EFF in the News
Despite the fact that many questions around the NSLs still remain, Kurt Opsahl, deputy executive director and general counsel of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the disclosure is a small but important step toward greater transparency and gives Yahoo greater authority to engage in public debates about NSLs.
“Now Yahoo can actually go and talk about NSLs as a recipient and be able to point to the fact that [gag orders are problematic] with a little more gravitas,” he told WIRED. “It does make a difference that they can now say they received three NSLs.”
“The big concern is that the FBI is proposing to exempt NGI from any requirement that they update or correct data about somebody in the future,” said Jennifer Lynch, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The EU generally does not protect free speech the same way the U.S. does, but advocates of Internet freedom say the deal could lead to abuse in other countries.
Danny O'Brien, international director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said he was “deeply disappointed” with the agreement, which mends some of the troubles U.S. tech firms have faced for years in Europe over privacy concerns and protectionism.
The EU has “rubber stamped the widespread removal of allegedly illegal content, based only on flagging by third parties,” O’Brien said. “It does not address that different speech is deemed illegal in different jurisdictions, nor how such 'voluntary agreements' between the private sector and state might be imitated or misused outside Europe.”
Some U.S. privacy rights groups expressed concern that the agreement sets a dangerous precedent because the removals will be based on flagging by third parties.
“It does not address that different speech is deemed illegal in different jurisdictions, nor how such 'voluntary agreements' between the private sector and state might be imitated or misused outside Europe,” said Danny O’Brien, international director of the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, an online civic rights group.
Andrew Crocker, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the ruling relied on "a strained definition of what it means to 'voluntarily' give information to third parties."
"The use of a cell phone is all but a necessity in today's world, but the court sidesteps any consideration of the realities of how people use this technology and of how long-term location tracking can reveal the intimacies of people's lives," he said in an email.
Google also recently announced an optional end-to-end encrypted mode in its new messaging app, Allo — but the move drew fire from some privacy advocates, who typically cheer advances in commercial encryption.
“Hey @google, what the shit? You support encryption? Turn it on by default, or don't bother playing,” tweeted Nate Cardozo, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights organization.
Mitch Stoltz, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote in an article for Law.com that software developers “breathed a sigh of relief” as a result of the jury decision on Thursday. ‘The jury’s finding that Google’s use of elements of the Java programming language was a fair use under copyright law validates a common practice in the software industry, one that has led to a great deal of innovation,” he wrote.
Stoltz added that he was still troubled by the appellate ruling in the case that left Google with only a fair use defense. “Fair use cases can be unpredictable,” he said, "especially where complex new technology is involved.”
David Greene, senior staff attorney at the EFF, said the dispute was between the company and the agency that released the documents. Ultimately, whatever harm may or may not fall on the company because of documents provided to MuckRock “does not diminish MuckRock's right to publish information,” he told Motherboard in a phone call.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is assisting the plaintiffs in several of the key cases, said the government should find a way to get rid of most of the data.
“Talks are continuing about a plan under which the government would destroy the phone records — including those still lingering in its various databases — while ensuring that the courts can still consider our challenge to 14 years of NSA telephone records collection from millions of innocent Americans,” said EFF Civil Liberties Director David Greene.
“Changes to the e-commerce chapter continue to be made in complete isolation from the stakeholders it affects, notably the global Internet community of users and innovators. This legacy, closed model of trade negotiation is no way to be making public policy for the digital environment,” noted Jeremy Malcolm, Senior Global Policy Analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.