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EFF Press Release Archives

Press Releases: September 2003

September 29, 2003

The Recording Industry Association of America today announced that 838 of the 60 million Americans who file-share have accepted its "Clean Slate" offer. "At such a paltry uptake rate, the RIAA program looks more like a blank slate," says EFF Staff Attorney Wendy Seltzer.

September 28, 2003

EFF applauds the introduction last week of legislation that would repeal USA PATRIOT Act provisions that threaten citizens' privacy rights. The Benjamin Franklin True Patriot Act (HR 3171), introduced by Congressman Dennis Kucinich along with 20 Congressional cosponsors, would repeal more than ten sections of USA PATRIOT, including those authorizing "sneak & peek" searches, surveillance of Internet activites without probable cause, and warrantless searches of library, medical and financial records.

"The USA PATRIOT Act, passed immediately after the September 11th attacks with practically no debate, represented a severe blow to our civil liberties," said EFF Attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow Kevin Bankston. "The Benjamin Franklin True Patriot Act offers Congress the opportunity to undo the damage that was done then, and take back the broad surveillance powers it so hastily granted to the Justice Department in 2001."

September 26, 2003

Electronic Frontier Foundation: Victory for Fair Elections

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
today applauded a technical working group for heeding
critics who called for rejection of a flawed electronic
voting standard proposal that failed to require adequate
security measures.

The working group of the Institute of Electrical and
Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE) drafted the electronic
voting standard in an environment plagued by a lack of
consensus, procedural misconduct, and serious security
oversights.

EFF last week called on IEEE members and other citizens to
voice their concerns about the standard. Nearly five hundred
people wrote to IEEE leadership pointing out flaws in the
draft standard. On September 22, the first working group
ballot on the draft failed overwhelmingly, causing the
simultaneous ballot at the sponsor level to fail as well.

"Defeat of the initial flawed IEEE electronic voting
standard is a victory for IEEE's democratic process," said
EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "We are glad that the
majority of the IEEE working group recognizes the serious
problems with this current electronic voting standard
proposal and hope that the working group will now fix the
standard to reflect current security norms."

Critics pointed out that one of the most glaring problems
with the draft was its failure to require, or even
recommend a mechanism to allow a true manual recount or
auditing of votes. Some voting machine companies already
offer one such mechanism, known as a voter-verifiable paper
audit trail. These machines produce a paper ballot for each
voter and allow voters to see a summary of their votes to
confirm that election officials are recording their votes
accurately.

Florida's Broward County - one site of the infamous hanging,
dimpled, and pregnant chads - announced on September 24,
2003, that it will consider adding the audit capability to
its new $17 million dollar voting system due to concerns
about potentially undetectable election fraud.

"The American public deserves voting technology that we can
trust," said EFF Activist Ren Bucholz. "Today, that means
requiring a voter-verifiable paper audit trail, or its
equivalent, in all electronic voting systems."

This week, the Science Application International Corporation
(SAIC) released a report that confirmed earlier concerns
about Maryland's Diebold voting system. Maryland officials
hired the private security firm in response to a July 2003
report critical of the Diebold system by researchers at
Johns Hopkins University and Rice University. The SAIC
report generally reinforced and expanded upon the security
flaws discovered by the university researchers, concluding
that the Diebold voting system was "at a high risk of
compromise."

The IEEE standard will now go back to its drafting
committee, Project 1583, which holds its next meeting in
Austin, Texas, in October. Once finalized, the U.S. and
other governments worldwide will likely adopt the IEEE
electronic voting standard, since IEEE sits on a technical
advisory board established by the federal Help America Vote
Act (HAVA).

EFF has renewed its call for interested scientists to
participate in the IEEE processes.

Links:

Contact:

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

Ren Bucholz
  Activist
  Electronic Frontier Foundation
  ren@eff.org

Related Issues:
September 24, 2003

Lack of Due Process Leads to Mistaken Identity

San Francisco - Seven major record labels dismissed charges
of copyright infringement leveled at a 65-year-old educator,
artist, and grandmother from Massachusetts late last week.

Sarah Ward was one of 261 individuals sued by the recording
industry for allegedly sharing copyrighted music using
peer-to-peer (P2P) filesharing systems.

What was the problem? The recording industry charged Ward
with sharing songs using the KaZaA filesharing software, but
she owns only a Macintosh computer which cannot run KaZaA.

Ward strongly denied using any filesharing software and
explained that she listens to classical and folk music, not
the rock and hip hop music referred to in the complaint.

