Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF): New, Free Certificate Authority for Summer of 2015

 

ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION
DEFENDING YOUR RIGHTS IN THE DIGITAL WORLD

November 18, 2014
New, Free Certificate Authority to Dramatically Increase Encrypted Internet Traffic

Non-Profit to Offer One-Click Process to Implement Secure Web Browsing

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is helping to launch a new non-profit organization that aims to dramatically increase secure Internet browsing. Let’s Encrypt is scheduled to offer free server certificates beginning in summer 2015.

“This project should boost everyday data protection for almost everyone who uses the Internet,” said EFF Technology Projects Director Peter Eckersley. “Right now when you use the Web, many of your communications—your user names, passwords, and browsing histories—are vulnerable to hackers and others. By making it easy, fast, and free for websites to install encryption for their users, we will all be safer online.”

Currently, most Internet traffic is unencrypted, meaning most interactions you have with websites leave your accounts vulnerable to eavesdropping by everyone from a minimally competent hacker to the U.S. government. The HTTPS protocol—in contrast to HTTP—encrypts your connection and verifies the authenticity of sites, protecting your data and personal information. EFF has been campaigning successfully for a number of years to spread HTTPS from payment pages and banking sites to email, social networking, and other types of sites. But there are still hundreds of millions of domains that lack this protection.

The new Let’s Encrypt project aims to solve that. Let’s Encrypt is a new free certificate authority, which will begin issuing server certificates in 2015. Server certificates are the anchor for any website that wants to offer HTTPS and encrypted traffic, proving that the server you are talking to is the server you intended to talk to. But these certificates have historically been expensive, as well as tricky to install and bothersome to update. The Let’s Encrypt authority will offer server certificates at zero cost, supported by sophisticated new security protocols. The certificates will have automatic enrollment and renewal, and there will be publicly available records of all certificate issuance and revocation.

Let’s Encrypt will be overseen by the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG), a California public benefit corporation. ISRG will work with Mozilla, Cisco Systems Inc., Akamai, EFF, and others to build the much-needed infrastructure for the project and the 2015 launch.

“The Let’s Encrypt certificate authority will dramatically increase the ability of websites around the world to implement HTTPS, increasing the security of hundreds of millions of Internet users every day,” said Eckersley.

For Let’s Encrypt:
https://letsencrypt.org

For more on Let’s Encrypt and how it will work:
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/11/certificate-authority-encrypt-entire-web

Contacts:

Peter Eckersley
Technology Projects Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
pde@eff.org

Josh Aas
Let’s Encrypt
press@letsencrypt.org

Related Issues:
Security
November 18, 2014
Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Anonymous Speech in California Prop. 35 Case

ACLU of Northern California, EFF Prevail in Appeal Over Internet Restrictions for Registered Sex Offenders

San Francisco – The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that Proposition 35, a 2012 California ballot initiative that would have restricted the rights of registered sex offenders to communicate on the Internet, is likely unconstitutional. The opinion affirms an earlier district court ruling in Doe v. Harris, a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in 2012.

Proposition 35, also known as the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act (CASE Act), requires anyone who is a registered sex offender—even people with decades-old, low-level offenses whose offenses were not related to the Internet—to turn over a list of all their Internet user names and online service providers to law enforcement. Under the law, more than 73,000 Californians would have been forced to provide this information to the government, and report any new account or screen name within 24 hours of setting it up, even if the new screen name is their own real name. Violations would have potentially resulted in years in prison.

“The Ninth Circuit has agreed that the onerous online speech restrictions required by Prop. 35 violate the First Amendment,” said Linda Lye, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Northern California. “The portions of Prop. 35 that unconstitutionally limit what people say online won’t help us end human trafficking. Anonymity is key to protecting speech by unpopular or controversial groups and allowing robust political debate.”

The ACLU of Northern California and EFF filed a lawsuit the day after the law was passed in 2012, challenging these reporting requirements as a burden on the First Amendment right to free and anonymous speech. A lower court agreed with the groups in January 2013 and issued a preliminary injunction, halting enforcement of the law. Today, the Ninth Circuit upheld that lower court ruling.

“[T]he CASE Act directly and exclusively burdens speech, and a substantial amount of that speech is clearly protected under the First Amendment,” Ninth Circuit Judge Jay Bybee wrote in the opinion.

The court noted that the law was overly broad, affecting speech unrelated to sexual offenses, such as “blogging about political topics and posting comments to online news articles. ” This creates the “inevitable effect of burdening sex offenders’ ability to engage in anonymous online speech,” Bybee wrote. The court also found that there was no evidence that throwing out this part of Proposition 35 would hamper the state’s ability to investigate online sex offenses.

“We’re pleased the court recognized important First Amendment principles of free and anonymous speech apply to everyone, regardless of what crimes they may have committed in the past,” EFF Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury said. “While the law may be well-intentioned, its broad language opened the door for the government to chill free speech. Restrictions targeting sex offenders are often a stepping stone for the expansion of law enforcement power against other classes of unpopular people.”

The court’s ruling means the preliminary injunction prohibiting enforcement of the reporting requirements of the CASE Act remains in effect.

Contact:

Dave Maass
Media Relations Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Cases:
Doe v. Harris
Related Issues:
Free Speech, Anonymity
November 17, 2014
November 20 Rally and Forum on Net Neutrality at San Francisco City Hall

EFF Joins Local and National Groups in Call to Protect the Internet

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is joining a broad coalition of local and national public interest groups for a rally and forum in support of strong net neutrality rules at San Francisco City Hall on Thursday, November 20, at 5:30 pm.

“Bay Area Speaks: A People’s Hearing on the Future of the Internet” comes at a key moment in the debate over net neutrality. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a proposal that does not provide full protections for the Internet and could vote to enact the plan early as December. Meanwhile, President Obama has issued a statement urging the FCC to change course and reclassify the Internet as a telecommunications service. This reclassification would be the best way to achieve strong rules against blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization online, and echoes the demands of millions of Americans who have submitted their own comments to the FCC over the last few months.

Former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps will be one of the speakers at Thursday’s rally, along with EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry and many others. The event is free and open to the public, and there will be time for community comment. The public testimony will be submitted to the FCC.

What:
“Bay Area Speaks: A People’s Hearing on the Future of the Internet”

Date:
Thursday, November 20

Time:
Rally – 5:30 pm
Forum – 7 pm

Where:
San Francisco City Hall
1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

For more information and to RSVP:
http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/933163

Contact:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Issues:
Net Neutrality
November 7, 2014
Computer Scientists Ask Supreme Court to Rule APIs Can’t Be Copyrighted

EFF Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Tech Pioneers in Oracle v. Google Court Battle

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a brief with the Supreme Court of the United States today, arguing on behalf of 77 computer scientists that the justices should review a disastrous appellate court decision finding that application programming interfaces (APIs) are copyrightable. That decision, handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in May, up-ended decades of settled legal precedent and industry practice.

Signatories to the brief include five Turing Award winners, four National Medal of Technology winners, and numerous fellows of the Association for Computing Machinery, IEEE, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The list also includes designers of computer systems and programming languages such as AppleScript, AWK, C++, Haskell, IBM S/360, Java, JavaScript, Lotus 1-2-3, MS-DOS, Python, Scala, SmallTalk, TCP/IP, Unix, and Wiki.

“The Federal Circuit’s decision was wrong and dangerous for technological innovation,” EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry said. “Excluding APIs from copyright protection has been essential to the development of modern computers and the Internet. The ruling is bad law, and bad policy.”

Generally speaking, APIs are specifications that allow programs to communicate with each other. So when you type a letter in a word processor, and hit the print command, you are using an API that lets the word processor talk to the printer driver, even though they were written by different people.

The brief explains that the freedom to re-implement and extend existing APIs has been the key to competition and progress in both hardware and software development. It made possible the emergence and success of many robust industries we now take for granted—for example, mainframes, PCs, and workstations/servers—by ensuring that competitors could challenge established players and advance the state of the art.

The litigation began several years ago when Oracle sued Google over its use of Java APIs in the Android OS. Google wrote its own implementation of the Java APIs, but, in order to allow developers to write their own programs for Android, Google’s implementation used the same names, organization, and functionality as the Java APIs.

In May 2012, Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California ruled that the Java APIs are not subject to copyright. The court understood that ruling otherwise would have allowed Oracle to tie up “a utilitarian and functional set of symbols” that provides the basis for so much of the innovation and collaboration we all rely on today. The Federal Circuit disagreed, holding that Java’s API packages were copyrightable, although it sent the case back to the trial court to determine whether Google’s copying was nonetheless a lawful fair use.

“For decades, computer scientists and the courts have all understood that copyright doesn’t protect APIs,” EFF Special Counsel Michael Barclay said. “We hope that the Supreme Court will review this case and reverse the Federal Circuit’s misguided opinion, which up-ended decades of industry practice and threatens the basic principles upon which our technology sector was built.”

For EFF’s amicus brief:
https://www.eff.org/document/amicus-brief-computer-scientists-scotus

Contacts:

Corynne McSherry
Intellectual Property Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

Michael Barclay
Special Counsel
Electronic Frontier Foundation
michael@eff.org

Related Cases:
Oracle v. Google
November 5, 2014
Cindy Cohn to Become EFF’s New Executive Director in 2015

Longtime ED Shari Steele to Step Down After 22 Years at EFF

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Legal Director Cindy Cohn will become EFF’s new executive director in April, after Executive Director Shari Steele steps down from the post she’s held for 14 years.

With more than 20 years at EFF, Steele has been a driving force of the organization since its earliest days. She has overseen the growth of EFF from a handful of staffers to a 60-person organization at the forefront of every major digital rights issue the world faces today. As executive director, she built a superstar team of attorneys, technologists, and advocates, cementing EFF’s reputation as one of the most respected and fiercely independent groups working for technology users’ rights. During Steele’s tenure, EFF’s yearly budget went from less than $1 million in 1999 to almost $9 million for the fiscal year 2014-2015, and membership grew from less than 2000 dues-paying members to over 24,000.

“I’ve spent most of my working life at EFF, and it’s hard to imagine leaving this amazing group of people,” said Steele. “I’m so incredibly proud of this organization. I will miss everybody terribly as my family relocates to the Seattle area.”

“Shari has been the visionary behind EFF’s evolution into the critically important institution it is today. She saw the expanding need for this organization and made sure we were always ready to do this work,” said EFF Chairman of the Board of Directors Brian Behlendorf. “Cindy has also been instrumental to EFF’s successes, and we’re pleased she will continue this vitally important work as executive director.”

Cohn has been involved with EFF for over 20 years, first working on Bernstein v. Department of Justice, the successful First Amendment challenge to U.S. export restrictions on cryptography. In 2000, Cohn became legal director, and her work included spearheading EFF’s groundbreaking lawsuits challenging the NSA’s illegal mass surveillance of Americans and people around the world. She has been named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America in addition to numerous other honors.

“I have been so fortunate to have worked with Cindy Cohn for the past 20 years,” said Steele. “Cindy is a brilliant lawyer, a charismatic leader, and a moral compass for the organization. I am confident that EFF will continue to thrive under her leadership.”

“Cindy is one of the smartest lawyers I’ve ever known, and a great strategist,” said EFF co-founder John Gilmore. “Cindy truly understands what makes EFF successful, and we’re thrilled she will lead the organization.”

EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry will take over as legal director. McSherry has been at EFF for nearly 10 years, recently testifying to Congress about the problems with the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), arguing in the D.C. Circuit against copyright trolls, and leading EFF’s fight for net neutrality. In addition to serving as legal director, McSherry will continue to lead EFF’s intellectual property legal team.

EFF Senior Staff Attorney David Greene will become EFF’s new civil liberties director. Before joining EFF last year, Greene had been executive director of the First Amendment Project and was a founding member of the Internet Free Expression Alliance.

EFF Deputy General Counsel Kurt Opsahl will become EFF’s general counsel, a post formerly held by Cohn, and will also serve as EFF’s deputy executive director with duties including being the primary liaison to the Development, Finance, Technology Ops, and Operations teams. Opsahl is EFF’s lead attorney on its cases challenging National Security Letters (NSLs) and recently argued against the NSLs’ unconstitutional gag provisions in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“We have big shoes to fill with Shari leaving, but thanks to her and the deep team we’ve built, we’re ready,” said Cohn. “I look forward to leading EFF into this next chapter and to helping build the movement for digital rights into a force that speaks for people worldwide.”

Steele will remain as EFF’s executive director until April of next year. 2015 marks EFF’s 25th anniversary.

Contact:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

November 4, 2014
Which Messaging Technologies Are Truly Safe and Secure?

EFF’s ‘Secure Messaging Scorecard’ Rates Digital Communication Tools

San Francisco – In the face of widespread Internet data collection and surveillance, we need a secure and practical means of talking to each other from our phones and computers. Many companies offer “secure messaging” products – but how can users know if these systems actually secure? The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released its Secure Messaging Scorecard today, evaluating dozens of messaging technologies on a range of security best practices.

“The revelations from Edward Snowden confirm that governments are spying on our digital lives, devouring all communications that aren’t protected by encryption,” said EFF Technology Projects Director Peter Eckersley. “Many new tools claim to protect you, but don’t include critical features like end-to-end encryption or secure deletion. This scorecard gives you the facts you need to choose the right technology to send your message.”

The scorecard includes more than three dozen tools, including chat clients, text messaging apps, email applications, and technologies for voice and video calls. EFF examined them on seven factors, like whether the message is encrypted both in-transit and at the provider level, and if the code is audited and open to independent review. Six of these tools scored all seven stars, including ChatSecure, CryptoCat, Signal/Redphone, Silent Phone, Silent Text, and TextSecure. Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime products stood out as the best of the mass-market options, although neither currently provides complete protection against sophisticated, targeted forms of surveillance. Many options—including Google, Facebook, and Apple’s email products, Yahoo’s web and mobile chat, Secret, and WhatsApp—lack the end-to-end encryption that is necessary to protect against disclosure by the service provider. Several major messaging platforms, like QQ, Mxit, and the desktop version of Yahoo Messenger, have no encryption at all.

“We’re focused on improving the tools that everyday users need to communicate with friends, family members, and colleagues,” said EFF Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo. “We hope the Secure Messaging Scorecard will start a race-to-the-top, spurring innovation in stronger and more usable cryptography.”

The Secure Messaging Scorecard is part of EFF’s new Campaign for Secure and Usable Cryptography, and was produced in collaboration with Julia Angwin at ProPublica and Joseph Bonneau at the Princeton Center for Information Technology Policy.

