EFF in the News
“It is fair to say that a number of these issues aren’t exactly new, but the accessibility of the Web makes us conscious of them in a way that we weren’t before,” says Corynne McSherry, author of the 2001 book “Who Owns Academic Work?” and a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “The question of people taking notes in lectures and reselling them is old, but now if you make them available online, the reach is so much broader that people get concerned in a different way.”
This month the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law sued the Department of Defense, the C.I.A. and other federal agencies under the Freedom of Information Act to learn more about their use of social networking sites.
The suit seeks to uncover what guidelines these agencies have about this activity, including information about whether agents are permitted to use fake identities or to engage in subterfuge, such as tricking people into accepting Facebook friend requests.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation was not pleased with those remarks, saying that "from protection against shallow embarrassments to the preservation of freedom and human rights," privacy is about more than just hiding wrongdoing. Schmidt's comments, the EFF says, make it seems as though Google doesn't understand that concept.
The announcement landed flat on, well, flat on its face. A chorus of the usual suspects, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California cried multiple fouls, objecting both to the nature of the changes and the way in which they were being imperiously foisted on users...
In a detailed exegesis published on Wednesday, EFF's Kevin Bankston divided the revisions into three categories: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
While the Facebook privacy overhaul has laudable features, there is a push to get the online community's members to expose information, according to EFF.
"Facebook's new changes are obviously intended to get people to open up even more of their Facebook data to the public," EFF lawyer Kevin Bankston said in a blog post.
"The Facebook privacy transition tool is clearly designed to push users to share much more of their Facebook info with everyone, a worrisome development that will likely cause a major shift in privacy level for most of Facebook's users, whether intentionally or inadvertently."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is appealing, on behalf of several plaintiffs, a June federal court decision that upheld legislation that protects the companies, who acted without court authorization, from being prosecuted.
For nearly two decades, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has fearlessly defended the digital universe.
Now its online heroes are teaming up with Randall Munroe’s stick-figure web-comic sensation Xkcd to celebrate with collaborative t-shirts and hoodies.
Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyer Kevin Bankston, for one, criticized Facebook for removing controls as it tried to simplify its privacy settings.
“Things get downright ugly when it comes to controlling who gets to see personal information such as your list of friends,” said Bankston. “Under the new regime, Facebook treats that information — along with your name, profile picture, current city, gender, networks and the pages that you are a ‘fan’ of — as ‘publicly available information’ or ‘PAI.’ Before, users were allowed to restrict access to much of that information.”
Other issues that remain problematic in this amended settlement were nicely summed up in a series of posts at the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Deep Links blog, all of them related to core library values.
Still, privacy organizations and some users are critiquing the move. In a blog post, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (disclaimer: my wife works there) called this part of Facebook’s privacy change “downright ugly.”
Users are “coming to share with whom they want to, which is not necessarily everyone on the Internet,” said Kevin Bankston, a senior staff lawyer at the group, nothing that these privacy distinctions were what always differentiated Facebook from MySpace, and the rest of the Web. “Now Facebook is clumsily trying to change the game and push users to share more than they ever have before.”