EFF in the News
The Electronic Frontier Foundation endorsed the bill but said it did not go far enough.
"This bill would be another important step in bringing much needed transparency to the Intelligence Community," said Sophia Cope, a staff attorney with the EFF. "However, more needs to be done to enable fully effective public oversight. The public has a right to know, for example, how much the intelligence agencies are spending on surveillance and in researching, buying and exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities."
Nadia Kayyali, an activist with the civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, was frustrated after arriving 20 minutes late to the meeting, only to find out the item had been postponed.
“This is the second time this has happened, in a city with a real lack of trust between the elected representatives and the people,” Kayyali said, noting that the policy first appeared on a public safety committee agenda in February, but was delayed then, too.
Hanni Fakhoury, senior staff attorney for Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, said the opinion wasn’t “binding” like an Appellate or Supreme Court decision that requires other courts have to follow suit. “But it’s persuasive because it adds to the growing body of case law that says digital devices are different,” he said.
“Somehow, they convinced the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which is supposed to prevent this from happening, that you cannot do this kind of data-mining without all the records, so all the records are relevant,” says Lee Tien, a senior lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit privacy-rights group based in San Francisco. “It’s hard to believe. How can you use a statute that has a ‘relevant’ standard to do a blanket collection?”
When a panel of federal judges from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the NSA's bulk-phone records spying program was illegal, it was a legal game-changer, but what, exactly, does it all mean? The Electronic Frontier Foundation's legal analysis is the best, easiest-to-understand and most comprehensive article I've yet seen on the ruling.
“That’s exactly why they’re making it secret—Obama’s response to critics was, word for word, ‘They don’t know what they’re talking about,’” Maira Sutton, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s global policy analyst, told me. “And yes, we don’t know exactly what we’re talking about, because it’s secret. For them to say that these rules are legitimate as they’re being negotiated in secret, with disclosures to corporate advisors who can see and comment on the text, we cannot trust that what is in there is in the public interest.”
But David Greene, the civil liberties director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, countered he disagreed with Hoekstra on Snowden, but that the more important point was that the appeals judges ruled the National Security Agency had acted without congressional authority.
"This is not the first time we heard this," Greene said. He noted that the Patriot Act, which Congress passed in 2001 and is due for reauthorization next month, "did not intend to give the NSA the ability to do this type of mass, bulk surveillance of people who were not suspected of doing anything wrong."
"If you want to get mad at Snowden because now we all know about that, then go ahead," Greene said. "But the important thing is now that we know about it, now it's been subject to judicial review ... and it's been declared to be unlawful and unauthorized."
Electronic Frontier Foundation welcomed the decision by the New York court.
"The 2nd Circuit rejected on multiple grounds the government's radical reinterpretation of Section 215 that underpinned its secret shift to mass seizure and search of Americans' telephone records," said Cindy Cohn, executive director of Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
Cory Doctorow wears a lot of hats.
Doctorow describes himself as a science fiction author, blogger and technology activist. In the last, he is a special consultant to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group that advocates for freedom in technology law. But it is his role as author which brought him to Memphis in March.
“Unfortunately, people are used to their computers telling them ‘I’m sorry you can’t do that,'” explains Mitch Stoltz, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “But when it’s your coffee maker or your car saying ‘I’m sorry you can’t do that,’ that strikes people as very strange.”