For the full Secure Messaging Scorecard:
https://www.eff.org/secure-messaging-scorecard

Contacts:

Peter Eckersley
Technology Projects Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
pde@eff.org

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Issues:
Security
November 3, 2014
EFF Fights for Common Sense, Again, in DMCA Rulemaking

Ridiculous Exemption Process Forces Consumers to Beg for Basic Rights

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed six exemption requests with the U.S. Copyright Office today, part of the elaborate, every-three-year process to right the wrongs put in place by the Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). EFF’s requests received crucial assistance from the Organization for Transformative Works, the NYU Technology Law & Policy Clinic, attorney Marcia Hofmann, and former EFF intern Kendra Albert.

Two of EFF’s requests this year are on behalf of people who need to access the software in cars so they can do basic things like repair, modify, and test the security of their vehicles. Because Section 1201 of the DMCA prohibits unlocking “access controls”—also known as digital rights management (DRM)—on the software, car companies can threaten anyone who needs to get around those restrictions, no matter how legitimate the reason.

“The DMCA was supposed to help protect against copyright infringement, but it’s been abused to interfere with all kinds of lawful activities that have nothing to do with infringement,” said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. “Software is in all kinds of devices, from cars to coffee-makers to alarm clocks. If that software is locked down by DRM, it’s likely that you can’t tinker, repair, and re-use those objects without incurring legal risk.”

EFF’s other requests this rulemaking include one for users who want to continue to play “abandoned” video games. For example, some users may need to modify an old video game so it doesn’t perform a check with an authentication server that has since been shut down. EFF has also asked the Copyright Office to renew previous exemptions issued for jailbreaking smartphones, and extend them to tablets and other mobile devices—liberating them to run operating systems and applications from any source, not just those approved by the manufacturer. EFF also asked for renewal and partial expansion of the exemptions for remix videos that use excerpts from DVDs, Blu-Ray discs, or downloading services.

“These requests highlight some of the ways that Section 1201 of the DMCA has given the Librarian of Congress a veto on innovation and creativity,” said EFF Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz. “We and many other organizations will have to spend the next year begging the Copyright Office to make sure copyright law doesn’t stop user choice and creative expression.”

EFF’s exemption requests are part of the regular rulemaking process from the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office. Congress created this system to act as a “safety valve” to mitigate the harms the law has caused to legitimate, non-infringing uses of copyrighted materials. But that safety valve is hugely flawed. The every-three-year procedure is burdensome and confusing, with high hurdles to success. Even if an exemption is granted, supporters still have to come back to get it renewed or expanded, as technology develops.

“Technologists and artists should not have to get permission from Washington before they create, learn, and innovate, especially when the window to seek permission only comes once every three years,” said EFF Staff Attorney Kit Walsh. “This rulemaking isn’t the ‘safety valve’ we need to defend free speech and innovation from Section 1201. But until the law is fixed, we’ll do our part to fight for those rights before the Copyright Office and in the courts.”

For the full petitions:
https://www.eff.org/cases/2015-dmca-rulemaking

Contacts:

Corynne McSherry
Intellectual Property Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

Mitch Stoltz
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mitch@eff.org

Kit Walsh
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
kit@eff.org

Related Cases:
2015 DMCA Rulemaking
Related Issues:
Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the Balance, DMCA, DMCA Rulemaking
October 31, 2014
Media Alert: EFF, ACLU to Present Oral Argument in NSA Spying Case on Nov. 4

Court Should Rule That Mass Telephone Records Collection Is Unconstitutional in Klayman v. Obama

Washington, D.C. – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will appear before a federal appeals court next week to argue the National Security Agency (NSA) should be barred from its mass collection of telephone records of million of Americans. The hearing in Klayman v. Obama is set for 9:30 am on Tuesday, Nov. 4 in Washington, D.C.

Appearing as an amicus, EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn will present oral argument at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on behalf of EFF and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which submitted a joint brief in the case.

Conservative activist and lawyer Larry Klayman filed the suit in the aftermath of the first Edward Snowden disclosure, in which The Guardian revealed how the NSA was collecting telephone records on a massive scale from the telecommunications company Verizon. In December, District Court Judge Richard Leon issued a preliminary injunction in the case, declaring that the mass surveillance program was likely unconstitutional.

EFF argues that the call-records collection, which the NSA conducts with claimed authority under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, violates the Fourth Amendment rights of millions of Americans. Separately, EFF is counsel in two other lawsuits against the program—Jewel v. NSA and First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA—and is co-counsel with the ACLU in a third, Smith v. Obama.

What: Oral Argument in Klayman v. Obama

Who: EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn

When: 9:30 am (ET), Nov. 4, 2014

Where: E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse and William B. Bryant Annex
Courtroom 20
333 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

For background and legal documents:
https://www.eff.org/cases/klayman-v-obama

The audio of the oral arguments is expected to be available on the court’s website sometime after the hearing: http://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/recordings/recordings.nsf/

Contact:

Dave Maass
Media Relations Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Cases:
Klayman v. Obama
Related Issues:
NSA Spying
October 27, 2014
Which Service Providers Side With Users in IP Disputes?

WordPress, NameCheap Receive Five Stars in New EFF Scorecard

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today released a new report and scorecard that shows what online service providers are doing to protect users from baseless copyright and trademark complaints.

“Who Has Your Back: When Copyright and Trademark Bullies Threaten Free Speech” [PDF] examines how online service providers handle copyright and trademark-based takedown requests. The report expands upon EFF’s influential “Who Has Your Back” annual report covering how online service providers protect users’ data from government requests.

“When a private citizen or corporation wants to silence speech on a major online platform, the quickest method is often a copyright or trademark complaint,” EFF Director of Copyright Activism Parker Higgins said. “EFF has worked for many years to help people whose speech is unfairly targeted by these sorts of complaints, and we’ve seen how important it is that speech platforms have policies that help protect lawful users.”

Click to Enlarge
EFF examined 13 companies and issued stars if they met the baseline standards for what a service can do to defend its users’ speech against copyright and trademark bullies. The services could receive a maximum of five stars, based on criteria including publicly documented procedures for responses to DMCA takedown notices and counter-notices, how the services handle trademark disputes, and if the company issued detailed transparency reports.

Automattic’s WordPress.com and NameCheap were the only two companies to receive five out of five stars. However, two other companies were recognized for going the extra mile: Etsy, for providing educational guides, and Twitter, for publishing regular and thorough transparency reports. Overall, 10 companies did not publish adequate transparency reports, highlighting an information black hole for consumers. Additionally, four companies missed a star for their counter-notice practices—a critical procedure for restoring content that may have been taken down without cause.

“Major online platforms are essential to online expression, so their policy decisions can have a huge impact on public discourse,” EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry said. “As users choose which platforms will host their updates, writing, images, and videos, they ought to know which of these services have publicly committed to treating their speech fairly and even helping them fight back against bullies that would try to take it down.”

For the report:
https://www.eff.org/pages/who-has-your-back-copyright-trademark-2014

For the shareable infographic:

Contact:

Parker Higgins
Director of Copyright Activism
Electronic Frontier Foundation
parker@eff.org

Related Issues:
Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the Balance, Copyright Trolls, DMCA, Patents, Patent Trolls, Free Speech
October 23, 2014
Protect Yourself from Electronic Spying with ‘Surveillance Self-Defense’

EFF Releases Updated Guide to Privacy and Security for Internet Users Worldwide

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) launched its updated “Surveillance Self-Defense” report today, a comprehensive how-to guide to protecting yourself from electronic spying for Internet users all over the world.

“Everyone has something to protect, whether its from the government or stalkers or data-miners,” said EFF International Director Danny O’Brien. “Surveillance Self-Defense will help you think through your personal risk factors and concerns—is it an authoritarian government you need to worry about, or an ex-spouse, or your employer?—and guide you to appropriate tools and practices based on your specific situation.”

Surveillance Self-Defense includes briefings on important security issues, tutorials on using specific privacy software like PGP and OTR, and guides for specific categories of users, like human rights activists or journalism students. People who are just beginning to upgrade their communications privacy can choose the “Security Starter Pack.”

“The Internet and other electronic communications have empowered people all over the globe to speak out and make connections in world-changing ways,” said EFF Director for International Freedom of Expression Jillian York. “But this has also opened new opportunities for tracking and exposure. Surveillance Self-Defense will teach you to think critically about your Internet use and make good choices even as the technology changes around you.”

Surveillance Self-Defense was first launched in 2009, aimed at educating Americans about the law and technology of communications surveillance. The new report expands, revises, and updates the old guide for use across the globe with support from the Ford Foundation. EFF spoke and worked with experts and activists from across the world, from MIT to the Middle East, in developing the guide. The entire Surveillance Self-Defense project is available in English, Spanish, and Arabic, with more languages available soon.

For the Surveillance Self-Defense guide:
https://ssd.eff.org

Contacts:

Eva Galperin
International Freedom of Expression Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
eva@eff.org

Danny O’Brien
International Outreach Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
danny@eff.org

Katitza Rodriguez
International Rights Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
katitza@eff.org.

Jillian York
Director for International Freedom of Expression
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jillian@eff.org

Related Issues:
International, Privacy, Security
October 21, 2014
EFF, Internet Archive, and reddit Oppose New York’s BitLicense Proposal

Privacy, Economic and Free Speech Flaws in Proposed Bitcoin Regulatory Scheme

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), along with reddit and the Internet Archive, today filed formal comments with the New York State Department of Financial Services opposing the state’s proposed regulations for digital currencies such as Bitcoin. In the letter, EFF argues that on top of damaging privacy and harming innovation, New York’s “BitLicense” regulatory scheme also risks infringing on First Amendment rights to freedom of expression and association.

The State of New York is currently considering BitLicense, a sprawling regulatory framework that would mandate licenses for a wide range of companies in the digital currency space. The regulations would force applicants to submit significant personal information to the state, including fingerprints and head-shot photographs. The policy would also require these companies to maintain detailed records about all transactions for 10 years, including identity data of users.

“Digital currencies such as Bitcoin strengthen privacy and are resistant to censorship,” EFF Activism Director Rainey Reitman said. “We should consider this a feature, not a bug; it’s an innovative way of importing some of the civil liberties protections we already enjoy offline into the digital world.”

EFF notes that digital currency protocols are used for more than just payments—they have expressive and associational uses, too. Bitcoin-like systems are used for organizing and engaging with groups or communities. In addition, Bitcoin block chains frequently contain political speech, such as famous quotes and portraits of prominent historical figures. As currently written, EFF argues, the BitLicense regulations place an unacceptable burden on free speech and association.

“The courts have long recognized that code is speech protected by the First Amendment,” EFF Special Counsel Marcia Hofmann said. “At their core, digital currency protocols are code. Attempts to regulate code must include robust protections to ensure constitutionally protected speech is not stifled, and the BitLicense proposal would undermine those First Amendment principles.”

On Oct. 15, EFF launched an online activism campaign encouraging Internet users to oppose the BitLicense proposal by submitting comments to the New York State Department of Financial Services.

For the text of EFF’s comments:
https://www.eff.org/document/bitlicense-comments-eff-internet-archive-and-reddit

For EFF’s activism campaign:
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/10/beware-bitlicense-new-yorks-virtual-currency-regulations-invade-privacy-and-hamper

Contact:

Rainey Reitman
Activism Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
rainey@eff.org

Related Issues:
Free Speech, Anonymity
October 9, 2014
EFF Launches IFightSurveillance.org and Counter-Surveillance Success Stories

Sites Highlight How Opponents of Mass Surveillance Around the World Lead by Example

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today launched IFightSurveillance.org, a new site showcasing digital privacy advocates from around the world who are leading the fight against mass surveillance. The site includes figures from the organization’s growing list of Counter-Surveillance Success Stories, a set of guides showing how individuals and organizations have taken on state and corporate spying in their own countries—and won.

Translated into 16 languages, IFightSurveillance.org highlights images and quotes from activists, business leaders, lawyers, and technologists. Examples include:

Vladan Sobjer, whose organization, SHARE Defense, helps Serbians learn about encryption.
Ron Deibert, whose group, the Citizen Lab, analyzes malware and digital threats to vulnerable groups from Bahrain to Iran.
Anne Roth, whose own unjust surveillance by German law enforcement led her to work for better protections for her fellow citizens.
“Too often, the debate over surveillance is seen as a ‘domestic’ issue, only of concern to citizens of the country doing the spying,” EFF International Director Danny O’Brien said. “The truth is that mass surveillance isn’t confined to national borders, and neither is the response to it. Technologists, activists, and Internet users are all working to fight back against mass surveillance. Wherever you are, whoever you are, there are people close to you working to stop the spying, and you can join them.”

The site provides five concrete steps activists can take, including using encryption software to protect themselves, supporting a decentralized Internet, and signing onto the 13 “Necessary and Proportionate Principles,” a global framework to protect human rights in an age of mass surveillance. Visitors are encouraged to use the site’s social media tools to share their stories of standing up for privacy and to learn about the more than 400 privacy rights organization that have endorsed the 13 principles.

IFightSurveillance.org’s companion site, Counter-Surveillance Success Stories (http://www.eff.org/csss), delves into greater detail about the work of the global coalition, spotlighting battles for privacy in Zimbabwe as well as countries across North America and Europe.

Links:

I Fight Surveillance: https://ifightsurveillance.org

Counter-Surveillance Success Stories: https://www.eff.org/csss

Contact:

Danny O’Brien
International Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
danny@eff.org

Related Issues:
International, Mass Surveillance Technologies, Surveillance and Human Rights
October 2, 2014
Media Alert: Oral Arguments in EFF’s National Security Letter Case

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to Stream October 8 Hearing on Key Patriot Act Tool

Update: The court announced early Wednesday that it will not livestream the audio of the NSL case. Audio available here http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/media/view.php?pk_id=0000013407.

San Francisco, CA – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will urge a federal appeals court next week to uphold a groundbreaking ruling that the National Security Letter (NSL) provisions of the USA Patriot Act are unconstitutional. The hearing is set for 9 a.m. on October 8 in San Francisco.

Months before Edward Snowden kicked off the international debate over electronic surveillance, EFF scored a major victory when a federal judge ordered the FBI to cease its practice of issuing NSLs—demands to telecommunication providers to provide information about their users that are not approved in advance by a judge.

The lower court found that the gag orders, which are almost always issued by the FBI in tandem with the NSLs, violate the First Amendment. In EFF’s cases, these gag orders have forced EFF’s clients to keep their identities hidden, preventing them from discussing the NSLs publicly or even revealing their involvement in this case. The court also found that the limited, after-the-fact judicial review procedures violate the separation of powers.

EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl will deliver oral arguments at the hearing at the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Audio of the arguments will be live streamed through the court’s website. The identity of the clients will not be disclosed in Wednesday’s hearing.

What: Oral Arguments in Under Seal v. Eric Holder, Jr. (consolidated cases)

Who: EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl

When: 9 a.m. PT, Oct. 8, 2014

Where: James R. Browning Courthouse, Courtroom 4
95 7th Street
San Francisco, CA

Opsahl will be available for interviews at the courthouse immediately after the hearing.

