Internet Industry Association (USIIA), the Internet Commerce Coalition (ICC), and the Internet Commerce Association (ICA) -- all leading public interest and industry trade groups.

For the full amicus brief:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/ky_v_domainnames/KYSupremeCouramicusbrief.pdf

For more on this case:
http://www.eff.org/cases/commonwealth-kentucky-v-141-internet-domain-names

Contact:

Matt Zimmerman
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org

April 13, 2009

EFF Challenges Illegal Computer Seizure and Ongoing Data Searches by Campus Police

Boston - A Boston College computer science student has asked a Massachusetts court to quash an invalid search warrant for his dorm room that resulted in campus police illegally seizing several computers, an iPod, a cell phone, and other technology.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is representing the student, who has petitioned the court for the immediate return of his property and is demanding that investigators be prohibited from any further searches or analysis of his digital data. Massachusetts State Police participated in the search and are overseeing the forensic analysis of the seized property.

"This search warrant is invalid, as there is no probable cause that a crime was committed at all," said EFF Civil Liberties Director Jennifer Granick. "Every day this student's private information is in the hands of the police department, he suffers harm to his property interests and his constitutional rights."

The dorm room search stemmed from an investigation into who sent an email to a Boston College mailing list alleging that another student was gay. Police say they know who sent the email and that the sender committed the crimes of "obtaining computer services by fraud or misrepresentation" and obtaining "unauthorized access to a computer system." However, nothing presented by the investigating officer to obtain the warrant, including the allegation that the student sent the email to the mailing list, could constitute the cited criminal offenses.

Some of the supposedly suspicious activities listed in support of the search warrant application include: the student being seen with "unknown laptop computers," which he "says" he was fixing for other students; the student uses multiple names to log on to his computer; and the student uses two different operating systems, including one that is not the "regular B.C. operating system" but instead has "a black screen with white font which he uses prompt commands on."

"The police used inapplicable criminal laws as a basis for a fishing expedition to determine the author of an anonymous email," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "Now, this student has been suspended from his job, and he is without a laptop and other devices he needs to do his schoolwork. His private communications and papers are in the hands of police who are searching for evidence without just cause. Even his cell phone and iPod were taken, clearly an overreach if the goal is tracking the source of an email."

The motion to quash the search warrant was filed with assistance from Fish & Richardson attorneys Adam Kessel, Lawrence Kolodney, and Tom Brown. No court date has been set yet to hear the motion.

For the full motion for emergency relief:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/inresearchBC/CalixteMotEmergencyRelief.pdf

For more on this case:
http://www.eff.org/cases/re-matter-search-warrant-boston-college

Contact:

Matt Zimmerman
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org

Related Issues:
April 6, 2009

Says Court Must Dismiss Jewel v. NSA to Protect 'State Secrets'

San Francisco - The Obama administration formally adopted the Bush administration's position that the courts cannot judge the legality of the National Security Agency's (NSA's) warrantless wiretapping program, filing a motion to dismiss Jewel v. NSA late Friday.

In Jewel v. NSA, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is challenging the agency's dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans. The Obama Justice Department claims in its motion that litigation over the wiretapping program would require the government to disclose privileged "state secrets." These are essentially the same arguments made by the Bush administration three years ago in Hepting v. AT&T, EFF's lawsuit against one of the telecom giants complicit in the NSA spying.

"President Obama promised the American people a new era of transparency, accountability, and respect for civil liberties," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "But with the Obama Justice Department continuing the Bush administration's cover-up of the National Security Agency's dragnet surveillance of millions of Americans, and insisting that the much-publicized warrantless wiretapping program is still a 'secret' that cannot be reviewed by the courts, it feels like deja vu all over again."

For the full motion to dismiss:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/jewel/jewelmtdobama.pdf

For more on Jewel v. NSA:
http://www.eff.org/cases/jewel

Contacts:

Kevin Bankston
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
bankston@eff.org

Cindy Cohn
Legal Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
cindy@eff.org

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Issues:
April 2, 2009

EFF and Others Call for New Offices to Promote Innovation

Washington, D.C. - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has joined a broad coalition of public interest groups and trade associations calling for President Obama to diversify future appointments to intellectual property policy positions and create new offices devoted to promoting innovation and free expression.

