EFF in the News
“Privacy crosses political aisles, especially when we see the government expanding domestic spying in secret in so many different ways,” said Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital civil liberties group that has been pushing the bill for years.
Cooper Quintin, a technologist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy watchdog group, answered: “the recommendations about monitoring Pastebin, semantic analysis of hidden services and grabbing snapshots of hidden services are fine and ethical things to do. I am concerned about the customer data monitoring suggestion however. To me, that seems like it could easily become a pretty serious invasion of privacy. Even if the IP address is not collected (as recommended in the report) it may still be possible to de-anonymize someone just through the metadata.”
The Innovation Act isn't an ideal fix for the program patent system. "It's largely a measure to reform patent litigation, but it doesn't do enough to improve the quality of patents," says Daniel Nazer, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which would prefer to see software patents abolished.
“The bills we’ve seen out of Senate Republicans so far have sort of paid lip service to net neutrality, but they’ve stripped a lot of the authority to somehow enforce it,” says Jeremy Gillula, a staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
However, this does not mean there aren’t real concerns with the FCC’s plan, namely how vague some of the language in the plan remains. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, likely the most ardent supporter of net neutrality around, published an open letter demanding the FCC change the language of its “general conduct” policy. In a “Fact Sheet” released by the agency, they distinctly allow themselves the authority to review any practices that could “harm” consumers.
While there is no "silver bullet for net neutrality," April Glaser and Corinne McSherry of the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote in a recent essay, municipal broadband "can help promote competition by doing one essential thing: offering people real alternatives."
That’s a common defense among people who collect links to pirated videos, but judicial precedent doesn’t back it up. The founders of Pirate Bay, a popular BitTorrent hub, made similar arguments in a Swedish court and received prison sentences. Older file-sharing networks such as Napster and Grokster shut down, because U.S. courts ruled that they were emboldening users to break laws. “If you are seen as encouraging people to infringe, then you have a copyright problem,” says Corynne McSherry, the acting legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for consumer rights online. Users are also vulnerable to suits, she says, though most studios and other major rights holders no longer target individual viewers for redress.
While Cuomo officials have suggested that the purge policy is a technical necessity to consolidate email systems, researcher Dave Maass of the Electronic Frontier Foundation said, “There's no technological reason that New York can't maintain these records indefinitely.”
The US patent system is a mess. One way to fix it is to abolish software patents.
That is by far the most incendiary proposal the Electronic Frontier Foundation offers in its comprehensive report on overhauling a painfully broken patent system. The report, two years in the making, suggests everything from strengthening the quality of patents to making patent litigation less costly. And there, on page 27 of the 29-page report, is “Abolish software patents.”
Sophia Cope, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which recently submitted an Amicus Brief on the plaintiffs' behalf, told VICE News that the complaints made by in the suit are very plausible. Cope, like others, drew parallels to IBM'S provision of a similar identification system to the Nazis during the Holocaust.
"IBM has a well documented history of doing something very similar," she said, in reference to the punchcard system IBM developed for the Nazis that was allegedly used to identify Jewish citizens in census data.