Applications to bring a camera into the courtroom must be submitted by the close of business on Friday, Oct. 3. Details at: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/news_media/

Live oral arguments will be streamed at:
http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/media/view_video.php?pk_vid=0000006581

For EFF’s briefs:
https://www.eff.org/files/2014/03/27/nsl.13-15957.13-16731.secondoffourbriefs.redacted.0320141.pdf

https://www.eff.org/files/2014/07/08/casesqw.reply_.brief_.redacted.pdf

For more on NSLs, visit our NSL Frequently Asked Questions page:
https://www.eff.org/issues/national-security-letters/faq

Contact:

Dave Maass
Media Relations Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Cases:
National Security Letters (NSLs), In re: National Security Letter, In re National Security Letter 2013 (13-80089), In re National Security Letter 2013 (13-1165)
Related Issues:
National Security Letters, Transparency
September 30, 2014
EFF Intervenes in Canadian Court Case to Protect Free Speech Online

No Single Country Should Have Veto Power Over Global Search Results

Vancouver, Canada – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a brief with the British Columbia Court of Appeal in Canada on Monday weighing in on a ruling that Google must block certain entire websites from its search results around the world.

EFF intervened in Equustek Solutions v. Morgan Jack after a trial court ruled in June that Google must remove links to full websites that contained pages selling a product that allegedly infringed trade secret rights. The injunction not only applied to Google’s Canada-specific search, Google.ca, but to all of its searches around the world. Google had offered to remove 345 URLs but would not block the entire category of websites, because they contained pages that “may be used for any number of innocent purposes.”

Such a broad injunction sets a dangerous precedent, especially where the injunction is likely to conflict with the laws of other nations. In its brief, EFF explains how the trial court’s injunction decision would have likely violated the U.S. Constitution and constituted an improper “mandatory injunction” under case law in California, where Google is based. By blocking entire websites, Canadian courts potentially censor innocent content that U.S. Internet users have a constitutional right to receive.

“The scope of the Canadian court’s order could chill speech across the Internet,” EFF Staff Attorney Vera Ranieri said. “If a Canadian court is able to block search results around the world, it sets a precedent that nations with authoritarian restrictions on speech can also impose their own rules on the global Internet.”

“We hope the court considers how the ruling affects the public interest in free expression,” EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry said. “No single country should have veto power over Internet speech.”

EFF filed the brief with the assistance of pro bono counsel David Wotherspoon of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin, LLP. The appeal will be argued over three days in the last week of October.

For the filing:

https://www.eff.org/document/eff-factum-equustek-v-morgan-jack

Contacts:

Vera Ranieri
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
vera@eff.org

Related Issues:
Free Speech, International
September 18, 2014
EFF to Defend Student Bitcoin Developers in Court

New Jersey Prosecutors Issue Flawed Subpoena for Tidbit Source Code

Newark, NJ – Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury will appear before a New Jersey Superior Court judge on Monday, Sept. 22 to oppose a subpoena issued to MIT students over their prize-winning Bitcoin mining program, Tidbit.

Tidbit was designed to serve as an alternative to viewing online advertising by allowing website users to help mine Bitcoins for the site they’re visiting instead. It was developed in late 2013 by Jeremy Rubin and fellow classmates at MIT for the Node Knockout Hackathon, where the program ultimately won an award for innovation. The creators never made the program fully functional, serving only as a “proof of concept.”

In December 2013, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs issued a subpoena to Rubin, requesting he turn over Tidbit’s past and current source code, as well as other documents and agreements with any third parties. It also issued 27 formal written questions requesting additional documents and ordering Rubin to turn over information such as the names and identities of all Bitcoin wallet addresses associated with Tidbit, a list of all websites running Tidbit’s code, and the name of anybody whose computer mined for Bitcoins through the use of Tidbit.

EFF represents Rubin and Tidbit in opposing the unjustifiably broad subpoena. In court, Fakhoury will argue three points:

– The State of New Jersey’s attempts to target out-of-state activity is unconstitutional.

– New Jersey has no jurisdiction over Rubin or Tidbit.

– If the subpoena is upheld, Rubin and Tidbit must receive immunity. Otherwise, the court would be forcing Rubin and Tidbit to testify against themselves in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and New Jersey state law.

“While the state certainly has a right to investigate consumer fraud, threatening out of state college students with subpoenas isn’t the way to do it,” Fakhoury said. “The students have disbanded their award-winning project. As MIT students and faculty have warned, the fear that any state can issue broad subpoenas to any student anywhere in the country will have a chilling effect on campus technological innovation beyond Tidbit.”

What: Motion Hearing in Rubin v. New Jersey

Who: Hanni Fakhoury, EFF Staff Attorney

Date: Monday, Sept. 22

Time: 1:30 p.m. ET

Location: Courtroom of the Honorable Gary Furnari

Essex County Historic Court House, Courtroom 211

470 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Newark, NJ 07102

For the motion: https://www.eff.org/files/2014/02/03/rubin_v._nj_brief.pdf

Contacts:

Hanni Fakhoury
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
hanni@eff.org

Related Cases:
Rubin v. New Jersey (Tidbit)
September 15, 2014
EFF to Testify at Congressional Hearing on Unintended Consequences of DMCA

‘Anti-Circumvention’ Provisions Harm Users, Researchers, Innovators, and More

Washington, D.C. – Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry will testify Wednesday at a congressional hearing on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the dangerous “anti-circumvention” provisions that harm users, researchers, innovators, and more.

The anti-circumvention language of Section 1201 of the DMCA has been used to threaten those who unlock or jailbreak their phones, block aftermarket competition in toner cartridges and video came console accessories, and narrow the public’s fair use rights. In her testimony Wednesday, McSherry will argue that the costs of this law far outweigh the benefits, and that best way to fix Section 1201 is to get rid of it entirely. Short of that, the anti-circumvention provisions should be reformed so that it is focused clearly on copyright infringement.

Wednesday’s hearing is part of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet.

WHO:
Corynne McSherry
Intellectual Property Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation

WHAT:
“Chapter 12 Under Title 17”
The House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet

WHEN:
10 a.m.
Wednesday, September 17

WHERE:
2141 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

For more on the hearing:
http://judiciary.house.gov/index.cfm/2014/9/hearing-chapter-12-of-title-17

Contact:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

September 15, 2014
ISPs Mislead Public, FCC About Protecting the Open Internet

EFF Takes on Net Neutrality’s Critics in New Comments to FCC

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today to see through misinformation from Internet service providers (ISPs) and protect the open Internet.

EFF’s formal response to the ISPs’ claims are part of the FCC’s public comment period for its proposed new rules that would allow for so-called “Internet fast lanes” – a dangerous plan that would allow unfair Internet traffic discrimination and undermine net neutrality. The FCC has received over 1.7 million comments on the issue, with over 127,000 delivered through EFF’s DearFCC.org comment tool.

“The FCC is going down a dangerous path, risking future Internet expression and innovation, and the big ISPs are encouraging the commission every step of the way,” said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. “Will the FCC respond to the pleas of more than a million Internet users and do its part to protect net neutrality? Or will it open the door to a tiered Internet, with ISPs serving as gatekeepers for their subscribers?”

In comments submitted today, EFF reiterated that the FCC must reclassify broadband as a “common carrier” service, which would allow the commission to enforce rules like the ones that insure fair and equal telephone service. Some ISPs, including cable Internet provider Comcast, have argued against the reclassification, telling the FCC that a recent court decision gives the commission all it needs to protect the open Internet. But that claim is based on a complete misreading of the court’s ruling.

“What the court actually said was that the current classification of the Internet would not allow the FCC to ban unreasonable discrimination of network traffic,” said EFF Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz. “The court gave the FCC a roadmap for protecting the open Internet, and it starts with reclassification, not preserving the status quo.”

ISPs’ comments to the FCC also fought against service-performance transparency, claiming detailed information about network traffic would confuse consumers instead of helping them—essentially arguing that consumers were too uninformed to know what was good for them. Another outrageous claim came from cell phone providers responding to calls from EFF and others to handle mobile Internet traffic without discrimination. The providers argued that there was no current problem in the mobile space, despite obvious examples like AT&T blocking the FaceTime app.

“The Internet is an unprecedented global platform for free expression, commerce, and communications of all kinds. We can’t let a few powerful companies throttle it,” said EFF Staff Technologist Jeremy Gillula. “The FCC must correct its course and protect our access to this invaluable resource.”

For the full comments to the FCC:
https://www.eff.org/document/reply-comments

For more on net neutrality:
https://www.eff.org/issues/net-neutrality

Contacts:

Corynne McSherry
Intellectual Property Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

Mitch Stoltz
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mitch@eff.org

Jeremy Gillula
Staff Technologist
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jeremy@eff.org

Related Issues:
Net Neutrality
August 27, 2014
Cosplayers Fight for Online Anonymity and Privacy During Dragon Con

Wizards, Browncoats, Sherlockians, and Other Creative Communities Join EFF in “Project Secret Identity” Photo Campaign
Atlanta – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), sci-fi blog io9, and a coalition of fan communities are launching “Project Secret Identity,” a cosplay photo campaign to raise awareness of the importance of anonymity and privacy during the annual pop culture convention Dragon Con in Atlanta, Georgia, Aug. 29 – Sept. 1.

The campaign, online at ProjectSecretIdentity.org, is supported by a cross-fandom coalition of organizations, including: Southeastern Browncoats, a Firefly-inspired non-profit; the Harry Potter Alliance, an activism organization; the Baker Street Babes, a Sherlock Holmes fan group and podcast; Wattpad, a community of readers and writers; and the Organization for Transformative Works, a fan-culture advocacy organization.

“Whether it’s the ‘Eye of Sauron’ in The Lord of the Rings or ‘The Machine’ in Person of Interest, genre culture has long explored and criticized mass surveillance,” said EFF Investigative Researcher Dave Maass. “The last year’s worth of stories about the NSA have read too much like dystopian fiction. In response, we need to focus the imaginations of fans to advocate for a future where free expression is protected through privacy and anonymity. ”

During the campaign, cosplayers around the world can use ProjectSecretIdentity.org to post photos of themselves in costume bearing pro-anonymity slogans, such as “I Have the Right to a Secret Identity” and “Privacy is Not a Fantasy.” Dragon Con attendees can also stop by the Project Secret Identity photo stations at EFF’s table (second floor at the Hilton Atlanta) and the Southeastern Browncoats’ booth (#1000 at AmericasMart).

“In J.K. Rowling’s novels, Voldemort came to power not only through coercion, but by monitoring, controlling, and censoring the Wizarding World’s lines of communication,” Harry Potter Alliance Executive Director Paul DeGeorge said. “In the real world, there is no charm-protected room where we can meet and organize in secret. What we have is the Internet and we need to fight to keep it free and secure.”

“Freedom from oppressive governments is central to the ethos of the Firefly fandom,” said Serenity Richards, captain of the Southeastern Browncoats. “By standing up for anonymity today, we can prevent ‘The Alliance’ from becoming a reality in the future.”

The activism campaign coincides with Dragon Con’s Electronic Frontiers Forum, a track of panels on the intersection of technology with free speech and privacy. EFF Deputy General Counsel Kurt Opsahl will present an update to his acclaimed presentation, “Through a PRISM, Darkly: Everything we know about NSA spying,” which debuted at the Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg, Germany in December 2013. Opsahl and Maass will also speak on a number of discussion panels, covering issues ranging from police searches of cell phones to the Freedom of Information Act.

EFF will also support screenings of Terms and Conditions May Apply, a 2013 documentary about Web site terms of service, and The Internet’s Own Boy, Brian Knappenberger’s 2014 documentary about the late Internet activist Aaron Swartz.

Founded in 1987, Dragon Con is expected to draw more than 62,000 attendees this year.

For EFF’s schedule at Dragon Con:
https://www.eff.org/event/eff-goes-dragon-con

Contact:

Dave Maass
Media Relations Coordinator and Investigative Researcher
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Cosplay photos:

Top: Kiba Shiruba as “Cyber” Frey from Fisheye Placebo. (High resolution)

EFF Investigative Researcher Dave Maass as Harry Tuttle from Brazil. (High resolution)

Hannah Grimm as Chell from Portal. (High resolution)

Related Issues:
Free Speech, Anonymity, Privacy
August 20, 2014
U.N. Free Expression Champion, Congressional Internet Defender, and Groundbreaking Counter-surveillance Artist Win EFF Pioneer Awards

EFF to Honor Former U.N. Special Rapporteur Frank LaRue, U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, and artist Trevor Paglen at San Francisco Ceremony Featuring the Yes Men

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is pleased to announce the distinguished winners of the 2014 Pioneer Awards: United Nations Special Rapporteur Frank LaRue, U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, and groundbreaking counter-surveillance artist Trevor Paglen.

The award ceremony will be held the evening of October 2 at the Lodge at the Regency Center in San Francisco. Keynote speakers will be Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos, better known as the Yes Men, who are known for their elaborate parodies and impersonations to fight government and corporate malfeasance

Frank LaRue is the former U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression. From his appointment in 2008 to the end of his term in 2014, LaRue brought technology to the forefront of the fight for free expression around the world, declaring that access to the Internet is a fundamental human right and highlighting the importance of uncensored communication and anonymous speech in increasingly filtered and tracked networks. LaRue also fought the global “book famine” for people with visual and reading disabilities, advocating for an international Treaty of the Blind to reform over-restrictive copyright that hindered the production and distribution of books in accessible formats. Last year, LaRue published a highly influential report on the dangers of widespread state surveillance, arguing that privacy is an essential requirement for true freedom of expression. Before taking his post at the U.N., LaRue spent years working on human rights issues, including bringing genocide cases against the military dictatorship in his native Guatemala in 2000 and 2001.

For nearly 20 years, Rep. Zoe Lofgren has been a crucial voice in Congress on technology, innovation, and free speech—defending the free and open Internet, fighting for privacy and free speech, and blocking dangerous copyright laws while pushing for sensible alternatives. Lofgren rallied congressional opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), one of the defining moments of Internet activism. Currently, Lofgren is fighting to reform some of the worst legal threats to our digital rights: the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which regulates our email privacy with outdated standards; the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which has been used to block phone unlocking, jailbreaking, and our freedom to tinker; and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the law used to unfairly prosecute Aaron Swartz. Lofgren chairs the California Democratic Congressional Delegation, the largest delegation in Congress.

Trevor Paglen is an artist whose work uses methods from science, journalism, and other disciplines in an attempt to “see” the historical moment we live in. Paglen’s groundbreaking projects exposing government secrecy have included documenting U.S. government drone flights, using high-end optical systems to photograph top-secret governmental sites, and tracking classified spacecraft in Earth’s orbit. In a recent project, Paglen photographed the National Security Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, releasing the images without restriction for public use. Paglen’s visual art has been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Tate Modern in London, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among many other places. Paglen is also the author of five books, including Torture Taxi, an early look at the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program.

