EFF in the News
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) notes, “A legal obligation to log users’ Internet use, paired with weak federal privacy laws that allow the government to easily obtain those records, would dangerously expand the government’s ability to surveil its citizens, damage privacy, and chill freedom of expression.”
There are few things copyright trolls and Internet bullies despise more than to find out the EFF is now involved in their legal crusade against alleged file-sharers.
The settlement, which would have allowed Google Books to publish excerpts of books that had gone out of print, was met with opposition by various groups. including Microsoft, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Open Book Alliance.
"It's really up to Congress to step in and provide clear rules for both the government and companies and judges that are faced with these issues," Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco who works on electronic privacy topics, said yesterday. "That's the only way to bring the necessary clarity to the location privacy situation."
The Open Book Alliance, a coalition made up of Microsoft, Amazon, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others, objected to the effort. In a brief to the court, the alliance drew comparisions to John D. Rockfeller's efforts in 1871 to conspire with a handful of railroads to create a cartel that eventually put other rail lines out of business.
The American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and lawyers representing the account holders, including WikiLeaks volunteer Birgitta Jónsdóttir, now a member of Iceland's parliament, opposed the move on First and Fourth Amendment grounds.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group that backs digital users' rights and has participated in location privacy suits, believes there is another solution.
The foundation points out that there have always been ways to find out someone's location -- hire a guy in a trench coat to follow him, for example.
Rainey Reitman, an activist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation -- a legal firm and nonprofit that defended WikiLeaks against a 2008 lawsuit from Swiss bank Julius Baer -- called the recent backlash a threat to Internet freedom and freedom of speech.
“Let me be clear. Here in the United States of America, WikiLeaks has a fundamental right to publish truthful political information. And equally important, Internet users have a fundamental right to read that information and voice their opinions about it. We live in a society that values freedom of expression and shuns censorship. Unfortunately, those values are only as strong as the will to support them -- a will that seems to be dwindling now in an alarming way,” Reitman said.
Reitman said the case touched on broader issues. “This isn’t just about WikiLeaks. It never was. It’s about the future of the Internet and the future of free speech.”
"Consumers can't expect much privacy in online services like Google, Facebook and Twitter," Rainey Reitman, activism director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told TechNewsWorld.
“The pattern of energy usage can show you what appliances were in use, and you can see when somebody is home,” said Lee Tien, the senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). “I think that a lot of [data] analysis is going to happen.”