EFF in the News
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) had sued those law enforcement agencies to gain access to one week’s worth of LPR data as a way to better understand this surveillance technology. After losing in Los Angeles Superior Court last August, the EFF and ACLU SoCal appealed; the court’s decision was handed down on Wednesday.
“It's already a huge violation of privacy to have the contents of phone calls captured,” Electronic Frontier Foundation activist Nadia Kayyali said on Wednesday....Kayyali, however, argued that the United States needs greater oversight of NSA activities given that many of the leaked and published documents do not indicate the authority under which the Agency conducts its surveillance programs.
Cindy Cohn, executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the appeals court ruling is "a great and welcome decision and it ought to make Congress pause to consider whether the small changes it’s making in the USA Freedom Act are really sufficient.”
Cohn participated in oral arguments supporting Klayman’s win and has been involved with a third appeal against the collection in the 9th Circuit. She's pleased the decision “rips apart the government’s interpretation” of words such as “relevance” and “investigation” under Section 215.
“I don’t think that Congress alone giving an endorsement to these words would be sufficient under the court’s analysis,” she says. “I think Congress would actually have to say very clearly what it was doing in order to get over that and then the question is whether that would survive [constitutional analysis].”
Electronic Frontier Foundation senior counsel Jennifer Lynch told Al Jazeera that phone data isn’t the only thing protesters have to worry about. Powerful cameras circling above can record individuals’ faces and activities.
In 2012, she said, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department flew a spy plane over the Compton area of Los Angeles, observing the commission of crimes. Most of them amounted to petty theft, The Los Angeles Times reported. But the flights went on in secret for nine days.
The people of Compton, a historically impoverished black neighborhood, didn’t know about the flights, just as the residents of Baltimore didn’t know they were being monitored by the FBI last month.
“When the government conducts surveillance on people without telling people what kind of information they’re collecting, the power balance shifts,” Lynch said. “Instead of being in hands of people, it’s completely in the hands of government.”
“The technology as a whole, I think, is going to be beneficial to consumers and broadcasters,” said attorney Mitch Stoltz.
Stoltz is an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which fights for consumer digital rights. He believes live streaming companies shouldn't suffer when users rebroadcast licensed material.
“The makers of the technology, whether it's Sony in the case of the VCR, or Periscope with this new technology, isn't going to be responsible unless they were encouraging people to use it in illegal ways,” he said.
Former public defender and current Electronic Frontier Foundation Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury also applauded the move, noting that all the secrecy hurt public safety in concrete ways through the dismissed cases. "The fact the federal government wasn't providing any real oversight or guidance on how to use these devices, coupled with the non-disclosure agreement, meant local departments were out figuring it out on their own," he told Ars via e-mail. "You've seen the backlash as local communities learn about the existence of these devices. I just hope there's more than an internal conversation and investigation but meaningful change, including the use of a warrant nationwide before deploying these devices, as well as significantly improved transparency and accountability."
To find out more about the legality of these notices, and the options Internet providers and subscribers have, TorrentFreak sat down with Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) staff attorney Mitch Stoltz.
According to Stoltz, Internet providers should carefully review what they’re forwarding to their users. Under U.S. law they are not required to forward DMCA notices and stripping out settlement demands is in the best interest of the consumer.
“In the U.S., ISPs don’t have any legal obligation to forward infringement notices in their entirety. An ISP that cares about protecting its customers from abuse should strip out demands for money before forwarding infringement notices. Many do this,” he says.
“An ISP can also choose not to forward notices at all if they are deficient, misleading, or inaccurate,” Stoltz adds.
“Nobody’s looking for an exception to copyright law,” said Parker Higgins, director of copyright activism for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “They’re saying that they would be allowed to do this under copyright law, and 1201 is getting in the way.”
In that project, the foundation aims to cut through the current complexity and bureaucracy inhibiting encryption’s adoption, making it simple and seamless for any system administrator to deploy. “If the internet were designed today that’s how it would have been designed,” says Jeremy Gillula, an Electronic Frontier Foundation staff technologist. “But it was designed in the ’80s—or even earlier depending on which protocol you’re talking about—and was an academic network where people weren’t initially thinking about privacy, or security, or that our lives would eventually revolve around this technology.”
“Secure by default is how we want that system to be,” he adds.
Daily Kos members have been very engaged on pressuring Congress to reject Fast Track, and we have been working with coalition partners like CREDO Action, Public Citizen, Sum of Us, Corporate Accountability International, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Food & Water Watch.