EFF in the News
Hanni Fakhoury, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the feds' broad interpretation of Sarbanes-Oxley in the digital age is part of a wider trend: federal agents' feeling "entitled" to digital data.
Fakhoury compares the broad application of Sarbanes-Oxley in the digital realm to the federal government's resistance to cellphone companies that want to sell encrypted phones that would prevent law enforcement from being able to access users' data. When the new encrypted iPhone came out, FBI Director James Comey told reporters that he didn't understand why companies would "market something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law."
"At its core," Fakhoury says, "what the government is saying is, ‘We have to create a mechanism that allows everybody's [cellphone] data to be open for inspection on the off-chance that one day in the future, for whatever random circumstance, we need to see that data.'"
Similarly, Fakhoury says the government's underlying theory in cases like Kernell's is, "Don't even think about deleting anything that may be harmful to you, because we may come after you at some point in the future for some unforeseen reason and we want to be able to have access to that data. And if we don't have access to that data, we're going to slap an obstruction charge that has as 20-year maximum on you."
In a call with reporters this afternoon, Cindy Cohn, Electronic Frontier Foundation executive director, said it means “nothing.” She referenced several review groups commissioned by the government in the wake of the Snowden revelations that found the bulk phone record collection program had not thwarted terrorst attacks. Additionally several judicial bodies, including recently an appellate court, have questioned the legality of these programs.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) noted during a press call on Monday that the public's had an immense response to the current law and proposed bills. The EFF attributed all the online debate, legislative conversations and general back and forth on the legislation to the large amount of action constituents have taken, such as calling legislators and emailing Congress.
“It's a really important piece in all of this,” said Nadia Kayyali, an activist at the EFF. “Maybe [the USA Freedom Act] isn't the perfect bill, but we are in a sunset now and that's huge.”
“We will see a final vote on the USA Freedom Act with poison pill amendments that will try to weaken the bill," says Mark Jaycox, legislative analyst with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “The Senate must hold strong and ensure that the USA Freedom Act as passed by the House is the version they vote on,” he says.
That might not make much of a difference either, says Cindy Cohn, executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"So if you’ve got a small ISP and it sits on top of AT&T or on top of Sprint, even if they couldn't get it from the little ISP or the little telecom carrier, they could go upstream and generally those records are available," Cohn says.
But as Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says, “We’ve always known that [federal] entities have internally conflicting missions. On the one hand they do enforce privacy laws and secure networks. But when they go after bad guys, their job is to infiltrate. They are dual-hatted.”
Verrilli's position is disappointing and betrays a basic lack of understanding of how APIs work, said Michael Barclay, special counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
EFF last year filed an amicus brief in the case on behalf of more than 70 computer scientists who share Google's position on the right to use the contested Java APIs under fair-use laws. Google's supporters in the case have maintained that APIs are fundamental to interoperability on the Web and that extending copyright protections to APIs would seriously hamper the ability of software developers to write interoperable software.
"The brief is wrong on the facts and wrong on the law," Barclay said. Though it appears persuasive on its face, Verrilli's conclusions about the applicability of copyright laws are off-base, he said.
"What Hubbard writes is true: mobile tech has been really important in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for connecting people internally to one another," said Jillian C. York, the director for international freedom of expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which runs a hub on digital citizenship in the Arab world. "At the same time, the risks are high and Saudis are often using tools and apps that easily surveilled by the government."
New Jersey officials maintain that their investigation found that Tidbit accessed computers owned by individuals without their consent. The non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which represented Rubin, says that this assertion is false.
EFF senior staff attorney Hanni Fakhoury told CoinDesk:
''As the settlement agreement makes clear, the students have not admitted to any wrongdoing. Indeed, as the court presiding over the case found, there was no 'inherently improper or malicious intent or design' behind Tidbit."
The EFF maintains the code was operational for "two days", and that no bitcoins were mined when the program was live. New Jersey continues to allege that the developers' activities constitute violations of the state's Computer Related Offenses Act and Consumer Fraud Act.
"On the fact the pen/trap order makes no reference to a stingray or IMSI catcher at all is really troubling because this order reads like any standard pen/trap application which would be given to a cell phone provider," Hanni Fakhoury, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and a former federal public defender, told Ars by e-mail.
"But of course the scope of information obtained via an IMSI catcher is potentially much greater," Fakhoury said. "So it suggest that unless the officers are telling the judges in the affidavit or when they’re in chambers swearing out the affidavit that they’re planning on using a stingray, there’s nothing to indicate what exactly law enforcement is planning to do. And of course, we find that highly problematic."