EFF in the News
That does not impress some privacy campaigners. “It is kind of surprising for them to be throwing out all these scary hypotheticals, but when they are asked for hard evidence they don’t have any,” said Jeremy Gillula, a staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a non-profit digital rights group. “For people whose jobs depend on the ability to present hard evidence to a judge in order to put ‘bad guys’ away, you’d think they would have some better evidence.”
Hanni Fakhoury, a former federal public defender and current attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Ars that there are no specific statutes or cases that currently deal with government-sanctioned malware deployed against criminal suspects.
"Rather, it would just be governed by the same principles and standards that would apply to other forms of electronic communications," told Ars. "So if law enforcement is using the malware to monitor electronic communications in real time, it would need a wiretap order to monitor. And if the malware needs to be installed on a specific computer, they would need to get a search warrant to do that (and that’s what it looks like they did here, at least according to paragraph 21 on page 11 of the affidavit). There are some really tricky technical questions about whether these warrants are ‘particular,’ specifically because many times the actual location of the computer is unknown."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Symantec, and many other organizations are concerned about the effect of the new regulations on companies that use or provide penetration testing or network monitoring tools, as well as on security research in general.
"We think it's a terrible idea," said Cindy Cohn, executive director at Electronic Frontier Foundation. "They're going to hear from us, and they're going to hear from a whole lot of other people."
The rules could also hurt the U.S. economically, she said.
"People want to protect their trade secrets, their communications, their assets," she said. "If American companies aren't in the lead offering that security, they're going to lose out in the market."
"Being able to contact your elected representatives is a critical component of a healthy democracy," said activist Sina Khanifar, a technology fellow at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who worked on the website. "Advocacy organizations that can afford it have long had access to tools for delivering bulk constituent messages, but those solutions are expensive and generally inaccessible for regular citizens. Democracy.io helps fill that gap by giving people an easy way to have their voices are heard in Washington."
Jeremy Gillula, who is a staff technologist at Electronic Frontier Foundation, which fights for digital civil liberties, disagrees. He says a federal ban actually prevents states and municipalities from taxing broadband service. According to Gillula, the estimate that Pai quoted assumed that broadband customers would be charged for 911 service, local-number portability and telecommunications-relay service for hearing-impaired people—all things for which phone customers already pay. Additionally, Gillula says that Pai’s estimate assumed that FCC would add the universal-service charge onto broadband bills but that the agency opted against that.
Filmmaker Laura Poitras sues the government for being detained, a juvenile justice advocate testifies before Congress to end youth incarceration and Atlantic City casino workers' struggle. Alyona cuts through the spin on Free Speech Zone.
Guest Jamie Lee Williams, Frank Stanton Legal Fellow, Electronic Frontier Foundation
The director is being represented by lawyers from digital-rights advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “The well-documented difficulties Ms Poitras experienced while traveling strongly suggest that she was improperly targeted by federal agencies as a result of her journalistic activities,” senior counsel David Sobel told the Intercept. “Those agencies are now attempting to conceal information that would shed light on tactics that appear to have been illegal. We are confident that the court will not condone the government’s attempt to hide its misconduct under a veil of ‘national security.’”
“Allowing a government to basically install spyware onto an American citizen’s computer without any kind of repercussions is really problematic, because if the government of Ethiopia is not somehow legally curtailed in this way, that would really send the wrong message not only to Ethiopia but countries around the world to empower them to do this to other American citizens,” EFF staff attorney Sophia Cope told MC. EFF’s case page: http://bit.ly/1M2qiKv
A victory for Kidane “would be a clear statement from a U.S court to say that wiretapping without court authorization is illegal, no matter who does it. And yes, absolutely that would have implications for the NSA,” said his legal counsel, Nate Cardozo, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
“We know that the NSA engages in full content wiretapping … without a court order authorizing it,” he added. “That conduct is simply illegal, and I think a U.S. court order holding Ethiopia responsible for doing the same thing but on a much smaller scale here hopefully would at least raise some eyebrows at the NSA.”
On Friday, July 10, the Electronic Frontier Foundation celebrated its 25th anniversary. The San Francisco-based group has been a stalwart of tech and legal advocacy since its founding and has played a key role in a number of seminal cases.
To celebrate, Ars interviewed Executive Director Cindy Cohn, who mentioned that, within the list of cases that the organization has worked on, she had a number of favorites.
Here’s a quick summary of those cases, in chronological order.