In all, 19 organizations signed the letter to the president, spearheaded by Washington D.C.-based non-profit Public Knowledge. The coalition includes the Consumer Electronics Association, the American Library Association, and the Wikimedia Foundation.

Several of the president's recent appointees to positions that oversee intellectual property policy have represented the recording industry or other industries that support overly broad IP protection. But many positions with IP policy responsibilities have not yet been filled. In the letter sent today, the coalition urges the administration to appoint individuals representing the diversity of stakeholders involved in IP issues.

"Innovators, artists, and the increasingly participatory public are all deeply invested in the future of America's intellectual property policy," said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "For example, thousands of remix videos are posted to YouTube every day, and they are already an important part of political debate and artistic expression in the 21st century. America needs policymakers who will protect new tools and new artistic works."

The coalition also calls on the president to create new positions at the Patent and Trademark Office, the United States Trade Representative, and the Department of State dedicated to promoting innovation and advancing the cause of progress in sciences and the useful arts.

"While the content industry plays a significant role in our economy, so too do the creators of technology and their force of innovation," said Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge. "And while we recognize the rights of corporate content creators, we might also recognize the rights of consumers lawfully to create their own works and to use their own digital media. It's that balance the Administration needs to recognize."

For the full letter to President Obama:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/obamaIPcoalitionletter.pdf

Contact:

Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
fred@eff.org

March 17, 2009

EFF Urges U.S. Sentencing Commission to Reject Amendments on Use of Proxies

Washington, D.C. - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today urged the United States Sentencing Commission to reject modifications to federal sentencing guidelines that would require extra prison time for people who use technology that hides one's identity or location.

Under current rules, a criminal defendant can get additional time added to a prison sentence if he used "sophisticated means" to commit the offense. In its testimony before the commission, EFF will argue that sentencing courts should not assume that using proxies -- technologies that can anonymize users or mask their location -- is a mark of sophistication. In fact, proxies are widely employed by corporate IT departments and public libraries and, like many computer applications, can be used with little or no knowledge on the part of the user.

"It would be a serious mistake for the United States Sentencing Commission to establish a presumption that using a common technology is worthy of additional punishment," said Jennifer Granick, EFF Civil Liberties Director. "Whether or not a convicted person's use of a proxy is worthy of increased penalties is a case-by-case determination most appropriately made by a court."

"While proxies may be an advanced technology, using a proxy is often no more difficult than using Microsoft Word," said Seth Schoen, EFF Staff Technologist. "Many kinds of people use proxies for all sorts of legitimate purposes, so only a court can reliably assess which uses are truly employed as a 'sophisticated means' of committing a crime and which are for privacy, free speech or some other innocent purpose."

Schoen will testify about EFF's comments at the Sentencing Commission's public hearing on March 17th in Washington, D.C.

For the full testimony:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/ussc-schoen-statement.pdf

For more on the hearing:
http://www.ussc.gov/AGENDAS/20090317/Public_Hearing.htm

Contacts:

Jennifer Stisa Granick
Civil Liberties Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jennifer@eff.org

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

March 17, 2009

Law Enforcement Must Get a Warrant Before Seizing Records

Philadelphia - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged a U.S. appeals court Monday to block the government's repeated attempts to seize cell phone location information -- a record of where the cell phone user travels throughout each day -- without a warrant in violation of communications privacy statutes and the Constitution.

In September of last year, a federal court affirmed that location information stored by a mobile phone provider is legally protected and that a judge can and should require law enforcement to show probable cause in order to access the stored data. However, the government appealed that decision to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Cell phone providers store an extraordinary amount of data about where you are when making or receiving a call, based on the cell towers your phone uses. In the amicus brief filed Monday, EFF argues that Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Fourth Amendment protect this location information from unfettered search and seizure.

"The government argues that federal law requires judges to approve their applications for location information from cell phone companies -- even if the police don't have probable cause to obtain this sensitive information," said EFF Civil Liberties Director Jennifer Granick. "Courts have the right under statute -- and the duty under the Constitution -- to demand that the government obtain a search warrant before seizing this private location data."

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU Foundation of Pennsylvania, and the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) joined EFF's brief.

