EFF in the News
At a time when China is increasingly exerting its censorship muscle on the Internet -- and taking on Internet giant Google in the process -- Australia's moves are causing particular concern among Internet companies and advocates of online freedom.
"The EFF welcomes the State Department's expression about Australia's overbroad proposed plan," Gwen Hinze, international director with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the E-Commerce Times.
Whereas the filtering plan started off as a proposal to block child pornography, "our concern is that it's much broader than that," Hinze said.
What's unusual about the coalition to be announced Tuesday is that it includes occasional rivals including AOL, Loopt, and Salesforce.com, sources told CNET. The nonprofit participants, too, have sharply different political views: the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Tax Reform, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Progress and Freedom Foundation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Citizens Against Government Waste have signed on.
Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation is scheduled to testify. Bankston says wiretap laws should include videotaped surveillance the same way they protect secret audio recordings.
"It highlights the fact that technology has political impacts beyond its business model," said Eddan Katz, international affairs director for San Francisco's Electronic Frontier Foundation. "It's not just a form of communication, but a political opportunity in terms of freedom of expression."
Technologists at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who are working on a proposal to fix this whole problem, say hackers can use similar techniques to steal your money or your passwords. In that case, attackers are more likely to trick a Certificate Authority into issuing a certificate, a point driven home last year when two security researchers demonstrated how they could get certificates for any domain on the internet simply by using a special character in a domain name.
“It is not hard to do these attacks,” said Seth Schoen, an EFF staff technologist. “There is software that is being published for free among security enthusiasts and underground that automate this.”
Early reports from China on Monday suggested that the Chinese government was already restricting access to Google's Hong Kong-based site, said Eddan Katz, International Affairs Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"We've already heard indications that visitors to Google.hk are getting 'can't find page' errors," he said.
"I think that's the key question," said Fred von Lohmann, senior attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocate for Internet users and tech companies. "At the heart of the case is what the court considers red-flag knowledge...and [whether] the kind of knowledge that YouTube had [falls] within that definition."
For lawyers, rapidly changing online tools such as social networks can be a boon — or a minefield. Earlier this week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation posted some interesting documents from the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Justice that detailed the use of social-networking sites to investigate taxpayers and suspects.
Looking ahead, David Sobel, Senior Counsel with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, sees hope in fixing FOIA in the form of a pending bill in the Senate. He says Senators Patrick Leahy (D.-Vermont) and John Cornyn (R.-Texas) this past week introduced the "Faster FOIA" bill, designed to create an advisory committee to look into the problem of FOIA processing delays.