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EFF Press Release Archives

Press Releases: November 2007

November 30, 2007

Records Posted on EFF's Website

San Francisco - Today the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) received the first of two batches of records from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) concerning the Administration's attempts this past summer to enact the Protect America Act and eviscerate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The records reveal new details about the contentious negotiations between Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and members of Congress that resulted in the passage of the Protect America Act -- an expansion of spying powers that undermined the Constitution and the privacy of Americans. In one letter, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV claims that McConnell made "assurances" and "agreements" that were not carried out, and says, "I and others involved in these important and intense FISA negotiations are left to question whether the negotiations were carried out in good faith or whether your commitments were overruled by others at the White House or within the Administration." Senator Sheldon Whitehouse also expressed "deeply felt displeasure with the administration's legislative strategy on the recent 'FISA Fix'" and says that the Protect America Act was passed "at a substantial price, one that will be paid in rancor, suspicion and distrust."

"These documents give Americans a unique inside look at high-level discussions about how a controversial -- and critically important -- change to the law occurred," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "A Senate vote on more changes to FISA is just weeks away, and these records could not be more relevant to the ongoing debate on these issues."

EFF sued for the release of the records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) earlier this year, demanding documents concerning briefings, discussions, or other contacts ODNI officials have had with representatives of telecommunications companies or members of Congress about amending FISA. Today's 250-page disclosure focuses on communications between ODNI and members of Congress but includes no information about the telecom industry's lobbying efforts. A federal judge ordered ODNI to release the rest of the relevant documents by December 10.

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.

Part one of the ODNI documents:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/foia_C0705278/113007_odni01.pdf

Part two of the ODNI documents:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/foia_C0705278/113007_odni02.pdf

For more on EFF v. ODNI:
http://www.eff.org/issues/foia/cases/C-07-05278

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

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November 28, 2007

Judge Cancels Friday Hearing, Orders Government to Comply by December 10

San Francisco - Late Tuesday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) won the speedy release of telecom lobbying records from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

The agency was ordered to comply with a new December 10 deadline -- in time for the documents to play a role in the congressional debate over granting amnesty for telecommunications companies taking part in illegal electronic surveillance. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston vacates a hearing on the matter previously scheduled for Friday.

"We are pleased Judge Illston recognized that time was running out for these documents to make a difference in the legislative debate. She agreed that the Administration is dragging its feet in making relevant information available and stressed that the public has a right to full disclosure before Congress acts on the pending telecom amnesty proposals," said EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel. "The court's order confirms our belief that aggressive use of the Freedom of Information Act is needed to challenge government secrecy."

EFF sued for release of the documents after ODNI's slow response to EFF's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to disclose information about any telecom lobbying activity. In the meantime, debate in Congress heated up over proposed changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), including proposals aimed at letting telecoms off the hook for their role in warrantless spying on millions of ordinary Americans.

"The full Senate could start debate on amnesty for telecoms as soon as the first week in December," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "We look forward to making the records public and discovering what light they can shed on this very important issue."

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.

For the full order from Judge Illston:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/foia_C0705278/eff_v_odni_order.pdf

Contacts:

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

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

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

Related Issues:
November 28, 2007

Technology Rights Group Addresses the Comcast Controversy

San Francisco - In the wake of the detection and reporting of Comcast Corporation's controversial interference with Internet traffic, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has published a comprehensive account of Comcast's packet-forging activities and has released software and documentation instructing Internet users on how to test for packet forgery or other forms of interference by their own ISPs.

Separate tests in October from EFF, the Associated Press, and others showed that Comcast was forging small parcels of digital data, known as packets, in order to interfere with its subscribers' and other Internet users' ability to use file-sharing applications, like BitTorrent and Gnutella. Despite having been confronted by this evidence, Comcast continues to issue incomplete and misleading statements about their practices and their impact on its customers.

"Comcast is discriminating among different kinds of Internet traffic based on the protocols being used by its customers," said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "When confronted, Comcast has been evasive and misleading in its responses, so we decided to start gathering the facts ourselves."

Protocol-specific discrimination gives ISPs a tremendous amount of power over the kinds of new applications and services that can be deployed by innovators and competitors. To the extent that practices like those employed by Comcast change the "end-to-end" architecture of the Internet, those practices jeopardize the Internet's vibrant innovation economy.

"This recent interference by Comcast in their subscribers' Internet communications is a cause for grave concern," said EFF Staff Technologist Peter Eckersley. "It threatens the open Internet standards and architecture that have made the network such an engine of technical and economic innovation."

