EFF in the News
Kevin Bankston, senior staff attorney for digital-rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation, says Facebook is not invading privacy but is violating the trust of users. "There should be an opt-out option," he says.
The FBI disclosed to a presidential board that it was involved in nearly 800 violations of laws, regulations or policies governing national security investigations from 2001 to 2008, but the government won't provide details or say whether anyone was disciplined, according to a report by a privacy watchdog group.
The San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation sued under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain about 2,500 documents that the FBI submitted to the President's Intelligence Oversight Board.
A new report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation analyzes more than 2,500 pages' worth of FBI documents extracted using Freedom of Information Act litigation and finds disturbing, system-wide violations of civil liberties on a scale that is far beyond anything reported to date:
If you missed Susan Freiwald and Kevin Bankston discussing ECPA at CIS on January 24th, you can see it on YouTube, complete with Ryan Calo introducing them.
Eva Galperin, international activist with the San Francisco digital rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the situation shows what can happen if laws are enacted to "put the power to shut down a portion of the Internet in the hands of a single person, whether it's the president of Egypt or the president of the United States."
About two dozen groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Library Association, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Center for Democracy & Technology, were skeptical enough to file an open letter opposing the idea. They are concerned that the measure, if it became law, might be used to censor the internet.
"The cost of reading the New York Times for free is being tracked. The cost of being on Facebook is being data-mined," Peter Eckersley, a senior staff technologist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said Friday at a panel discussion on the intersection of technology and privacy.
Twitter is working with Chilling Effects, a joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and numerous schools including Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, University of San Francisco and Santa Clara University School of Law clinics. The project deals with issues like Copyright, Domain Names and Trademarks, Anonymous Speech and Defamation. In an effort to be as transparent as possible, Twitter submits all copyright removal notices to @chillingeffects and they are now Tweeting them from @ChillFirehose.
Advocates for free speech argue "anonymity is crucial to the free flow of information on the Internet and preservation of civil rights," according to Mike Cronin in the October 16, 2010 Pittsburgh Tribune Review article "Internet Anonymity at Risk as Real Costs of Free Speech Weighed." And some experts say eliminating anonymity on the Internet is technically impossible (Cronin).
Rebecca Jeschke, a spokeswoman for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, states in Cronin's article, anonymity is about free speech and privacy. Many people do not want the things they say online to affect their offline identities. They have concerns about political or economic retribution, harassment and even threats to their lives. "'Whistle-blowers need anonymity. So do human rights workers who struggle against repressive governments, and victims of domestic violence who want to hide from their abusers'" (qtd. in Cronin). Jeschke also states that parents may want anonymity for children so they can safely surf the Internet.
Newly available documents shed light on such questions. Digital rights advocates at the Electronic Frontier Foundation have been suing federal agencies for months under the Freedom of Information Act with help from the Samuelson Clinic at UC Berkeley’s School of Law. The goal was to force open policies that explain when social networking sites can be used for government surveillance, data collection and investigations.
Results made public so far by EFF are available below for more than a dozen sites in a chart built by the Center for Investigative Reporting. Old and new policies alike are posted next to the document year, so you can compare possible changes over time. EFF argues that the variety among them shows how “social networking sites have struggled to develop consistent, straightforward policies.”