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EFF Press Release Archives

Press Releases: October 2006

October 30, 2006

Landmark Forum Violates Constitution and Federal Law by Trying to Chill Speech

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is fighting a controversial self-help group's coordinated, illegal campaign to silence Internet critics.

San Francisco-based Landmark Education, known for its Landmark Forum motivational workshops, is trying to suppress an investigative television news piece critical of its methods. Landmark contends that the documentary infringes its copyright in the Forum course, while citing to copyright registration of the Forum leader's manual. Using the alleged copyright violation as a pretext, Landmark subpoenaed three websites hosting the video -- the Internet Archive, Google Video, and YouTube -- seeking the identities of the anonymous uploaders. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) allows a content owner to issue a subpoena for the identity of an alleged infringer without first filing an actual lawsuit.

"This is a classic example of using a bogus copyright claim to squelch free speech," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "To the extent that the documentary uses any Landmark material, that use is clearly non-infringing. Landmark is simply trying to use the streamlined DMCA subpoena process to obtain the identities of its critics."

Landmark's efforts are being challenged on multiple fronts. The Internet Archive is fighting its subpoena, and EFF filed official objections on its behalf Friday. Later this week, EFF will also file a motion to quash the subpoena issued to Google Video, on behalf of the anonymous speaker who uploaded the video. Google has advised Landmark that it will not produce the requested information pending a ruling on that motion. YouTube sent notification to the user about its subpoena and is giving the user a reasonable opportunity to move to legally nullify, or "quash," it.

"Sharing videos on the web is the latest example of free speech flowering on the Internet," said Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "Unfortunately, it is being met by a simultaneous rise in the use of baseless legal claims as an excuse to pierce anonymity and chill speech. This kind of intimidation has to stop."

For EFF's objection to the Internet Archive subpoena:
http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/landmark/eff_letter.pdf

For more on Landmark's subpoena campaign:
http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/landmark/

Contacts:

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

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

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October 26, 2006

Freedom of Information Act Can Help Researchers Uncover Important Records

Washington, D.C. - Bloggers across the Internet have shown that you don't have to be part of the mainstream media to uncover an important story and tell it to the world. But how do you start investigating a big story for your blog?

Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has released tips for bloggers who want the inside story on government agencies. The Bloggers' FAQ on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) outlines how to use open government laws to get access to records kept by federal agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

"Online journalism makes a unique contribution to America's vibrant culture of free speech," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "Using the Freedom of Information Act is a powerful way to shed light on government activities and foster critical public debate about the discoveries."

The guide walks bloggers through making a FOIA request -- addressing what to ask for, which government offices must comply, and what you can and cannot obtain through FOIA. It also explains how to put requests on the fast track and get processing fees waived.

The guide is the most recent product of EFF's FLAG Project, which uses FOIA requests and litigation to expose the government's expanding use of technologies that invade privacy. Earlier this month, the FLAG Project filed lawsuits demanding that the FBI release records concerning the development of two electronic surveillance tools as well as information about the FBI's "Investigative Data Warehouse" (IDW) -- a huge database that contains hundreds of millions of entries of personal information.

"The FLAG Project investigates privacy-invasive tools and policies fostered by the government. There are many other important issues out there in which a blogger can make a difference," EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel said. "Everyone has the ability through FOIA to discover government corruption, fraud and waste, and to publicize those abuses of power."

For the Bloggers' FAQ on the Freedom of Information Act:
http://www.eff.org/bloggers/lg/faq-FOIA.php

For the complete Legal Guide for Bloggers:
http://www.eff.org/bloggers/lg/

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

Contacts:

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

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

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October 17, 2006

'Investigative Data Warehouse' Includes Hundreds of Millions of Entries

'Investigative Data Warehouse' Includes Hundreds of Millions of Entries

Washington, D.C. - The FLAG Project at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit against the Department of Justice today, asking for records concerning the FBI's "Investigative Data Warehouse" (IDW) -- a huge database that contains hundreds of millions of entries of personal information.

According to the FBI, the IDW was developed to collect a wide swath of personal information -- like "photographs, biographical information, physical location information, and financial data" -- for use in anti-terrorism investigations. The FBI said earlier this year that there were over 560 million items in the IDW, and that nearly 12,000 law enforcement agents had access to the information. EFF filed its suit after the FBI failed to respond to two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for records disclosing the criteria for inclusion in the database and the current privacy policy protecting this sensitive information, among other critical issues.

