EFF in the News
But Lee Tien, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said privacy concerns are rising precisely because of these new devices.
“More and more devices in the home are capable of sensing or recording household activity,” he said in an e-mail. “That’s not to mention the power of smart meters and electrical usage data to make inferences about appliance use and human presence.”
Congress wrote the CFAA in 1984, when it was impossible to imagine the ways ordinary people now use computers every day. That makes it long overdue for an upgrade, according to Mark Jaycox of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
“The CFAA was originally intended to cover the hacking of defense department and bank computers, but it's been expanded so that it now covers virtually every computer on the Internet while meting out disproportionate penalties for virtual crimes. [The reform] bill is a step forward as it makes key fixes in a law that has for years been misinterpreted because of its vague definitions,” Mr. Jaycox says.
“I think there's been a larger trend in the last few years for the state legislatures to start thinking about electronic privacy protections,” said Hanni Fakhoury, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights advocacy group. “All this bill is saying is that if you're going to use it you have to get a warrant, which means you can use it. And most states have statutes that say you don't need a warrant if it's an immediate life-threatening situation.”
Parker Higgins, director of copyright activism at California's Electronic Frontier Foundation, says that while his organization has not taken an official stance on the bill, "We do think there's a real problem of recording and passing along data."
He continued: Gatto's law would require consumers to have control over whether or not a smart television's voice-recognition system is activated.
"Advertising will survive without knowing what I said to my wife during a detergent commercial," he said. "It's just too much. At some point you have to draw the line."
“I think it started thanks to Edward Snowden uncovering what the US is doing. And now everyone is turning to understand, ‘Oh, what is my government doing about my data in my country, where they actually have jurisdiction over me?” says Katitza Rodriguez, international rights director for the digital rights advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and one of the keynote speakers at CryptoRave. “It’s not that they don’t care about NSA spying — they care — but actually all the discussion and the debate in the US have kind of informed the activists of the traditional human rights community to dig more into the surveillance infrastructure in their own countries.”
The announcement of the Canadian Government’s plan to extend copyright terms for sound recordings came as a surprise when it was released in Canada’s federal budget this week. The smooth stage management of the announcement has to be admired, accompanied as it was by pre-prepared soundbites from Canada’s music A-list extolling the benefits of this handout. In fact, with all the drama and glamor of the announcement, all that was missing was any prior public consultation or debate that could give the government an actual mandate to make this sweeping change to Canadian law.
"What we have seen in the surveillance context is the procedures don't actually protect privacy," says Mark Jaycox, legislative analyst with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Meanwhile, United’s uninspiring approach to customer information—such as its insistence that its mileage-account holders still have four-digit passcodes—definitely doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies. When it comes down to deciding whether to have confidence in United's “trust us” statement or Roberts’ reputation for knowing what he’s talking about, I know which way I lean: not toward the airline, despite being a longtime (and generally satisfied) customer. The airline should strike a deal with Roberts, who’s now being represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, to resume flying and help make its data security the best in the business.
The Feds were waiting when Roberts landed in Syracuse. As passengers stood in the aisle to deplane, a flight attendant instructed everyone to take their seats. Two Syracuse police officers and two FBI agents boarded the plane. Before they even looked at him, Roberts knew they were after him. “Shall I get my luggage?,” he asked. He spent the next four hours in an airport conference room on the business end of an interrogation. Before he left, agents seized his company-issued laptop, backup disks and other electronics without a warrant. When Roberts attempted to board another United flight to San Francisco days later, he was barred by the airline and had to book a flight with Southwest. Roberts has since retained a lawyer from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who is interested to know under what authority the FBI seized his electronics. U.S. border agents can seize electronics at entry points as someone comes into the country, but seizing them without a warrant from someone taking a wholly domestic flight is a different matter.
"It is disappointing that United refused to allow him to board, and we hope that United learns that computer security researchers are a vital ally, not a threat," said Nate Cardozo, a staff attorney with the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, which represents Roberts.