EFF in the News
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will be in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011, for a hearing in a legal battle over the government's demands for the records of several Twitter users in connection with an investigation related to WikiLeaks.
Little wonder, then, that FBI abuses keep mounting. Most recently, a report by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reveals that since 9/11, the FBI has been responsible for at least 40,000 violations of the law. Most of the violations are of "internal oversight guidelines," while close to one-third were "abuse of National Security Letters," and almost one-fifth are "violations of the Constitution, FISA, and other legal authorities." Specific violations include "failure to submit notification of the investigation of a US person to FBI Headquarters for three years... failure to report a violation within 14 days of its discovery [and] continuing to investigate a US person when the authority to do so had expired."
EFF’s Kevin Bankston provides some context.
“This is the answer to a mystery that has puzzled us for more than a year now,” said Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney and expert on electronic surveillance and national security laws for the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation.
It's using the judicial system as a business model. In one of the lawsuits Stone filed for Mick Haig Productions, the judge wisely asked Public Citizen and EFF to act as counsel for the John Does who had been sued, to represent their interests before allowing Stone to move forward with the discovery process (which would allow him to subpoena ISPs to get the names associated with various IP addresses). Public Citizen and EFF filed motions concerning some of the problems with the overall case and the judge refused to allow discovery while considering those motions.
We convened a group of privacy experts, journalists and publishers to discuss -- and debate -- the limits to what companies and government could track about us online. Check it out! (With EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien.)
EEF legal director Cindy Cohn said that the government's request for access to these Twitter accounts "raises serious First and Fourth Amendment concerns."
"It is especially troubling since the request seeks information about all statements made by these people, regardless of whether their speech relates to WikiLeaks," she said.
Thankfully, part of the gag has been lifted, and we now know that the EFF and the ACLU are challenging the info request and are seeking to have more documents in the case unsealed as well, including the Justice Department's original application for the order -- which should explain the reason for requesting the info. Who knows if the court will grant this, but once again, none of this would even be open for discussion if Twitter had just rolled over and handed the feds the info they demanded.
3. A federal court just ordered the unsealing of motions filed by the EFF and ACLU about the government effort to garner user data from Twitter related to the WikiLeaks Cablegate affair. These motions ask for the unsealing of "still-secret" records of the government's requests, and attempt to overturn the official efforts. The ACLU is concerned at the excessive secrecy of a public body. The next hearing is February 15th.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union filed the motion to challenge on Jan. 26, as well as a motion to unseal the filing, which was granted Tuesday. The groups have also sought to unseal the Justice Department’s application for the order it served on Twitter, which provides the government’s justification for demanding the information. The demand for the records is part of a grand jury investigation that’s believed to be probing WikiLeaks for its high-profile leaks of classified U.S. material.