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EFF Press Release Archives

Press Releases: September 2007

September 27, 2007

EFF Lawsuit Demands Information About Telecom Industry Lobbying

EFF Lawsuit Demands Information About Telecom Industry Lobbying

Washington, D.C. - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) today, demanding any records of a telecom industry lobbying campaign to block lawsuits over their compliance with illegal electronic surveillance. EFF's lawsuit comes as Congress debates letting telecommunications companies off scot-free as part of the hotly disputed "modernization" of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

EFF represents the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, a class-action lawsuit brought by AT&T customers accusing the telecommunications company of violating their rights by illegally assisting the National Security Agency in domestic surveillance. The Hepting case is just one of many suits aimed at holding telecoms responsible for knowingly violating federal privacy laws with warrantless wiretapping and the illegal transfer of vast amounts of personal data to the government.

The government has intervened and moved for dismissal of many of these lawsuits. The DOJ has also pushed for changes to federal law that would ensure the telecoms are not held responsible for their role in the warrantless surveillance. Meanwhile, the DOJ has not responded to EFF's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to disclose records concerning any lobbying activities regarding potential immunity for the telecom industry.

"The White House is publicly calling for immunity for the telecoms, while a recent Newsweek article detailed a 'secretive lobbying campaign' to block the lawsuits," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "If there are backroom deals going on at the Department of Justice, then Americans need to know about them now, before Congress passes any law that gets the telecom companies off the hook."

The Department of Justice has already agreed that the records should be disclosed quickly because of the urgent need to inform the public about these issues. However, despite this recognition, DOJ has neither processed the FOIA requests nor told EFF when the documents might be released. EFF's suit asks for the immediate disclosure of the telecom lobbying records, including any documents concerning briefings, discussions, or other contacts DOJ officials have had with representatives of telecommunications companies. The suit also asks for records of contact between the DOJ and members of Congress about telecom immunity.

"Our lawsuit and others allege serious privacy law violations that impact millions of ordinary Americans," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "If the telecoms are seeking amnesty for their illegal activity, Americans deserve to know why and how lobbyists pressured the DOJ."

For the full complaint:
http://www.eff.org/flag/fisa_lobbying/092707_complaint.pdf

For more on our FOIA work:
http://www.eff.org/flag

Contacts:

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

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

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

Related Issues:
September 17, 2007

Free Culture Leader John Buckman and Privacy and Security Expert Lorrie Faith Cranor Sign on to Distinguished Team

San Francisco - The Board of Directors of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has elected two leading technologists to join its executive board: free culture leader John Buckman and privacy and security expert Lorrie Faith Cranor.

John Buckman is a programmer, an entrepreneur, and the founder of Magnatune.com -- an online record label that strives to be fair to both recording artists and consumers alike. The Magnatune site provides web-based distribution to over 250 recording artists and features an innovative tool for online music licensing for film, television, and new media. This Creative Commons-backed business model has helped establish Buckman as a leader in the free culture movement. Buckman is also the founder Bookmooch.com, an online community for the exchanging of used books. His past accomplishments include having founded email software company Lyris in 1994, which he sold to JL Halsey in 2005. He also created Tile.net, an early web site directory that was sold in 2001.

"EFF fights to protect the rights of artists and fans who use technology to make and enjoy creative works," said Buckman. "I'm happy to join them in taking on these cutting-edge issues."

Lorrie Faith Cranor is an Associate Research Professor in the School of Computer Science and the department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. She has played a key role in building the usable privacy and security research community, having co-edited the seminal book "Security and Usability" and founded the Symposium On Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS). Cranor has authored over 80 research papers on online privacy, phishing and semantic attacks, spam, electronic voting, anonymous publishing, usable access control, and other topics. She has also testified as an expert in lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Internet "harmful to minors" laws. In 2003, Cranor was named one of the top 100 innovators 35 or younger by Technology Review magazine. She was previously a researcher at AT&T Labs Research and taught in the Stern School of Business at New York University.

