Skip to main content

EFF Press Release Archives

Press Releases: September 2006

September 14, 2006

Subpoena Withdrawn After EFF Intervenes

San Francisco - San Francisco - The Embroidery Software Protection Coalition (ESPC) has dropped its attempt to unmask anonymous embroidery fans after the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) intervened in the case.

The embroiderers used an online discussion group to share information about a long-running campaign to threaten purchasers of embroidery designs and software with copyright infringement lawsuits. ESPC filed defamation claims against some members of the group and then issued a subpoena for detailed personal information about every single person who joined the discussion group -- whether or not they had ever posted a single message.

"ESPC should have never filed this frivolous case in the first place. But we're pleased that ESPC now understands that it can't use the courts to intimidate those who want to talk about ESPC's ham-fisted tactics," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "The First Amendment forbids such abusive use of the discovery process."

This case is the latest in EFF's long fight to protect anonymity online. EFF lawyers have represented or provided amicus support in anonymity cases in California, Colorado, and Delaware. Most recently, in Oklahoma, a school superintendent withdrew his attempt to unmask anonymous online critics after EFF filed a motion to quash his subpoena.

For more on this case:
http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/ESPC_v_Ebert/

Contact:

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

Related Issues:
September 14, 2006

Court Fight Continues As Princeton Researchers Demonstrate 'Vote Stealing'

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has asked the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reject Ohio's latest attempt to dismiss a critical electronic voting case -- the final legal hurdle in the path to a thorough investigation of the state's widely criticized 2004 election and much needed reform.

"Ohio's procedures, like many used elsewhere across the country, simply don't do enough to protect voters from the serious vulnerabilities in the current generation of electronic voting equipment," said EFF Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "It's time to let this important case go forward so that these critical problems can finally be resolved."

Last fall, EFF filed suit on behalf of voter Jeanne White against Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell and Governor Bob Taft, alleging that they had abdicated their responsibilities to protect the fundamental right to vote of Ohio residents. When White voted on Election Day in 2004, the electronic voting machine she used malfunctioned, causing her vote to toggle from one candidate to another. White's problems were not isolated: other voters reported unacceptably long lines, inadequately trained pollworkers, and voting machines that failed to record their votes correctly. Similar problems were reported in the 2005 elections and in the May 2, 2006, primary, including a chaotic election in Cuyahoga County where election officials have launched a formal investigation.

In its brief, EFF argues that the widespread and deeply rooted failings in Ohio's voting system stem from incoherent and inadequate procedures, inconsistent standards, and lack of planning and training -- all of which raise serious questions about the basic fairness of the state's elections. The suit aims to require the state to dramatically increase the security and accuracy of its voting technology and related election procedures.

"The state claims that its election system merely exhibits 'garden variety' problems and that the blame for those should rest on pollworkers and other officials," said Zimmerman. "The governor and secretary of state of Ohio, however, have the ultimate duty of protecting citizens' fundamental right to vote. Instead of trying to avoid responsibility for a system in crisis, these officials need to step up to their responsibilities."

The lawsuit will also provide the best chance yet to demonstrate the true "in the field" performance record of electronic voting equipment, details of which are carefully controlled by election officials and voting equipment vendors. EFF's brief was filed on the same day that researchers at Princeton University released a critical new report demonstrating the ability to manipulate results on a Diebold electronic voting machine. The study, led by Professor Edward W. Felten, found that the machine was extremely vulnerable to "vote-stealing" attacks that would undermine the accuracy of vote counts.

EFF is working with co-counsel Kerger and Associates Zuckerman, Spaeder, Goldstein, Taylor & Kolker and Heller, Ehrman, White and McAuliffe, LLP, as it pursues this case.

For the full appellate brief:
http://www.eff.org/Activism/E-voting/ohio/intervenorsappellatebrief.pdf

For more on the Ohio suit:
http://www.eff.org/Activism/E-voting/ohio/

For more on the Professor Felten's research:
http://www.businessweek.com/ap/tech/D8K48IU80.htm

Related Issues:
September 12, 2006

How to Defend Yourself from Privacy Invasions Like AOL's Search Data Disaster

San Francisco - In the wake of AOL's publicly revealing customers' Internet search histories, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has published "Six Tips to Protect Your Online Search Privacy."

AOL's recent disclosure of its users' search logs exposed the private lives of more than a half-million customers. But all the major search engines -- not just AOL -- record search queries and maintain massive databases that reach into the most intimate details of users' lives. When revealed to others, these details can be embarrassing and even cause great harm.

In the white paper released today, EFF instructs users on how to follow six privacy tips:

* Don't put personally identifying information like your name, address, credit card number, or Social Security number in your searches.

* Don't use a search engine operated by your Internet service provider (ISP).

