EFF in the News
“There are three main ways data can be compromised,” says Jacob Hoffman-Andrews, senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF): (1) the government may send a legal request demanding the company turn over the data; (2) the account may get hacked by a third-party; or (3) the company holding the data could use it inappropriately or in ways the user didn’t contemplate.
Civil rights groups and criminal justice experts have questioned how the Police Department determined whom to place on the list and how the subjects are scored. The department won't say how many people are in the database but that the department's focus is on 1,400 individuals considered most at risk. What factors does CPD use? "Until they show us the algorithm and the exhaustive factors of what goes into the algorithm, the public should be concerned about whether the program further replicates racial disparities in the criminal justice system," Adam Schwartz, staff attorney for civil rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Tribune.
Kurt Opsahl, deputy executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, agreed. If people don’t know about the vulnerabilities, Opsahl cautioned, they can’t take precautions. Criminals looking for vulnerabilities might find the backdoors and exploit them, he added.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation complained about the rules in Gilstrap's court, saying they may have violated defendants' procedural rights. Contacted by Ars, EFF Staff Attorney Vera Ranieri said she was glad to see the modification. But the organization remains concerned about procedures in Texas, she added.
"We note that Judge Gilstrap's order maintains the prohibition on staying cases pending the resolution of summary judgment motions," she said. "Thus we are concerned that dispositive motions that should be granted—such as summary judgment and motions to dismiss—will be fully briefed and ready for decision, yet the parties will continue to incur significant costs pending resolution of those motions."
Even so, the law doesn't lean far enough toward protecting innovators, suggested Adam Schwartz, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The EFF last week filed a lawsuit challenging Digital Millennium Copyright Act provisions that make it unlawful for people to get around software that restricts access to lawfully purchased copyrighted material, such a movies on DVDs.
Those restrictions violate the First Amendment, according to the EFF, because they stymie creators, academics, inventors and researchers, who need to "build on what's come before" to innovate and create.
"When the government tries to solve a problem with laws that prevent people from exercising their freedom of speech in myriad ways," Schwartz told the E-Commerce Times, "laws like that should be struck down."
People have been saying for years that email is going to die, that one day people are just going to stop using it. That’s what people told Eva Galperin, global policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
“And that came as an enormous surprise to me," she said, "because I’m pretty sure I get more email, especially work-related email, than ever.”
Email is alive and well, despite increased use of social media and other messaging platforms, she said.
“It’s very deeply ingrained in business culture right now, to have email lists and email threads and records of all conversations so that you go back and you know what has happened,” she said.
But people doing things they shouldn’t don’t necessarily want those records. Galperin said they will often seek out more private ways of messaging, like Signal and WhatsApp.
DMCA's "anti-circumvention" rule has rankled hackers and scholars for a long time.
But according to Eva Galperin, a global policy analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, "the tech giants show no signs of complying — not Google, not Facebook, not Twitter."
Galperin expects these large U.S.-based companies to treat the new law's mandates as they did the data localization requirements Russia passed into law last year — which companies have basically ignored.
"[Companies] are staying publicly silent and not complying with the data localization mandate," she told FedScoop. "None of those companies keep their Russian user data in Russia" as the law supposedly requires, she added.
Schneier, who is chief technology officer and security technologist at Resilient Systems, an IBM company, is the author of 14 books, including the best-seller Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World. He's also written hundreds of articles, essays and academic papers. His newsletter "Crypto-Gram" and his blog "Schneier on Security" are read by more than 250,000 people. Schneier is a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, a fellow at the Belfer Center at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and a board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
When asked, groups that pushed for the passage of the Santa Clara ordinance emphatically denied that their efforts actually served to facilitate the purchase of surveillance technologies. Shahid Buttar is the director of grassroots advocacy at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit dedicating to defending civil liberties in the digital world. Buttar told AlterNet that surveillance technologies are already being deployed by local police forces across the US, often without any oversight or regulation. Stingrays, for example, which enable cops to locate a mobile phone by mimicking a cell phone tower, have been in use by police forces about a decade, but it was only last week that a federal judge ruled that the warrantless use of the device was unconstitutional.
“To claim that a transparency-advancing measure legitimates the technology, basically ignores the fact that the police are obtaining these technologies whether there are ordinances or not,” said Buttar. “Any transparency-advancing measure is a step forward from the current baseline.”