EFF in the News
What effect are these actions having on the Web, and the legislation? We discuss with Declan McCullagh of CNET and Trevor Timm of the EFF.
More than six months after it first launched, Google+ is set to finally allow users to create accounts using pseudonyms. Google announced that it planned to do so back in October in response to complaints from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others, who said pseudonyms are necessary to ensure freedom of expression for people in danger of retribution for speaking out on controversial topics.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s activism team has personally posted on Reddit to thank the service and the users of the service for everything that they have done to defeat the Stop Online Piracy Act. From the GoDaddy SOPA support incident to the Reddit blackout, the EFF says that Reddit’s support had a ‘major impact’ on the fate of the issue.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is a European treaty ostensibly intended to target the sale of counterfeit physical goods online, but critics believe could hinder free expression. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has said that “disturbingly little information” has been divulged about the treaty’s contents and that the agreement’s aim to set a new standard for intellectual property enforcement is not clear about how Internet service providers can and should remove infringing material from the Internet.
Mitch Stolz, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes that although such restrictions are not unheard of in high-end design or enterprise software, he finds Apple's approach worrisome. "It's a step in a troubling direction because [the limitations affect] a piece of software that looks like it enables a very general end-user creative process."
"This is what we're going to be fighting about for the next 10, 20, 30 years," said Hanni Fakhoury, an Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney. "If they get a warrant, the Fourth Amendment is satisfied. But the problem has been that oftentimes, the government is not getting a warrant."
We want a world in which creators are properly compensated for their work, everybody is in favor of that," Corynne McSherry, lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which promotes free speech online.
But "the right answer to that is not legislation, that's never going to happen in Washington DC, it has to happen via innovation, not legislation," she told AFP.
Timm noted that many in the American public had not even heard about the bills before the blackout day, and once these sites blacked out, a multitude of people began calling and emailing their congressional representatives.
“We had here at EFF sent over a million emails just in one day; Google got seven million signatures on their petition. By the end of the day, we had a huge swing in Congress where in the beginning of the day 60 congressmen supported the bill and 30 were against, and by the end of the day we had a hundred against.”
That was a little much for electronic privacy advocate Corrine McSherry, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"What we're talking about here is, you know, copyright infringement," McSherry says. "And that may be a serious problem, but it's a little bit chilling if that can get you dragged from your house in the middle of the night."