EFF in the News
The USA Freedom Act ended the NSA's bulk collection of metadata but charged the telecommunications companies with keeping the data on hand. The NSA and other U.S. government agencies now must request information about specific phone numbers or other identifying elements from the telecommunications companies after going through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court and arguing that there is a "reasonable, articulable suspicion" that the number is associated with international terrorism. Mark Rumold, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told ABC News he doesn't have much of a problem with the NSA's wider access to telephone data, since now the agency has to go through a "legitimate" system with "procedural protections" before jumping into the databases.
Mark Rumold, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told ABC News he doesn't have much of a problem with the NSA's wider access to telephone data, since now the agency has to go through a "legitimate" system with "procedural protections" before jumping into the databases.
"Their ability to obtain records has broadened, but by all accounts, they're collecting a far narrower pool of data than they were initially," he said, referring to returns on specific searches. "They can use a type of legal process with a broader spectrum of providers than earlier. To me, that isn't like a strike against it. That's almost something in favor of it, because we've gone through this public process, we've had this debate, and this is where we settled on the scope of the authority we were going to give them."
Companies processing people's personal data have a responsibility to find out who the end user is going to be, Sophia Cope, A lawyer specializing in Civil Liberties at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
Investigators in Lancaster, Calif., were granted a search warrant last May with a scope that allowed them to force anyone inside the premises at the time of search to open up their phones via fingerprint recognition, Forbes reported Sunday. The government argued that this did not violate the citizens' Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination because no actual passcode was handed over to authorities. Forbes was able to confirm with the residents of the building that the warrant was served, but the residents did not give any more details about whether their phones were successfully accessed by the investigators.
How the CFAA, which was originally intended to target criminals for havoc-wreaking computer break-ins and data theft, came to be used to convict people for using someone else's password is a study in prosecutorial overreach and shows how the law has failed to keep up with technology. Congress needs to step up and overhaul this flawed and outdated law. This summer, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued two confusing rulings in two separate cases that could allow prosecutors to charge users with CFAA violations for seemingly innocuous conduct—specifically, sharing a password.
Jennifer Lynch, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), added: “It’s not enough for a government to just say we have a warrant to search this house and therefore this person should unlock their phone. The government needs to say specifically what information they expect to find on the phone, how that relates to criminal activity and I would argue they need to set up a way to access only the information that is relevant to the investigation.
FEATURING SHAHID BUTTAR – An explosive Reuters report this week revealed that the tech company searched through thousands of private emails of its customers on behalf of the US government. Former employees of Yahoo spoke with Reuters saying the Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer complied with the government directive, which led to at least one executive, Alex Stamos, resigning in opposition. Stamos now works at Facebook.
Banning pornography is reasonable, but specifically banning female nipples is questionable, says Jillian York, director for international freedom of expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). “Imposing a blanket ban on nudity, even if a handful of exceptions are carved out, furthers the idea that women’s bodies are inherently sexual,” York told the Verge.
Political campaigns will spend an estimated $1.2 billion on digital ads this election cycle, and data on social media is helping tailor ads that will resonate with voters. Privacy experts say there are ways to safeguard your personal information, and Facebook says they have made it easier to adjust your preferences.
"What it means is that when you’re going on Facebook you're likely going to be presented with ads and other information based on what your patterns have done in the past,'' said Cindy Cohn, executive director of privacy and digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation. "It's not neutral. It's not supposed to be neutral."
The EFF contends that any company looking to enter the classroom needs to be completely transparent with its intentions and practices to ensure student safety and privacy, especially if public money is used to facilitate the purchase of the company's products. "We think the pledge is a good idea, but there is a disconnect from the way companies interpret the pledge and the way parents do," EFF staff attorney Sophia Cope told Real Money in an interview.