EFF in the News
Electronic Frontier Foundation activist Nadia Kayyali recited the names of several people shot and killed by San Francisco police in recent years before urging the commission to prevent officers from watching body-camera video before making a statement.
“This is not a bloodless conversation,” she said, “and this is not a bloodless policy.”
Mark Jaycox, a legislative analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the warrant exceptions should be tightened to ensure they are not abused.
Under the bill as drafted, he says, “you potentially have a very low bar for emergency use” – a concern even though the bill does require warrants be sought within 48 hours of emergency use and that data be purged if a warrant is not approved.
Jaycox says he’s also concerned that the bill grants an exception for Stingray use under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
“This is a bill that’s implicated in a lot of the mass spying and bulk collection being done,” he says, “so that is a cause for concern because we simply don’t know how that will play out. A lot of that is classified.”
One of the concerning things is the feature is hidden from you in your iPhone. Privacy experts like Noah Swartz of the Electronic Frontier Foundation have long been concerned about the implications of this hidden information.
“This could be used by abusive partners. It could be used by police in an investigation,” said Swartz. “It could be used by your boss or your company if you gave them access to your phone or if you’re using a work phone.
Nate Cardozo, a staff attorney with the privacy rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation, said that while it’s more common to hear about users getting the short end of the stick from the tech companies they patronize, digital rights cut both ways.
“The terms of service are definitely enforceable in the United States under straight-up contract law,” Cardozo said. “Any sophisticated company will draft its terms of service in order to give itself as much protection as possible and the user as little as possible. That’s just good lawyering.”
IF THE ZOMBIE HORROR GENRE teaches us anything, it is never to celebrate too soon. Beware the hubris of a character who walks from the graveyard victorious, failing to anticipate an undead hand pushing up through the soil. And so it was with defeat of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA — a surveillance bill introduced under the pretext of cybersecurity, which died in the Senate in 2012. “Victory over cyber spying,” announced the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Too soon. The bill now stomps through Congress with unswerving resilience toward the president’s desk, in the form of CISA, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act.
Staff attorney Nate Cardozo of the Electronic Frontier Foundation said that despite the trend toward better privacy standards in the wake of revelations about domestic spying, tech companies liked to keep things unclear, even at companies that pride themselves on free speech and privacy. “It would be very difficult for the policy people and the lawyers within Twitter to make a business case for handicapping itself in the terms of service,” Cardozo said. “The business people say ‘Hey, this is great, we can make the choice on case by case basis.’”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which argued strongly for these changes, gave qualified approval to the LoC's moves. "We're pleased that the Librarian of Congress granted our petition to give some legal clarity to players, museums, and archives who keep old games running," EFF Senior Staff attorney Mitch Stoltz told Ars Technica. "This exemption will help preserve classic games in a playable form for future generations."
"We're disappointed that the Librarian decided to limit the exemption to games that aren't playable at all without an authentication server," Stoltz continued, "because the heart of many games is online multiplayer mode, and preserving multiplayer play should not have to happen under a legal cloud. This exemption is helpful, but Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a disastrous law that's badly in need of reform."
Another technology area that concerns him is the fact that that everything is now being monitored. “Every purchase you make, every place you go, your face is being recognised, every keystroke you type on your computer, somebody could be looking at your computer at what you are doing," Wozniak said.
“It bothers me…I am very much on the side of civil liberties and protecting privacy,” he said, adding that he is one of the founders of the US Electronic Frontier Foundation that advocates for these rights.
“Humans should be much more important than technology,” he said. “But we lost the battle to machines 200 years ago. We will always fire a human but not fire a machine that makes our cheap clothing.”
Noah Swartz, staff technologist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), doesn’t believe the trend in which companies can collect more and more data about each user is reversible, because protection against monitoring is “almost impossible” for the average consumer.
“If you find yourself in the situation that you want to use a service or an app, but you don’t agree with the terms of service, you don’t really have to have a choice,” Swartz said. “It is all or nothing.”
As technology advances, what people do with public data is shifting.
“In years past, people thought they had some privacy through obscurity,” said Dave Maass, an investigative researcher at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “That is changing.”
So could what Banjo and other companies are doing turn people away from sharing?
Some industry experts think so. And if that’s the case, Banjo faces a frightening, potentially upending, proposition.
Maass said he worries about what the technology will do to “further chill (people’s) willingness to speak and post things online, particularly if they feel that might be used by law enforcement or freaky marketing companies.”