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EFF Press Release Archives

Press Releases: July 2008

August 1, 2008

Empowers Internet Users on Eve of FCC Comcast Action

San Francisco - Hours before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is expected to take action against Comcast for violating the FCC's net neutrality principles, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is releasing "Switzerland," a software tool for customers to test the integrity of their Internet communications.

The FCC action, expected later today, is a response to formal complaints regarding efforts by Comcast to interfere with its subscribers' use of BitTorrent to share files over the Internet. These interference efforts were first documented and disclosed in October 2007 by EFF, the Associated Press, and a concerned Internet user, Robb Topolski. EFF subsequently urged the FCC to declare Comcast's efforts inconsistent with the Commission's 2005 "Internet Policy Statement," which sets a benchmark for neutral treatment of Internet traffic.

"The sad truth is that the FCC is ill-equipped to detect ISPs interfering with your Internet connection," said Fred von Lohmann, EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney. "It's up to concerned Internet users to investigate possible network neutrality violations, and EFF's Switzerland software is designed to help with that effort. Comcast isn't the first, and certainly won't be the last, ISP to meddle surreptitiously with its subscribers' Internet communications for its own benefit."

"Until now, there hasn't been a reliable way to tell if somebody -- a hacker, an ISP, corporate firewall, or the Great Firewall of China -- is modifying your Internet traffic en route," said Peter Eckersley, EFF Staff Technologist and designer of Switzerland. "The few tests available have been for narrow and specific kinds of interference, or have required tremendous amounts of advanced forensic labor. Switzerland is designed to make general-purpose ISP testing faster and easier."

Part of EFF's "Test your ISP" project, Switzerland is an open source, command-line software tool designed to detect the modification or injection of packets of data by ISPs. Switzerland detects changes made by software tools believed to be in use by ISPs such as Sandvine and AudibleMagic, advertising systems like FairEagle, and various censorship systems. Although currently intended for use by technically sophisticated Internet users, development plans aim to make the tool increasingly easy to use.

For more information and to download the Switzerland software:

For more about EFF's "Test Your ISP" Project:


Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Peter Eckersley
Staff Technologist
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Related Issues:
July 15, 2008

Home Movie of Toddler Dancing to Prince Sparks Bogus Copyright Claim

San Jose - On Friday, July 18, at 9 a.m., the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will urge a federal judge in San Jose to protect the free speech and fair use rights of mother who posted a home movie of her son dancing to Prince on YouTube.

EFF represents Stephanie Lenz, who uploaded a 29-second clip of her son dancing in the family kitchen to the Prince song, "Let's Go Crazy," which is playing on a stereo in the background. Remarkably, Universal Music Publishing Group claimed that the video infringed its copyrights, and had the video yanked from YouTube. Lenz's lawsuit against Universal seeks to hold the company accountable for misrepresenting that her fair use violated its copyrights.

In Friday's hearing, EFF will ask U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel to reject Universal's motion to dismiss the case, and allow Lenz's lawsuit to continue.

Lenz v. Universal

Friday, July 18
9 a.m.

United States District Court, Northern District of California
Courtroom 3, 5th Floor
280 South 1st Street
San Jose, CA 95113


Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Related Issues:
July 9, 2008

Telecoms Let Off the Hook for Illegal Spying - For Now

Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Senate this afternoon passed the FISA Amendments Act, broadly expanding the president's warrantless surveillance authority and unconstitutionally granting retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that participated in the president's illegal domestic wiretapping program. The House of Representatives passed the same bill last month, and President Bush is expected to sign the legislation into law shortly.

"It is an immeasurable tragedy that just after its return from the Fourth of July holiday, the Senate has chosen to pass a bill that betrays the spirit of 1776 by radically expanding the president's spying powers and granting immunity to the companies that colluded in his illegal surveillance program," said Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). "This so-called compromise bill represents a shameful capitulation to the overreaching demands of an imperial president. As Senator Leahy put it in yesterday's debate, the retroactive immunity provision of the bill upends the scales of justice and makes Congress and the courts handmaidens to the White House's cover-up of its illegal surveillance program."

