EFF in the News
As the tools of surveillance have become more sophisticated, detecting them has become a harder task. “There was a time when you could spot cameras,” Tien says. Maybe a bodega would hang up a metal sign warning passersby that they were being recorded by a clunky, conspicuous device. “But now, they’re smaller, recessed, and don’t look like what you expect them to look like.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, for example, commended the feds for asking a judge to review exactly what data the FBI would and would not touch in victimized devices, which were located across the country. It was a "positive step" toward accountability and transparency in FBI computer break-ins, EFF staff attorney Andrew Crocker said.
H.R. 1695’s supporters insist that it would increase accountability by giving Congress more of a voice in the selection process. But in practice, making the appointment one more contentious political contest would create a Register who’s only really accountable to the lobbyists and special interests that help her get selected and confirmed.
Internet providers can see a wide range of their customers’ online activity, according to Jeremy Gillula, senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the San Francisco-based digital civil liberties group. Unless you’re using special tools like a virtual private network or the free, privacy-minded Tor internet browser, he says, “an ISP could definitely see and sell all the web addresses you visit,” though they would be limited to the domain name for “https” sites using encryption, such as banks, most online shopping sites, Google, Facebook, and Web mail.
When Steve Stephens allegedly killed Robert Godwin in cold blood on Easter Sunday and put videos of the shooting on Facebook, there wasn’t much Stephens’ friends or followers could do to prevent it from appearing in their news feeds. Sophia Cope, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said over email that although Facebook is “immunized” legally under Section 230, that doesn’t release the company from moral responsibility. “We don’t disagree that online companies like Facebook have discretion to set terms of service that ban violent content and enforce those terms. We have consistently called on companies, though, to define content that will be removed as clearly and specifically as possible,” Cope said in an email to VICE News.
Civil rights organizations are sounding the alarm over a proposal by Trump’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that would require visa holders from China to turn over their social media “handles.”
“On the surface, this is a policy directed at citizens from China seeking to travel to the U.S. on a visa,” said Adam Schwartz, staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
But the ripple effect of such a policy has broader implications. Privacy advocates say China could require the same kind of information from U.S. visitors in a tit-for-tat move.
Schwartz also noted that by investigating Chinese nationals’ social media, CBP could investigate anyone associated with them on social media, which would likely include many Chinese Americans
"What are Grindr's legal responsibilities," asks Aaron Mackey, a Frank Stanton legal fellow at the Electronic Frontier Foundation from out of nowhere. "And what are its corporate and ethical responsibilities to its users when it learns that its platform is being abused in this way?"
KUNR: What kind of challenges to the First Amendment are you seeing in your work as a lawyer specializing in free speech protections? Greene: We see a lot of things. There’s still of lot of classic cases of civil lawsuits between people based on online speech. We’re also very involved in issues of government surveillance. I do a lot of work crafting arguments about government surveillance, especially mass surveillance of communications, is an abridgment of free speech rights.
Police are currently engaged in a 5-state manhunt across Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana and Michigan for the murder suspect, 37-year-old Steve Stephens. On Easter Sunday, Stephens uploaded a video showing him shoot an apparently random victim, Robert Godwin, Sr. Sophia Cope is a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a non-profit group focused on digital civil liberties. She explained that Facebook is "definitely not responsible for the crime," and that under U.S. law it is unlikely the company will be held liable for allowing the video to be uploaded and shared. "Like it or not, this kind of violent content, whether its actual violence or violence in movies ... it's protected by the First Amendment," Cope said.
Draft bills in at least 13 state legislatures would require all internet-enabled devices to come installed with an anti-porn filter, which adult consumers could choose to have removed for a fee of $20.
But of course it's not only monetary costs to consumers that are are a concern. The porn-filter proposal would also impose costs on product makers, and even steeper costs on U.S. civil liberties. "The way it's written, it would cover your router. It would cover your modem," said Electronic Frontier Foundation researcher Dave Maass. "Plus, now Best Buy is sitting on a database of people who wanted their porn filters removed."