EFF in the News
At least insofar as the proposed class actions were concerned, Jennifer Granick, a civil liberties attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, suggested having a judge or a so-called “special master” sift through the data to determine whose data Google obtained. That should only happen if Google is found to have done something unlawful, she said.
“This raises my eyebrows,” she said. “I don’t think we need to know what any of this data is yet, because there’s nothing to suggest Google did this intentionally.”
Jennifer Granick, civil liberties director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act generally prohibits unauthorized access to computers. The question is whether typing information into a public website is unauthorized, she said.
U.S. law prohibits the unauthorized accessing of computers, but it is unclear whether the script that the Goatse group used violated the law, said Jennifer Granick, civil liberties director with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "The question is, when you do an automated test like this, [are you] getting any type of unauthorized access or not," she said.
If it turns out the data in question was not misused, it is unlikely that federal prosecutors will press charges, she added.
Eckersley said the collection of personal information from private networks was inexcusable, especially for a company with as many resources as Google.
Lee Tien, an attorney with the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation -- which argues that the proposed bill doesn't go far enough to protect consumers' privacy -- tells MediaPost that the bill "tries to cover so much territory that many people are just not sure what it means."
The libertarian activist John Perry Barlow, an early member of the WELL’s board of directors, was a co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital version of the ACLU.
"The Supreme Court has always upheld the principle that you have the right to speak anonymously — that the decision to identify yourself as a speaker is an aspect of speech itself," said Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Tien also noted that many people, especially younger ones, regularly swap phones and SIM cards and buy used cell phones, further blurring the identity of the phones' users and owners.
A bill of rights sends a message to sites about what their users expect. With enough momentum, it can give user-focused commercial open-source projects an opportunity to distinguish themselves by adopting the rights — and highlight the sites who aren’t willing to. It’s also a way of providing input in the ongoing debates about legislation and regulation. And just as importantly, the discussions around a bill of rights are a great opportunity for education and debate about what kind of online society we want to create.
There’s already been a lot of excellent work towards a Social Network Users Bill of Rights from Jack Lerner, Lisa Borodkin, Mark Sullivan, EFF, the Madrid Declaration, free-association.net, OpenSocialWeb, John Battelle, Duncan Work, and others.
That document will be drafted collaboratively over the four day period, building on points made by here at SFGate by Jack Lerner and Lisa Borodkin, as well as by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and PC World. The process will encompass transparent in-person debate, online input and a final vote on the proposed language, to be published by CFP organizers.
The nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation took up Augusto's case. The group's Fred Von Lohmann says the Copyright Act is very clear: "If you own a copy of a book or CD or any other copyrighted work that was lawfully made, you have the right to dispose of that as you see fit."