For the full amicus brief:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/celltracking/Filed%20Cell%20Tracking%20Brief.pdf

For more on cell phone tracking:
http://www.eff.org/issues/cell-tracking

Contact:

Jennifer Stisa Granick
Civil Liberties Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jennifer@eff.org

March 16, 2009

New Search Engine Highlights EFF's Transparency Efforts During Sunshine Week

San Francisco - In celebration of Sunshine Week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today launched a sophisticated search tool that allows the public to closely examine thousands of pages of documents the organization has pried loose from secretive government agencies. The documents relate to a wide range of cutting-edge technology issues and government policies that affect civil liberties and personal privacy.

EFF's document collection -- obtained through requests and litigation under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) -- casts light on several controversial government initiatives, including the FBI's Investigative Data Warehouse and DCS 3000 surveillance program, and the Department of Homeland Security's Automated Targeting System and ADVISE data-mining project. The documents also provide details on Justice Department collection of communications routing data, Pentagon monitoring of soldiers' blogs, mismatches in the Terrorist Screening Center's watchlist, and FBI misuse of its national security letter subpoena authority.

The new search capability enables visitors to EFF's website to conduct keyword searches across the universe of government documents obtained by EFF, maximizing the value of the material.

"Until recently, documents obtained under FOIA often gathered dust in filing cabinets," said David Sobel, EFF Senior Counsel and director of the organization's FOIA Litigation for Accountable Government (FLAG) Project. "We believe that government information should be widely available and easy to research, and our new search engine makes that a reality."

EFF is launching the tool during national Sunshine Week, an annual, non-partisan event that promotes government transparency. The celebration is particularly significant this year, because it comes after eight years of a presidential administration that was widely criticized for its secrecy and two months into a new administration that has promised "unprecedented" openness.

"We welcomed President Obama's declaration -- on his first full day in office -- that he will work to make the federal government more open and participatory," EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann said. "There's certainly a lot of work to do -- so much government activity has been hidden from public view in the name of 'national security' and the 'war on terror.'"

For the new FOIA document search tool:
http://www.eff.org/issues/foia/search

For more on EFF's FLAG Project:
http://www.eff.org/issues/foia

Contacts:

Marcia Hofmann
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
marcia@eff.org

David Sobel
Senior Counsel
Electronic Frontier Foundation
sobel@eff.org

Related Issues:
March 3, 2009

'Surveillance Self-Defense' Gives Practical Advice on Protecting Your Private Data

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) launched its Surveillance Self-Defense project today -- an online how-to guide for protecting your private data against government spying. You can find the project at http://ssd.eff.org.

EFF created the Surveillance Self-Defense site to educate Americans about the law and technology of communications surveillance and computer searches and seizures, and to provide the information and tools necessary to keep their private data out of the government's hands. The guide includes tips on assessing the security risks to your personal computer files and communications, strategies for interacting with law enforcement, and articles on specific defensive technologies such as encryption that can help protect the privacy of your data.

"Despite a long and troubling history in this country of the government abusing its surveillance powers, most Americans know very little about how the law protects them or about how they can take steps to protect themselves against government surveillance," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "The Surveillance Self-Defense project offers citizens a legal and technical toolkit with tips on how to defend themselves in case the government attempts to search, seize, subpoena or spy on their most private data."

Surveillance Self-Defense details what the government can legally do to spy on your computer data and communications, and what you can legally do to protect yourself against such spying. It addresses how to protect not only the data stored on your computer, but also the data you communicate over the phone or the Internet and data about your communications that are stored by third party service providers.

"You can imagine the Internet as a giant vacuum cleaner, sucking up all of the private information that you let near it. We want to show people the tools they can use to encrypt and anonymize data, protecting themselves against government surveillance," said EFF Staff Technologist Peter Eckersley. "Privacy is about mitigating risks and making tradeoffs. Every decision you make about whether to save an email, chat online, or search with or sign into Google has privacy implications. It's important to understand those implications and make informed decisions based on them, and we hope that Surveillance Self-Defense will help you do that."

Surveillance Self-Defense was created with the support of the Open Society Institute.

For Surveillance Self-Defense:
http://ssd.eff.org

Contacts:

Kevin Bankston
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
bankston@eff.org

Peter Eckersley
Staff Technologist
Electronic Frontier Foundation
pde@eff.org

Related Issues:

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