* Don't log in to your search engine or its related services. So, if you have accounts with services like GMail or Yahoo! Mail, don't use Google or Yahoo!'s search engines, respectively. Or, use one browser for your searches and a different browser for your other activities.

* Block "cookies" from your search engine.

* Vary your IP address.

* Use web proxies and anonymizing software that masks your IP address and other information that can be used to track you.

"These six steps provide a strong shield against the most common and probable threats to your Internet search privacy," said EFF Staff Technologist Peter Eckersley.

Protecting search privacy is a particularly acute problem because of ambiguity in current law and the lack of transparency in search providers' data logging practices. Recently, EFF asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate AOL and require changes in its privacy practices.

"Until Congress clarifies the law and strengthens protections for this sensitive data, self-defense is the best defense," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "Congress should hold hearings and demand clear answers from the search providers about how they handle search histories."

For the full white paper:
http://www.eff.org/Privacy/search/searchtips.php

For more on the AOL data release:
http://www.eff.org/Privacy/AOL/

Contacts:

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

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

Related Issues:
September 11, 2006

Two Noted Attorneys Lead New FLAG Project in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today launched a project to shed light on government surveillance activities. The FLAG Project, based at EFF's new Washington, D.C. office, will use Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and litigation to expose the government's expanding use of technologies that invade Americans' privacy.

The Freedom of Information Act is a statute that compels the government to disclose details about its activities. EFF's FOIA requests will zero in on collection and use of information about Americans, the increasing cooperation between the government and the private sector, and federal agencies' development and use of new information technologies. The FLAG Project -- for FOIA Litigation for Accountable Government -- is spearheaded by two experienced Freedom of Information specialists: Senior Counsel David Sobel and Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann.

"National security and law enforcement demand some level of government secrecy, but too much can enable abuses of power," said Sobel, who will direct EFF's new project. "The NSA's illegal spying program and other recent revelations show that the government has radically expanded its surveillance of ordinary Americans, obtaining untold access to the details of our everyday lives."

"While the government has increased its monitoring of its citizens, it's also stepped up efforts to block public scrutiny," said Hofmann. "The public deserves to know what the government is doing, so that it can keep abuses of power in check and challenge violations of privacy."

In his 25-year career, Sobel has handled numerous cases seeking the disclosure of government documents on privacy policy, including electronic surveillance, encryption controls and airline passenger screening initiatives. He served as co-counsel in the challenge to government secrecy concerning post-September 11 detentions and participated in the submission of a civil liberties amicus brief in the first-ever proceeding of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review. In 1994, Sobel co-founded the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). Hofmann is the former Director of EPIC's Open Government Project, where she was lead counsel in several FOIA lawsuits. Documents made public though her work have been reported by the New York Times, Washington Post, National Public Radio, Fox News, and CNN, among others.

"EFF is thrilled to be working with David and Marcia," said EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. "They have a peerless track record of uncovering and widely publicizing government activities that raise significant privacy and civil liberties issues, and they will enable EFF to have more of a Washington, D.C. presence. We're so happy they have joined our legal team."

EFF will make significant FOIA disclosures available to the public, the media, and policymakers. EFF will also strategically litigate FOIA lawsuits against government agencies to develop precedents that will benefit all FOIA requesters.

To reach the FLAG Project:
Electronic Frontier Foundation
1875 Connecticut Ave., NW Suite 650
Washington, DC 20009
+1 202 797-9009

For more on the FLAG Project:
http://www.eff.org/flag/

Contacts:

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

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

Shari Steele
Executive Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
ssteele@eff.org

Related Issues:
September 7, 2006

National Conference Call: Thursday, 2:30pm ET

San Francisco - Dozens of companies from the technology and telecommunications sector, public interest groups, and library associations have banded together with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to fight a proposed treaty that would grant broadcasters and cablecasters a new 50-year intellectual property right in their transmissions, regardless of whether they own the copyright in the content being transmitted. The treaty would radically change U.S. law, create liability concerns for Internet service providers and device manufacturers, interfere with the rollout of broadband and home networking services, and restrict citizens' access to information and public domain material.

Thursday's conference call will be hosted by Washington, D.C., public interest group Public Knowledge. Other participants will include EFF International Affairs Director Gwen Hinze, Verizon Communications' Vice President Sarah Deutsch, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) Michael Petricone, and others.

WHAT: Conference call opposing broadcast treaty

WHO: Representatives from EFF, Public Knowledge, Verizon, CEA, and others

WHEN: Thursday, September 7 2:30pm ET

RSVP for phone number and passcode: rebecca@eff.org or abrodsky@publicknowledge.org

For the joint statement by 36 groups in opposition to the broadcast treaty:
http://www.eff.org/IP/WIPO/broadcasting_treaty/wipo-statement-20060905.pdf

Contacts:

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

Art Brodsky
Communications Director
Public Knowledge
abrodsky@publicknowledge.org

Related Issues:
JavaScript license information