In our 689th issue:
T-Mobile presents its new service, Binge On, as a way for mobile customers to enjoy streaming video on a few specific websites without eating into a subscriber's monthly data allowance. But when EFF tested video streaming speeds using the service, we confirmed that Binge On throttles all video and leaves the optimization to the video providers. Attempting to quell concerns about violations of FCC net neutrality rules, T-Mobile CEO John Legere hosted a Twitter Q&A during which we posed a few questions.
His responses included a colorful selfie video demanding to know more about EFF, which prompted thousands of EFF supporters to respond on our behalf. Thanks for having our back!
Over the holiday break, Congress was up in arms over a Wall Street Journal report revealing lawmakers' private conversations with Israeli officials and interest groups were swept up by the National Security Agency during the U.S.-Iran nuclear negotiations. But these aren't the only congressional communications collected by the NSA. How vast is the dragnet? On what other national policy matters has NSA surveillance impacted Members of Congress? These latest revelations of spying on the people’s representatives in Congress expose how little policymakers still know about mass surveillance, and how many questions they have yet to ask. A congressional investigation remains long overdue, but these revelations
should prompt Congress to create a Church Committee for the 21st Century.
Aaron Swartz was a programmer, activist, entrepreneur, community builder, and a dear friend of EFF. In 2013, while being unfairly prosecuted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, he took his own life. Many of Aaron’s writings have now been elegantly collected in The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz.
Digital Rights Battles in 2015: NSA Reform, Net Neutrality, CISA, and Beyond
From John Oliver quizzing Edward Snowden to EFF killing the patent used to go after podcaster Adam Carolla, digital rights were in the public spotlight last year. Our 2015 Year in Review examined where digital rights advanced, where they struggled, and where we see opportunity in 2016. Below are a few selections from the 20 articles comprising the series.
Let’s Encrypt Brings Free HTTPS to the World
The Let's Encrypt certificate authority makes getting a digital certificate for an Internet site fast, free, and easy, so sites can easily enable encryption protocols like HTTPS. Reducing the cost and difficulty of getting a certificate that browsers require when making secure connections is a vital step in making Web connections routinely encrypted, and over 130,000 certificates were issued in just the first two weeks they were available.
5 Major Hacks of the Year
2015 was a year of data breaches and hacks, impacting the public and private sector alike. Perhaps the most attention-worthy among them was the Office of Personnel Management hack that exposed the private information of 21 million Americans while demonstrating the government's own weak cyber security practices. An explosion of Internet-connected household consumer devices also revealed security vulnerabilities. Even your refrigerator could be vulnerable.
The Return of the Patent Troll
As another year goes by without action from Congress, patent trolls have returned in record numbers. The first half of 2015 saw an unprecedented number of patents suits, with most of the growth fueled by patent trolls filing in the Eastern District of Texas. The lack of action in Congress was 2015’s biggest disappointment. If there is any lesson from this year, it is that the patent troll problem is increasingly localized to one troll-friendly federal district.
Who's Driving This Thing? Anti-DRM Victories and Milestones
This year we completed the triennial rulemaking cycle of requesting exemptions to restrictions on circumventing DRM under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Our exemption requests for security research and repair on cars leaped from seeming forward-looking to being immediate and real, thanks to a handful of news stories that rocked the automobile industry.
Net Neutrality and More
The FCC reclassified retail broadband Internet service as a telecommunications service early last year, and issued strong new net neutrality rules while forbearing from almost all other proposed Title II regulations. In December, an appeals court heard argument in a case filed by ISPs challenging those rules.
Fighting for the Public's Right to Know
2015 was a busy year for transparency at EFF. We're currently litigating 10 different public records cases—the highest number of transparency cases EFF has had pending at one time in our 25 year history—addressing issues from the FBI's use of Rapid DNA analyzers to the use of automated license plate readers to monitor drivers in Los Angeles.
Dragnet NSA Spying Survives
Secret mass surveillance continued to spark global controversy in 2015, yet the NSA’s dragnet programs unconstitutionally monitoring Americans are stretching into their second decade. Federal courts issued a series of competing decisions, some acknowledging ongoing abuses of millions of Americans and our fundamental rights, while others effectively turned a blind eye to government misconduct. Meanwhile, Congress finally took action to address some intelligence abuses, making 2015 only the second time in U.S. history that Congress cut back the powers of the intelligence agencies.
TechCrunch: Who the F is the EFF? John Legere wants to know
EFF's report on T-Mobile's video "optimization" service revealed that it throttles video. Our observations kickstarted a controversy that escalated into a storm on Twitter when the CEO of T-Mobile asked some indelicate questions.
The Intercept: NSA cheerleaders discover value of privacy only when their own is violated
Reports emerged that NSA surveillance targeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his top aides also captured some private conversations with Members of Congress and American-Jewish groups, sparking concerns even among Members of Congress previously unfazed by dragnet domestic surveillance.
Washington Post: Obama’s top national security officials to meet with Silicon Valley CEOs
Federal security officials including FBI Director James Comey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch are visiting Silicon Valley for a meeting with top executives to discuss technology and national security. Encryption was reportedly part of the agenda, but not the focus of the meeting.
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If you aren't already, please consider becoming an EFF member today.
Editor: Shahid Buttar, Director of Grassroots Advocacy
EFFector is a publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
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Job Opening: Technology Generalist
EFF is seeking a full-time Technology Generalist to work with the other members of the EFF technology operations team to perform desktop support and server systems administration, manage web content on www.eff.org, and generally support staff in their mission to defend civil liberties online.
Job Opening: Criminal Defense Staff Attorney
EFF is looking for a superstar criminal defense attorney to join our legal team and participate in litigation, public speaking, blogging, media appearances, consulting on legislative and regulatory matters, and maintaining and expanding relationships with the national criminal defense community.
Job Opening: Activist
EFF is seeking two full-time activists to focus on privacy, security, and surveillance issues, with adaptability to cover a wide range of other issues from time to time.
EFF at ShmooCon 2016
Several EFF staffers will speak at ShmooCon, including Kurt Opsahl, Andrew Crocker, Bill Buddington, and Eva Galperin.
January 15-17, 2016
What's Happened Since Snowden?
Join EFF for an event co-hosted with Heinrich Boell Foundation’s Digital Societies initiative. There will be a screening of "Citizenfour," followed by discussion about the impacts of the Snowden revelations with AccessNow's Amie Stepanovich and EFF's Andrew Crocker.
January 20, 2016
Surveillance Self-Defense 101
EFF and the National Lawyers Guild will co-host a workshop on surveillance self-defense, particularly for lawyers and activists supporting social movements. EFF staff technologist Mark Burdett will join lawyer-technologist Ken Montenegro from Advancing Justice Los Angeles to facilitate a teach-in and skill-share.
January 23, 2016
Los Angeles, CA
Computers, Privacy, & Data Protection
EFF's Nate Cardozo and Jillian C. York will speak at CDPD, a conference on legal, regulatory, academic, and technological development in privacy and data protection.
January 26-29, 2016