EFF in the News
It's "an incredibly significant move," said Danny O'Brien, international outreach co-ordinator at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an Internet rights group in San Francisco. "This changes the game because the question won't be 'How can we work in China?' but 'How can we create services that Chinese people can use, from outside of China?"'
Five customers of AT&T had tried to go to court and charge that the government's omnipresent spy, the NSA, had been given by AT&T private information from their phone bills and e-mails. In a first, the Obama administration countered—says Kevin Bankston of Electronic Frontier Foundation, representing these citizens stripped of their privacy—that "the U.S. can never be sued for spying that violated federal surveillance statutes, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or the Wiretap Act."
Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Kurt Opsahl said it is one thing to order that allegedly defamatory materials be taken down but quite another to shut down the web sites entirely.
"Imagine if a court could order Amazon.com or Yelp.com shut down because of a disparaging review of a single product," Opsahl said in a critique.
Among the databases: financial records, credit card data, even Blockbuster accounts.
From a privacy standpoint, ''it's a lot and it's quite scary,'' says Lee Tien, an attorney with the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney at EFF, a San Francisco-based organization that has litigated on issues of bloggers' rights, anonymity, and file sharing among others, believes the court order to shut down the Web sites is "deeply dangerous and wrong," in part, because it was aimed at the entire Web sites and not just the posts or comments in question.
Sports leagues are likely to become more prescriptive about what images can and cannot be used from its games, according to Cindy Cohn, the legal director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group focused on digital rights. To fans, that may take the form of more restrictions listed on the backs of their tickets. This is likely to lead to more tension between the league, its fans and the news media.
“There’s a fundamental disconnect between fans who consider teams part of their culture, history and town, and the owners of the teams that view them as their private property,” Cohn said. “One saving grace is that they do care about their image and they don’t want to look like jack-booted thugs. But free speech is important.”
And so, to rally the troops, Barlow, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, posted his famous Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace. He declared the "global social space we are building" to be "naturally independent of the tyrannies" governments seek to impose.
He alleges that the bloggers defamed him by calling the NAPW a scam -- but doesn't provide the context surrounding those alleged statements. That alone is reason for the judge to reject his attempt to learn the bloggers' identities, says Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Matt Zimmerman. "You can't determine if statements are defamatory in isolation," he says.
"The court should recognize the Chamber's lawsuit for what it is -- an attempt to use intellectual property and related law to punish a political parody that the Chamber found humorless, and which cast unwanted light on its controversial position on climate change," the Yes Men argue in a motion filed on their behalf by the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation.
That’s unacceptable, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Kevin Bankston, who says that’s not the Facebook people signed up for.
“Just because Facebook users want to share personal info with their friends does not mean they want to share it with any nefarious parties on the internet,” Bankston said, “but that is exactly what Facebook is forcing its users to do.”