The seven record labels sued Ward solely on the basis of
"screen shots" from the KaZaA network and information
obtained from a controversial subpoena issued to Comcast,
Ward's Internet service provider, under the provisions of
the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Comcast did not
inform Ward before releasing her identity to the recording
industry, a step that might have allowed her to clear her
name without the need for a lawsuit.

"The Sarah Ward case demonstrates the reckless, frightening
nature of the recording industry's campaign against ordinary
Americans," said Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Legal
Director Cindy Cohn. "These record labels violated her
privacy, sued her for potentially millions of dollars, and
forced her to hire a defense lawyer before finally
recognizing that they had no case against her."

"I'm particularly concerned about others who may not have
the support I did to defend myself and clear my name,"
commented Ward. "And of course as a grandmother and teacher,
I worry about a world where people don't feel the need to
apologize or make amends when they make a mistake."

"The recording industry will continue to catch -- and
terrify -- innocent people like Sarah Ward in its dragnet
as long as these lawsuits continue," added EFF Staff
Attorney Jason Schultz. "What we need is a global solution
that legalizes file-sharing, gets artists paid, and halts
the recording industry's litigation machine."

Although Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
spokesperson Jonathan Lamy told Associated Press that the
group is targeting only "proven, egregious offenders,"
RIAA President Cary Sherman admitted to CNET that the
recording industry makes no attempt to contact informally
the targets of the lawsuits before suing them.

The seven record labels that sued Ward are Sony Music
Entertainment, Inc, BMG Music, Virgin Records America, Inc.,
Interscope Records, Atlantic Recording Corporation, Warner
Brothers Records, Inc., and Arista Records, Inc.

Links:

Contact:

Cindy Cohn
  Legal Director
  Electronic Frontier Foundation

  cindy@eff.org

Jason Schultz
  Staff Attorney
  Electronic Frontier Foundation
  jason@eff.org

September 16, 2003

Internet services company Verisign, which controls portions of the Domain Name System (DNS), has abruptly implemented a scheme in which people who mistakenly enter a non-existent domain name are redirected to Verisign advertising. This move has shocked and outraged network administrators.

"Verisign's unilateral action harms the Internet," said EFF Staff Technologist Seth Schoen. "It interferes with the delivery of e-mail, causes security software to malfunction, and creates extreme confusion for Internet users. This is a brazen abuse of Versign's power as .com and .net operator."

September 13, 2003

Electronic Frontier Foundation Advocates Secure Elections

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
today urged a technical association to stop balloting on a
flawed proposal for an electronic voting machine standard.

EFF invited concerned parties to write letters to the
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.
(IEEE), requesting an electronic voting machine standard
that requires secure, voter-verifiable election equipment
and technologies that support open democratic principles of
governance.

"The IEEE voting equipment standard could impact
dramatically the future of democratic systems in the U.S.
and around the world," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn.
"We urge the IEEE to take the measures necessary to rework
the standard currently under consideration so that it
includes benchmarks for secure voter-verifiable election
equipment and addresses additional criticisms from the
security community."

In the aftermath of the Florida election debacle, the IEEE
took up the question of standards for voting equipment,
creating a working group, called Project 1583, overseen by a
Standards Coordinating Committee known as SCC 38. Once
finalized, the U.S. and other governments worldwide will
likely adopt the IEEE voting equipment standard, especially
since IEEE sits on a technical advisory board established
by the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

Members of the security community report that the current
standard is flawed. P1583 is largely a design standard,
describing how to configure current electronic voting
machines, instead of a performance standard setting
benchmarks and processes for testing the security,
reliability, accessibility, and accuracy of these machines.

For example, the standard fails to require or even recommend
voting machine designs that permit voters to verify their
votes. One such method that is already available from
multiple election machine companies is a provision that the
machines produce a paper ballot for each voter that allows a
voter to see a summary of her votes to confirm them.
Agencies administering elections can then store paper ballots
separately so they are available for audits in the case of
dispute or for a recount.

EFF is also responding to reports of serious procedural
problems with the Working Group P1583 and SCC 38 Committee
processes, including shifting roadblocks placed in front of
those who wish to participate and vote, and failure to
follow basic procedural requirements like giving sufficient
notice of meetings and deadlines, publishing agendas and
minutes, and circulating current versions of the standard
itself and the comments of others in a timely manner. Some
participants claim that representatives of the electronic
voting machine vendor companies and others with vested
interests control the working group and committee
leadership.

