EFF in the News
Last month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a motion to the court on behalf of the Internet Archive to stop the law, arguing it was overbroad as written. The EFF argued that because the Internet Archive might have unknowingly cached a sex ad, it could be liable for prosecution.
The law, formally known as SB 6251, aimed to strengthen protections of underage children forced into sexual exploitation and prostitution. Most notably, it would force Backpage.com, the company owned by Village Voice Media, to impose in-person age verification for adult sex-related classified ads.
The NSA sponsored a booth at the convention for the first time, which organizers placed next to one from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The EFF has sued the government, claiming that it illegally tapped conversations of Americans.
Alexander spoke with staff at the EFF booth, telling them he believes the U.S. government can secure the nation and also protect civil liberties. They did not discuss the pending litigation.
Jennifer Lynch is a staff attorney at the Electronics Frontier Foundation, a privacy campaign group. Ms Lynch is concerned about Facebook's recent takeover of a facial recognition company.
“I’m a little bit surprised and slightly skeptical about that statement” about how calls “do not pass through supernodes,” said Peter Eckersley, technology projects director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Maybe in most cases calls would not actually pass through a supernode in a way that they could be tracked, Eckersley said, but, for technical reasons, some types of computer connections may require a call to route though a supernode.
If you are really truly geek fluent, Eckersley’s question for Skype may interest you:
“If two Skype users are firewalled so that they can only make outbound TCP connections and cannot make UDP connections, how do you route a call between those two users?”
Eckersley said he can’t think of an answer, aside from pushing a call through a supernode, which now would be on a Skype- or Microsoft-owned computer.
In any event, Eckersley said, this update may not be all that significant in the big picture. His group already does not recommend that people who live in authoritarian regimes use Skype, because of the relative likelihood that communications could be tapped.
In dangerous places like Iran and Syria, using a service like Gmail is safer, he said.
As a consequence, the Electronic Frontier Foundation says to avoid Skype if security is essential and content is meant to remain private. "At this point we strongly recommend against using Skype," says Peter Eckersley, technical projects director at EFF.
According to the EFF, major privacy protections added to the new bill ensure that:
Only civilian agencies will be in charge of U.S. cybersecurity systems, as opposed to the National Security Agency, which has been spearheading warrantless wiretapping for years.
Data won't be shared with law enforcement except in certain circumstances such as when it relates to a cybersecurity crime investigation or an imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm.
Data garnered from cybersecurity initiatives can’t be used as evidence for other crimes such as copyright infringement or drug usage.
Constitutionally-protected free speech and terms of service violations won’t be considered as threats to cybersecurity.
President Barack ObamaEven so, the EFF maintains that the new bill isn't perfect.
"Currently, the bill specifically authorizes companies to use cybersecurity as an excuse for engaging in nearly unlimited monitoring of user data or countermeasures (like blocking or dropping packets)," EFF says.
"Any biometric capture device is a potential tracking device, just like every iPhone is a potential tracking device. That's just the way these things are," said Lee Tien, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco nonprofit that monitors free speech and privacy issues.
Tien said that the bio-soles themselves "might make a person feel a little bit better" than other security systems and that Gray's claim that the system can ID a person within three steps is "pretty impressive."
But he added that if the project is successful, bio-soles could also be implanted in shoes secretly.
"I wouldn't expect Nike to build these in. But it's potentially covert," he said, meaning it could be used to help spy on people.
The Internet Defense League is made up of many of the same groups that fought the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Senate's Protect IP bill including Fight for the Future, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla, and Public Knowledge.
Members of the new Internet Defense League hope they can harness the online activism against controversial copyright bills the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), when tens of millions of Internet users and thousands of website publishers protested the two bills earlier this year.
The new group, with a broad range of supporters including Reddit, Mozilla, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Tea Party Patriots, plans to issue alerts to websites when members spot government actions that may be detrimental to the Internet. The group will send out alert codes, called "cat signals" after the cute Internet cat memes, to websites and users.
Companies including Mozilla, WordPress, Reddit and the Cheezburger Network have joined with advocacy groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation to form the Internet Defense League — a group dedicated to warning Internet users when they see legislation that they find threatening to Internet innovation.