EFF in the News
That does not impress some privacy campaigners. “It is kind of surprising for them to be throwing out all these scary hypotheticals, but when they are asked for hard evidence they don’t have any,” said Jeremy Gillula, a staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a non-profit digital rights group. “For people whose jobs depend on the ability to present hard evidence to a judge in order to put ‘bad guys’ away, you’d think they would have some better evidence.”
Filmmaker Laura Poitras sues the government for being detained, a juvenile justice advocate testifies before Congress to end youth incarceration and Atlantic City casino workers' struggle. Alyona cuts through the spin on Free Speech Zone.
Guest Jamie Lee Williams, Frank Stanton Legal Fellow, Electronic Frontier Foundation
The director is being represented by lawyers from digital-rights advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “The well-documented difficulties Ms Poitras experienced while traveling strongly suggest that she was improperly targeted by federal agencies as a result of her journalistic activities,” senior counsel David Sobel told the Intercept. “Those agencies are now attempting to conceal information that would shed light on tactics that appear to have been illegal. We are confident that the court will not condone the government’s attempt to hide its misconduct under a veil of ‘national security.’”
“Allowing a government to basically install spyware onto an American citizen’s computer without any kind of repercussions is really problematic, because if the government of Ethiopia is not somehow legally curtailed in this way, that would really send the wrong message not only to Ethiopia but countries around the world to empower them to do this to other American citizens,” EFF staff attorney Sophia Cope told MC. EFF’s case page: http://bit.ly/1M2qiKv
A victory for Kidane “would be a clear statement from a U.S court to say that wiretapping without court authorization is illegal, no matter who does it. And yes, absolutely that would have implications for the NSA,” said his legal counsel, Nate Cardozo, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
“We know that the NSA engages in full content wiretapping … without a court order authorizing it,” he added. “That conduct is simply illegal, and I think a U.S. court order holding Ethiopia responsible for doing the same thing but on a much smaller scale here hopefully would at least raise some eyebrows at the NSA.”
On Friday, July 10, the Electronic Frontier Foundation celebrated its 25th anniversary. The San Francisco-based group has been a stalwart of tech and legal advocacy since its founding and has played a key role in a number of seminal cases.
To celebrate, Ars interviewed Executive Director Cindy Cohn, who mentioned that, within the list of cases that the organization has worked on, she had a number of favorites.
Here’s a quick summary of those cases, in chronological order.
Mitch Kapor, a co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, noted Reddit users were predominantly male and 18 to 29 years in age.
“In my view, her job was made more difficult because as a woman, she was particularly subject to the abuse stemming from the pockets of toxic misogyny in the Reddit ecosystem,” said Kapor, now a partner at Kapor Capital.
“The government was very interested in laws that would prohibit the use of encryption or criminalize the use of encryption … or require backdoors for encryption,” said Lee Tien, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). “CALEA was probably the second or third round of that in Congress.”
The FBI and other agencies were worried that encryption would lock them out of criminals’ systems, but they were also worried about the ability of telephone providers to respond to wiretap requests. As phone networks switched from analog to digital systems, the government began to doubt the phone companies’ capacity to execute wiretap requests. “Fiber is harder to tap than copper,” Tien said. “IP networks are different from packet-switched networks.” So the government went looking for new legal authority to shape how phone companies could build and configure their networks.
The resulting legislation required phone companies to be able to respond to a certain number of wiretap requests at a certain speed, thus ensuring that the government would have the evidence it needed on its own schedule. “There were things like switch capacities: ‘You must be able to handle this many simultaneous wiretaps in a given geographic area,’” Tien said.
“There was effectively this order to the industry,” said Seth Schoen, senior staff technologist at the EFF. “Come up with technical standards that are acceptable to the government for an interface between the government and the phone companies around these wiretaps, and then deploy this capability so that you’ll be able to perform wiretaps in a standardized way on every phone facility in the U.S.”
The three-judge panel next turned to Lenz's lawyer, Corynne McSherry, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
U.S. Circuit Judge Richard Tallman asked McSherry for help clarifying the law for copyright holders.
McSherry said that under the DMCA, Universal needed to come to a legal conclusion about fair use before it issued a takedown notice. "A copyright owner needs to make a legal decision," she said, adding that the decision can be made based on the facts presented, without additional investigation.
A better approach would be to eschew sanctions and export control altogether, says Nate Cardozo, staff attorney at EFF.
"When companies turn a blind eye, there are already legal tools available to hold them accountable without increasing the export control load," Mr. Cardozo says. If Hacking Team for instance sold surveillance tools to Sudan, the company can already be held accountable under existing laws, he said.