In addition to an account of the results of EFF's independent testing of Comcast's packet forging activities, EFF has also issued a detailed document and software to assist other networking experts in conducting their own testing.

"If ISPs won't give their customers accurate information about their Internet traffic controls, we have to detect and document them for ourselves," said EFF Staff Technologist Seth Schoen.

For "Packet Forgery by ISPs: A Report on the Comcast Affair":
http://www.eff.org/wp/packet-forgery-isps-report-comcast-affair

For "Detecting Packet Injection: A Guide to Packet Spoofing by ISPs":
http://www.eff.org/wp/detecting-packet-injection

For more on EFF's research into Comcast's packet monitoring:
http://www.eff.org/testyourisp

Contacts:

Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
fred@eff.org

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

Seth Schoen
Staff Technologist
Electronic Frontier Foundation
seth@eff.org

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November 28, 2007

EFF Defends Critic from Local Government's Heavy-Handed Tactics

Manalapan, NJ - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asked a Superior Court judge in New Jersey today to preserve the free speech rights of an anonymous blogger facing legal threats from local government officials.

The blogger, writing as "daTruthSquad" on a site hosted on Google's Blogspot service, has criticized a controversial lawsuit filed by the township of Manalapan, as well as the officials who decided to pursue the case. The township subpoenaed Google for "daTruthSquad's" identity -- as well as for any emails, blog drafts, and other information Google has about the blogger -- claiming that the defendant in the case is actually writing the posts. The defendant, however, has already sworn under penalty of perjury that he is not "daTruthSquad."

"Bloggers, as well as everyone else, have a First Amendment right to speak anonymously," said EFF Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "Litigants don't get a blank check to pry into the private lives of critics when they say things the litigants don't like. The fact that it is the government trying to abuse the discovery process makes this attempted invasion of privacy all the more repugnant."

In a motion to quash the subpoena filed today, EFF asked the court to block the township's attempt to uncover the identity of "daTruthSquad" and allow the blogger to continue to write about this or any other issue without being forced to identity him or herself.

"Attempts to intimidate critics into silence need to be confronted whenever and wherever they occur," said Zimmerman. "Governmental entities simply cannot be permitted to investigate critics because they dare to voice disapproval of public officials. It remains our sincere hope that the Township will abandon this intolerable legal strategy."

For the full motion to quash:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/manalapan/motiontoquashmpa-signed.pdf

For more on this case:
http://www.eff.org/cases/manalapan-v-moskovitz

Contacts:

Matt Zimmerman
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org

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

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November 27, 2007

EFF Demands Information on Industry Campaign to Block Surveillance Suits

*UPDATE* EFF Wins Fast-Track Release of Telecom Lobbying Records: Judge Cancels Friday Hearing, Orders Government to Comply by December 10

San Francisco - On Friday, November 30, at 9am, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will urge a federal judge to speed the release of lobbying records that could shed light on the congressional debate over granting amnesty for telecommunications companies taking part in illegal electronic surveillance.

In just a few days, the U.S. Senate will consider changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), including proposals aimed at letting telecoms off the hook for their role in warrantless spying on millions of ordinary Americans. But the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) is dragging its feet on EFF's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to disclose information about telecom lobbying activity. In Friday's hearing, EFF will ask U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston to order ODNI to release this information while it could still impact the Senate vote.

EFF also 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.

WHAT:
EFF v. ODNI

WHEN:
9 a.m.
Friday, November 30

WHERE:
U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
Courtroom 10, 19th Floor
450 Golden Gate Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94102

For more on this FOIA lawsuit:
http://www.eff.org/issues/foia/cases/C-07-05278

For more on Hepting v. AT&T:
http://www.eff.org/nsa

Contact:

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

Related Issues:
November 15, 2007

Fourth Successful Challenge from EFF's Patent-Busting Project

San Francisco - San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has won reexamination from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) of a bogus patent on Internet subdomains -- the fourth successful reexamination request from EFF's Patent Busting Project.

The patent, now held by Hoshiko, LLC, claims to cover the method of automatically assigning Internet subdomains, like "action.eff.org" for the parent domain "eff.org." Previous patent owner Ideaflood used this illegitimate patent to demand payment from website hosting companies that offer such personalized domains, including Freehomepage.com, T35 Hosting, and LiveJournal, a social networking site where each of its three million users have their own subdomain.

