EFF in the News
"Americans have the right to know the basic surveillance policies used by federal investigators and how their privacy is -- or is not -- being protected," EFF senior counsel David Sobel said.
TACD is an umbrella group for consumer activists from the US and Europe, including the EFF, Public Knowledge, the Consumer Council of Norway, and UFC-Que Choisir of France (a group that also opposed the recent graduated response law there).
Late last week, it issued a lengthy resolution on intellectual property enforcement that included some strong language on ACTA. Not content with calling for a halt to negotiations, TACD demanded an end to the treaty's linguistic sleight of hand.
The US National Security Agency has a legal charter to spy on foreigners online. Unfortunately Internet traffic is nearly impossible to sort by nationality of user, meaning the NSA is snooping on all US Web and email traffic and storing it, with the cooperation of US telecoms companies. This has been extensively documented in court cases filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, including testimony from an AT&T cable technician who worked on dragnet hardware spliced into the Internet backbone cables routed through downtown San Francisco.
The Times even recalls a widely publicized case five years ago in which Apple attempted to subpoenaed AppleInsider's Kasper Jade and the PowerPage's Jason O'Grady to force them to identify sources who provided accurate details of an unreleased hardware product code-named Asteroid. The journalists refused to cooperate and instead enlisted the services of the Electronic Frontier Foundation as their counsel.
"Most of these curriculums paint the copyright issue in a very singular way and talk about it as something that only benefits the industries," said Richard Esguerra, an activist for EFF, which champions the public interest in digital-rights issues. "Copyright infringement is a real issue, but there's also a 'know your rights' angle and a right way to use copyrighted materials" legally.
Some privacy advocates are wary of how electronic medical records will be used. Lee Tien, a senior attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, agrees that patients should have more access to their records, but not at the expense of security.
Copyright expert Fred von Lohmann of the Electronic Frontier Foundation noted in a recent blog post that under a Supreme Court precedent, the justices have concluded that punitive damages, generally, should be no higher than nine times the actual damages. The case is not squarely on-point with Thomas-Rasset’s, where the award was based on the statute, and not an arbitrary number intended purely to punish a defendant. But assuming each download in the Thomas-Rasset case is valued at $1, her judgment is at a ratio of a stunning 800,000-to-1.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation notes the dicey nature of this claim. For starters, public performance royalties are generally due only when there is a "direct or indirect" commercial advantage to playing music, such as in a bar or restaurant. Comparing ringtones to such a use is like claiming car companies should pay the performance royalties when people listen to their car stereo with the windows open.
The EFF's Fred von Lohman, who analyzed the filing, argues that the brief ignores some well-defined areas of precedent and the legal code. In short, he concludes that, if a ringtone constitutes a public performance, then so does playing the car radio when the windows are down.
"I think it's indefensibly invasive and likely illegal as a violation of the First Amendment rights of job applicants," EFF attorney Kevin Bankston told CNET News earlier this week. "Essentially, they're conditioning your application for employment on your waiving your First Amendment rights...and risking the security of your information by requiring you to share your password with them...Where does it stop? How about a photocopy of your diary?"