EFF in the News
Without balance, and especially where there is no evidence of actual harm or reprehensibility, excessive statutory damage awards can stifle creativity and innovation that involves even a small risk of copyright liability," says the EFF.
In February 1996, John Perry Barlow of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (and onetime lyricist for the Grateful Dead) published "A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace". He wrote:
"We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth. We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity."
Supporters say the law will be interpreted to target internet stalkers and harassers, but critics like the Electronic Frontier Foundation worry that the vague language could be used against the mushrooming ranks of satirical online impersonators like The Yes Men, who arguably intend to harm the reputation of their targets by making fun of them.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recently released a 2010 Top 12 Trend Watch Update of key issues shaping digital rights that the organization had made predictions about earlier in the year. The list includes:
(1) Social Networking Privacy
(2) Attacks on Cryptography
(3) Hardware Hacking
(4) Net Neutrality
(5) Three Strikes
(6) Fair Use of Trademarks
(7) Global Internet Censorship
(8) Books and Newspapers
(9) Location Privacy
(10) Online Video
(11) Congress and Bad Legislations
(12) Web Browser Privacy
Of these 12 trends, net neutrality, social networking privacy, and global Internet censorship made major headlines through the year. This is what EFF had to same about these three issues then and now:
For Firefox, you can opt for ForceTLS, an extension that interacts with sites that use the proposed HSTS method above. You can also opt for HTTPS Everywhere, an extension developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and The Tor Project. HTTPS Everywhere comes with a built-in list that can be modified. (An adaptation of HTTPS Everywhere for Apple's Safari, SSL Everywhere, is undownloadable at this writing, although its development project is still alive at github. Safari doesn't allow extensions to intercept URLs, only redirect, so there's some exposure.)
Why does it matter? If you buy a CD in the United States, Section 109 of the Copyright Act gives you very specific rights under the first-sale doctrine. Fred von Lohmann of the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains those rights:
The first serious infowar is now engaged. The field of battle is WikiLeaks. You are the troops."
So tweeted John Perry Barlow, one of the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and cyberlibertarian activist, as attacks began on the websites of businesses that had spurned Wikileaks after it published cables of American diplomacy.
Civil liberties activist group the Electronic Frontier Foundation has warned of a generation of devices sporting so-called ‘traitorware’ which could ‘act behind your back to betray your privacy’, they warned.
The EFF sums up FinCEN proposed rules as, "The government wants reports on all electronic bank-to-bank transfers, regardless of whether the transfer is $1 or $1,000,000. For money transmitters, reports would be filed for transfers at or above $1,000. FinCEN estimates it will receive 750 million reports every year, and the agency wants to keep the data for ten years. Once the reports are filed with FinCEN, other federal law enforcement agencies - the FBI, IRS, ICE, and the DEA - would all have access to the data."
The EFF opposes FinCEN's proposal for three reasons:
Separately, Righthaven objected to the participation in the case of professor Jason Schultz, co-director of the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at the University of California-Berkeley.
Schultz filed a friend of the court brief listing reasons the suit could be dismissed on fair use grounds and also arguing the Review-Journal had encouraged the online posting by the Oregon center by suggesting that readers share its news online.
Righthaven complained that Schultz made "numerous, unsupported factual assertions" in his brief.
The company said that while Schultz is participating "apparently on the basis that he is a citizen concerned about the application of the Copyright Act," he's really biased against Righthaven since he's a former senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) of San Francisco and the EFF assisted in his participation in the Center for Intercultural Organizing case.
"Schultz is far from a 'friend of the court.' Rather, he is the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing who seeks to mislead this court's fair use analysis for the benefit of EFF's defense of other cases now pending and future cases yet to be filed," Righthaven complained.
The EFF is connecting Righthaven defendants with volunteer attorneys, is representing two Righthaven defendants as a public service and has filed counterclaims charging the Righthaven litigation campaign is an abuse of the court system and the Copyright Act since, the EFF asserts, the lawsuits are frivolous and are filed without warning as part of a settlement shakedown scheme.