In the reexamination request, EFF and Rick Mc Leod of Klarquist Sparkman, LLP, showed that the method Ideaflood claimed to have invented was well known before the patent was issued. In fact, website developers were having public discussions about how to create these virtual subdomains on an Apache developer mailing list for more than a year before Ideaflood made its patent claim. The open source developers established a public record of the technology development, providing the linchpin to EFF's patent challenge.

"The hard work of open source developers should not be taken out of the public domain and used to threaten other legitimate innovators," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Jason Schultz, who heads EFF's Patent Busting Project. "Fortunately, the open source approach to development helped protect Apache and other web projects by creating the evidence needed to challenge this illegitimate patent."

The challenge to the Ideaflood patent is part of EFF's Patent Busting Project, which combats the chilling effects that bad patents have on public and consumer interests. So far, the project has killed one bogus patent and won reexamination of three others.

"Based on the PTO's initial analysis in the reexamination order, it appears likely that all claims will be rejected in view of the techniques disclosed by Apache developer Ralf Engelschall and others," said Rick Mc Leod, who drafted EFF petition. "We look forward to the PTO's detailed analysis of our request."

For the full reexamination order:
http://w2.eff.org/patent/wanted/ideaflood/re-exam_order.pdf

For more on EFF's Patent Busting Project:
http://www.eff.org/patent

Contacts:

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

Rick Mc Leod
Klarquist Sparkman, LLP
rick.mcleod@klarquist.com

Related Issues:
November 15, 2007

Full House and Senate Judiciary Committee Each Pass Bills with No Amnesty for Warrantless Surveillance

Washington, D.C. - Both the full House of Representatives and the Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to keep telecommunications companies on the hook for their role in illegal government spying on millions of ordinary Americans -- at least for now.

The bills each make changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). But, despite veto threats from the White House, neither of the two bills give blanket amnesty to telecoms that took part in the massive warrantless domestic surveillance program. Both bills would allow dozens of lawsuits against the telecoms to proceed, thus allowing federal courts to rule on whether dragnet domestic surveillance documented is legal.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) represents the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, the first class-action lawsuit accusing the telecom giant of violating the law and the privacy of its customers by collaborating with the National Security Agency (NSA) in dragnet government spying on millions of Americans. While the Senate Judiciary Committee bill as written does not affect this and other lawsuits over the Administration's warrantless surveillance, provisions that allow the cases to proceed while also affording the companies some form of limited liability relief could well be added back into the bill when it is debated on the Senate floor. A conference committee will then meet to reconcile the House and Senate versions.

"We are pleased that the House and a majority of the Judiciary Committee's members have signaled that they want Americans to have their day in court," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "The fight isn't over yet, however. We look forward to working with Senators Leahy, Specter, and Feingold and other lawmakers in both chambers of Congress to make sure that the bill eventually sent to the president allows the people's lawsuits to go forward."

For more on Hepting v. AT&T and telecom immunity:
http://www.eff.org/nsa

Contacts:

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

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

Related Issues:
November 14, 2007

Judiciary Committee to Mark Up Critical Bill Thursday

Washington, D.C. - Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee meet Thursday to discuss letting telecoms off the hook for their role in illegal spying on millions of ordinary Americans -- a blatant attempt to block lawsuits that would determine if the surveillance is legal.

The "FISA Amendments Act" includes blanket immunity for telecommunications companies who took part in a massive warrantless domestic surveillance program to wiretap Americans' communications. However, committee member Sen. Russ Feingold says he will offer an amendment that would remove this blanket immunity from the bill. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urges lawmakers to support Sen. Feingold in holding the telecoms accountable for their involvement in the illegal spying.

"Granting immunity to the telecoms would make Congress complicit in the cover-up of illegal, wholesale warrantless spying," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "These amnesty proposals are aimed at blocking the courthouse door to millions of folks whose rights were violated by corporations that ignored both the law and their duty to keep everyday communications private and safe. We are pleased that Senator Feingold is taking a stand, and we hope that other committee members join him."

EFF represents the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, a class-action lawsuit that accuses the telecom giant of violating the law and the privacy of its customers by collaborating with the National Security Agency (NSA) in the dragnet government spying. EFF's case includes undisputed evidence that AT&T installed fiberoptic splitters at its facility at 611 Folsom Street in San Francisco that made copies of all emails, web browsing and other Internet traffic to and from AT&T customers on AT&T's key giant fiberoptic lines --including purely domestic communications -- and provided those copies to the NSA.

The House of Representatives may also consider an electronic surveillance bill Thursday. However, the House version of the bill does not grant immunity for telecoms, and would allow the legal cases to proceed.