“Each of our Pioneer Award winners has helped the world understand how technology and civil liberties are interwoven into our lives, and each is still working to protect our freedom and fight abuses,” EFF Executive Director Shari Steele said. “We are so proud to be able to present them with this year’s Pioneer Awards.”

Tickets to the Pioneer Awards, which includes access to the general reception and ceremony, are $65 for EFF members and $75 for non-members. Also available are tickets for a special, advance reception featuring some past and present Pioneer Award winners as well as keynoters, the Yes Men. The special advance reception tickets are $250, which includes entry for the ticket holder plus a guest.

Awarded every year since 1992, EFF’s Pioneer Awards recognize the leaders who are extending freedom and innovation on the electronic frontier. Previous honorees include Aaron Swartz, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, Tim Berners-Lee, and the Tor Project, among many others.

To buy tickets to the Pioneer Awards: https://supporters.eff.org/civicrm/event/register?id=87

Contact:

Dave Maass
Media Relations Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

August 20, 2014
EFF, ACLU Demolish “It’s Just Metadata” Claim in NSA Spying Appeal

Americans Deserve Full Protection of the Fourth Amendment for their Telephone Records, Groups Argue

Washington, DC – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) today filed an amicus brief in Klayman v. Obama, a high-profile lawsuit that challenges mass surveillance, arguing that Americans’ telephone metadata deserves the highest protection of the Fourth Amendment.

Larry Klayman, conservative activist and founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, was among the first plaintiffs to sue the National Security Agency (NSA) over the collection of telephone metadata from Verizon customers that was detailed in documents released by Edward Snowden. In December 2013, Judge Richard Leon issued a preliminary ruling that the program was likely unconstitutional, and the case is currently on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

In the new amicus brief in Klayman v. Obama, the EFF and ACLU lawyers repudiate arguments by U.S. officials that the records are “just metadata” and therefore not as sensitive as the contents of phone calls. Using research and new case law, the civil liberties groups argue that metadata (such as who individuals called, when they called, and how long they spoke) can be even more revealing than conversations when collected en masse.

“Metadata isn’t trivial,” EFF Legal Fellow Andrew Crocker says. “Collected on a massive scale over a broad time period, metadata can reveal your political and religious affiliations, your friends and relationships, even whether you have a health condition or own guns. This is exactly the kind of warrantless search the Fourth Amendment was intended to prevent.”

The brief explains that changes in technology, as well as the government’s move from targeted to mass surveillance, mean that the holding of the 1979 Supreme Court case Smith v. Maryland that the government relies on (often called the “third-party doctrine”) does not apply. Instead, EFF and the ACLU point to a series of recent key decisions—including the Supreme Court decisions in United States v. Jones in 2012 and Riley v. California in 2014—in which judges ruled in favor of requiring a warrant for electronic search and seizure.

“Dragnet surveillance is and has always has been illegal in the United States,” says ACLU Staff Attorney Alex Abdo. “Our country’s founders rebelled against overbroad searches and seizures, and they would be aghast to see the liberties they fought hard to enshrine into our Constitution sacrificed in the name of security. As even the president himself has recognized, we can keep the nation safe without surrendering our privacy.”

EFF and the ACLU have each litigated numerous First and Fourth Amendment lawsuits related to NSA surveillance and together represent Idaho nurse Anna Smith in a similar case currently on appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals called Smith v. Obama. The ACLU is a plaintiff in a case currently pending before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, ACLU v. Clapper, to be heard on Sept. 2. EFF has two cases—Jewel v. NSA and First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA—before the U.S. District Court for Northern District of California.

For the amicus brief:
https://www.eff.org/document/eff-and-aclu-amicus-brief-klayman

Contacts:

Andrew Crocker
Legal Fellow
Electronic Frontier Foundation
andrew@eff.org

Related Cases:
First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA, Jewel v. NSA, Klayman v. Obama
Related Issues:
NSA Spying
August 5, 2014
New Behind-the-Scenes Video: Airship Flight Over the NSA Data Center

The Internet’s Own Boy Director Brian Knappenberger Releases Short Doc as Senate Introduces New Reform Bill
Privacy info. This embed will serve content from youtube-nocookie.com
San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today released a video by acclaimed documentarian Brian Knappenberger (The Internet’s Own Boy) that explores how and why an unlikely coalition of advocacy organizations launched an airship over the National Security Agency’s Utah data center. The short documentary explains the urgent need to rein in unconstitutional mass surveillance, just as the U.S. Senate has introduced a new version of the USA FREEDOM Act.

The video, Illegal Spying Below, is available for re-use under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsEkmHRbThk

At dawn on June 27, EFF, Greenpeace, and the Tenth Amendment Center launched an airship above the NSA’s $1.2-billion data center in Bluffdale, Utah. The 135-foot-long airship carried a banner bearing a downward arrow and the words, “Illegal Spying Below,” to bring attention to the facility as well as StandAgainstSpying.org, a website showing how members of Congress voted on legislation that would restrict mass surveillance.

“While it is only one of several data centers, for many people the Bluffdale facility has become a symbol out-of-control, unconstitutional, dragnet surveillance, as well as a threat to the environment,” Knappenberger says. “I thought it was important to document this audacious attempt to raise awareness of this secretive facility and pressure Congress to rein in the NSA.”

The action prompted thousands of people to contact their members of Congress about NSA surveillance. More than 30 articles were written about the airship, and those articles were collectively shared more than 51,000 times over social media within 72 hours.

“This video shows how a common threat to the freedom of association drew our three organizations together, despite very different missions,” EFF Activism Director Rainey Reitman said. “Now it’s time for Congress to build a diverse coalition to pass meaningful reform. We launched an airship, they need to land a bill on the president’s desk.”

Viewers are encouraged to use StandAgainstSpying.org, a site supported by more than 22 organizations, to review their elected representatives’ record on surveillance and to send tweets to members of Congress to support meaningful surveillance reform.

Contact:

Dave Maass
Media Relations Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

About Brian Knappenberger:

Brian Knappenberger is a writer, director and producer who has created award winning investigative documentaries and feature films for PBS FRONTLINE/World, National Geographic, Bloomberg Television and the Discovery Channel. His new film about the life and death of Aaron Swartz, The Internet’s Own Boy, debuted at Sundance and is available through iTunes at https://eff.org/r.cyoz. Knappenberger also runs the award winning production company Luminant Media.

Related Issues:
NSA Spying
July 30, 2014
Record Label Lawsuit Could Jeopardize Online Content Communities

EFF Asks Appeals Court to Protect Free Speech and Innovation in Capitol v. Vimeo

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and a coalition of advocacy groups have asked a federal appeals court to block record labels’ attempt to thwart federal law in Capitol v. Vimeo—a case that could jeopardize free speech and innovation and the sites that host both.

In this lawsuit, the record labels sued online video site Vimeo, alleging that dozens of sound recordings were infringed in videos posted on the site. A ruling from a district court judge earlier this year found Vimeo could be responsible for copyright infringement, and in doing so imposed new, impossibly high standards for websites hosting user-generated content. In an amicus brief filed Wednesday, EFF argues that the decision undermines the safe harbors created by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and the innovation and expression those safe harbors make possible.

“The safe harbors give websites a clear set of rules. If they follow the law in their response to complaints from copyright owners, then they can predict and manage their exposure to lawsuits and other legal challenges,” said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. “The safe harbors are critical to the Internet’s success as a forum for innovative art, discussion, and expression of all kinds, forestalling crippling litigation that would force most websites to close their doors. Yet the district court created new liability, contrary to the law and the intent of Congress.”

At issue in Capitol v. Vimeo are videos that Vimeo employees viewed or interacted with, as well as pre-1972 sound recordings, which receive different copyright protection than post-1972 works. Essentially, the decision would seem to offer service providers an impossible choice: scour the website for any content that anyone could argue might include pre-1972 audio and thereby potentially lose safe harbor protections, or risk expensive copyright litigation.

“This is exactly the result that Congress was trying to avoid with the safe harbors—without them service providers unwilling to risk being sued may decide not to host videos and other works with audio at all,” said EFF Staff Attorney Vera Ranieri. “We hope the appeals court steps in to reinforce the law and protect free speech and innovation online.”

Also joining EFF’s brief are the Center for Democracy and Technology, New Media Rights, the Organization for Transformative Works, and Public Knowledge.

For the full amicus brief:
https://www.eff.org/document/amicus-brief-23

Contacts:

Corynne McSherry
Intellectual Property Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

Vera Ranieri
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
vera@eff.org

Related Cases:
Capitol v. Vimeo
July 25, 2014
EFF Asks Judge to Rule NSA Internet “Backbone” Spying Techniques Unconstitutional

Graphic Explains to Court and the Public How the NSA Seizes and Searches Innocent Americans’ Communications

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today presented a federal court with a detailed explanation of how the NSA taps into the Internet backbone and requested the judge rule that the agency is violating the Fourth Amendment by copying and searching the collected data.

EFF argues there are now enough agreed-upon facts in our lawsuit, Jewel v. NSA, to reach a constitutional conclusion. To shed light on how the mass surveillance violates the Fourth Amendment, EFF crafted a new infographic that details each stage of the surveillance. The graphic is freely available for republication.

“We believe there is enough on the record now for the judge to rule that both the initial mass seizure and the subsequent searching of the content of Internet communications are unconstitutional,” EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn said. “By installing fiber-optic splitters on the Internet backbone, and then searching through tens of millions of Internet communications it collects, the NSA is conducting suspicionless and indiscriminate mass surveillance that is like the abusive ‘general warrants’ that led the nation’s founders to enact the Fourth Amendment.”

Jewel v. NSA was filed in 2008 on behalf of San Francisco Bay Area resident Carolyn Jewel and other AT&T customers. EFF has amassed a mountain of evidence to support the case, including documents provided by former AT&T telecommunications technician Mark Klein showing that the company has routed copies of Internet traffic to a secret room in San Francisco controlled by the NSA. Telecommunications specialist and former FCC technical adviser J. Scott Marcus also has given expert testimony confirming the mass, domestic nature of the collection. Other whistleblowers—including Thomas Drake, Bill Binney and Edward Snowden—have revealed more detail about how this technique works and feeds data into the NSA’s massive collection of communications. Over the last year, the government has confirmed that it searches the content of much of what it collects as part of its “upstream” activities without a warrant. Instead, it currently claims the searches are justified under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.

“By sitting on the Internet ‘backbone’ at key junctures, the government is operating a digital dragnet—a technological surveillance system that makes it impossible for ordinary Americans not suspected of any wrongdoing to engage in a fully private online conversation, to privately read online, or to privately access any online service,” Cohn said. “The Constitution was written to ensure that Americans felt secure in their papers, digital or otherwise, and we’re asking the judge to rule that the NSA’s mass seizures and searches are illegal.”

EFF is also currently fighting with the NSA over its failure to preserve evidence, including years of Internet-backbone data it collected, as well as telephone records and Internet metadata. Jewel v. NSA is one of three of EFF’s cases aimed at ending NSA spying. The two others are First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA and Smith v. NSA.

Note on Graphic: The graphic is available under the Creative Commons Attribution License. Attribute to Electronic Frontier Foundation/Hugh D’Andrade.

For the full brief:
https://www.eff.org/document/plaintiffs-jewel-knutzen-and-waltons-motion-partial-summary-judgment

For the infographic:
https://eff.org/r.4tmr

Contact:

Cindy Cohn
Legal Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
cindy@eff.org

Related Cases:
Jewel v. NSA
July 21, 2014
Stop Sneaky Online Tracking with EFF’s Privacy Badger

Add-On for Firefox and Chrome Prevents Spying by Ads, Social Widgets, and Hidden Trackers

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has released a beta version of Privacy Badger, a browser extension for Firefox and Chrome that detects and blocks online advertising and other embedded content that tracks you without your permission.

Privacy Badger was launched in an alpha version less than three months ago, and already more than 150,000 users have installed the extension. Today’s beta release includes a feature that automatically limits the tracking function of social media widgets, like the Facebook “Like” button, replacing them with a stand-in version that allows you to “like” something but prevents the social media tool from tracking your reading habits.

“Widgets that say ‘Like this page on Facebook’ or ‘Tweet this’ often allow those companies to see what webpages you are visiting, even if you never click the widget’s button,” said EFF Technology Projects Director Peter Eckersley. “The Privacy Badger alpha would detect that, and block those widgets outright. But now Privacy Badger’s beta version has gotten smarter: it can block the tracking while still giving you the option to see and click on those buttons if you so choose.”

EFF created Privacy Badger to fight intrusive and objectionable practices in the online advertising industry. Merely visiting a website with certain kinds of embedded images, scripts, or advertising can open the door to a third-party tracker, which can then collect a record of the page you are visiting and merge that with a database of what you did beforehand and afterward. If Privacy Badger spots a tracker following you without your permission, it will either block all content from that tracker or screen out the tracking cookies.

Privacy Badger is one way that Internet users can fight the decision that many companies have made to ignore Do Not Track requests, the universal Web tracking opt-out you can enable in your browser. Privacy Badger enforces users’ preferences whether these companies respect your Do Not Track choice or not. Advertisers and other third-party domains that are blocked in Privacy Badger can unblock themselves by making a formal commitment to respect their users’ Do Not Track requests.

“Users who install Privacy Badger aren’t just getting more privacy and a better browsing experience for themselves—they are providing incentives for improved privacy practices and respect for Do Not Track choices across the Internet,” said Eckersely. “Using Privacy Badger helps to make the Web as a whole better for everyone.”

EFF wishes to thank Professor Franziska Roesner at the University of Washington for exceptional work in enhancing Privacy Badger’s widget-handling algorithms.

To install the beta version of Privacy Badger:
https://www.eff.org/privacybadger

Contact:

Peter Eckersley
Technology Projects Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
pde@eff.org

July 16, 2014
EFF, ACLU Join Idaho Mom’s Legal Challenge to NSA Surveillance

Court of Appeals Agrees to Expedite Case Over Telephone Records Collection

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho have announced they will join Anna Smith’s legal team in her challenge of the government’s bulk collection of the telephone records of millions of innocent Americans.

Smith, an emergency neonatal nurse and pregnant mother of two, filed her suit against President Obama and several U.S. intelligence agencies shortly after the government confirmed revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) was conducting bulk collection of telephone records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Smith, a customer of Verizon wireless, one of the companies that was ordered to disclose records to the NSA, argued the program violated her First and Fourth Amendment rights by collecting a wealth of detail about her familial, political, professional, religious and intimate associations.

“When I found out that the NSA was collecting records of my phone calls, I was shocked,” said Smith, who is also represented by her husband, Peter J Smith IV, and Idaho State Rep. Luke Malek. “I have heard of other governments spying indiscriminately on their own citizens, but I naively thought it did not happen in America. I believe who I call, when I call them, and how long we talk is not something the government should be able to get without a warrant. I sued because I believe the Constitution protects my calls from government searches. I am thrilled that the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation agreed to assist us in this case. What Americans can reasonably expect to remain private is an issue of monumental importance.”

