EFF in the News
But David Greene, the civil liberties director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, countered he disagreed with Hoekstra on Snowden, but that the more important point was that the appeals judges ruled the National Security Agency had acted without congressional authority.
"This is not the first time we heard this," Greene said. He noted that the Patriot Act, which Congress passed in 2001 and is due for reauthorization next month, "did not intend to give the NSA the ability to do this type of mass, bulk surveillance of people who were not suspected of doing anything wrong."
"If you want to get mad at Snowden because now we all know about that, then go ahead," Greene said. "But the important thing is now that we know about it, now it's been subject to judicial review ... and it's been declared to be unlawful and unauthorized."
Electronic Frontier Foundation welcomed the decision by the New York court.
"The 2nd Circuit rejected on multiple grounds the government's radical reinterpretation of Section 215 that underpinned its secret shift to mass seizure and search of Americans' telephone records," said Cindy Cohn, executive director of Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
Cory Doctorow wears a lot of hats.
Doctorow describes himself as a science fiction author, blogger and technology activist. In the last, he is a special consultant to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group that advocates for freedom in technology law. But it is his role as author which brought him to Memphis in March.
“Unfortunately, people are used to their computers telling them ‘I’m sorry you can’t do that,'” explains Mitch Stoltz, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “But when it’s your coffee maker or your car saying ‘I’m sorry you can’t do that,’ that strikes people as very strange.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) had sued those law enforcement agencies to gain access to one week’s worth of LPR data as a way to better understand this surveillance technology. After losing in Los Angeles Superior Court last August, the EFF and ACLU SoCal appealed; the court’s decision was handed down on Wednesday.
“It's already a huge violation of privacy to have the contents of phone calls captured,” Electronic Frontier Foundation activist Nadia Kayyali said on Wednesday....Kayyali, however, argued that the United States needs greater oversight of NSA activities given that many of the leaked and published documents do not indicate the authority under which the Agency conducts its surveillance programs.
Cindy Cohn, executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the appeals court ruling is "a great and welcome decision and it ought to make Congress pause to consider whether the small changes it’s making in the USA Freedom Act are really sufficient.”
Cohn participated in oral arguments supporting Klayman’s win and has been involved with a third appeal against the collection in the 9th Circuit. She's pleased the decision “rips apart the government’s interpretation” of words such as “relevance” and “investigation” under Section 215.
“I don’t think that Congress alone giving an endorsement to these words would be sufficient under the court’s analysis,” she says. “I think Congress would actually have to say very clearly what it was doing in order to get over that and then the question is whether that would survive [constitutional analysis].”
Electronic Frontier Foundation senior counsel Jennifer Lynch told Al Jazeera that phone data isn’t the only thing protesters have to worry about. Powerful cameras circling above can record individuals’ faces and activities.
In 2012, she said, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department flew a spy plane over the Compton area of Los Angeles, observing the commission of crimes. Most of them amounted to petty theft, The Los Angeles Times reported. But the flights went on in secret for nine days.
The people of Compton, a historically impoverished black neighborhood, didn’t know about the flights, just as the residents of Baltimore didn’t know they were being monitored by the FBI last month.
“When the government conducts surveillance on people without telling people what kind of information they’re collecting, the power balance shifts,” Lynch said. “Instead of being in hands of people, it’s completely in the hands of government.”
“The technology as a whole, I think, is going to be beneficial to consumers and broadcasters,” said attorney Mitch Stoltz.
Stoltz is an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which fights for consumer digital rights. He believes live streaming companies shouldn't suffer when users rebroadcast licensed material.
“The makers of the technology, whether it's Sony in the case of the VCR, or Periscope with this new technology, isn't going to be responsible unless they were encouraging people to use it in illegal ways,” he said.
Former public defender and current Electronic Frontier Foundation Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury also applauded the move, noting that all the secrecy hurt public safety in concrete ways through the dismissed cases. "The fact the federal government wasn't providing any real oversight or guidance on how to use these devices, coupled with the non-disclosure agreement, meant local departments were out figuring it out on their own," he told Ars via e-mail. "You've seen the backlash as local communities learn about the existence of these devices. I just hope there's more than an internal conversation and investigation but meaningful change, including the use of a warrant nationwide before deploying these devices, as well as significantly improved transparency and accountability."