For more on Hepting v. AT&T and telecom immunity:
http://www.eff.org/nsa

Contacts:

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

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

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

Related Issues:
November 13, 2007

Urges Supreme Court to Crack Down on Post-Sale Restrictions

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today urged the U.S. Supreme Court to protect consumers' traditional right to use, repair, and resell the products they own, even if those products are patented. At stake is the enforceability of "single use" and "not for resale" labels on patented products.

The amicus brief -- submitted on behalf of EFF, Consumers Union, and Public Knowledge -- was filed in Quanta v. LG Electronics, currently pending before the Supreme Court. The case will test the vitality of the "patent exhaustion" doctrine, which entitles a consumer to use, repair, or resell patented products that they have purchased.

The issue is of increasing importance to consumers, who often face "single use only" and "not for resale" labels on patented products, interfering with legitimate aftermarkets for parts and service. Lexmark, for example, has used "single use only" labels to limit the market for refilled toner cartridges. Similarly, "not for resale" labels could interfere with used and refurbished product sales on eBay and Craigslist. EFF's brief urges the Supreme Court to prohibit patent owners from using patent infringement suits to enforce these kinds of post-sale use restrictions on the products they sell.

"Patent owners are trying to use 'label licenses' to deprive consumers of their right to use, repair and resell the products they own," said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "It's time for the Supreme Court to step in and put a stop to it."

The case is No. 06-937. The Solicitor General, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and Gateway all urged the Supreme Court to review the case, and oral argument is expected in early 2008.

For the full amicus brief:
https://www.eff.org/files/filenode/quanta_v_lg/quanta_amicus.pdf

Contact:

Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
fred@eff.org

Related Issues:
November 6, 2007

Ruling Advances EFF's Class-action Lawsuit Against AT&T

San Francisco - A federal judge today ruled on a preservation motion filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), ordering that telecommunications companies must preserve any evidence of collaborating with the government in illegal spying on ordinary Americans.

In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ordered the telecommunications companies to halt any routine destruction of documents or to arrange for the preservation of accurate copies. On December 14, each party must provide the court with confirmation that the court's order has been carried out. The court order did not require the government or the carriers to reveal whether or not they had any relevant evidence.

The government and the carriers had opposed the preservation motion, claiming that the government's invocation of the state secrets privilege made it impossible to proceed with a preservation order. In litigation, parties are typically required to preserve all relevant evidence.

For the judge's order:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/att/393%20order.pdf

For more on the class-action lawsuit against AT&T:
http://www.eff.org/cases/att

Contacts:

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

Related Issues:
November 5, 2007

Press Conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, November 7, 10:30am

Washington, D.C. - On Wednesday, November 7, at 10:30am, telecommunications technician and AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein will speak out at a press conference on Capitol Hill, explaining why he is asking lawmakers to reject immunity for telecoms who assisted the Bush administration's spying on millions of Americans.

Klein witnessed first-hand the technology AT&T built to assist the government's domestic warrantless wiretapping program at AT&T's main switching facility in San Francisco. As part of his job at AT&T, Klein connected high-speed fiber optic cables to sophisticated equipment that intercepted communications from AT&T customers and then copied and routed every single one to a room controlled by the National Security Agency (NSA). Klein has provided evidence for the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF's) class-action lawsuit against AT&T for its role in the illegal spying.

"My job required me to enable the physical connections between AT&T customers' Internet communications and the NSA's illegal, wholesale copying machine for domestic emails, Internet phone conversations, web surfing and all other Internet traffic. I have first-hand knowledge of the clandestine collaboration between one giant telecommunications company, AT&T, and the National Security Agency to facilitate the most comprehensive illegal domestic spying program in history," said Klein.

Also speaking at the event Wednesday is network systems and infrastructure expert Brian Reid, who will explain how the infrastructure that Mr. Klein helped install likely fits into and facilitates the massive warrantless surveillance program.

WHO:
Mark Klein, former AT&T communications technician and domestic spying program whistleblower
Brian Reid, network systems and infrastructure expert
Cindy Cohn, Legal Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Kevin Bankston, Staff Attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation

WHAT:
Press conference/Q & A to urge the Senate to reject blanket retroactive immunity for unlawfully aiding illegal domestic NSA spying.

WHERE:
Senate Banking Committee Hearing Room, Dirksen 538

WHEN:
10:30am, Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Contacts:

Trevor FitzGibbon
Fenton Communications
trevor@fenton.com

Alex Howe
Fenton Communications
alex@fenton.com

Related Issues:
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