EFF in the News
After a year in limbo, the Librarian of Congress moved last week to allow a number of exceptions to the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that will clear the way for researchers to delve into the security of connected products, including smart vehicles and other products. "It’s good that the Copyright Office and the Librarian of Congress agree that security research is a good thing and that Section 1201 is getting in the way,” said Kitt Walsh, a staff attorney at The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), referring to the part of the DMCA that prohibits the circumventing of copyright protections like Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology.
The proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner for $85 billion comes amid news that AT&T built a powerful phone surveillance tool for police, called Hemisphere. Every day AT&T adds four billion call records to Hemisphere. "We view this as a menace to our privacy," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Adam Schwartz.
A new rule takes taking effect today expanding protections for white hat hackers—security researchers who disclose the software vulnerabilities they uncover to manufacturers or to the public rather than exploiting them. The rule includes specific exemptions for hacking into cars and certain medical devices. It would not apply to industrial systems such as nuclear power plants and air traffic control systems. The shift is particularly important now when software is creeping into ever-more devices, said Kit Walsh, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation
The Electronic Frontier Foundation urged the U.S. Copyright Office today to protect the public’s right to research and repair everything from phones to refrigerators to tractors, to support the right of people with print disabilities to convert media into an accessible format, and to restore users’ rights to make fair and lawful uses of the software and media they buy.
Amnesty has awarded Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger apps the top spot in a new privacy ranking for messaging services. The human rights NGO gave the two services a combined score of 73/100, with Apple’s iMessage and Facetime, and Telegram coming in 2nd with 67. But it criticised Facebook for failing to set end-to-end encryption as the default option on Messenger and not highlighting the risks of less secure messaging. But crucially, Facebook can decrypt these message if it needs to – if, for example, the FBI comes knocking. In its report, Amnesty quotes the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s senior attorney Nate Cardozo: “The fact that it is not on by default means that Messenger can’t and shouldn’t be treated as a secure platform.
Cell phones aren't luggage, so why are customs agents searching them without a warrant? For years, the U.S. government has been seizing cellphones and performing warrantless searches at airports and points of entry along the northern and southern borders. “Since the 1800s there’s been a 4th amendment exception called the border search doctrine that allows searches to be performed routinely without a warrant,” Sophia Cope, a staff attorney for the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Fusion.
Eva Galperin, global policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation stated, “Blocking porn is the fastest way to ensure widespread adoption of censorship circumvention in your country.” In 2015, the media watchdog Roskomnadzor, whose name translated into English is the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, banned the publishing and use of any Internet meme that “depicts a public figure in a way that has nothing to do with his personality.”
Security vs. privacy? Or security vs. security? Take a look back at Apple vs. FBI and speak to hackers and coders fighting to keep your private data safe. "It does appear to us, especially in hindsight, the the San Bernardino case was one that the government picked to move its agenda forward," said EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn.
Schwartz told The Daily Beast. “I’ve seen documents produced by the government regarding Hemisphere, but this is the first time I’ve seen an AT&T document which requires parallel construction in a service to government. It’s very troubling and not the way law enforcement should work in this country.”
The USA Freedom Act ended the NSA's bulk collection of metadata but charged the telecommunications companies with keeping the data on hand. The NSA and other U.S. government agencies now must request information about specific phone numbers or other identifying elements from the telecommunications companies after going through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court and arguing that there is a "reasonable, articulable suspicion" that the number is associated with international terrorism. Mark Rumold, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told ABC News he doesn't have much of a problem with the NSA's wider access to telephone data, since now the agency has to go through a "legitimate" system with "procedural protections" before jumping into the databases.