EFF in the News
The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration is seeking to make it easier for the FBI to obtain internet records of users without a court order. If Congress approves the plan, the FBI would be able to secretly issue a National Security Letter to an internet provider and obtain who users send email to, the times and dates of e-mails sent and received, and possibly a log of every website visited. Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation said, "Our biggest concern is that an expanded [National Security Letter] power might be used to obtain Internet search queries and Web histories detailing every Web site visited and every file downloaded."
The use of the national security letters to obtain personal data on Americans has prompted concern.
One issue with both the proposal and the current law is that the phrase "electronic communication transactional records" is not defined anywhere in statute. "Our biggest concern is that an expanded NSL power might be used to obtain Internet search queries and Web histories detailing every Web site visited and every file downloaded," said Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has sued AT&T for assisting the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which made the formal application to the Copyright Office to give the green light to jailbreaking, hailed the Copyright Office's decision as a major breakthrough. According to the EFF, as many as 1 million users may have jailbroken their iPhones, and this week's ruling takes them out of legal danger.
When I read the new DMCA exemptions EFF won, I immediately started to think about Psystar, so I wanted to see what's new. Maybe you did too. So here's the latest I could find. The appeal is going forward.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation and hackers everywhere scored a victory this week when the Library of Congress's Copyright Office ruled that users can legally jailbreak their phones - particularly Apple's iPhone.
Washington gets a taste of the digital age as the government is left almost powerless to stop entities such as WikiLeaks, which operates mostly from abroad, from publishing secret documents.
What has changed is not the law, but the number and variety of sources of information, said Cindy Cohn, legal director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. "The Internet has given all the rest of us a megaphone," she said. "Now, the government can't arm twist a publisher and convince him not to publish."
Jennifer Stisa Granick, EFF's civil liberties director, said the rules are based on an important principle: Consumers should be allowed to use and modify the devices that they purchase the way they want. "If you bought it, you own it," she said.
If you pay full price for a piece of hardware -- say an iPhone -- it seems only fair that you should be able to do with it whatever you want. Hit it with hammer. Drop it in a blender. Mess with its operating system. You bought it. You own it. The company could hardly be expected to honor warranties for a deliberately broken iPhone.
But it's been locked in battle with the Electronic Frontier Foundation over its right to do so. The EFF, as only seems right, won. The Copyright Office on Monday issued a fair use exemption that explicitly states what common sense suggests: jailbreaking an iPhone is not illegal.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has claimed credit for winning three critical exemptions. "By granting all of EFF's applications, the Copyright Office and Librarian of Congress have taken three important steps today to mitigate some of the harms caused by the DMCA," Jennifer Granick, EFF's Civil Liberties Director, said in a statement. "We are thrilled to have helped free jailbreakers, unlockers and vidders from this law's overbroad reach."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the San Francisco-based civil liberties group, had requested that the Copyright Office expand the number of exceptions in the DMCA, which has been a focus of controversy among programmers, hackers, and security researchers for over a decade. The DMCA broadly restricts, but does not flatly ban, bypassing copy protection technology.