The FISA Amendments Act won passage after several amendments intended to remove or modify the bill's immunity provision failed to pass. One amendment, offered by Senator Christopher Dodd, would have stripped immunity from the bill altogether. Another, introduced by Senator Jeff Bingaman, would have stayed the pending cases against the telecoms and delayed the implementation of the immunity provision until the Inspectors General of the Department of Justice and other U.S. government intelligence agencies finished their investigation into the spying program, thereby preventing Congress from granting immunity in the dark.

"We thank those senators who courageously opposed telecom immunity and vow to them, and to the American people, that the fight for accountability over the president's illegal surveillance is not over," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "Even though Congress has failed to protect the privacy of Americans and uphold the rule of law, we will not abandon our defense of liberty. We will fight this unconstitutional grant of immunity in the courtroom and in the Congress, requesting repeal of the immunity in the next session, while seeking justice from the Judiciary. Nor can the lawless officials who approved this massive violation of Americans' rights rest easy, for we will file a new suit against the government and challenge warrantless wiretapping, past, present and future."

EFF is representing the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of millions of AT&T customers whose private domestic communications and communications records were illegally handed over to the National Security Agency (NSA). EFF has been appointed co-coordinating counsel for all 47 of the outstanding lawsuits concerning the government's warrantless surveillance program.

For more information on the NSA spying:


Kevin Bankston
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Kurt Opsahl
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Related Issues:
July 1, 2008

Lawsuit Tests U.S. Assurances of Access Rights for EU Citizens

Washington, D.C. - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit on behalf of a member of the European Parliament today, demanding that the U.S. government release records about her "risk assessment" score and other information gathered about her during her international travels. The lawsuit comes just days after the disclosure that the U.S. and the European Union may soon finalize an agreement authorizing the transatlantic exchange of large amounts of personal data.

Sophia In 't Veld represents the Netherlands in the European Parliament and serves on the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs. She has been actively engaged in developing policies concerning the exchange of travelers' data between the U.S. and the European Union (EU).

During the ongoing and contentious debates between the U.S. and the EU over travelers' records and the privacy rights of EU citizens, the U.S. government has repeatedly claimed that any person can obtain her records through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. To test those assurances, In 't Veld filed FOIA requests with the Homeland Security, Justice, and State Departments, asking for any information about her that is included in the various U.S. programs and systems used to track international travelers. However, the agencies have failed to comply with the requests as required by federal law.

"The question of redress is the sticking point in the current discussions about data exchanges between the United States and the EU," said In 't Veld. "That dispute underscores the importance of this case; it shows that gaining access to personal data held by U.S. agencies is very difficult, if not impossible."

Among other records, In 't Veld specifically requested data about herself that is included in the Automated Targeting System (ATS) -- a Department of Homeland Security project that creates and assigns "risk assessment" scores to travelers as they enter and leave the U.S. Once the assessment is made, there is no way to challenge it, and the government will retain the information for many years -- as well as make it available to federal, state, local, and foreign agencies in addition to contractors, grantees, consultants, and others.

"Ms. In 't Veld's experience shows the inaccuracy of U.S. assurances that EU citizens can gain easy access to personal information held in agency databases," said EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel. "The truth is that it is virtually impossible for any individuals --even U.S. citizens -- to access information about themselves that is collected and maintained by American security agencies. It's important that EU officials and citizens understand the reality of the situation before moving forward with a sweeping agreement on the exchange of sensitive personal data."

This FOIA lawsuit is part of EFF's ongoing work to protect travelers from privacy-invasive programs at the U.S. border. EFF has also filed suit against DHS for denying access to public records on the questioning and searches of travelers at U.S. borders and called on Congress to investigate the random, suspicionless searches of laptops and electronic devices.

For the full complaint:

For more on the U.S./EU data sharing agreement:

For more on travel screening:

For more on FOIA:


David Sobel
Senior Counsel
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Marcia Hofmann
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation

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