In our 691st issue:
Our elected representatives are once again cutting out the public from an important debate over mass surveillance. The House Judiciary Committee held a "members only" meeting today to discuss Section 702 of the FISA Amendment Acts, the law on which the NSA relies to operate its notorious PRISM surveillance program and to tap into the backbone of the Internet. Last week, EFF joined two dozen civil liberties, human rights, and transparency organizations, demanding in writing that leaders of the House Judiciary Committee open the hearing, at least in part, to the public. Instead, the committee heard today only from a panel of
intelligence officials drawn from the NSA, FBI, DOJ, and ODNI who released a 12-page unclassified statement.
Data Privacy Day: Take Charge of Your Family’s Privacy
Data Privacy Day, dedicated to promoting and raising awareness of privacy and data protection around the globe, was Thursday, January 28. Commemorating the 35th anniversary of the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection, it offered a great excuse to take charge of not only your own privacy, but also the privacy of any school children in your life.
Hacking the Patent System: Improved, Expanded Guide to Patent Licensing Alternatives
We're pleased to announce the 2016 edition of Hacking the Patent System, a guide to alternative patent licensing produced by the Juelsgaard Intellectual Property & Innovation Clinic at Stanford Law School in partnership with EFF and Engine. First published in 2014, the guide provides an overview of several tools that inventors and innovators could use to avert unnecessary and costly patent litigation while we continue to push for reforms to make the patent system into the engine of innovation that it should be.
"No Cost" License Plate Readers Are Turning Texas Police into Mobile Debt Collectors and Data Miners
Vigilant Solutions, one of the country's largest brokers of vehicle surveillance technology, is offering a hell of a deal to law enforcement agencies in Texas: a whole suite of automated license plate reader (ALPR) equipment and access to the company's databases and analytical tools—and it won't cost the agency a dime. Instead of paying for ALPR gear themselves, Texas police fund it by gouging people who have outstanding court fines and handing Vigilant all of the data they gather on drivers for nearly unlimited commercial use.
The Commerce Department Has Good Recommendations For Fixing Copyright Law—But More is Needed
The U.S. Commerce Department released its long-awaited White Paper on fixes to copyright law last week and it's a mixed bag. It includes some good recommendations on how Congress should change the law, but punts on some crucial enduring problems. While the department's recommendations include welcome ideas on how to protect artists and innovators in digital media from unnecessary risks, they don’t go far enough.
White House denies clearance to tech researcher with links to Snowden
The White House denied a security clearance to a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and recent FTC staffer who previously helped report on the Snowden revelations. While the reasons have not been disclosed, Ashkan Soltani's departure raises important questions about the U.S. government’s ability to partner with the broader tech community.
Some presidential candidates want the encryption debate resolved behind closed doors
Some 2016 presidential candidates are really not in the mood to speak publicly about technology that affects virtually every American's privacy. Candidates in both parties, aware that there is no clear-cut encryption solution in which they will emerge as terrorist-fighting heroes, would prefer to keep their plans on this vital issue secret.
Ban internet anonymity – says US Homeland Security official
Internet anonymity should be banned and everyone required to carry the equivalent of a license plate when driving around online. That's according to Erik Barnett, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's attache to the European Union. Writing in French policy magazine FIC Observatoire, Barnett somewhat predictably relies on the existence of child abuse images to explain why everyone in the world should be easily monitored.
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Editor: Shahid Buttar, Director of Grassroots Advocacy
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Hacking the Patent System
After years of political debates over legislative fixes, the patent system still isn't working. What should a startup do? Join Engine, EFF's Daniel Nazer, students from Stanford Law's IP and Innovation Clinic, and industry leaders for a discussion on ways to Hack the Patent System. From patent pools, to defensive licensing programs, to litigation insurance, there are a lot of options to consider.
February 2, 2016
San Francisco, CA
TPP Is Betrayal Rally
EFF's Global Policy Analyst, Maira Sutton, will speak at a protest against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement held on the same day the agreement will be signed by top trade officials in a ceremony in New Zealand. The event is co-sponsored by a diverse coalition of organizations and will begin at noon in front of Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office in San Francisco.
February 4, 2016
San Francisco, CA
Join EFF's Parker Higgins and Shahid Buttar for a drink or a bite on Thursday, February 4th in Midtown Manhattan. Learn about our latest work defending your freedom online, before a nearby screening of "Truth and Power" about local surveillance technology featuring Oscar nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal and a post-screening panel discussion with Gyllenhaal, Buttar, filmmaker Brian Knapperger, and Nathan Wessler from the ACLU, moderated by Sarah Ellison from Vanity Fair.
February 4, 2016
New York, NY
Chasing Justice Gallery Chat
EFF Staff Attorney Mark Rumold will discuss the Freedom of Information Act, its latest triumphs and stumbles, and how it connects to the Contemporary Jewish Museum's exhibition, "Chasing Justice."
February 5, 2016
San Francisco, CA
Encryption Apps for your Phone
Join EFF's Lisa Wright and William Theaker as they lead a beginning-intermediate workshop on encryption apps for your mobile phone. