EFF in the News
But Jillian Yorke of the Electronic Frontier Foundation questioned whether private companies are best placed to make decisions about censorship. She referred to controversies over breastfeeding pictures on social media and noted that the biggest social networks ban nudity, which might not be offensive to all or even most users.
"Legally these companies have the right to ban whatever they want, but when it comes down to it the rules are skewed and the enforcement of them is as well," she says. Yorke says that the biggest social networks should become more pro-active in thinking of ways to implement community policing - for instance Twitter's recent announcement about shared "block" lists which will make it easier for users to block multiple accounts.
“Smart TVs sit in your living room or bedroom, and can have microphones, cameras, and access to your TV-watching habits—which can produce incredibly personal data,” Parker Higgins, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote after the Samsung “listening television” issue. “If security researchers can’t examine the software these devices run, and developers can’t work on alternatives or modifications, then users are bound by whatever terms their manufacturers want to put forward, and must trust that they’ve been implemented as promised. Given that these devices are networked and can often be updated remotely, user privacy is at the mercy of not just the manufacturer, but anybody who can convince, coerce, or compromise it, to modify the software or collect additional information.”
Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group, notes: "All large collections of sensitive personal data are at risk." When it comes to potential fraud, "healthcare data is considered more valuable on the open market," he says. "Obviously it matters how well they're protected."
Our digital lives are leaving data trails through social networking sites, email providers, Internet service providers, and mobile apps. But which companies fight the hardest to protect their customers from government data grabs of this sensitive information? The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released its fifth annual “Who Has Your Back” report, charting tech companies’ commitment to the next frontier of user privacy.
“This campaign demonstrated to us that despite the immense influence corporations have over the Capitol, members of the public and civil society groups have the power to throw a wrench into the system and change the course of the national debate on trade policy,” Maira Sutton, Global Policy Analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Daily Dot in an email.
“We may have lost the Fast Track battle, but we can still defeat the TPP and other secret anti-user trade deals,” she added. “When the veil of secrecy over these agreements are finally lifted, when the texts are released before Congress holds a vote to ratify them, we'll use that time to show the American people how toxic these deals are to the Internet and democracy itself.”
"Today, it’s testing at the border, tomorrow it could be facial recognition deployed in public places," Dave Maass, Electronic Frontier Foundation, also said. "Today, the photos taken are being kept segregated from other departments and agencies, tomorrow they could be shared for a whole host of other purposes."
The solution: Don't ask Google anything you would not be comfortable sharing publicly—with your boss, lover or worst enemy. By self-censoring, you limit the information Google can sell advertisers. For highly sensitive searches, for example, health queries, go offline and ask your doctor. Another option? Avoid searching on Google altogether, says Adi Kamdar, an activist with the non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"Amazon was the last holdout -- the last major tech company to release a transparency report," said Nate Cardozo, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"They have been very hesitant to release one," he told the E-Commerce Times. "Amazon likes to keep a low profile, which is surprising given the size of the company, so this completes the list of major tech companies releasing these kinds of reports."
In the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s annual “Who’s Got Your Back” privacy scorecard that rates companies’ protection of their users’ data from government surveillance and censorship, Google slipped for the first time, receiving only three stars out of five in the civil liberties group’s ratings. Google had a perfect score in 2014, and some of the best scores in the tech industry for the three earlier years in which the EFF issued its report.
The target of the takedown notice was an embedded image of the Sunday Times front page, which the Sunday Times tweeted on June 13th. Greenwald has stated that he does not intend to comply with the DMCA notice, and it’s likely invalid, according to Corynne McSherry, legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who calls the notice "ridiculous." McSherry pointed out that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) doesn’t even apply here because the notice-and-takedown procedure is for "intermediaries"—sites like YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter that host content at the direction of their users.
While The Sunday Times has already received some ridicule for sending out an invalid notice in what appears to be an ill-advised attempt to squelch criticism, it may face little to no legal repercussions. That’s something that the EFF has been fighting for years to change, by arguing for a stronger interpretation of 17 U.S.C. 512(f), which bars "knowing material misrepresentation" of DMCA notices. An important court date awaits them on July 7th, when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear Lenz v. Universal — more popularly known as the "dancing baby case."