EFF in the News
Speaking at a conference in Atlanta on Feb. 2, Ohlhausen drew a distinction between a "notice-and-choice approach" to privacy protection and a "harms-based approach," an approach one privacy advocate called "outrageous." The difference? The "notice-and-choice" approach, generally favored by the Obama FTC, basically gives consumers the choice to "opt out" of sharing certain types of information. The "harms-based" approach, on the other hand, seeks to protect consumers only from privacy breaches that are harmful. Sophia Cope, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, calls the harm-based approach outrageous and says it is "exactly what companies have been hoping for.""It removes consumer choice and control over their privacy," Cope said.
On Monday, Trump promoted Ajit Pai to chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Pai, who was appointed by President Obama to a Republican seat at the FCC in 2012, has been a critic of net neutrality, which prevents providers from throttling the internet and creating so-called fast and slow lanes. "We are concerned that Commissioner Pai may take steps to undermine net neutrality protections," Corynne McSherry, legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told NBC News in a statement. "If so, we — and millions of internet users — will do what is necessary to defend a free and open internet."
The obvious reason FBI v. Apple didn't set any precedents is that it never got legally resolved. Just before a scheduled hearing on the case, the FBI withdrew, saying it had found a vendor that was able to unlock the phone. And in the view of some privacy advocates, that’s unfortunate, because they think the FBI would have lost. Nate Cardozo, senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), who called the FBI complaint “wild overreach,” is one of them. He said the FBI knew its case was weak. “The fact that the government pulled the plug on the litigation on the literal eve of the hearing speaks volumes about the strength of its legal argument. Instead of risking binding precedent on our side, the government blinked,” he said.
In the wake of the sting, some experts say the courts will ultimately reshape the law for computer search and seizure rules for any crime. "I remain concerned that the decisions will affect law enforcement's ability to hack for years going forward in a way that is significantly detrimental to everyone's rights," Mark Rumold, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said Monday.
Cybersecurity experts warn against building a digital trove of information, no matter how cheap or easy it is to do.“If you have old communications stored on [a compromised] account, you could be leaking sensitive information that’s still very pertinent today,” says William Budington, security engineer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
A writer who has addressed about 30 tweets to Trump – some of them including off-color jokes about assassination – was investigated by the Secret Service under circumstances that press freedom experts are calling “troubling.” Aaron Mackey, a legal fellow at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, agreed that expanding an investigation into a tweet to cover “all other expressive activity” was “troubling”.“In this case, we have an inquiry that is spinning far beyond the original speech, trying to get access to a journalistic work product that has not been published,” he said. “That raises a very clear potential first amendment issue when it comes to journalist’s ability to protect their own work product.”
Donald Trump is president, and Americans are flooding Congress with pleas and protestations. They’re anxious about the fate of Obamacare, the future of the environment, and the president’s cabinet nominations. How are they expressing their anger, fears, and hopes? Email. Lots of email.Individuals can move the needle, says Ernesto Falcon of the digital rights advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Local people with really compelling stories can really make a difference,” he says.
The FBI appeared to go beyond the scope of existing legal guidance in seeking certain kinds of internet records from Twitter as recently as last year, legal experts said, citing two warrantless surveillance orders the social media company published on Friday. Andrew Crocker, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the orders disclosed Friday were among a small handful of those publicly released that show the FBI continues to ask for internet records despite the 2008 guidance. "This is an ongoing practice and it is significantly beyond the scope of what is intended," said Crocker, whose organization is challenging the constitutionality of NSLs in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Twitter has also sued the government to more freely discuss NSLs.
A federal appeals court said it’s perfectly proper for a manufacturer to sell a product but still control a customer’s use. EFF, along with AARP, Mozilla and other groups, contend such “conditional sales” aren’t in the public’s interest. “If allowed to stand, the lower court’s decision could block your right to reuse, resell and tinker with the devices you own,” said EFF Staff Attorney Daniel Nazer.
“The lid is lifting,” said Shahid Buttar, the EFF's director of grass-roots advocacy.