EFF in the News
On Tuesday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at UC Berkeley and other privacy groups filed a court brief that said the settlement "fails to safeguard reader privacy."
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/09/08/BU6519KAPM.DTL&type=tech#ixzz0Qkf1ZkSO
Privacy concerns are at the heart of a new objection to the Google Books settlement filed by the ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation, UC Berkeley’s Samuelson Clinic and private attorney David Pankin. With EFF’s Cindy Cohen taking the lead, the group objects to the settlement because of the chilling effect on reading, research and writing Google’s control over user data could have.
As expected, lawyers for Microsoft, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and a coalition called the Open Book Alliance blasted the deal as anticompetitive and detrimental to consumers.
"This is an important point that people haven't grasped," said Peter Eckersley, a staff technologist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. "We've been using e-mail for years, and it's been insecure all that time. . . . If you have any hacker who is competent and spends the time and targets you, he's going to get you."
David Sobel, senior counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy advocacy group, said the government has successfully used existing FOIA exemptions to deny requests for watch-list records. He cited a court case last fall brought by the EFF in which the government, in keeping with it policy, refused to confirm or deny whether a European Parliament member's name was on the terrorist watch list. The government claimed in part an exemption that bars disclosure of law enforcement information on "techniques and procedures" for investigations. The EFF, concluding that the government would win, withdrew the case.
Google rebuffed the EFF's requests for a policy more than a month ago.
One imagines, then, the EFF would turn a critical eye toward the policy and it sure has; it is so dissatisfied it is filing a rejection to the settlement in time for the New York district court's Sept. 8 deadline to hear support and opposition before the court's Oct. 7 hearing.
Some critics of the settlement say that despite its flaws, they would prefer to find a way to make the scanning effort work rather than scratch the whole effort. For example, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group, is raising objections to the settlement. But EFF attorney Cindy Cohn thinks the public is better off having something than nothing.
Cohn grew up in a small town and remembers feeling limited by the size of her local library: "Google's creating a digital library that's going to create tremendously more access to the world's books than we'll have if we sit around and wait for 10 years for something better," she says.
It’s the first united push by the group, which includes the Center for Digital Democracy, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Consumers Union, against the Internet industry’s opposition to any legislation to limit ad targeting.
The coalition, which included the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Consumers Union and Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, singled out behavioral advertising, in which Internet users are tracked, analyzed and served ads based on the information gleaned from their movements, in its recommendations.
Privacy advocates are rightly concerned. Corporations and the government can keep track of what political meetings people attend, what bars and clubs they go to, whose homes they visit. It is the fact that people’s locations are being recorded “pervasively, silently, and cheaply that we’re worried about,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation said in a recent report.