EFF in the News
"It's a mixed bag," said Eva Galperin, an activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an Internet civil rights group that has long advocated for freedom of expression online. EFF helped to establish Chilling Effects, though it's no longer involved in its operation. Twitter's transparency may help to balance out the danger of suppressing voices, she said.
An explainer from Eva Galperin at the Electronic Frontier Foundation on Twitter's "country-based tweet takedown" news.
But Twitter has taken the unusual step of making DMCA takedown notices public, in partnership with Chilling Effects, a project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and several universities. The site shows 4,410 cease and desist notices dating back to November 2010. While most of 2011 shows daily or near-daily activity, there is just one notice in January 2012, suggesting either that Twitter is suddenly receiving fewer DMCA takedown notices or that the database is not quite up to date. (If we find out from Twitter or Chilling Effects, we'll update the story.)
This is not Google’s version of Siri. It’s a result of the company’s push to use data it collects from you in novel ways that could be helpful, or unsettling.
"That’s not something I want my computer telling me. It’s creepy,” said Kurt Opsahl, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit digital rights advocacy organization located in San Francisco.
“Google has always collected information. That hasn’t changed,” Opsahl said. “But information that was once siloed will now be co-mingled.”
Rebecca Jeshke, EFF's Media Relations Director, told Ars Technica that the EFF does want to hear from people who've been affected by the Megaupload shutdown. The Pirate Party has contacted the EFF, and the information sharing is part of EFF's efforts to learn more about how the Megaupload shutdown has affected legitmate users.
Jillian C. York, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's director of international freedom of expression, argued in a blog post defending the company that the move doesn't "represent a sea change in Twitter's policies."
"It's been difficult to comment on the move given the extreme reaction by Twitter's own community," York said. "Lots of 'I told you so' from the conspiracy theorists who think that this is because of Saudi Prince Alwaleed's stake in the company, compounded by the #occupy crowd continuing to claim their hashtag was censored in Twitter's trending topics made me want to avoid the subject entirely."
"This is one of the most poorly drafted pieces of data retention legislation we've ever seen," the EFF's activism director Rainey Reitman wrote in the blog.
...some advocates for Internet freedom described the change as modest. “This is not a major policy shift for Twitter,” Jillian C. York of the advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation posted on Friday, responding to a concerned Twitter user who wondered whether controversial hashtags like #WikiLeaks would be blocked in the future.
"Plaintiff's lawyer has not been shy about telling the press that he expects to get settlements precisely because many people who download pornography are unwilling to risk being publicly identified as having done so," wrote Matthew Zimmerman of EFF and Paul Levy of Public Citizen in a motion to preclude Stone from conducting discovery. "Moreover, the settlement amount is, we believe, carefully selected to be less than most defendants would have to spend to hire a lawyer to defend themselves, even though it is significantly more than the plaintiff stands to gain from an award of actual damages. ... Plaintiff's quest for identifying information in this case, therefore, appears to be nothing more than an effort to use the judicial process to extract settlements on a mass scale."
“There has never been another time in history where privacy was under the kind of assault it is today,” said Rainey Reitman, activism director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). “Consumers have increasingly digital lives and they are developing an unfathomably large data trail every day.”