EFF in the News
Who controls the internet? Well, at the moment a trade agreement known as ACTA is being negotiated by the U.S., Japan, the European Union, Canada and more than a dozen other countries, and, if ratified, would significantly regulate what you can and can’t do online. ACTA’s rules will supersede each country’s local laws. Oh, and the whole affair is secret. Danny O'Brien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains the possible impact on net users worldwide.
In the meantime, EFF and Public Knowledge have teamed up to ask the USTR to change the process and, at the very least, stop taking the word of industry lobbyists as if it were gospel. They also suggested that the USTR be more flexible in allowing countries to set their own IP policy -- noting, amusingly, that the US itself famously didn't implement its "international obligations" in the Berne Treaty for decades, because the country felt differently about certain aspects of copyright law.
The lawsuit speaks for itself, said Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "This is utterly shocking, and a blatant violation of [the students'] constitutional rights," Bankston said Thursday, citing the Fourth Amendment after reviewing the Robbins' complaint. "The school district would have no more right to [use the laptop's webcam] than to install secret listening devices in the textbooks that they issued students."
"I've never heard of anything this egregious," said Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney at the San Francisco-based group. "Nobody would have imagined that schools would peer into students' private homes and even bedrooms without any kind of justification."
"These problems arose because Google attempted to overcome its market disadvantage in competing with Twitter and Facebook by making a secondary use of your information," wrote Kurt Opsahl of the EFF in a statement. "Next week Google will face a federal judge and ask for approval of the Google Books settlement. EFF has raised privacy concerns, including the possibility that Google might make secondary uses of the Books information. Buzz's disastrous product launch highlights the danger posed by this possibility, and showcases the need for firm enforceable commitments to protecting user privacy."
"The underlying issue is that your email and chat contacts are not necessarily people you want to advertise as friends via a public social network," wrote Kurt Opsahl, a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, on Friday.
Kevin Bankston, an attorney for Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, cautioned the appeals panel about the effect of its ruling on future cases.
“I’m concerned the government would obtain information that people would expect should have a reasonable amount of privacy,” Bankston said.
The appeal heard Friday stems from a Pittsburgh drug-trafficking case, in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sought the data as an investigative tool because the suspects frequently changed vehicles and residences.
Magistrate Lisa Pupo Lenihan denied the 2008 request, calling the information "extraordinarily personal and potentially sensitive."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union asked that Lenihan's ruling stand.
But Kevin Bankston, an EFF attorney, called on Philadelphia's 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the 2008 ruling.
"If the courts do side with the government, that means that everywhere we go, in the real world and online, will be an open book to the government unprotected by the Fourth Amendment," he warned in an interview with CNET.com.
Danny O'Brien, an international outreach coordinator for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said that after Google said its popular Web email service had been attacked by Chinese hackers, the company began encrypting, or protecting, all of its email messages and chats. This makes monitoring more difficult.