Links:

Contact:

Cindy Cohn
  Legal Director

  Electronic Frontier Foundation
  cindy@eff.org

Related Issues:
September 8, 2003

Electronic Frontier Foundation Warning on "Amnesty" Program

San Francisco - The Recording Industry Association of
America (RIAA) today filed 261 lawsuits against people who
allegedly shared copyrighted music online. The RIAA
announced plans to sue more file-sharers and introduced an
"amnesty" program available only to file-sharers who the
RIAA has not yet identified or sued.

The lawsuits come in the wake of more than 1600 subpoenas
the RIAA filed in recent weeks, seeking the identities of
file-sharers who allegedly downloaded a "substantial amount"
of copyrighted works. The RIAA claims that the music fans
have engaged in illegal direct copyright infringement.

"More lawsuits is not the answer. Does anyone think that
suing 60 million American file-sharers is going to motivate
them to buy more CDs?" said EFF Staff Attorney Wendy
Seltzer. "File sharing networks represent the greatest
library of music in history, and music fans would be happy
to pay for access to it, if only the recording industry
would let them."

Under the amnesty program, dubbed the "Clean Slate Program,"
the RIAA claims files-sharers can avoid lawsuits if they
sign a declaration pledging that they will delete all
copyrighted music files from their hard drives and mp3
players and never again share or download music illegally.
The amnesty program is only available to people who the
RIAA has not yet sued or subpoenaed.

"The RIAA has offered 'sham-nesty,' not amnesty, for those
sharing music online," explained EFF Staff Attorney Jason
Schultz. "The recording industry wants file-sharers to
confess guilt, while leaving these music fans vulnerable to
lawsuits from record companies and music publishers and
bands like Metallica that control independent music
rights."

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has maintained that
the recording industry should offer file-sharers a real
amnesty program, for example, an opportunity to pay a
reasonable monthly fee for to access the music they love
using file-sharing software.

Links:

Contact:

Wendy Seltzer
  Staff Attorney

  Electronic Frontier Foundation
  wendy@eff.org

Jason Schultz
  Staff Attorney
  Electronic Frontier Foundation
  jason@eff.org

September 5, 2003

Electronic Frontier Foundation Says Share, Get Artists Paid

San Francisco - Numerous news sources, including Billboard
and Associated Press, have reported since yesterday that the
Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) will
announce an "amnesty" program for people who are sharing
music files online perhaps as early as next week.

"Rather than demanding that 60 million people sharing music
files turn themselves in with a so-called 'amnesty' program,
the recording industry should take this opportunity to make
file-sharing legal in exchange for a reasonable fee," said
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Staff Attorney Wendy
Seltzer. "Stepping into the spotlight to admit your guilt is
probably not a sensible course for most people sharing music
files online, especially since the RIAA doesn't control many
potential sources of lawsuits."

EFF will continue to monitor developments and will post
information on its website regarding the RIAA "amnesty"
program as details become available.

Links:

Contact:

Wendy Seltzer
  Staff Attorney

  Electronic Frontier Foundation
  wendy@eff.org

Jason Schultz
  Staff Attorney
  Electronic Frontier Foundation
  jason@eff.org

September 5, 2003

Electronic Frontier Foundation, 95 Orgs Support Hearings

San Francisco - Ninety-five organizations, ranging across
the political spectrum, today sent letters to the chairs of
the Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees and the
Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations to thank them for planning
hearings on the subpoena provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright
Act (DMCA).

The organizations expressed their concern that these
subpoenas, such as the ones filed by the Recording Industry Association
of America (RIAA), invade the privacy of Internet users without due
process of law.

The letter points out that the RIAA or any copyright holder
can violate the privacy of Internet users by demanding that their ISPs
disclose personally identifying information, including name, address,
and telephone number, without providing any reasonable proof of
wrongdoing to a court.

Signatories to the letters represent a broad, bipartisan coalition of
organizations and ISPs that have joined forces to oppose the ruling,
including groups as diverse as the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the
American Civil Liberties Union, the Grange, leading domestic violence
and child protective organizations, and nearly every major ISP in the
country.

Links:

Contact:

Wendy Seltzer

  Staff Attorney
  Electronic Frontier Foundation
  wendy@eff.org

September 2, 2003

A federal district court in Chicago has rejected an effort by garage door opener vendor Chamberlain to use the DMCA to ban its competitor, Skylink, from selling replacement "clickers" for Chamberlain openers.

"The Court properly rejected Chamberlain's use of the DMCA (PDF) to lock people out of their own garages," said EFF Attorney Gwen Hinze. "If I buy a Chamberlain garage door opener, I have the authority to open my garage any way I please."

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