When U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill dismissed Smith’s case, he expressed grave concerns about the privacy implications of the NSA’s surveillance but said that he believed that a 1979 Supreme Court case about targeted surveillance tied his hands. Smith is now appealing to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

EFF and the ACLU have each litigated numerous First and Fourth amendment lawsuits, including ongoing cases over this very NSA program. The ACLU is a plaintiff in a case currently pending before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to be heard in early September. EFF has two cases before the Northern California federal court. Smith v. Obama represents another opportunity to halt this mass surveillance.

“Anna Smith proves that a single citizen has the power to stand up for her rights and challenge the government when it tramples them,” EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn said. “EFF is proud to lend our expertise in pursuing her appeal, which could very well be one of the cases that makes it to the Supreme Court.”

The court has granted Smith’s motion to expedite the case, with the opening brief due on Sept. 2, 2014.

“The call records program needlessly invades the privacy of millions of people,” said ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer. “Even the President has acknowledged that the NSA does not need to collect information about every phone call in order to track the associations of suspected terrorists. Dragnet surveillance on this scale is both unconstitutional and unnecessary.”

Contacts:

Dave Maass
Media Relations Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Steve Smith
Associate Director for Strategic Communications
American Civil Liberties Union
media@aclu.org

Peter J. Smith
Media Relations Coordinator
psmith@lukins.com

Related Cases:
First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA, Jewel v. NSA, Smith v. Obama
Related Issues:
NSA Spying
July 16, 2014
EFF to FCC: Defend the Neutral Internet

Agency Must Abandon Dangerous Traffic-Discrimination Plan

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that the agency must abandon its current, dangerous plan to allow for Internet traffic discrimination. Instead, EFF is urging the FCC to reclassify the Internet as a “common carrier” and also to restrict itself to limited and tightly bounded regulation.

In formal comments submitted to the FCC, EFF argues that defending the neutral Internet is critical to protecting new online applications and services – innovations that have made the Internet a global platform for free expression and commerce of every kind.

“An open, neutral, and fast Internet has sparked an explosion of innovation in everything from shopping to the way we exchange ideas and debate potential political change,” said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. “But its founding principles are now under threat. It’s time for users to take action to protect our Internet.”

The FCC has long promised to take steps to protect the open Internet, but earlier this year the agency announced a net neutrality proposal that would allow for so-called “Internet fast lanes.” The plan claims to promote a neutral Internet, but embraces a “commercially reasonable” standard for network management, allowing ISPs to make special deals that would give some services privileged access to subscribers.

EFF believes that market competition should be the first line of defense against abusive ISP practices like non-neutral behavior. But because most Americans have only one or two realistic choices for residential broadband, normal market forces might not prevent discriminatory policies.

In its formal comments, EFF outlines a better way to protect the open Internet. A crucial piece is classifying broadband as a “telecommunications service” instead of an “information service,” allowing the FCC to enforce “common carrier” rules like the ones that ensure fair and equal telephone service. At the same time, the FCC should only regulate narrowly, with clear rules. To prevent over-regulation, the FCC should explicitly “forbear” from applying many rules better suited for telephone service than Internet service – an official procedure the FCC has used in the past. In the meantime, the FCC can do more to require real transparency about broadband provider practices, as well as take steps to restore the open access rules that helped spark the early growth of the Internet.

“The FCC’s current course is dangerous. It could undermine what makes the Internet the groundbreaking technology that it is,” said EFF Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz. “It’s time for the FCC to leave its flawed proposal aside and work on a better plan to support the open Internet.”

The FCC is taking comment from the general public until September 10. You can send your views in through EFF’s tool at DearFCC.org. So far, hundreds of thousands of people have submitted comments to the FCC, and the agency’s site was only working intermittently Tuesday because of the large amount of traffic.

For EFF’s full comments to the FCC:
https://www.eff.org/document/effs-formal-comments-fcc

To submit your own comments:
https://dearfcc.org

Contacts:

Corynne McSherry
Intellectual Property Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

Mitch Stoltz
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mitch@eff.org

Related Issues:
Net Neutrality
July 1, 2014
EFF Sues NSA, Director of National Intelligence for Zero Day Disclosure Process

Government Needs to Reveal Decision-Making Process for Publicizing Vulnerabilities

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the NSA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to gain access to documents showing how intelligence agencies choose whether to disclose software security flaws known as “zero days.”

A zero day is a previously unknown security vulnerability in software or online services that a researcher has discovered, but the developers have not yet had a chance to patch. A thriving market has emerged for these zero days; in some cases governments—including the United States—will purchase these vulnerabilities, which they can use to gain access to targets’ computers.

In April 2014, Bloomberg News published a story alleging that the NSA had secretly exploited the “Heartbleed” bug in the OpenSSL cryptographic library for at least two years before the public learned of the devastating vulnerability. The government strongly denied the report, claiming it had a developed a new “Vulnerability Equities Process” for deciding when to share vulnerabilities with companies and the public. The White House’s cybersecurity coordinator further described in a blog post that the government had “established principles to guide agency decision-making” including “a disciplined, rigorous and high-level decision-making process for vulnerability disclosure.” But the substance of those principles has not been shared with the public.

EFF filed a FOIA request for records related to these processes on May 6 but has not yet received any documents, despite ODNI agreeing to expedite the request.

“This FOIA suit seeks transparency on one of the least understood elements of the U.S. intelligence community’s toolset: security vulnerabilities,” EFF Legal Fellow Andrew Crocker said. “These documents are important to the kind of informed debate that the public and the administration agree needs to happen in our country.”

Over the last year, U.S. intelligence-gathering techniques have come under great public scrutiny. One controversial element has been how agencies such as the NSA have undermined encryption protocols and used zero days. While an intelligence agency may use a zero day it has discovered or purchased to infiltrate targeted computers or devices, disclosing its existence may result in a patch that will help defend the public against other online adversaries, including identity thieves and foreign governments that may also be aware of the zero day.

“Since these vulnerabilities potentially affect the security of users all over the world, the public has a strong interest in knowing how these agencies are weighing the risks and benefits of using zero days instead of disclosing them to vendors,” Global Policy Analyst Eva Galperin said.

For the complaint:
https://www.eff.org/document/eff-v-nsa-odni-complaint

Contacts:

Andrew Crocker
Legal Fellow
Electronic Frontier Foundation
andrew@eff.org

Eva Galperin
Global Policy Analyst
Electronic Frontier Foundation
eva@eff.org

Related Cases:
EFF v. NSA, ODNI – Vulnerabilities FOIA
Related Issues:
NSA Spying
June 27, 2014
Diverse Groups Fly Airship Over NSA’s Utah Data Center to Protest Illegal Spying

Flight Promotes StandAgainstSpying.org, New Site Calling on Congress to Act
Bluffdale, UT – The environmental campaigning group Greenpeace, digital rights watchdog Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Tenth Amendment Center (TAC) joined forces today to fly an airship over the NSA’s data center in Utah to protest the government’s illegal mass surveillance program.

Greenpeace flew its 135-foot-long thermal airship over the Bluffdale, UT, data center early Friday morning, carrying the message: “NSA Illegal Spying Below” along with a link steering people to a new web site, StandAgainstSpying.org, which the three groups launched with the support of a separate, diverse coalition of over 20 grassroots advocacy groups and Internet companies. The site grades members of Congress on what they have done, or often not done, to rein in the NSA.

“Rights rise or fall together,” Greenpeace Senior IT Campaigner Gary Cook said. “Greenpeace has learned firsthand that people cannot protect their right to clean air and water if our civil rights – including the right to free association and the right to be free of unreasonable searches – are stripped away.”
Privacy info. This embed will serve content from youtube-nocookie.com
“The public needs to be brought into the Congressional debate around surveillance reform happening right now,” EFF Activism Director Rainey Reitman said. “We’re flying an airship over the Utah data center, which has come to symbolize the NSA’s collect-it-all approach to surveillance, and demanding an end to the mass spying. It’s time for bold action in defense of our privacy.”

“Our right to privacy is not a partisan issue. It’s a human rights issue,” said Michael Boldin, executive director and founder of the Tenth Amendment Center. “This coalition gives great hope for the future because it shows that people across the political spectrum can set aside differences to work together for common cause.”

Greenpeace is a co-plaintiff on a lawsuit filed against the NSA by a broad coalition of membership and political advocacy organizations, represented by EFF, for violating their First Amendment right of association by illegally collecting their call records.

Photos of the airship flight are available here under a Creative Commons Attribution license:

Please attribute to Greenpeace.

Contacts:

Rainey Reitman
Activism Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
rainey@eff.org

David Pomerantz
Greenpeace
david.pomerantz@greenpeace.org

Andy Stepanian
Fitzgibbon Media
andy@fitzgibbonmedia.com

Related Cases:
First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA
Related Issues:
NSA Spying
June 27, 2014
Congressional Scorecard on Mass Surveillance: StandAgainstSpying.org Launches to Encourage NSA Reform

Diverse Coalition Reveals Lawmakers Who Aced, Failed and Were Missing in the Debate Over Mass Spying

San Francisco, CA – A coalition of 22 organizations from across the political spectrum today launched StandAgainstSpying.org, an interactive website that grades members of Congress on what they have done, or often not done, to rein in the NSA.

Led by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Sunlight Foundation and Greenpeace, the coalition aims to inspire constituents to hold their elected officials accountable on mass surveillance reform, as well as give lawmakers the opportunity to improve their positions. Using a report card-style format, the grading criteria included whether the legislator was a sponsor of the USA FREEDOM Act or, in the case of the House of Representatives, voted for the “Amash Amendment” to defund NSA mass surveillance. Legislators had multiple avenues for receiving high marks.

Of the 100 senators and 433 representatives included, 241 members (45 percent) received “A” grades. However, 188 members (35 percent) flunked the scorecard, while another 77 members (14 percent) received question marks for taking no measurable action.

Website visitors can enter their zip codes to look up their congressional members’ scores. They then are encouraged to tweet directly at their members of Congress, thanking them for defending privacy or asking them to do more in the fight against mass spying. Additionally, all visitors can sign an open letter to President Barack Obama urging him to end the mass surveillance programs immediately, without waiting for Congress to act.

“We must hold members of Congress accountable by making clear to the public who in Congress is standing up for surveillance reform, who is acting as a roadblock, and who is failing to take a stand,” EFF Activism Director Rainey Reitman said. “More Americans than ever now think the NSA has gone too far. The American people—and frankly people all over the world—can’t wait any longer for Congress to rein in the NSA.”

EFF built StandAgainstSpying.org after analyzing the key NSA reform bills in Congress and weighting the prominent proposals on the degree to which they would end mass data collection. Sunlight Foundation technologists populated the site with data from its repository of Congressional actions.

“Just as the Internet has become an avenue for surveillance, it is also a mechanism for the public to hold the government accountable for its unchecked secrecy,” said John Wonderlich, policy director at the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation. “People care about secrecy and state power and are willing to stand up and demand reform.”

More than 18 groups and companies with diverse interests joined Greenpeace, EFF, Tenth Amendment Center (TAC) and Sunlight Foundation as partners in launching StandAgainstSpying.org, including Association of Alternative Newsmedia, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, FreedomWorks, Free Press Action Fund, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Libertarian Party, Liberty Coalition, Open Media, PEN America, reddit, Restore the Fourth, Taskforce.is, TechFreedom and ThoughtWorks.

The launch of the scorecard also coincided with a joint campaign by Greenpeace, EFF and TAC to fly an airship over the NSA data center in Bluffdale, UT, which carried a sign that read “NSA Illegal Spying Below” with a link to StandAgainstSpying.org.

For information and photos of the airship’s flight over the data center earlier today will be available shortly.

Contacts:

Rainey Reitman
Activism Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

David Pomerantz
Greenpeace Electronic Frontier Foundation
david.pomerantz@greenpeace.org

Andy Stepanian
Fitzgibbon Media
andy@fitzgibbonmedia.com

Related Cases:
First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA
Related Issues:
NSA Spying
June 25, 2014
Supreme Court Sets Powerful Limits for Cell Searches, Fails to Protect Internet Streaming

Justices Rule Changing Technology Demands Limits for Police but Requires Permission from TV Broadcasters

San Francisco – The U.S. Supreme Court issued two big rulings in important technology cases today.

In a groundbreaking decision on cell phone privacy, the court set powerful limits for police searches of cell phones, ruling in two consolidated cases that law enforcement must get a warrant before accessing the data on an arrested person’s cell phone. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed amicus briefs in both of the cell phone search cases that were at issue in today’s decision.

“These decisions are huge for digital privacy,” EFF Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury said. “The court recognized that the astounding amount of sensitive data stored on modern cell phones requires heightened privacy protection, and cannot be searched at a police officer’s whim. This should have implications for other forms of government electronic searches and surveillance, tightening the rules for police behavior and preserving our privacy rights in our increasingly digital world.”

In its opinion, the court confirmed the importance of the warrant requirement, writing “Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple—get a warrant.”

EFF also filed an amicus brief in American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo, a case where TV-streaming company Aereo was innovating when and how consumers watch television programs. The court decided, incorrectly we believe, that Aereo needed copyright holders’ permission to stream free over-the-air broadcast TV shows, creating new uncertainty for cloud storage systems and other new technologies that transmit content.

“With this ruling, the Supreme Court said that technology companies can’t rely on the words of the Copyright Act—companies can follow the letter of the law but still get shut down if a court decides that their business is somehow similar to a cable company,” said EFF Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz. “This decision will make it harder for new independent media technologies to get launched and funded without the blessing of major media companies, and that’s a loss for all of us.”

EFF will have in-depth analysis of both these cases on its Deeplinks blog coming soon.

Contacts:

Hanni Fakhoury
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
hanni@eff.org

Mitch Stoltz
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mitch@eff.org

Related Cases:
Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie, WNET v. Aereo
Related Issues:
Innovation, Search Incident to Arrest
June 13, 2014
EFF to Court: U.S. Warrants Don’t Apply to Overseas Emails

Microsoft Fights to Protect Data Held on Servers in Ireland

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has urged a federal court to block a U.S. search warrant ordering Microsoft to turn over a customer’s emails held in an overseas server, arguing that the case has dangerous privacy implications for Internet users everywhere.

The case started in December of last year, when a magistrate judge in New York signed a search warrant seeking records and emails from a Microsoft account in connection with a criminal investigation. However, Microsoft determined that the emails the government sought were on a Microsoft server in Dublin, Ireland. Because a U.S. judge has no authority to issue warrants to search and seize property or data abroad, Microsoft refused to turn over the emails and asked the magistrate to quash the warrant. But the magistrate denied Microsoft’s request, ruling there was no foreign search because the data would be reviewed by law enforcement agents in the U.S.