The FBI has failed to file a public notice describing the database and the criteria for including personal information, as required by the Privacy Act of 1974.

"Americans deserve to know what information is collected under what circumstances, and who has access to it," said EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel, the director of the FLAG Project. "And what if this database contains false information about you? How would you correct that? These are serious questions that the FBI needs to answer."

EFF's FLAG Project, launched last month, uses FOIA requests and litigation to expose the government's expanding use of technologies that invade privacy. A lawsuit filed earlier this month demanded that the FBI release records concerning DCS-3000 and Red Hook -- tools the FBI has spent millions of dollars developing for electronic surveillance of personal communications.

"The public needs as much information as possible to evaluate tools that put our privacy at risk," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "The Department of Justice must abide by the law and publicly release information about these surveillance programs."

For the FOIA complaint filed against the Department of Justice:
http://www.eff.org/flag/idw/IDW_complaint.pdf

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

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October 3, 2006

Digital Cable and Satellite DRM Harms TV Fans and Innovators

San Francisco - Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) have changed the way millions of people watch television. But the new TiVo Series 3 for HD lacks a feature that past versions have had -- TiVoToGo, which allows users to move recorded shows to a computer or other device.

In a report released today, "Who Killed TiVoToGo?", EFF gets to the bottom of this digital murder mystery. The plot includes Hollywood, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and digital rights management (DRM) -- and it's an ominous tale for television fans looking forward to the widespread adoption of high-definition (HD) television.

"When you upgrade to HD TV, you will lose some of your favorite features on other digital devices," said EFF Activist Derek Slater, the report's author. "DRM restrictions won't stop 'Internet piracy,' but they will hamper your ability to watch recorded TV content wherever and whenever you choose."

Both digital cable and satellite providers must transmit their programming with DRM to satisfy Hollywood's demands -- and because of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's (DMCA) restrictions on unlocking DRM even for lawful uses, innovators like TiVo have to get permission from Hollywood and the TV providers before creating compatible devices.

TiVo Series 3 HD is one of many new devices that replaces your typical cable set-top box by taking advantage of CableCARD technology. Because TiVo could not get permission to include the TiVoToGo feature in conjunction with CableCARD, the feature was removed.

"Had Hollywood and the TV providers obtained this kind of veto power years ago, the original TiVo might never have been created," said Slater. "Remember, Hollywood tried to stamp out DVRs when they first started to become widespread, suing DVR-maker ReplayTV into bankruptcy and comparing commercial-skipping to 'stealing.' TiVoToGo is the latest casualty in Hollywood's crusade against new technologies."

For the full report "Who Killed TiVoToGo?":
http://www.eff.org/IP/pnp/cablewp.php

To stop cable DRM from getting even worse:
http://action.eff.org/cablecard

Contact:

Derek Slater
Activist
Electronic Frontier Foundation
derek@eff.org

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October 3, 2006

FBI Withholds Records on Tools to Intercept Personal Communications

Washington, D.C. - The FLAG Project at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed its first lawsuit against the Department of Justice Tuesday after the FBI failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records concerning DCS-3000 and Red Hook -- tools the FBI has spent millions of dollars developing for electronic surveillance.

DCS-3000 is an interception system that apparently evolved out of "Carnivore," a controversial surveillance system the FBI used several years ago to monitor online traffic through Internet service providers. One Department of Justice report said DCS-3000 was developed to "intercept personal communication services delivered via emerging digital technologies" and that it was used "as carriers continue to introduce new features and services." According to the same report, Red Hook is a system to "collect voice and data calls and then process and display the intercepted information."

The FLAG Project first filed its FOIA request for information about the surveillance systems on August 11, 2006. The FBI acknowledged receipt of the request, but the agency has not responded within the time limit required by law.

"Recent allegations of domestic spying by the U.S. government already have both lawmakers and the general public up in arms. Americans have a right to know whether the FBI is using new technology to further violate their privacy," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "The Department of Justice needs to abide by the law and publicly release information about these surveillance tools."

EFF's FLAG Project, launched last month, uses FOIA requests and litigation to expose the government's expanding use of technologies that invade privacy.

"Transparency is critical to the functioning of our democracy, especially when the government seeks to hide activities that affect the rights of citizens," EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel, who directs the FLAG Project. "We have recently seen numerous instances where federal agencies have sought to conceal surveillance activities that raise serious legal issues."

For the full FOIA suit filed against the Department of Justice:
http://www.eff.org/flag/dcs/dcs_complaint.pdf

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

Contacts:

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

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

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