EFF in the News
"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."
A recent move by Congress to strip the Federal Communications Commission of the power to protect Internet privacy has provoked outrage among some, and state legislatures may try to weigh in. Ernesto Falcon is legislative council for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is one of the groups that fought to keep the stricter federal privacy rules. "I think in the long term this is something that either the federal judiciary or Congress will have to resolve."
As Trump surveys the surveillance system at his disposal, he should know that there are at least 471 of the location-spying devices in the U.S. today, according to an exclusive Vocativ survey of known police and other official documents. “The big concern with stingrays is we still don’t know exactly how they’re used and where they’re used,” Jennifer Lynch, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who specializes in privacy and civil liberties, told Vocativ.
Issa and other Republicans are under fire from pro-digital privacy organizations after they voted for a bill that lets internet service providers continue to sell or give away information on the web sites that their customers visit – though ISPs don’t typically have access to information about what their customers do on these websites – such as purchases they make. Some of those groups had long lauded Issa for his stands. "We're disappointed that Rep. Issa voted to weaken privacy protections,” said Ernesto Falcon, legislative counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights organization.
Mass arrests that sweep up journalists — enabling police and prosecutors to collect electronic evidence they might not otherwise have access to — threatens the independence of the press, said Stephanie Lacambra, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF has been working with Jan. 20 arrestees to get their phones back. “If you’re made to turn over your phone to law enforcement, they can unmask anonymous sources, they may impede on the relationship you have with some of your sources,” Lacambra said. “It will chill people’s willingness to come forward.”
The US government has backed down from its attempt to unmask an anonymous Twitter account that criticized the Trump administration, a victory for free speech advocates. Jamie Lee Williams, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said: “The fact that they withdrew the summons doesn’t necessarily show that the new administration recognizes the importance of [anonymous] speech. “I think they just recognized that they were going to lose.”
Ernesto Falcon, who serves as legislative counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy organization for digital rights and civil liberties, said the suggestion that this move would be good for consumers is “laughable.”
“Do you think most consumers trust their cable company to have their best interest in mind?” Falcon said. “I think it fits very closely with the mindset that there should be no consumer protection.”