Microsoft appealed the decision. In an amicus brief in support of Microsoft, EFF argues the magistrate’s rationale ignores the fact that copying the emails is a “seizure” that takes place in Ireland.

“The Fourth Amendment protects from unreasonable search and seizure. You can’t ignore the ‘seizure’ part just because the property is digital and not physical,” said EFF Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury. “Ignoring this basic point has dangerous implications – it could open the door to unfounded law enforcement access to and collection of data stored around the world.”

The government has argued that allowing a U.S. judge to order the collection of data stored abroad is necessary, because international storage would make it easy for U.S. Internet companies to avoid complying with search warrants. But Microsoft asserts that the government’s legal theory could hurt U.S. technology companies that are trying to do business internationally. Additionally, EFF argues in its amicus brief that the government’s approach hurts Internet users globally, as it would allow the U.S. to obtain electronic records stored abroad without complying with mutual assistance treaty obligations or other nations’ own laws.

“Microsoft is doing the right thing by pushing back here. It’s great to see a tech giant fighting for its customers,” said Fakhoury.

For the full brief in this case:
https://www.eff.org/document/eff-amicus-brief-support-microsoft

Contact:

Hanni Fakhoury
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
hanni@eff.org

Related Cases:
In re Warrant for Microsoft Email Stored in Dublin, Ireland
June 10, 2014
EFF Asks Supreme Court to Decide Fight Over Secret Surveillance Memo

Public Deserves to See Secret Law Written by Office of Legal Counsel

Washington, DC – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today asked the Supreme Court of the United States to weigh in on a long-standing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in which EFF sought to obtain a secret legal memo authorizing the FBI to obtain phone records without any legal process.

As part of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) issues opinions that provide the legal justification for a wide variety of executive branch activities, in ways that affect millions of Americans. The opinion sought by EFF appears to have authorized the federal government, specifically the FBI, to obtain call records without judicial approval and without citing an emergency to justify the data collection.

Some of the most controversial government practices of the past 15 years—such as torture and the targeted killing of Americans abroad—were based on OLC legal authorizations. If EFF’s petition for a “writ of certiorari” is successful, the Supreme Court will have the opportunity to decide when OLC opinions should be released to the public.

“The public has a fundamental right to know how the federal government is interpreting surveillance and privacy laws,” EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel said. “If the Office of Legal Counsel has interpreted away federal privacy protections in secret, the public absolutely needs access to that analysis. There is no way for the public to intelligently advocate for reforms when we’re intentionally kept in the dark.”

The existence of this opinion first came to light in a report issued by the Justice Department’s Inspector General on the FBI’s use of its surveillance authorities in national security investigations. The Inspector General’s report indicated the OLC issued a determination that appeared to conflict with the Stored Communications Act, a federal privacy law that safeguards customer call records from disclosure to the government without valid legal process.

EFF submitted a FOIA request for more information. The Justice Department refused to comply and subsequently EFF filed a lawsuit in May 2011 to obtain the records. While the case was unsuccessful at the district and appeals court levels, EFF believes the issue is of such significance that it merits review by the highest court.

“OLC opinions have formed the legal basis for some incredibly controversial government actions,” EFF Staff Attorney Mark Rumold said. “It can’t be left to the executive branch’s discretion to release these critically important opinions. We hope the Supreme Court will take the opportunity to clarify that this type of secret law has no place in a democratic society.”

For the petition for writ of certiorari: https://www.eff.org/document/eff-v-doj-petition-writ-certiorari

For more on this case: https://www.eff.org/foia/foia-secret-surveillance-law-memo

Contacts:

Mark Rumold
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mark@eff.org

David Sobel
Senior Counsel
Electronic Frontier Foundation
sobel@eff.org

Related Cases:
Secret Surveillance Law Memo
Related Issues:
Transparency
June 6, 2014
Emergency Hearing Today at 2 p.m. PT in NSA Spying Case

EFF Told Court Yesterday Government Still Destroying Evidence Despite Court Order

Oakland, CA – A federal judge today ordered an emergency hearing today at 2 p.m. PT after EFF learned that the government is apparently still destroying evidence of NSA spying despite a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the court in March.

Yesterday afternoon, EFF filed an emergency motion with U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White, explaining that communications with government lawyers over the last week had revealed that the government has continued to destroy evidence relating to the mass interception of Internet communications it is conducting under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. The judge responded less than two hours later, reiterating that his TRO was still in place and continues to prohibit the destruction of evidence collected under Section 702. Late Thursday evening, the government filed papers with the court, claiming that compliance with the preservation order that has been in effect since March “would cause severe operational consequences” for the NSA, “including the possible suspension of the Section 702” program.

“This TRO has been in place since March. Yet we are only hearing these excuses now,” said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. “Once again, the government has secretly and unilaterally reinterpreted its obligations about the evidence preservation orders, and determined that it need not comply with a federal court order, and now is asking for a blessing from the court after the fact. We are pleased that Judge White has called this emergency hearing to get to the bottom of this.”

The government will appear by phone at the Oakland, California hearing.

WHAT:
Emergency Hearing in Jewel v. NSA

WHEN:
2 p.m.
Friday, June 6

WHERE:
U.S District Court
Northern District of California
Courtroom 5, Second Floor
1301 Clay Street
Oakland, CA

For the full order from Judge White:
https://www.eff.org/document/order-setting-hearing-0

For more on Jewel v. NSA:
https://www.eff.org/cases/jewel

Contact:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Cases:
Jewel v. NSA
June 6, 2014
Judge Asks for More Information About NSA Spying Evidence Destruction After Emergency Hearing

Government Argues Court’s Order Does Not Apply to Certain Categories of Surveillance

San Francisco – A federal judge asked for more briefing today after an emergency court hearing over destruction in a case challenging NSA spying from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

Andrew Crocker, Rick Wiebe, and Cindy Cohn
“We are pleased the court is receptive to our arguments – that this is the information that court ordered the government to retain, and is an important element of our litigation,” said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. “It’s unfortunate that the court’s order today allows the government to continue destroying evidence that the government itself insists we need, but we are looking forward to giving the judge all the information he needs to come to a final decision.”

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) blocking evidence destruction in March. But yesterday afternoon, EFF filed an emergency motion, explaining that communications with government lawyers over the last week had revealed that the government has continued to destroy evidence relating to the mass interception of Internet communications it is conducting under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. Today, Judge White called an emergency hearing, where the government argued that preserving the surveillance data gathered under Section 702 would be gravely harmful to national security programs. While the TRO remains in effect, that Judge White ruled that the government nevertheless did not need to preserve data collected pursuant to Section 702 until the court makes a further ruling on the issue.

EFF has been litigating against illegal NSA surveillance for more than eight years. Jewel v. NSA is a case brought on behalf of AT&T customers who were subject to unconstitutional NSA spying. In First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA, EFF represents 22 groups whose First Amendment rights to association are violated by the NSA program. EFF also filed one of the first lawsuits against the surveillance program back in 2006, Hepting v. AT&T.

For more on Jewel v. NSA:
https://www.eff.org/cases/jewel

Contact:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Cases:
Jewel v. NSA
June 5, 2014
Court Again Orders Government Not to Destroy Evidence in NSA Spying Case

Judge Requires Explanation by Friday About Whether Government Is Still Destroying Evidence Despite Court Order

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asked a judge today to schedule an emergency hearing, after learning that the government is apparently still destroying evidence of NSA spying despite a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the court in March. In an order issued in response this afternoon, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White instructed the government not to destroy any more materials and file a brief responding to EFF’s allegations by 12 p.m PT on Friday.

“In communications with the government this week, EFF was surprised to learn that the government has been continuing to destroy evidence relating to the mass interception of Internet communications it is conducting under section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act even though the court explicitly ordered it to stop in March,” said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. “Specifically, the government is destroying content gathered through tapping into the fiberoptic cables of AT&T.”

She added: “Once again, the government has apparently secretly and unilaterally reinterpreted its obligations about the evidence preservation orders, and has determined that it need not comply. Today marks a year to the day that Edward Snowden leaked documents confirming the NSA’s massive spying, yet the government is still engaging in outlandish claims and gamesmanship – even destroying evidence – to block an adversarial court ruling on whether its mass spying is legal or constitutional.”

EFF filed its Jewel v. NSA lawsuit in 2008. In recent weeks, declarations from the government in the Jewel case made it clear that the government has destroyed five years of the content it collected between 2007 and 2012, three years worth of the telephone records it seized between 2006 and 2009, and seven years of the Internet records it seized between 2004 and 2011, when it claims to have ended the Internet records seizures. In an emergency hearing last March over that evidence destruction, Judge White issued the current TRO, ordering the government to stop any further destruction of records or content until the matter could be sorted out.

“There can be no dispute that the government was aware of the broad scope of this TRO, and in his order this afternoon, Judge White confirmed that it reached materials gathered under Section 702,” Cohn said. “We’re asking Judge White to enforce the order and impose on the government whatever further measures are necessary to ensure that no further destruction of evidence occurs. It will be very interesting to see what the government says in its defense in its briefing tomorrow.”

For EFF’s full emergency application:
https://www.eff.org/document/plaintiffs-emergency-application-enforce-courts-tro

For the judge’s order:
https://www.eff.org/document/order-re-evidence-preservation-0

For more on Jewel v. NSA:
https://www.eff.org/cases/jewel

Contacts:

Cindy Cohn
Legal Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
cindy@eff.org

About EFF:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading organization protecting civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, we defend free speech online, fight illegal surveillance, promote the rights of digital innovators, and work to ensure that the rights and freedoms we enjoy are enhanced, rather than eroded, as our use of technology grows. EFF is a member-supported organization. Find out more at https://www.eff.org.

Related Cases:
Jewel v. NSA
Related Issues:
NSA Spying
June 2, 2014
Dating Site Fights Outrageous Trademark Claim from Mormon Church

Church Claims It Owns the Term ‘Mormon’

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged a federal judge to quickly resolve a dispute over the use of the term “Mormon” in an online dating site, arguing that extended litigation based on a frivolous claim could bury a small business in its infancy.

Intellectual Reserve, Inc., which manages intellectual property rights for The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, has made numerous trademark claims against a website called “Mormon Match,” which offers online dating services for members of the LDS church. Intellectual Reserve concedes that the term “Mormon” can be used to describe church members generally, but claims that its “family of marks” using “Mormon” (such as “Mormon Tabernacle Choir”) gives it the power to silence any business that dares to use the term in commerce. In an amicus brief filed Friday, EFF argues that because “Mormon” is undisputedly a descriptive term, its use in the name of the website is fair and legal.

“The name of this service simply describes what it’s doing – matching up Mormons,” said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. “Trademarks are supposed to be used to protect from unfair competition, not to stifle a small business or to control language.”

Often, when websites or other projects get trademark complaints, the creators decide to change their content or services in order to avoid expensive litigation – even if they know they are in the right. Merely the threat of a trademark lawsuit, and the costs associated with it, is enough to chill many entrepreneurs, artists, and activists from innovative projects.

“This case can and should be dismissed now,” said EFF Staff Attorney Vera Ranieri. “The specter of expensive litigation shouldn’t be a tool used to coerce Internet entrepreneurs and other content creators into succumbing to meritless infringement claims.”

For the full amicus brief:
https://www.eff.org/document/amicus-brief-21

Contacts:

Corynne McSherry
Intellectual Property Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

Vera Ranieri
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
vera@eff.org

Related Cases:
Eller v. Intellectual Reserve
May 30, 2014
EFF to Court: There’s No Doubt the Government Destroyed NSA Spying Evidence

EFF Urges Judge to Rule Destroyed Evidence Would Show Clients Were Surveilled

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) told a federal court today that there was no doubt that the government has destroyed years of evidence of NSA spying – the government itself has admitted to it in recent court filings. In a brief filed today in response to this illegal destruction, EFF is asking that the court make an “adverse inference” that the destroyed evidence would show that plaintiffs communications and records were in fact swept up in the mass NSA spying programs.

EFF filed its first lawsuit challenging illegal government spying in 2006. The current dispute arises from Jewel v. NSA, EFF’s 2008 case that challenges the government’s mass seizure of three kinds of information: Internet and telephone content, telephone records, and Internet records, all going back to 2001. EFF’s brief notes that the government’s own declarations make clear that the government has destroyed five years of the content it collected between 2007 and 2012, three years worth of the telephone records it seized between 2006 and 2009, and seven years of the Internet records it seized between 2004 and 2011, when it claims to have ended the Internet records seizures.

“The court has issued a number of preservation orders over the years, but the government decided – without consent from the judge or even informing EFF – that those orders simply don’t apply,” said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. “Regular civil litigants would face severe sanctions if they so obviously destroyed relevant evidence. But we are asking for a modest remedy: a ruling that we can assume the destroyed records would show that our plaintiffs were in fact surveilled by the government.”

The government’s reinterpretation of EFF’s lawsuits and the preservation orders came to light in March, when government lawyers revealed secret court filings from 2007. In these filings, the government unilaterally claimed that EFF’s lawsuits only concerned the original Bush-era spying program, which was done purely on claims of executive power. Without court approval, much less telling EFF, the government then decided that it did not need even to preserve evidence of the same mass spying done pursuant to FISA court orders, which were obtained in 2004 for Internet records, 2006 for telephone records, and 2007 for mass content collection from fiber optic cables.

“EFF and our clients have always had the same simple claim: the government’s mass, warrantless surveillance violates the rights of all Americans and must be stopped. The surveillance was warrantless under the executive’s authority and it is still warrantless under the FISA court, as those orders are plainly not warrants.” said Cohn. “The government’s attempt to limit our claims based upon their secret, shifting rationales is nothing short of outrageous, and their clandestine decision to destroy evidence under this flimsy argument is rightly sanctionable. Nevertheless, we are simply asking the court to ensure that we are not harmed by the government’s now-admitted destruction of this evidence.”

For the full brief on the government’s non-compliance:
https://www.eff.org/document/plaintiffs-brief-re-governments-non-compliance-courts-evidence-preservation-orders

For more on Jewel v. NSA:
https://www.eff.org/cases/jewel

Contacts:

Cindy Cohn
Legal Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
cindy@eff.org

Andrew Crocker
Legal Fellow
Electronic Frontier Foundation
andrew@eff.org

Related Cases:
Jewel v. NSA
May 29, 2014
Court Hearing in EFF Lawsuit to Uncover Secret Court Opinions Authorizing NSA Spying

EFF Faces Off Against Department of Justice in Federal Court in Oakland

Oakland – At a hearing on Tuesday, June 3, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Staff Attorney Mark Rumold will argue before a judge that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) must release key legal opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) regarding Section 215 of the Patriot Act—the law the National Security Agency (NSA) uses to collect telephone records on a massive scale.

EFF filed the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the DOJ to obtain “secret interpretations” of Section 215 in October 2011, 18 months before the public leak of the FISC order that showed how the NSA indiscriminately obtained call metadata from Verizon. So far, the court has ordered the government to release hundreds of pages of previously secret documents, including FISA court opinions that excoriated the NSA for misusing its mass surveillance database for years.

