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EFF Press Release Archives

Press Releases: January 2010

January 25, 2010

Public Discussion Set for Thursday at UC Berkeley School of Law

Berkeley, CA - On Thursday, January 28, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is hosting a day-long public roundtable in Berkeley, California, exploring the privacy challenges posted by new developments in technology. Three experts from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) are taking part.

Panels at Thursday's roundtable include "Technology and Privacy," where EFF Staff Technologist Peter Eckersley will discuss the arms race between tracking technologies and privacy-enhancing technologies. Also on the agenda is "Privacy Implications of Mobile Computing" with EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston addressing privacy issues of location-based services and "Technology and Policy" with EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien discussing how privacy can be designed into new products. Other panels will tackle social networking services and cloud computing.

For more information on attending the roundtable including a full agenda, visit http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/workshops/privacyroundtables/index.shtml

WHAT:
FTC Roundtable "Exploring Privacy"

WHEN:
Thursday, January 28
7:45am to 6pm

WHERE:
University of California, Berkeley, School of Law
Booth Auditorium, Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720

For more information on the roundtable:
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/workshops/privacyroundtables/index.shtml

Contact:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Issues:
January 21, 2010

Court Rules That Mass Surveillance of Americans is Immune From Judicial Review

San Francisco - A federal judge has dismissed Jewel v. NSA, a case from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on behalf of AT&T customers challenging the National Security Agency's mass surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans' phone calls and emails.

"We're deeply disappointed in the judge's ruling," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "This ruling robs innocent telecom customers of their privacy rights without due process of law. Setting limits on Executive power is one of the most important elements of America's system of government, and judicial oversight is a critical part of that."

In the ruling, issued late Thursday, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker held that the privacy harm to millions of Americans from the illegal spying dragnet was not a "particularized injury" but instead a "generalized grievance" because almost everyone in the United States has a phone and Internet service.

"The alarming upshot of the court's decision is that so long as the government spies on all Americans, the courts have no power to review or halt such mass surveillance even when it is flatly illegal and unconstitutional," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "With new revelations of illegal spying being reported practically every other week -- just this week, we learned that the FBI has been unlawfully obtaining Americans' phone records using Post-It notes rather than proper legal process -- the need for judicial oversight when it comes to government surveillance has never been clearer."

Jewel v. NSA is aimed at ending the NSA's dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans and holding accountable the government officials who illegally authorized it. Evidence in the case includes undisputed documents provided by former AT&T telecommunications technician Mark Klein showing AT&T has routed copies of Internet traffic to a secret room in San Francisco controlled by the NSA. That same evidence is central to Hepting v. AT&T, a class-action lawsuit that's currently under appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

For the judge's full order:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/jewel/jeweldismissal12110.pdf

For more on warrantless wiretapping and NSA spying:
http://www.eff.org/issues/nsa-spying

Contacts:

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

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

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January 14, 2010

Asks FCC to Close Loopholes That Endanger Free Speech and Innovation

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today to close loopholes in its proposed regulations for network neutrality -- loopholes that could let the entertainment industry and law enforcement hinder free speech and innovation.

"The central goal of the net neutrality movement is to prevent ISPs from discriminating against lawful content on the Internet," said EFF Civil Liberties Director Jennifer Granick. "Yet the FCC's version of net neutrality specifically allows ISPs to make those discriminations -- opening the door to widespread Internet surveillance and censorship in the guise of copyright protection and addressing the needs of law enforcement."

Under the FCC's proposed neutrality rules, ISPs would get a free pass to block content in pursuit of copyright infringement or when they voluntarily adopt measures to help law enforcement.

"We know from bitter experience that dragnet copyright enforcement efforts often end up inflicting collateral damage on lawful activities," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "Neutrality regulations should not excuse ISPs that discriminate against or block innocent content just because they claim it was done to protect copyrights or cater to law enforcement."

EFF's comments also question whether the FCC has the authority to regulate the Internet in the first place, citing the lack of any legal basis to enact net neutrality rules. Additionally, EFF calls on the FCC to protect the interests of individuals who offer open WiFi Internet access to their neighbors or local communities.

Also today, EFF launched the Real Net Neutrality campaign to coordinate public support for removal of the copyright-enforcement loophole. On RealNetNeutrality.org, people can sign EFF's petition to the FCC and learn more about issue.

For EFF's full comments to the FCC:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/nn/EFFNNcomments.pdf

For more on Real Net Neutrality:
http://www.realnetneutrality.org/

Contacts:

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

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

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January 6, 2010

Activists Move to Dismiss Improper Trademark Claims, Defend Free Speech

Washington - A group of political activists including members of the Yes Men and the Action Factory have moved to dismiss a meritless lawsuit filed by the United States Chamber of Commerce accusing the activists of infringing the Chamber's trademarks in the course of a political parody highlighting the Chamber's controversial stance on climate change.

In the motion filed Tuesday, the activists -- represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP -- argue that the Chamber's suit was designed to punish core political speech, rather than to vindicate any actual trademark harm, and should therefore be dismissed.

"U.S. courts have long recognized that trademark rights do not include the right to control language and silence critics," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "This political parody was clearly protected by fair use and the First Amendment."

At issue is a "press conference" staged by the activists in mid-October, in which the Chamber of Commerce ostensibly reversed its position and promised to stop lobbying against strong climate change legislation, a stance that has caused several prominent Chamber members to leave the organization. As has been widely reported, only minutes after the press conference got underway, a Chamber of Commerce representative rushed into the room and revealed that the Chamber's position on climate change legislation had not in fact changed.

The Chamber responded by sending an improper copyright takedown notice to the Yes Men's upstream Internet provider, demanding that a parody website posted in support of the action be removed immediately, which resulted in the temporary shutdown of not only the spoof site but hundreds of other sites hosted by May First/People Link. Next, the Chamber filed suit against the activists in federal court, claiming the activism infringed their trademarks.

"The Chamber's lawsuit seeks to punish the Yes Men for exercising their constitutionally-protected free speech right to parody the Chamber of Commerce's controversial position on climate change," said Davis Wright Tremaine LLP attorney Thomas R. Burke.

The Chamber's opposition to the activists' motion is due on January 19.

For the full motion to dismiss:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/yesmen/YesMenMTDwithExA.pdf

For more on this case:
http://www.eff.org/cases/chamber-commerce-v-servin

Contacts:

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

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

Related Issues:
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