EFF in the News
Nate Cardozo, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy group, praised the policy as an important step, though he said he suspected Justice Department attorneys saw "the writing on the wall" and recognized that judges would increasingly begin requiring warrants.
Though the policy does not require local police to follow the lead of federal agencies, "this is going to let the air out of state law enforcement's argument that a warrant shouldn't be required."
"We think that given the power of cell-site simulators and the sort of information that they can collect — not just from the target but from every innocent cellphone user in the area — a warrant based on probable cause is required by the Fourth Amendment," Cardozo said.
In the U.S., the government has so far been mostly concerned with car data from a security context, such as protecting against incidents like the July hacking of a Jeep via its entertainment system, said Kit Walsh, a staff attorney for the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation. That puts the onus on Europe to lead the way in privacy, Walsh said.
"The challenge that Russia finds itself in, is how you enforce your law on companies and services that aren't based in Russia?" said Danny O'Brien, international director for the nonprofit advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"If Russia is requiring Facebook and Google house servers in their territory, what's to stop any other country from requiring the same thing?" he added. "It's a race to the bottom."
The case has made for strange bedfellows: Apple filed an amicus brief with Microsoft, as did the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Verizon, NPR and Fox News, the Irish government, the ACLU, eBay, and the Guardian.
...“Part of what we’re seeing here is the desire to go unilateral,” said Lee Tien, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “We have formal mechanisms for this. They are cumbersome, and we fully support expediting them and appropriating more money to make that thing work, but at the end of the day it’s like saying: ‘Gee, we shouldn’t have to get a search warrant because it’s a pain in the ass.’”
“Companies, because they know more about you, will market to you,” said Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the privacy-rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Some people don’t mind that. But they are also compiling dossiers [in] places that everyone looks for information about you, whether it’s your employer or the FBI.”
Lee Tien, senior staff attorney and Adams Chair for Internet Rights at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (which also signed the letter), said that the word “sharing” is, “such a euphemism. The bills are about monitoring other people’s communications and sending those communications or information from or about those communications to the U.S. government. Surveillance, in other words.”
The online exposure of the Ashley Madison cheating sites' membership data has, to say the least, shaken the Internet like a giant earthquake.
Many of the site's members have been unmasked as one of the millions of cheaters searching for an affair. Some have committed suicide. Extortionists have taken advantage of those fearing being named. And now it appears that the site's Canadian owner, Avid Life Media, is misusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in a bid to make people unpublish the data that lists millions of Ashley Madison members' e-mail addresses and other information. The problem with this scenario is that such data isn't subject to copyright, the Electronic Frontier Foundation says.
"Ashley Madison’s owners have been sending numerous DMCA takedown notices to platforms like Twitter, Reddit, and others in an attempt to stop the dissemination of millions of names and email addresses of the site’s users...," Mitch Stoltz, an EFF staff attorney, wrote in a recent blog post. "While there’s no doubt that the leak is embarrassing and potentially disastrous for the millions of people who have been revealed as users of a site that promotes marital infidelity, Ashley Madison’s attempts to use the DMCA to put the genie back in the bottle are misguided, and in some cases, may violate the DMCA itself."
One non-Iranian target who agreed to come forward is longtime cyber-rights activist Jillian York, director for international freedom of expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation based in San Francisco.
“I was visiting a friend in Sarajevo, and was awoken by a phone call at 9:30 a.m.,” York told VOA via email. “The person calling claimed to be a journalist and, in my sleepy state, asked if he could please email me before we hung up.”
York said he called back less than five minutes later to make sure she had seen the email, which raised her suspicion.
“First, because that's odd behavior for a journalist, and second because the email was a Google Doc request from a generic-sounding Reuters email address, and ‘Reuters’ was misspelled in the body of the message.”
York said it wasn’t clear why she was targeted, but added she does know many Iranians active in “the digital rights scene.”
“It really sets a dangerous precedent for any law enforcement records that are gathered using any sort of automated technology,” said Jennifer Lynch, senior staff attorney for EFF. “About 99 percent of the time, license plate records that are collected by law enforcement are never tied to any criminal investigation, or even a vehicle registration issue.”
Jennifer Lynch, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, agreed.
"Any time a law enforcement agency decides to reduce the amount of time it retains records on private citizens, that’s a good thing," she said by e-mail.
"When agencies aggregate this kind of location-based data over long periods of time (and share it with every other law enforcement agency in the Bay Area), they are accumulating sensitive information, not just about where people go but also, potentially, about their religious and political beliefs, medical issues, who they’re associating with, where they live and work, and when they deviate from their common path through life," she added.