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Press Mentions: May, 2005

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Press Mentions: May, 2005

5.1.2005,
Sacramento Bee via Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

"Airing work gripes online might relieve you of a job"
By Rachel Osterman

. . . Long a staple of the Internet, the diary-style postings known as blogs are entering a new frontier as employees across the country are popping up to complain about bosses, hours and all sorts of office minutiae. And companies are taking note, with some developing official blogging policies and dismissing workers for blogging.

?People are saying the same sorts of things that they would say at a water cooler, or when they?re going to drink with their work buddies,? said Kurt Opsahl, a staff attorney at the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit that protects legal rights in the digital world. ?It?s just that it has a wider audience, it creates an archive and it can be found on Google." . . .

5.0.2005, Bradenton Herald

"Bill would restrict Weather Service data"
By Dawn Withers

Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., the Senate's third-ranking Republican, is pushing a bill that critics say would force the Weather Service to disseminate much of its data only to private companies.

The bill, these opponents contend, would limit the public's access to user-friendly weather information and require that people go to a commercial weather company to get any meaningful interpretation of raw climate data . . .

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocate for freedom of information on the Internet, has condemned Santorum's bill.

"It is a terrible precedent for information policy," said staff member Ren Bucholz. "If the rule is, data provided by taxpayer money can't be provided to the public but through a private entity, we won't have a very useful public agency."

5.9.2005, San Jose Mercury News

"Pondering New Puzzle ? Who Inherits Digital Data"
By John Boudreau

When we die, we leave many things behind. These days, that includes a digital life.

There are private online journals, e-mail missives to long-ago loves and important financial documents -- not to mention records of instant-message chats and Web surfing habits . . .

Danny O'Brien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco non-profit that often gets involved in digital-privacy issues, said it's difficult to find the right balance between personal privacy and a family's desire to get all of a loved one's possessions.

"We are sympathetic to the pain families go through," he said. "On the other hand, there are a lot of things people want to keep private from their close relatives. You need to have some way to do that." . . .

5.7.2005, Sydney Morning Herald

"New TV Tracking Technology Goes Beyond GPS"
By Dean Takahashi

Even if you're lost, Rosum will find you. That's the promise of the Redwood City, California, start-up that has figured out how to use television signals to track your whereabouts.

Rosum's technology complements the satellite-based global positioning system . . .

But privacy advocates raise a red flag about how Rosum's technology could be used to locate and track people without their consent.

Kurt Opsahl, staff solicitor at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, said Rosum apparently would operate a location server that will be able to record the movement history of any device being tracked.

If the Rosum technology eventually is built into mobile phones or other popular gadgets, the government could subpoena Rosum's customers to track anyone's movements.

"This is another step toward a surveillance society," said Mr Opsahl. "They could get your traffic patterns. This is fairly sensitive information." . . .

5.5.2005, The Denver Post


"Fingerprints foil fake IDs"

By Will Shanley

. . . Zenner, owner of Terry's Liquor Store in Alamosa, installed two biometric fingerprint identification systems this month. He said the system of using high-tech scanners and fingerprints for age verification in liquor sales is a first . . .

Customers register with a store clerk by showing a driver's license or picture identification, which is thoroughly inspected to ensure authenticity, and having their fingerprint scanned and converted into a partial replica and entered into a database.

Then, instead of flashing a picture ID for each purchase, the customer places a fingertip on an electronic scanner next to the cash register. The scanner identifies the fingerprint and informs the store clerk of the customer's date of birth, driver's license number and expiration date . . .

Not everybody is a fan.

Danny O'Brien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based group dedicated to protecting individual rights, said fingerprint ID technology is "flaky."

He said the system is likely to produce incorrect information at times. Other concerns include people creating fraudulent fingerprints with specialized gels and business owners tracking and selling customer information to marketers.

"Sometimes technology is used as a magic wand, but right now the technology isn't good enough for this," O'Brien said. "People put too much trust in these systems, and if they are wrong, there are no other checks and balances." . . .

5.4.2005, MarketWatch

"FTC Warns of Spam 'Zombies'"
By Andrea Coombes

. . . One FTC recommendation is that ISPs block email messages through a common port, known as Port 25, and limit the number of messages anyone can send to, say, 1,000 a day. Obviously, spammers wouldn't like that . . .

