In our 684th issue:
Around the world, repressive governments have arrested, imprisoned, and tortured coders, technologists, and bloggers. EFF's new project, Offline, raises awareness of these digital heroes to ensure that—even as they are locked away—their voices can be heard. The first five highlighted cases include free software developer Alla Abd El Fattah (Egypt), web developer Saeed Malekpoor (Iran), online columnist Eskinder Nega (Ethiopia), and the Zone 9 Bloggers (Ethiopia). Right now, we're trying to raise as much awareness as possible about free culture advocate Bassel Khartabil, who has been transferred from a
civil prison in Syria to an unknown location.
Facebook claims its policy to force users to go by their "real names" (or "authentic identities" as Facebook spins it) makes the social network a safer place. The reality is that this policy has facilitated harassment, silenced voices, and even led to physical violence towards its most vulnerable users. What's worse is that Facebook has relied on user complaints to enforce this policy, giving harassers yet another tool to wield against people they don't like or agree with. Our global coalition is speaking out against these policies. Join us in taking a bold stand for access to Facebook by signing your name in support of our demands.
Back in 2007, EFF sued Universal Music Group on behalf of Stephanie Lenz after the company sent YouTube a copyright takedown over Lenz's home video of her baby dancing. The issue: Prince's song "Let’s Go Crazy" was playing on a stereo in the background. After an eight year legal battle, last month a federal appeals court ruled that companies need to take fair use into account before trying to have content taken down under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. EFF's Legal Director Corynne McSherry has been fighting for Lenz' rights since the beginning, and she said the ruling "sends a strong message that copyright law does not authorize thoughtless censorship of lawful speech."
Tell the White House Why Crypto Matters
President Obama hasn't made up his mind about encryption, but he is expected to soon. On one side, certain members of Congress and the FBI are telling him tech companies should be forced to create backdoors into encrypted data. On the other side, cryptography experts agree that there's no such thing as a secure backdoor; any intentional vulnerability could and will be eventually exploited by bad actors. Now is the time to send the message that the president needs to defend uncompromised security.
Twitter Parodies Are Still Parodies
Twitter parodies are an emerging form of art and social commentary (some of EFF's favorites include @swiftonsecurity and @NSA_PR), so it should come as no surprise that EFF has waded into a Michigan case in which a self-proclaimed "BadAss Lawyer" is suing the creator of a Twitter parody account mocking his marketing strategy. As EFF and Prof. Eugene Volokh's clinic at the UCLA School of Law wrote in an amicus brief, the First Amendment's parody protections apply to social media sites like Twitter just as they do to any other form of communication.
First Online Ad Company Embraces Do Not Track
Online advertising and privacy aren't mutually exclusive concepts. Case in point: Adzerk has become the first online advertising company to provide a system for its customers to comply with EFF's "Do Not Track" standard for Web browsing. This means plugins like Privacy Badger won't block ads on websites that use Adzerk's DNT-compliant system, while consumers can rest assured their clicks aren't non-consensually tracked across the Internet; their privacy preferences are being respected.
FBI Quietly Supercharges Its Biometrics Programs
The FBI is moving behind the scenes to expand its Next Generation Identification databases. In Part 1, we explain the agency's plans to merge criminal fingerprints with civil fingerprints into a giant database. In Part 2, we dig into how the FBI is massively expanding its facial recognition databases.
Podcasting Patent Troll Still Won't Quit
EFF's legal team successfully busted the so-called "podcasting patent" a patent troll was using to shakedown podcasters, from major networks to individuals broadcasting from their garages. The company, Personal Audio, isn't done yet: they've filed an appeal. As we explain, it will be an uphill battle for the troll, and one that we'll keep fighting.
Trade Officials Announce Conclusion of TPP. Now the Real Fight Begins
After more than five years of secret backroom negotiations, trade ministers have reached a final deal over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). We have no reason to believe that the TPP has improved much at all from the last leaked version. As long as it contains a retroactive 20-year copyright term extension, bans on circumventing DRM, massively disproportionate punishments for copyright infringement, and rules that criminalize investigative journalists and whistleblowers, we are going to fight to keep TPP from being signed, ratified, and put into force.
Senator Wants to Make the Already Broken Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Even Worse
If you've been following our legislative work, you know that the Cyber Information Sharing Act (CISA) is a terrible bill. You also know that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is an archaic and draconian law. Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse wants to use CISA to expand CFAA. Speak out now to block Whitehouse's plans.
Happy Birthday No Longer a Symbol of Copyright Gone Wrong
Happy Birthday Day to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to it-doesn't-really-matter-because-we're-just-singing-this-to-make-a-point-that-we-all-can-now. Happy Birthday to you. You may have read celebratory news articles about how a federal judge has ruled that the copyright claim to lyrics of the "Happy Birthday" song is no longer valid. It's a huge victory indeed, but some of the absurdities of our copyright system ensure it's not quite as clear cut as the initial media reactions suggest.