The June 3 hearing may determine whether the DOJ will be forced to release further records, some of which may shine light on other undisclosed mass surveillance programs.

“This hearing, almost a year to the day after the first article appeared in The Guardian about the NSA’s use of Section 215, shows how far we’ve come in a year,” Rumold said. “But it also shows how far we have left to go. Now, the public has much more information about the government’s bulk collection of Americans’ records, but other significant legal opinions and other collection programs still remain secret. The public needs access to this information, and the public needs that access now.”

What: Motion for Summary Judgment
Date: Tuesday, June 3
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Place: Courtroom 1, 4th Floor
Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building
1301 Clay Street, Oakland, CA 94612
Judge: Hon. Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers

For more on EFF’s 215 cases:
https://www.eff.org/foia/section-215-usa-patriot-act

Contacts:

Mark Rumold
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mark@eff.org

Related Cases:
Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act
Related Issues:
NSA Spying, Transparency
May 27, 2014
Free Speech Groups Issue New Guide to the International “Necessary & Proportionate Principles”

EFF and ARTICLE 19 Urges Governments to Preserve Fundamental Freedoms in the Age of Mass Surveillance

San Francisco and London – As the global debate over the intelligence programs revealed by Edward Snowden approaches its first anniversary, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and ARTICLE 19 today published a new legal analysis of the Necessary & Proportionate Principles, a guiding framework for countries to apply international human rights law to communications surveillance.

Currently, there are few legal or technological constraints on international monitoring, data gathering, and use of digital communications. This report serves as important context and background as states around the world discuss the future of privacy.

“As our everyday interactions, activities and communications now emit a continuous stream of revealing information, the question has become: how do we preserve fundamental freedoms in the digital age?” EFF International Rights Director Katitza Rodriguez said. “This paper explains how and why we must rein in unchecked surveillance state at home and abroad and protect the freedoms of everyone, regardless of citizenship or statelessness.”

Thomas Hughes, executive director of ARTICLE 19, added: “Mass surveillance violates our rights to freedom of expression and privacy. Almost a year after the Snowden revelations, little to no progress has been made in ensuring that surveillance practices meet international legal standards. This report shows that mass surveillance laws must be overhauled as a matter of urgency.”

The Necessary & Proportionate Principles were launched in July 2013 after a year of consultation between privacy advocates and technology experts, and have since gathered momentum across the globe and in the United Nations itself. More than 400 organizations and 300,000 individuals have endorsed the principles, which articulate how unchecked surveillance power can threaten privacy, association and free expression

The background paper:
https://necessaryandproportionate.org/LegalAnalysis

For the principles:
Necessaryandproportionate.org/text

About the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading organization protecting civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, we defend free speech online, fight illegal surveillance, promote the rights of digital innovators, and work to ensure that the rights and freedoms we enjoy are enhanced, rather than eroded, as our use of technology grows. EFF is a member-supported organization. Find out more at https://www.eff.org.

About ARTICLE 19

ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organization that works around the world to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom of information. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. ARTICLE 19 monitors threats to freedom of expression in different regions of the world, as well as national and global trends and develops long-term strategies to address them and advocates for the implementation of the highest standards of freedom of expression, nationally and globally.

Contact:

Katitza Rodriguez
International Rights Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
katitza@eff.org

Siobhan Sheerin
Press Officer
ARTICLE 19
siobhan@article19.org

Related Issues:
International, International Privacy Standards, Mass Surveillance Technologies, Surveillance and Human Rights, NSA Spying
May 27, 2014
Crushing Blow for Copyright Trolls: Appeals Court Halts AF Holdings’ Extortion Scheme

Copyright Holders Can’t Abuse Legal System to Pressure Thousands of Internet Users to Pay Unfair Settlements

Washington, D.C. – Striking a crushing blow against a legal linchpin of the copyright troll business model, a federal appeals court held today that copyright holders may not abuse the legal process to obtain the identities of thousands of Internet users.

“This decision is a crucial victory,” said Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. “We are thrilled that a higher court has recognized that it is unfair to sue thousands of people at once, in a court far from home, based on nothing more than an allegation that they joined a BitTorrent swarm.”

The plaintiff in this case, AF Holdings, sought the identities of more than 1,000 Internet users that it claims are linked to the illegal downloading of a copyrighted pornographic film. Over the protest of the Internet service providers that received subpoenas for those identities, a lower court approved the disclosure of the names. EFF, joined by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of the Nation’s Capital, Public Citizen, and Public Knowledge, urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to reverse that ruling and help keep the legal process fair and balanced by requiring AF Holdings to show it has a good faith basis for going after these defendants.

This same coalition has fought for years in courts around the country to explain how the trolls were abusing the legal process to extort settlements from unsuspecting John Does. While several district courts have agreed, this is the first time a federal appeals court has weighed in.

The case is one of hundreds around the country that follow the same pattern. A copyright troll looks for IP addresses that may have been used to download films (often adult films) via BitTorrent, files a single lawsuit against thousands of “John Doe” defendants based on those IP addresses, then seeks to subpoena the ISPs for the contact information of the account holders associated with those IP addresses. The troll then uses that information to contact the account holders and threatens expensive litigation if they do not settle promptly. Faced with the prospect of hiring an attorney and litigating the issue, often in a distant court, most subscribers—including those who may have done nothing wrong—will choose to settle rather than fight.

“Once a troll gets the names it’s looking for, then it already has what it needs to put its shakedown scheme in motion,” EFF Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz said. “For the defendants, it will come down to risking being named in a lawsuit over a pornographic movie, or settling for less than the cost of hiring an attorney. As a matter of law and basic fairness, a copyright plaintiff needs to show that its case is on solid ground before putting hundreds of Internet users into that kind of bind.”

AF Holdings is linked to Prenda Law, a firm that is facing allegations that it used stolen identities and fictitious signatures on key legal documents and made other false statements to the courts.

For the text of the opinion:
https://www.eff.org/document/appeals-court-opinion

Contacts:

Corynne McSherry
Intellectual Property Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

Mitch Stoltz
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mitch@eff.org

Related Cases:
AF Holdings v. Does
May 15, 2014
Which Tech Companies Help Protect You From Government Data Demands?

EFF Survey Shows Improved Privacy and Transparency Policies of the Internet’s Biggest Companies

San Francisco – Technology companies are privy to our most sensitive information: our conversations, photos, location data, and more. But which companies fight the hardest to protect your privacy from government data requests? Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) releases its fourth annual “Who Has Your Back” report, with comprehensive information on 26 companies’ commitments to fighting unfair demands for customer data. The report examines the privacy policies, terms of service, public statements, and courtroom track records of major technology companies, including Internet service providers, email providers, social networking sites, and mobile services.

“The sunlight brought about by a year’s worth of Snowden leaks appears to have prompted dozens of companies to improve their policies when it comes to giving user data to the government,” said EFF Activism Director Rainey Reitman. “Our report charts objectively verifiable categories of how tech companies react when the government seeks user data, so users can make informed decisions about which companies they should trust with their information.”

EFF’s report awards up to six gold stars for best practices in categories like “require a warrant for content” and “publish transparency reports.” Last year, just two companies we surveyed earned a full six stars – Sonic, a California ISP, and Twitter.* This year, Apple, CREDO Mobile, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo all joined Sonic and Yahoo in receiving six full stars, and several others – LinkedIn, Pinterest, SpiderOak, Tumblr, Wickr and WordPress – only missed getting all six stars because they did not have to bring public court battles on behalf of their users.

This year, the majority of the companies surveyed have made a formal commitment to inform users when their data was sought, a welcome safeguard that gives users the information they need to fight on their own. This shows that the technology industry is adopting a best practice pioneered by Twitter, which in 2010 fought for the right to tell its users about a government order for their information as part of the WikiLeaks investigation.

Additionally, 20 of the companies EFF reviewed published transparency reports detailing government requests for user data, which is a striking increase from last year, when only seven companies in EFF’s report published them. This is now a new standard in the tech industry: corporations are actively and voluntarily working to shed light on the government attempts to access user data. However, it’s not all good news in this year’s report. Photo-messaging application Snapchat received only one star – particularly troubling due to the sensitive nature of photos and the company’s young user base.

“Snapchat joins AT&T and Comcast in failing to require a warrant for government access to the content of communications. That means the government can obtain extraordinarily sensitive information about your activities and communications without convincing a judge that there is probable cause to collect it,” said EFF Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo. “We urge these companies to change course and give their users this simple and needed protection from government overreach.”

As part of this year’s report, EFF collaborated with data analysis company Silk to help explore trends in government access requests. Silk’s analysis provides a simple mechanism for reporters and the general public to explore corporate transparency reports, shedding light on which companies receive the most data requests, which companies push back against government data requests, and which countries are most aggressive in demanding user data.

For the full report “Who Has Your Back”:
https://www.eff.org/who-has-your-back-government-data-requests-2014

For the Silk analysis:
https://transparency-reports.silk.co/

Contact:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Correction: An earlier version of this report accidentally omitted Twitter from the list of companies that received six stars in last year’s report.

May 1, 2014
EFF Demands Release of More Secret Surveillance Court Rulings

Debate Over Mass Surveillance Hampered by Undisclosed FISA Court Decisions

San Francisco – In a continuing campaign to uncover the government’s secret interpretations of the surveillance laws underlying the National Security Agency (NSA)’s spying programs, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today filed another lawsuit against the Department of Justice, demanding that the government hand over key Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA court) opinions and orders.

“We can’t have an informed debate about mass surveillance with access to only half the story,” EFF Staff Attorney Mark Rumold said. “The government’s secret interpretation of laws and the Constitution needs to end. Disclosure of the opinions we’ve requested will be an important step towards providing the public with the information it needs to meaningfully debate the propriety of these programs.”

In recent months, the U.S. intelligence community has sought to repair its image by posting FISA court decisions and other documents on a new Tumblr site, icontherecord.tumblr.com. While this looks like an altruistic attempt to provide transparency, government officials often fail to acknowledge that the documents are primarily being made public in response to successful FOIA litigation from organizations such as EFF.

So far, EFF’s FOIA lawsuits have forced the government to disclose FISA court opinions detailing how the NSA violated court orders and the Fourth Amendment, as well other troubling facts and insight about the operations of these programs. We have also learned of the existence of other records and opinions that EFF believes should be made public.

“With all the disclosures that have taken place over the past year, there’s no valid reason these opinions are still secret,” EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel said. “The government’s refusal to provide these opinions looks more like an attempt to control public opinion about the NSA’s operations, rather than protecting any legitimate intelligence sources or methods. ”

EFF has yet to receive key documents in response to four outstanding FOIA requests. Among the most significant records EFF is seeking in this FOIA suit:

– The FISA court’s “Raw Take” order, which was revealed in documents released by Edward Snowden. According to the New York Times, this secret 2002 order weakened restrictions on sharing private data, allowing federal intelligence agencies to share unfiltered information about Americans.

– Two FISA court opinions from 2007 that first authorized, then later stopped, the NSA’s warrantless content collection program approved by President George W. Bush.

– The first FISA court opinion from 2008 that analyzed the legality of NSA surveillance under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.

EFF has also requested any still-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review (FISCR) decisions and appeals from the FISCR to the Supreme Court on NSA surveillance.

For the complaint: https://www.eff.org/document/eff-v-doj-fisc-opinion-foia-2014

For more information and the underlying FOIA requests: https://www.eff.org/foia/fisc-orders-illegal-government-surveillance

Contacts:

Mark Rumold
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mark@eff.org

Related Cases:
FISC Orders on Illegal Government Surveillance
Related Issues:
NSA Spying, Transparency
April 11, 2014
EFF to Present Oral Argument in Copyright ‘Troll’ Case

Shake Down of BitTorrent Users Abuses Justice System

Washington, DC – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will ask a federal appeals court at a hearing on Monday, April 14, to prevent a notorious copyright troll from obtaining the identities of more than 1,000 Internet users.

Speaking on behalf of EFF, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of the Nation’s Capital, Public Citizen and Public Knowledge, EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry will urge the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to reverse a district court decision that allowed the plaintiff to seek identifying information for thousands of “John Does” without complying with basic procedural rules.

The coalition of public interest groups filed an amicus brief in May 2013 in support of several Internet service providers that are resisting subpoenas for user records. Representatives for those providers will offer the principal argument. However, the court took the unusual step of allowing amici to appear and argue as well.

AF Holdings, the plaintiff in the case, is seeking the identities of individuals that it claims may have illegally downloaded a copyrighted adult film. The case is one of hundreds being pursued around the country that follow the same pattern, which judges have described as “essentially an extortion scheme.” A copyright troll looks for IP addresses that may have been used to download films (usually adult films) via BitTorrent, files a single lawsuit against thousands of “John Doe” defendants based on those IP addresses, then seeks to subpoena the ISPs for the contact information of the account holders associated with those IP addresses. The troll then uses that information to contact the account holders and threatens expensive litigation if they do not settle promptly. Faced with the prospect of hiring an attorney and litigating the issue, often in a distant court, most subscribers—including those who may have done nothing wrong—will choose to settle rather than fight.

AF Holdings is linked to Prenda Law, a firm that is facing allegations that it used stolen identities and fictitious signatures on key legal documents and made other false statements to the courts. AF Holdings will have an opportunity to address the court but has so far not designated a representative for the hearing.

WHAT: Oral Argument in AF Holdings v. Does

WHO: Corynne McSherry, Intellectual Property Director, EFF

Benjamin Fox, Partner, Morrison & Foerster LLP, counsel for ISPs

WHERE: U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

625 Indiana Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004

WHEN: Monday, April 14, 2014 9:30 A.M. EST

For more information on our case, including the amicus brief: https://www.eff.org/cases/af-holdings-v-does

Contacts:

Corynne McSherry
Intellectual Property Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

Related Cases:
AF Holdings v. Does
Related Issues:
Copyright Trolls, DMCA
April 11, 2014
EFF Urges Appeals Court to Reconsider Dangerous Copyright Ruling

Decision About “Innocence of Muslims” Video Could Be Disastrous for Free Speech

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is urging a federal appeals court to reconsider its decision to order Google to take down the controversial “Innocence of Muslims” video while a copyright lawsuit—based on a claim that the Copyright Office itself has rejected—is pending. As EFF explains, the decision sets a dangerous precedent that could have disastrous consequences for free speech.

“Innocence of Muslims” sparked protests worldwide in the fall of 2012. For a time, its anti-Islamic content was even linked to the violent attack on an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, although that was later refuted. An actress named Cindy Lee Garcia, after being tricked into appearing in the film for just five seconds, claimed she held a copyright in that performance. She sued Google for copyright infringement and asked the court to order Google to take the video offline. The district court refused, noting that it could not restrain speech massed on nothing more than a highly debatable copyright claim. On appeal, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed that the copyright claim was not strong, but nonetheless ordered Google to take down all copies of the video. It even issued a gag order, preventing Google from talking about the controversial decision for a full week.

