EFF in the News
Seth Schoen, a programmer who works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), had followed the story when it unfolded originally. His own contribution was to write DeCSS out as a haiku poem. But he was particularly struck by Carmody’s conversion of the program into a prime number.
“You could find it in a number which feels more like this thing was occurring in nature,” he explains. “This thing that’s just out there. The industry was saying that one of these primes is illegal – and that was more conceptually striking maybe than some of the other contributions.”
China’s efforts are likely to be scrutinized for potential threats to privacy. Data collected by city officials for legitimate-sounding purposes could theoretically be shared with other agencies with more repressive intentions, said Sophia Cope, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group.
“The devil is in the details,” she said. Unless U.S. companies can assure themselves about how their technology should be used, “they should probably think twice.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has warned that while Google and Oracle are companies that can easily afford to fight expensive court battles, the reality is this pivotal case could have a chilling effect on the future of software development.
“Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the overwhelming majority of developers in the computer industry, whether they’re hobbyist free software creators or even large companies,” said EFF’s Parker Higgins.
“Regardless of the outcome of this fair use case, the fact that it proceeded to this stage at all casts a long legal shadow over the entire world of software development.”
Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told SN&R in an email that, “while we haven’t reviewed the specific details of this smart meter program, we have concerns about the collect-it-all, ‘big data’ mentality, where entities are gathering, combining and analyzing large and small data sets.”
Tien continued: “Frequently users haven’t consented to what’s actually being done with their data, and often ‘big data’ means ‘data being used for something different than its original intended purpose.’”
The newest version of the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) annual “Who Has Your Back?” report takes a look at how sharing economy services protect user information from government requests.
“It’s certainly concerning if the city of Philadelphia is running mass surveillance and going out of its way to mislead people,” said Dave Maass, a former journalist and researcher at the nonprofit advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Maass speculated that the disguised unit may have been part of a "targeted" investigation. But he was quick to point out that there really is no such thing when it comes to police using ALPR.
As for the department’s unauthorized use of Google’s logo?
“If I were Google, I would be seriously rankled over the use of their logo to hide surveillance," he said.
On the advocacy front, Nate Cardozo, a senior staff attorney on the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF) digital civil liberties team appeared with the HackerOne platform's Marten Mickos. On the government side, General Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and CIA, took the stage to talk about everything from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton's emails to how the NSA works in accordance with government privacy and encryption laws.
In this episode of the Hardware podcast, we talk with writer and digital rights activist Cory Doctorow. He’s recently rejoined the Electronic Frontier Foundation to fight a World Wide Web Consortium proposal that would add DRM to the core specification for HTML. When we recorded this episode with Cory, the W3C had just overruled the EFF’s objection. The result, he says, is that “we are locking innovation out of the Web.”
“It is illegal to report security vulnerabilities in a DRM,” Doctorow says. “[DRM] is making it illegal to tell people when the devices they depend upon for their very lives are unsuited for that purpose.”
In our “Tools” segment, Doctorow tells us about tools that can be used for privacy and encryption, including the EFF surveillance self-defense kit, and Wickr, an encrypted messaging service that allows for an expiration date on shared messages and photos. “We need a tool that’s so easy your boss can use it,” he says.
Jennifer Lynch, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, did not know of any cases in which local police had uncovered terrorism using their cell site simulators.
“I don’t think it’s happened at all,” she said.