EFF in the News
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which represents Roberts, called United's decision to ban the researcher "both disappointing and confusing."
"Security researchers are allies, not opponents, and their work makes us all more safe, not less," said EFF staff attorney Nate Cardozo. "We fear that United's actions here will cause a real chilling effect, and that researchers will be less likely to help United improve their security in the future based on its over reaction to Mr. Roberts's statements." Roberts, Cardozo said, was still willing to work with United and the rest of the airline industry to improve their security.
"It is disappointing that United refused to allow him to board, and we hope that United learns that computer security researchers are a vital ally, not a threat," said Nate Cardozo, a staff attorney with the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, which represents Roberts.
Cardozo said Sunday he hasn't seen a copy of a search warrant that would have been used to seize Roberts' electronics, and that he's working to get the devices returned.
“We’ve already seen with copyright enforcement provisions an increasing policing of content online,” said Maira Sutton, a global policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). “The risk with the TPP is that it’ll increase incentives for ISPs to remove content to make sure they’re not liable for what users post. In the U.S., we’ve seen rights holders sending letters to ISPs saying something is infringing, and ISPs will remove content whether it’s infringing or not.”
Maira Sutton, a global policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, said that based on leaked versions of the TPP's text, the agreement appears to export weaker fair use provisions than those in current U.S. law.
"In the US, using the video of the shooting, a very newsworthy event, as part of news coverage is almost certainly a fair use, meaning no payment is required. Other countries vary," Mitch Stoltz, a copyright attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Ars in an e-mail.
Electronic Frontier Foundation Staff Technologist Jeremy Gillula claims that allowing the US government access to bypass encryption software in Americans’ personal technology devices would likely make it easier for hackers to exploit their information.
“We’re seeing an increasing crackdown on supposedly copyrighted content that is uploaded to the internet,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Maira Sutton told ThinkProgress. The DMCA gives both internet service providers (ISPs) and online platforms like Google a huge incentive to automatically remove user content when someone makes a copyright claim. Few sites bother to carefully review copyright claims for validity before removing content or suspending users.
“Many things that are protected by fair use or are in the public domain get automatically taken down with no regard to whether that content is actually legal or not,” Sutton said. Users can challenge a platform or ISP’s decision, but “they’re not required to make a determination of whether it’s a fair use.”
“It’s a huge disappointment,” Maira Sutton, Global Policy Analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Daily Dot. “We thought that Wyden was going to do much more to at least enact more safeguards for users.”
Still, it is possible that a judge somewhere could interpret applicable copyright law harshly, said Nate Cardoso, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit organization that defends civil liberties in cyberspace.
“The worst-case scenario is that if the law being applied is that of an unfriendly jurisdiction in the U.S. and you’re found to be violating the terms of service, you could be prosecuted for a hacking crime,” Mr. Cardoso said. “I think that prosecution would be completely unreasonable. But there are (U.S.) prosecutors that disagree with me.”
Of course, I'm not a technology lawyer, so I contacted Hanni Fakhoury, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"This is crazy," he said, before adding, "My jaw is on the floor."