How DMCA Reform Could Have Prevented the Volkswagen Emissions Scandal
EFF asked the Librarian of Congress to dispel legal uncertainty around automobile research and tinkering by creating an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's prohibition on circumventing DRM a year ago. This issue has come into sharp focus over the last week as the Environmental Protection Agency accused Volkswagen of programming a fleet of vehicles to fool emission tests .Had independent researchers been given the green light to take apart these systems, they could have caught the alleged emissions cheat much earlier.
Gov. Jerry Brown, CalECPA, and the Legacy of Digital Privacy
In 1982, California Gov. Jerry Brown told the state: "California is now the leader in these technologies, but we will not remain so unless we mobilize the political will and individual responsibility to act." Now it's his turn: if he signs S.B. 178, to require law enforcement get a warrant before accessing private, digital records, he'll ensure California continues to lead on electronic privacy.
Argentina's New Copyright Term Extension Would Erase Thousands of Images Off the Internet
Lawmakers in Argentina are proposing a vast extension of copyright terms on photography—from 20 years after publication to 70 years after the photographer's death. That means that the term of restriction over photographic works would be extended by an average 120 years. If this bill passes, many tens of thousands of photographs that have been uploaded into cultural archives, including Wikipedia, would disappear from the Internet.
Edward Snowden joins Twitter
The well-known whistleblower picked up more than a million followers on his first day on Twitter. Meanwhile, Snowden is only following one other user: the NSA.
Can PETA sue on behalf of the "Monkey Selfie" macaque?
Writer Sarah Jeong casts a skeptical eye over PETA's new copyright infringement lawsuit on behalf of "Naruto," a Sulawesi crested macaque, over the so-called "monkey selfie" that a photographer previously claimed he had the exclusive rights to sell.
Mobile news site data is mostly ads
When the average mobile phone user visits the Boston Globe's homepage, the embedded ads alone cost the reader 32-cents worth of data to load. That's just one of many frustrating findings from the New York Times' investigation into news site data.
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Dave Maass, Investigative Researcher
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Pioneer Awards Post-Game Report
If you missed this year's Pioneer Awards ceremony, check out our photo-filled round-up, featuring Edward Snowden, Citizen Lab, and other Internet freedom heroes.
New Surveillance Tech Guide for Police Oversight
In connection with the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement annual conference, EFF has published a new primer on police technology and how to investigate abuses.
Freedom to Innovate Summit
The Center for Civic Media at MIT and the EFF, with support from the Ford Foundation, are organizing a two day summit with scholars, legal experts, and student groups discussing the Freedom to Innovate.
October 10-11, 2015
Computers, Freedom and Privacy
EFF Activism Director Rainey Reitman will join a panel discussing practical privacy issues.
October 13, 2015
University of San Francisco Symposium on Cybersecurity
EFF Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo will speak at this symposium, where leaders from government, business, and security will discuss the ethical, social, and legal implications of information technology and the nature of increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks.
October 14, 2015
San Francisco, CA
Creative Commons Global Summit
EFF Director of Copyright Activism Parker Higgins and Global Policy Analyst Maira Sutton will lead two sessions: "Over the Long Terms: The State of Activism on Too-Long Copyright Terms" and "Unpacking an Activist Toolbox: EFF's Tools and Tips for Effective Copyright Advocacy."
October 14-17, 2015
Seoul, South Korea
The New Frontier: Surveillance Technology and the Law
EFF Senior Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury will be a part of a panel discussion on new technologies in the criminal justice system at the American Bar Association's Criminal Justice Section's Eighth Annual Fall Institute.
October 22, 2015
Privacy Badger Talk at SeaGL
EFF Staff Technologist Noah Swartz will discuss our new browser add-on, Privacy Badger, during his talk, "Take Control Of Your Web Browsing! Stop Online Tracking!"
October 24, 2015
Policing Technologies: GPS, Mobile Phones and License Plate Readers
EFF Senior Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury will be a part of a panel discussion on location tracking technologies in the criminal justice system at the State Bar of California Public Law Section's Emerging Technology and Privacy Conference.
October 30, 2015
Free Culture Forum
EFF will participate in two days of working groups and workshops on issues including copyright, net neutrality, free expression, freedom of information, and privacy.
October 30-31, 2015
EFF supporters received $75 off registration to USENIX's annual conference. Stop by our booth for further membership discounts.
November 8-15, 2015
Information Society Project - Law & Technology Speaker Series
Cindy Cohn, EFF's executive director, will speak about the Fourth Amendment and the NSA's access to the Internet Backbone.
November 10, 2015
New Haven, CT
#FallRising to Stop TPP, TTIP, & TISA
Join EFF Global Policy Analyst Maira Sutton for a week of actions against the triad of secret trade agreements that threaten the Internet and users' rights. We are going to be there to let the White House and Congress know that we oppose secret trade deals that trade away our rights online.
November 14-18, 2015
Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest
EFF International Team members Jeremy Malcolm and Maira Sutton will appear at this event for scholars and policy advocates working on intellectual property from a public interest perspective.
December 15-18, 2015
New Delhi, India