“This video is a matter of extreme public concern–the center of a roiling, global debate,” EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry said. “The injunction in place now means we can still talk about the video–but we can’t see what we are actually talking about. While the injunction stretched the First Amendment beyond its intent, the gag order snapped it in half. It delayed the public and the press from discovering this unprecedented copyright decision, and prevented others from challenging the ruling.”

In an amicus brief filed today, EFF argues that the full appeals court must reconsider the earlier decision in order to protect free speech in the debate over the film and also to safeguard the future of free expression online.

“This decision means that any number of creative contributors–from actors to makeup artists to set designers–could be entitled to royalties and even control over the distribution of works they were paid to contribute to,” said EFF Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo. “Such a rule would stifle creative expression for big studios and amateur filmmakers alike. While we can understand Garcia’s desire to distance herself from this film, copyright law is not designed to address the harm she suffered by suppressing the global debate on a matter of public concern.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, Public Knowledge, the Center for Democracy and Technology, New Media Rights, the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, and the Association of Research Libraries joined EFF in this brief.

For the full amicus brief:

https://www.eff.org/document/garcia-v-google-amicus

For more on Garcia v. Google:

https://www.eff.org/cases/garcia-v-google-inc

Contacts:

Nate Cardozo
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
nate@eff.org

Corynne McSherry
Intellectual Property Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

Related Cases:
Garcia v. Google, Inc
Related Issues:
DMCA, Free Speech
April 11, 2014
Appeals Court Overturns Andrew “weev” Auernheimer Conviction

Important Decision Impacts Constitutional Rights in the Internet Age

San Francisco – A federal appeals court overturned the conviction of Andrew “weev” Auernheimer, the computer researcher who was charged with violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) after he exposed a massive security flaw in AT&T’s website.

Auernheimer was represented on appeal by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Professor Orin Kerr of George Washington University, and attorneys Marcia Hofmann, and Tor Ekeland. In an opinion issued this morning by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Judge Michael Chagares wrote that the government should not have charged Auernheimer in New Jersey, which had no direct connection to AT&T or Auernheimer.

“We’re thrilled that the Third Circuit reversed Mr. Auernheimer’s conviction,” EFF Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury said. “This prosecution presented real threats to security research. Hopefully this decision will reassure that community.”

In 2010, Auernheimer’s co-defendant, Daniel Spitler, discovered that AT&T had configured its servers to make the email addresses of iPad owners publicly available on the Internet. Spitler wrote a script and collected roughly 114,000 email addresses as a result of the security flaw. Auernheimer then distributed the list of email addresses to media organizations as proof of the vulnerability, ultimately forcing AT&T to acknowledge and fix the security problem.

Federal prosecutors charged Auernheimer and Spitler with identity theft and conspiracy to violate the CFAA in New Jersey federal court. Spitler accepted a plea deal, while Auernheimer unsuccessfully fought the charges in a jury trial. Auernheimer began serving a 41-month prison sentence in March 2013.

On appeal, Auernheimer’s defense team argued that accessing a publicly available website does not constitute unauthorized access to a computer under the CFAA. They also argued that Auernheimer should not have been charged in New Jersey. At the time they were obtaining email addresses, Auernheimer was in Arkansas, Spitler was in California and AT&T’s servers were in Georgia and Texas.

The court agreed with Auernheimer that charging the case in New Jersey was improper and reversed his conviction and ordered him released from prison. Although it did not directly address whether accessing information on a publicly available website violates the CFAA, the court suggested that there may have been no CFAA violation, since no code-based restrictions to access had been circumvented.

“Today’s decision is important beyond weev’s specific case,” added Fakhoury. “The court made clear that the location of a criminal defendant remains an important constitutional limitation, even in today’s Internet age.”

For the opinion: https://www.eff.org/document/appellate-court-opinion

Contact:

Hanni Fakhoury
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
hanni@eff.org

Related Cases:
U.S. v Auernheimer
Related Issues:
Computer Fraud And Abuse Act Reform
April 9, 2014
Medical Privacy: Digital Technology Can Leave Your Health History Exposed

New EFF Project Tackles Electronic Medical Records and Inherent Risks to Your Privacy

San Francisco – The digitization of medical records is being pitched to the public as a way to revolutionize healthcare. But rapid technological innovation and lagging privacy laws are leaving patients – and their most sensitive information – vulnerable to exposure and abuse, especially in this age of “big data.” The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is launching a new medical privacy project today to identify the emerging issues and to give advocates the information they need to fight for stronger protections for patients.

“You assume that the decision about when to disclose medical data – like if you’ve had an abortion or have a serious heart condition – is yours and yours alone. But that information may be circulated in the process of paying for and providing treatment, or as part of mandated reporting,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien. “As the American medical establishment moves towards complete digitization of patient records, it’s important to take a hard look on what that means for everyone’s privacy, and what we should do about it.”

EFF’s project explores the unsettled areas of medical privacy law and technology, including a primer on how law enforcement might get access to your health information, or how the government might be able to collect it by claiming that it’s necessary for national security. There’s also a detailed discussion of public health reporting systems and how federal health laws give patients some rights but take others away. EFF will add more topics in the months to come.

“Genetic testing provides a striking example of some of the challenges we face with protecting medical data. Genetic data is uniquely identifiable and can be easily obtained from cells we shed every day,” says EFF Activism Director Rainey Reitman. “But we have weak laws protecting this highly sensitive data.”

EFF’s work on the medical privacy project is supported by a grant from the Consumer Privacy Rights Fund of the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment.

For EFF’s full medical privacy project:
https://www.eff.org/issues/medical-privacy

Contacts:

Lee Tien
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
tien@eff.org

Rainey Reitman
Activism Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
rainey@eff.org

Related Issues:
Privacy, Medical Privacy
April 2, 2014
EFF Files Supreme Court Brief Defending Internet Streaming Service

Copyright Law Shouldn’t Control How and Where Viewers Watch TV

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today filed an amicus brief in American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo, a case before the United States Supreme Court that could have a lasting impact on broadcast technology and viewers’ ability to choose how and when they watch their favorite television programs. Public Knowledge, the Consumer Electronics Association, and Engine Advocacy all joined the brief, asking the Supreme Court to leave room for innovation in digital technology.

Through Aereo, consumers rent access to a unique TV antenna that is connected to the Internet, allowing them to stream free-to-air shows privately on their connected computers and devices. Perceiving a threat to the television industry, four broadcasting networks sued Aereo, claiming the company violated copyright law by making a “public performance” of the programs without a license. Both a federal trial court and an appellate court ruled in Aereo’s favor; EFF is asking the Supreme Court to do the same.

“The networks would like the court to expand copyright law far beyond what Congress intended,” EFF Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz said. “The networks’ interpretation of the law would strip away the commercial freedom that led to the home stereo, the VCR, all manner of personal audio and video technology and to Internet services of many kinds.”

In the new brief, EFF argues that Aereo does not make “public performances,” but rather provides a way for individual users to make “private, personal transmissions,” which are not covered by U.S. copyright law. In constructing the law this way, Congress intended to leave room for new businesses outside of the media conglomerates to create new innovation in personal video technology.

“The stakes in this case are bigger than just the survival of one startup company,” said Stoltz. “Broadcasters want the Supreme Court to give them control over any technology that touches a TV signal. But copyright was never intended to do that.”

For the full Supreme Court brief:
https://www.eff.org/document/amicus-brief-20

Contact:

Mitch Stoltz
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mitch@eff.org

Related Cases:
WNET v. Aereo
Related Issues:
Innovation
March 18, 2014
EFF Goes to Court for Coder’s Rights, License Plate Records

Two Hearings This Week: Appeal of Andrew “weev” Auernheimer CFAA Conviction in Philadelphia; License Plate Reader Records Case in Los Angeles

UPDATE: The Los Angeles hearing has been postponed until April.

Courts in Los Angeles and Philadelphia will hear arguments about coder’s rights and the collection of license plate data in noteworthy Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) cases this week.

Andrew “weev” Auernheimer Case CFAA Case:

On Wednesday, George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr will argue on behalf of computer security researcher Andrew “weev” Auernheimer, who was prosecuted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act after he revealed a massive security flaw in AT&T’s website. EFF is part of Auernheimer’s appeals team, and Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury will be in attendance and available for interviews.

WHAT: Oral Argument in U.S. v. Andrew Auernheimer

WHERE: Third Circuit Court of Appeals
Albert Branson Maris Courtroom
601 Market Street, 19th Floor Philadelphia, PA 19106

WHEN: Wednesday, March 18 10 a.m. EDT

For background on Auernheimer’s appeal: https://www.eff.org/cases/us-v-auernheimer

Lawsuit Over License Plate Reader Records:

UPDATE: This hearing has been postponed until April.

On Friday, EFF Senior Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch and ACLU of Southern California Senior Staff Attorney Peter Bibring will argue for the release of Los Angeles automatic license plate reader records in this California Public Records Act lawsuit.

WHAT: Oral Argument in EFF and ACLU of Southern California v. Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department

WHERE: Los Angeles County Superior Court
Judge James Chalfant, Department 85
Stanley Mosk Courthouse
111 North Hill St. Los Angeles, CA 90012

WHEN: Friday, March 21, 9:30 a.m. PDT

For background on EFF’s case: https://www.eff.org/foia/automated-license-plate-readers

Contacts:

Hanni Fakhoury
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
hanni@eff.org

Jennifer Lynch
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jlynch@eff.org

Related Cases:
U.S. v Auernheimer, Automated License Plate Readers (ALPR)
Related Issues:
Locational Privacy, Computer Fraud And Abuse Act Reform, Transparency
March 18, 2014
EFF Fights Destruction of Spying Evidence in Court Wednesday

Government Claims EFF’s Lawsuits Don’t Cover Ongoing Surveillance – Raising Fears Key Documents May Have Been Destroyed

UPDATE: Judge White today continued his temporary restraining order in these two cases until a more permanent order could be put in place. The question of whether the government improperly destroyed evidence so far will be briefed over the next several weeks.

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will fight disturbing new government claims in an emergency court hearing Wednesday – claims that may imply records documenting ongoing government surveillance have been destroyed despite a judge’s order.

Over the last several weeks, EFF has been battling to ensure that evidence of the NSA surveillance program will be preserved as part of its two cases challenging the illegal government spying: Jewel v. NSA and First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA. But in a court filing late Monday, the government made shocking new assertions, arguing that its obligation to preserve evidence was limited to aspects of the original Bush-era spying program, which the government contends ended eight years ago with a transition to FISA court orders.

“This argument simply does not make sense. EFF has been demanding an injunction to stop this illegal spying program, regardless of the government’s shifting justifications,” said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn, who will argue in front of U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey S. White at the hearing Wednesday. “But these government claims aren’t just nonsensical – they are extremely worrisome and dangerous. The government is suggesting it may have destroyed years’ worth of evidence about its illegal spying, justified by its own secret interpretation of our case. This is about more than just phone records; it’s about evidence concerning all of the government’s spying. EFF is asking the court for a full accounting of just what is going on here, and it’s time for the government to come clean.”

EFF has been litigating against illegal NSA surveillance for more than eight years. Jewel v. NSA is a case brought on behalf of AT&T customers who were subject to unconstitutional NSA spying. In First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA, EFF represents 22 groups whose First Amendment rights to association are violated by the NSA program.

WHAT:
Oral Argument in Jewel v. NSA and First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA

WHO:
EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn

WHERE:
Courtroom of District Judge Jeffrey S. White
San Francisco Courthouse
Courtroom 11, 19th Floor
450 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

WHEN:
Wednesday, March 19th
2 p.m. PDT

For the full government brief on evidence preservation:
https://www.eff.org/document/government-defendants-response-evidence-preservation-brief

For EFF’s response:
https://www.eff.org/document/plaintiffs-reply-brief-re-preservation-evidence

High resolution image: (from left to right) Co-counsel Aram Antaramian, EFF Senior Staff Attorney David Greene, EFF Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo, EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn, EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl, Co-counsel Richard Wiebe, EFF Legal Fellow Andrew Crocker.

Contacts:

Rebecca Jeschke or Dave Maass
Media Relations
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Related Cases:
First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA, Jewel v. NSA
March 13, 2014
Top Technologists File Brief Supporting ACLU Lawsuit Against NSA Spying

EFF Represents Computer Scientists in Explaining Why “It Is Not Just Metadata”

San Francisco – Representing a large group of top computer science experts and professors, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today submitted a brief to a federal appeals court supporting the American Civil Liberties Union’s lawsuit over the NSA’s mass call records collection program. At the core of the brief is the argument that metadata matters.

Intelligence officials have often downplayed privacy concerns over the NSA’s interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act by stating that the agency does not collect the “content” of calls, but only the metadata—who a person called, when, how long the conversation lasted and other information. EFF’s brief begins with the line “It is not just metadata,” and goes on to explain how metadata collected on a massive scale can often reveal more personal information about an individual than content. The brief outlines how metadata can show patterns of behavior, political and religious affiliations, and other personal details, especially when combined with other data sources.

“The metadata the government collects isn’t just a list of numbers dialed and times—it’s a window into the lives of millions of Americans,” EFF Staff Attorney Mark Rumold said. “The law should provide the highest level of protection for this kind of information. The technology experts who signed the brief provide a valuable perspective for the court to consider.”

The ACLU filed its lawsuit against the Director of National Intelligence, NSA, Department of Defense, Department of Justice and FBI last year after former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden revealed a secret legal order allowing for the indiscriminate capture of call metadata from Verizon Business Services.

EFF represents 17 professors who signed onto the brief, including: Profs. Harold Abelson and Ron Rivest of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Prof. Andrew Appel, chair of Princeton University’s computer science department; Prof. Steven Bellovin of Columbia University’s computer science department; and Matthew Blaze, an associate professor in the University of Pennsylvania’s Computer and Information Science Department. Other experts signed on to the brief come from Johns Hopkins University, the University of Michigan, Rice University and Purdue.

“Metadata equals surveillance,” said security expert and EFF board member Bruce Schneier, another signer of the brief. “It’s who we talk to, what we read, and where we go. When the president says ‘don’t worry, it’s only metadata,’ what he’s really saying is that you’re all under surveillance.”

While EFF is acting as amicus in this case, it also has two ongoing lawsuits of its own that challenge NSA surveillance. In First Unitarian v. NSA, EFF represents 22 groups whose First Amendment rights to association are violated by the NSA program. Jewel v. NSA is a case on behalf of AT&T customers who were subject to the unconstitutional NSA spying.

For the text of the amicus brief:

https://www.eff.org/document/computer-scientists-amicus-aclu-v-clapper

Contacts:

Mark Rumold
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mark@eff.org

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