EFF in the News
“The real core question is, is this a fair use or not?” said Corynne McSherry, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group. “Frankly the answer is, we don’t know.” Ms. McSherry suggests playing it safe and always asking.
Now the EFF appears to be looking to get its hands on a copy of the equivalent manual for the FBI—the agency's Domestic Investigative Operational Guidelines, which details the rules of the road for FBI-run domestic surveillance. The only problem is that its contents are a secret. So, the EFF is filing suit to have the manual's contents released to the public.
"This is a profound question about our identity and our place in society," Peter Eckersley said Wednesday from San Francisco. He's a staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He studies privacy issues brought on by rapidly advancing technologies.
"Do we," he asked, "have the right to say, 'Hey I want to escape the life I was living? I want to be a new person in a new place.' "
Ten years ago, a piece of software called Napster taught us that scarcity is no longer a law of nature. The physics of our universe would allow everyone with access to a networked computer to enjoy, for free, every song, every film, every book, every piece of research, every computer program, every last thing that could be made out of digital ones and zeros. The question became not, will nature allow it, but will our legal and economic system ever allow it?
“The Attorney General’s Guidelines are troubling, allowing for open investigative ‘assessments’ of any American without factual basis or reasonable suspicion,” EFF lawyer David Sobel said in a statement. “The withholding of the Operational Guidelines compounds our concerns. Americans have the right to know the basic surveillance policies used by federal investigators and how their privacy is — or is not — being protected.”
"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.