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EFF Press Release Archives

Press Releases: April 2004

April 30, 2004

Acting to ensure the integrity of California's November elections, California Secrectary of State Kevin Shelley on Friday announced the adoption of a new state policy making it so that all California voters will have the option of recording their votes on paper. In addition, the state has decertified Diebold's infamous TsX electronic voting machines, while mandating key security enhancements for the voting terminals that will remain in use.

"Today's decision is historic. The largest state in the nation is once again pointing out that un-auditable e-voting has no clothes," said EFF Activism Coordinator Ren Bucholz. "Shelley has responded to the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of California voters, repeated violations of election law, and the overwhelming
body of evidence that these systems are vulnerable to attack."

Shelley previously mandated that all electronic voting machines have voter-verifiable paper trails by 2006, becoming the first Secretary of State in the nation to do so.

Related Issues:
April 19, 2004

San Francisco, CA - In light of growing concerns about illegitimate software and Internet patents, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today announced a new initiative to combat the chilling effects bad patents have on public and consumer interests.

"Patents traditionally only targeted large commercial companies," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "Now bad patents are threatening non-profits, small businesses, and even individuals who use software and Internet technology." These threats target non-commercial personal use, such as building a hobbyist website or streaming a wedding video to your friends.

The new EFF initiative seeks to document these threats and fight back against them. EFF has pledged to file "re-examination" requests with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), asking the agency to revoke patents that are having negative effects on Internet innovation and free expression.

"More and more, people are using software and Internet technology to express themselves," said EFF Staff Attorney Wendy Seltzer. "Patent owners who threaten this expression are creating a chilling effect on free speech."

The EFF announcement comes on the heels of two recent public criticisms of the patent system, one by the Federal Trade Commission and the other by the National Academy of Sciences.

For this release:
http://www.eff.org/Patent/20040419_eff_pr_patent.php

EFF Patent Busting Project White Paper and related materials:
http://www.eff.org/Patent/

Federal Trade Commission Patent Reform Report:
http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2003/10/cpreport.htm

National Academy of Sciences Patent Reform Report:
http://www4.nationalacademies.org/news.nsf/isbn/0309089107?OpenDocument

Related Issues:
April 13, 2004

Washington, D.C. - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission opposing an FBI proposal that would extend a decade-old telephone surveillance law to the Internet. The Communication Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (CALEA) forced telecommunications carriers like your phone company to build convenient wiretap features into their networks. Congress never intended CALEA's requirements to reach the Internet, but now the FBI is demanding that broadband ISPs build "wiretappability" into their equipment too.

"The FBI has made it clear that they don't want to understand how the Internet is fundamentally different from the public phone service," said EFF Staff Technologist Chris Palmer. "The rapid innovation and open access that makes the Internet great will be severely hampered if creators have to get past the FCC and FBI every time they want to make an innovative product."

EFF Staff Attorney Lee Tien continued, "The FBI's plan to turn the FCC into the 'Federal Bureau of Innovation Control' will be terribly expensive for everyone involved - except the FBI. The FCC, Internet service providers, equipment builders and broadband consumers are being set up to subsidize the FBI's surveillance state."

EFF's comments were filed in response to an FBI rulemaking proposal to the FCC.

For this release:
http://www.eff.org/news/breaking/archives/2004_04.php#001412

EFF comments:
http://www.eff.org/Privacy/Surveillance/20040413_EFF_CALEA_comments.php

More information on surveillance:
http://www.eff.org/Privacy/Surveillance/

Related Issues:
April 1, 2004

The Federal District Court in the Middle District of Florida today denied the motion of sixteen record companies to force the Internet Service Provider Bright House to provide the identities of 25 individuals accused of copyright infringement using the FastTrack peer-to-peer network. The Court decided that the record companies had improperly joined the 25 individuals, who had nothing in common other than their ISP, into a single lawsuit. The court noted that joining the defendants together would result in "unreasonable prejudice and expense to the Defendants" and cause "great inconvenience" to the court.

"Courts are beginning to recognize that the record companies crusade against filesharers is stepping on the privacy and due process rights of those accused," noted Cindy Cohn, EFF's Legal Director. "These decisions are simply requiring the record companies to follow the rules that everyone else has to follow when bringing litigation."

The Orlando decision is here.

This decision adds to the difficulties faced by the record companies in pursusing filesharers. Yesterday a court in Canada rejected a similar request on several grounds, including that simply making available files on a filesharing network did not violate Canadian copyright laws and that the privacy of Internet users outweighed the strength of the record companies' case.

The Canadian decision is available here.

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