EFF in the News
"What I've traditionally seen is very targeted investigations," said Hanni Fakhoury, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and a former US federal public defender who has represented people in similar cases. "Agents will go undercover on some peer to peer site and see files that are available for sharing, and they'll engage a person and trade photos with them. Or they'll see that the person is sharing child pornography files and take investigative steps to uncover that specific individual and arrest them. That's very common, that's bread and butter how these sorts of cases are done."
“What is new is this approach that says, you know what, there's a web hosting server out there that hosts a lot of child porn. It also hosts other stuff that we're not interested in, but it hosts a lot of child porn, so we're going to take down that whole host,” Fakhoury said.
The concern has led the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation to ask the U.S. Copyright Office to create a specific exemption for home mechanics under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which could otherwise be construed to prevent such home maintenance.
“That American tradition of tinkering with your vehicle in your garage is threatened by copyright law, of all things,” says EFF attorney Kit Walsh. “Let’s say you replace the cylinder. But you need to calibrate it and torque it right, or it’s not going to work. To do that, you need to change variables in the software.”
“The white paper itself makes clear it is a retread of SOPA and PIPA. It goes through those bills point by point and essentially intends to revive them,” says Mitch Stoltz, an attorney at the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, whose mission is “defending civil liberties in the digital world.” The white paper “is essentially raising the same arguments that failed spectacularly several years ago,” he says. “It is beyond controversial. It is almost in the realm of the absurd.”
The concept of “net neutrality” has always been a little arcane for the non-techies among us, but I loved the way the Electronic Frontier Foundation (taking a much-deserved victory lap, I might add) described the importance of the ruling: “the FCC has banned ISPs from blocking or throttling their customers’ traffic based on content, applications or services—which means users, hackers, tinkerers, artists, and knowledge seekers can continue to innovate and experiment on the Internet, using any app or service they please, without having to get their ISP’s permission first.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says it has found evidence that the security problems with Superfish could be much worse than first thought.
Superfish caused such a stink when it was discovered last week because the Komodia software it used borks SSL connections. But EFF researchers have found that the Komodia library also accepts false certificates that it should have rejected.
“Privacy crosses political aisles, especially when we see the government expanding domestic spying in secret in so many different ways,” said Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital civil liberties group that has been pushing the bill for years.
Cooper Quintin, a technologist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy watchdog group, answered: “the recommendations about monitoring Pastebin, semantic analysis of hidden services and grabbing snapshots of hidden services are fine and ethical things to do. I am concerned about the customer data monitoring suggestion however. To me, that seems like it could easily become a pretty serious invasion of privacy. Even if the IP address is not collected (as recommended in the report) it may still be possible to de-anonymize someone just through the metadata.”
The Innovation Act isn't an ideal fix for the program patent system. "It's largely a measure to reform patent litigation, but it doesn't do enough to improve the quality of patents," says Daniel Nazer, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which would prefer to see software patents abolished.
“The bills we’ve seen out of Senate Republicans so far have sort of paid lip service to net neutrality, but they’ve stripped a lot of the authority to somehow enforce it,” says Jeremy Gillula, a staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
However, this does not mean there aren’t real concerns with the FCC’s plan, namely how vague some of the language in the plan remains. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, likely the most ardent supporter of net neutrality around, published an open letter demanding the FCC change the language of its “general conduct” policy. In a “Fact Sheet” released by the agency, they distinctly allow themselves the authority to review any practices that could “harm” consumers.