"The concern we have is the precedent this sets," said Annalee Newitz, policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which works to protect civil liberties on the Internet.

"It sets up a precedent that perhaps ISPs could be asked to shut down other ports for other reasons. For example, ports that are commonly used by peer-to-peer file-sharing applications," she said . . .

5.8.2005, Wired.com

"Tecmo Spikes Nude Vollyball Lawsuit"
By Kevin Poulsen

Leaving for another day the question of whether consumers have the right to modify video-game software they've legally purchased, a federal judge last week dismissed a lawsuit by California game maker Tecmo against the proprietors and users of a game-hacking website, after the company quietly settled with the two main defendants.

Tecmo filed the lawsuit in January in a crackdown on NinjaHacker.net, an internet forum where fans created and shared custom content for several Tecmo Xbox titles, including Ninja Gaiden, Dead or Alive 3 and Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball . . .

The lawsuit also targeted up to 100 anonymous users of the website, whose identities Tecmo vowed to unmask earlier this year. Those users were the focus of the settlement talks, said Jason Schultz, an attorney with the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation, which had been tracking the case. According to Schultz, Tecmo insisted that Greiling and Glynn hand over NinjaHacker's user database to the company as part of any deal. "Tecmo wanted to get the personal identifying information of people who were uploading and downloading skins," said Schultz. "I don't know if that was in the final settlement" . . .

5.7.2005, Wired.com

"Tor Torches Online Tracking"
By Kim Zetter

Privacy tools can sometimes create strange bedfellows.

That's what has happened with an anonymizer system that was originally developed and funded by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory to help government employees shield their identity online. It is now being co-funded and promoted by the civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation . . .

"There's an assumption that people working on government things and people working on EFF things can't possibly be working on the same things," said Roger Dingledine, one of Tor's developers. "But they both want the same sort of security."

Besides, Dingledine said, the Navy is happy to have the outside world using its designs because "it demonstrates that the Navy writes stuff that is useful."

The Naval Research Lab began developing the system in 1996 but handed the code over to Roger Dingledine and Nick Mathewson, two Boston-based programmers, in 2002. The system was designed as part of a program called onion routing, in which data is passed randomly through a distributed network of servers three times, with layers of security protecting the data, like an onion.

Dingledine and Mathewson rewrote the code to make it easier to use and developed a client program so that users could send data from their desktops.

"It's been really obscure until now and hard to use," said Chris Palmer, EFF's technology manager. "(Before) it was just a research prototype for geeks. But now the onion routing idea is finally ready for prime time." . . .

5.6.2005

USA Today

"Airports roll out high-tech security"
By Thomas Frank

. . . The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is banking on a new wave of electronics to close security holes that could allow terrorists to get into restricted airport sites or carry bombs through passenger screening. Metal detectors at security checkpoints don't detect plastic or liquid explosives . . .

But security experts and privacy advocates warn that the new technology is not fail-safe and that deploying it at airports could lead to more widespread use of surveillance.

"There's a strong tendency to believe biometrics is more secure and
effective. That's baloney," says Lee Tien, a lawyer with the Electronic
Frontier Foundation, a privacy advocate. "There are so many failures."

Los Angeles Times, via the Baltimore Sun

"Crackdown on Piracy Hits Barrier"
By Lorenza Munoz and Jon Healey

. . . The new Family Entertainment and Copyright Act makes it illegal to offer online even one movie, song or software program before its official release, making it easier to prosecute some cases. Though the law does not make downloading of copyrighted files a crime, many people who do such downloading also offer pirated material on their hard drives for others to copy . . .

Observers say federal prosecutors are walking a fine line.

"I think there's this delicate dance. They're trying to crack down on piracy without ending up the unpaid enforcement arm of the RIAA or the MPAA," said attorney Fred von Lohmann of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group for civil liberties in cyberspace . . .

