EFF in the News
Andrew Crocker, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation who was involved in the California case, said the judge's ruling was a "head-scratcher" and that the group is exploring its options.
"We think that our description of how Upstream works is substantially accurate," he said. "We have our doubts as to how they would be contradicting our picture of things."
This is far from the only recent lawsuit against the NSA. In February, a judge announced that he can't rule in Jewel vs. NSA, a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation against the NSA's spying tactics. The EFF has also filed a suit regarding government spying in July 2013 (First Unitarian vs. NSA) and helped the ACLU on the legal team for Smith vs. Obama, which also argued that bulk government data collection violates a citizen's Fourth Amendment rights.
The new lawsuit is similar to a long-running case brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Jewel v. NSA, filed in 2008 after whistleblower Mark Klein revealed copies of Internet traffic was being routed to a secret room at an AT&T facility in San Francisco.
There are basically three ways to stop a drone, said Jeremy Gillula, a staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation: block the radio signals linking the drone to its controller, hack the aircraft's control signals and trick it into believing it is somewhere else, or physically disable it. Some drone manufacturers program a "geo fence" — location coordinates that their drones treat as off limits, and refuse to fly past — into the drone's programming. Police also could physically knock a drone out of the air with a projectile or use a net to catch it.
"If it were me, that would actually be the first thing I would think about doing," Gillula said. "You would have to basically encase the White House in this net. It sure wouldn't look pretty, but in some ways it would be the most effective way."
As senior legal counsel at Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) David Sobel told me yesterday, EFF sent multiple letters to the White House in 2009, urging Obama to voluntarily release this information from the White House anyway, including emails from Obama’s Blackberry, after all of the President elect’s rosy transparency proclamations. EFF received no response.
“Obama has not done anything to roll back this growing trend to protect the White House from Foia’s reach,” Sobel said. “You can look at any component of the Executive Office of the President that has been exempted from Foia over time by the courts, and clearly, as a matter of discretion, he could roll that back”.
The San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group that focused on defending civil liberties, objects to police holding onto such records indefinitely.
"It's a real threat to privacy that we allow our government to collect this kind of information on us - on where we travel and where we are going at any given time," said Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney at the foundation.
"Many of these law enforcement agencies will drive around parking lots and collect license-plate data," Lynch continued. "That parking lot might be for your doctor or it might be for your church. I don't think that law enforcement and the government should have a right to have that information on us."
But beyond higher rates, new businesses and non-profits that don’t have the deep pockets of global conglomerates and activist billionaires will get squeezed out of the market or discussion. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the pre-eminent nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world, has been made its case for net neutrality for years partly on the argument that non-profits who promote alternative viewpoints would be particularly vulnerable.
The non-profit American Hydrogen Association, whose group advocates for energy solutions that, if adopted, would revolutionize several industries — perhaps greatest among them, the oil and gas conglomerates — is exactly the type of group that the EFF said would be most vulnerable.
"What we worry about is when people's First Amendment rights are impacted in the sense that they are going to be clearly charged or sued for defamation," said Hanni Fakhoury, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights organization. "The First Amendment protects certain knuckle-headed speech."
“There’s no legitimate way to claim that there wasn’t a requirement, certainly to keep with the spirit of the law, to make real-time copies available to the agency,” said David Sobel, senior counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The incident prompted the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to publish a how-to on uninstalling Superfish and removing the certificate, as the adware installs its own root CA certificate in Windows systems. EFF noted that the self-signed root certificate allows the software to inject ads in secure HTTPS pages, leaving SSL connections vulnerable to being intercepted by attackers.
“The use of a single certificate for all of the MitM attacks means that all HTTPS security for at least Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Safari for Windows, on all of these Lenovo laptops, is now broken,” EFF technology experts wrote in a blog post at the time. “If you access your webmail from such a laptop, any network attacker can read your mail as well or steal your password. If you log into your online banking account, any network attacker can pilfer your credentials. All an attacker needs in order to perform these attacks is a copy of the Superfish MitM private key.”