"The privacy and security policy decisions made now will have far-reaching implications in the years to come," said Cranor. "I'm pleased to work with EFF as they champion the public interest in these important debates."

Other members of EFF's executive board include John Perry Barlow, David Farber, Edward W. Felten, John Gilmore, Brewster Kahle, Joe Kraus, Lawrence Lessig, Pamela Samuelson, Shari Steele, and Brad Templeton.

"EFF is so fortunate to have such a distinguished Board of Directors, comprised of leaders in technology, policy, and law," said EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. "John and Lorrie bring a wonderful wealth of experience to EFF and will help us continue to think about our role in relation to emerging technologies."

Contact:

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

September 11, 2007

Court Blocks DirecTV's Heavy-Handed Legal Tactics

San Francisco - In an important ruling today, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked satellite television provider DirecTV's heavy-handed legal tactics and protected security and computer science research into satellite and smart card technology after hearing argument from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

The cases, DirecTV v. Huynh and DirecTV v. Oliver, involved a provision of federal law prohibiting the "assembly" or "modification" of equipment designed to intercept satellite signals. DirecTV maintained that the provision should cover anyone who works with equipment designed for interception of their signals, regardless of their motivation or whether any interception occurs. But in a hearing earlier this year, EFF argued that the provision should apply only to entities that facilitate illegal interception by other people and not to those who simply tinker or use the equipment, such as researchers and others working to further scientific knowledge of the devices at issue.

"Congress never meant this law to be used as a hammer on those who use or tinker with new technologies," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "We're pleased the court recognized that researchers need to be protected."

These cases were part of DirecTV's nationwide legal campaign against hundreds of thousands of individuals, claiming that they were illegally intercepting its satellite TV signal simply because they had purchased smart card technology. Because DirecTV made little effort to distinguish legal uses of smart card technology from illegal ones, EFF has worked to limit the lawsuits to only those cases where DirecTV has proof that their signals were illegally received.

"DirecTV always had legal recourse against those who pirate their signal. The ruling today prevents satellite and cable TV companies from piling on excessive damages that would punish and chill legitimate encryption research," said EFF Civil Liberties Director Jennifer Granick.

David Price and Trevor Dryer at Stanford Law School's Cyberlaw Clinic also assisted in this case.

For the full opinion from the 9th Circuit:
http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/directv_v_huynh/directv_ruling.pdf

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

Contacts:

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

Jennifer Stisa Granick
Civil Liberties Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jennifer@eff.org

Related Issues:
September 10, 2007

Jennifer Stisa Granick Named Civil Liberties Director

San Francisco - Noted computer crime attorney Jennifer Stisa Granick has joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) as its new Civil Liberties Director, working on government surveillance, Fourth Amendment, computer security, and computer crime law.

Granick previously was Executive Director at Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society as well as Director of the Cyberlaw Clinic. Before Stanford, Granick spent almost a decade practicing criminal defense law, focusing on hacker defense and the interaction of free speech, privacy, law, and technology.

"EFF plays a critical role in the battle to protect freedom and privacy as new technologies transform our lives, and I'm thrilled to be a part of this important work," Granick said. "I'm especially looking forward to protecting privacy rights in digital communications technologies, creating standards for how new technologies are used in national security and law enforcement investigations and promoting network privacy by working with security researchers."

Granick was selected by Information Security magazine in 2003 as one of 20 "Women of Vision" in the computer security field. She has spoken to the American Bar Association, National Security Agency, Naval Postgraduate School, International Security Forum, Computer Security Institute, Black Hat security conference, and the international Workshop on the Economics of Information Security, among others.

"EFF has long wanted to expand into criminal defense work, and Jennifer is the best there is," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "It's time to take a deeper look at how technologies are being used in criminal and national security prosecutions. We're all very excited about adding this new depth to our work."

Granick received her J.D. degree from the University of California Hastings College of the Law and her undergraduate degree from the New College of the University of South Florida.

Contact:

Jennifer Stisa Granick
Civil Liberties Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jennifer@eff.org

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