5.5.2005, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

"You've Got Lawsuit ? Father Sued for Teen's Downloads"
By Megan Twohey

Dave Bink was shocked when he learned last month that he was being sued by the recording industry for the downloading of hundreds of songs, including "All You Wanted" by Michelle Branch, "Eat You Alive" by Limp Bizkit and "U Don't Have to Call" by Usher . . .

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit organization in San Francisco that advocates for Internet freedom, calls the lawsuits misguided and unfair.

"This is not the way the recording industry should be enforcing copyright," said Annalee Newitz, a policy analyst with the organization. "Basically, they're suing their fans, alienating their audience and victimizing people who don't even realize that what they're doing is wrong."

Newitz said the recording industry should be creating legal ways for people to share and download music on the Internet instead . . .

5.3.2005, Consumer Affairs
USA-Patriot Act Rewards Choice Point

By Martin H. Bosworth

. . . The government "watch lists" used to verify the customer's identity are maintained by the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). OFAC's purpose is to implement and enforce economic sanctions against known terrorists, drug dealers, and the like, "to accomplish foreign policy and national security goals." OFAC publishes and regularly updates a list of "Specially Designated Nationals" (SDN's), known or suspected terrorists and accomplices, and makes it available on its website . . .

As Kevin Bankston, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation puts it, this was "a huge sop for data warehousers" -- a way for information brokers to further their goals of gathering exhaustive data on consumers. Given the prohibitive amount of time and effort necessary to maintain constant compliance with the frequently changing OFAC lists, data brokers seized the opportunity to gain a new foothold in the identity business . . .

5..2005, Reuters

"Appeals Court Tosses TV Anti-Piracy Measure"
By Brooks Boliek

A federal appeals court has dealt the entertainment industry a blow by tossing out the Federal Communications Commission's "broadcast flag" regulation designed to guard against piracy once the nation's broadcast TV stations convert to digital in the coming years . . .

"It's expected that the motion picture studios will probably want to go to Congress to finally get the FCC the authority they never had," said Fred von Lohmann, senior attorney for the Electronic Freedom Foundation. "I look forward to Congress hearing from the public interest side of this debate, a side that wasn't adequately heard from during the development of the broadcast flag before it was submitted to the commission or after it was submitted to the commission. The voices of libraries, of innovators, of tinkerers, a whole host of important public interest voices were not heard in this process, and we look forward to having them heard now."

5..2005

PC World

"FCC's Broadcast Flag Overturned"
By Eric Dahl

A federal appeals court struck down the Federal Communications Commission's controversial broadcast flag mandate today, ruling unanimously that the FCC acted outside the scope of its authority when it adopted broadcast flag regulations . . .

"This is a huge victory on a couple levels," says Ren Bucholz, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's policy coordinator for the Americas. "The court kind of rebuked the FCC for overstepping its bounds... We're ecstatic that the courts had such wonderful language in this decision and that it was a unanimous decision."

BBC News

"US Court Kills Anti-Piracy 'Flag'"

An American appeals court has rejected the US broadcast regulator's attempts to control the copying of digital TV with an anti-piracy technology . . .

Wendy Seltzer, lawyer for digital rights campaign group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), told the BBC News website that the decision was a "great victory for consumers and technologists".

"It says the FCC can't regulate everything under the sun, and in particular, that Hollywood can't use the agency to regulate how the public can watch and record television," she said.

"Instead, it leaves our digital television choices with the market, where they belong. The court also recognised the library and educational uses that would be harmed by the flag's restrictions."

Internet Week

"Google Releases Web Accelerator"
By Antone Gonsalves

Google Inc. has launched in beta software that the company says will speed up the time it takes to search the Internet and to load web content.

Web Accelerator, which is available at no charge, runs alongside a browser and directs all searches and page requests through Google's servers. The software supports Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer and the Mozilla Foundation's Firefox browsers.

. . . Privacy advocates, however, expressed concern over storing people's web browsing activities. Such information could be subpoenaed later by law enforcement agencies investigating criminal cases or by lawyers in civil cases.

"Google promises never to rent or sell the information to third parties, but it's still subject to handing over information through the subpoena process," Kurt Opsahl, staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy-rights group in San Francisco, said.

For consumers, the question is whether use of the software is worth the privacy risk, Opsahl said.

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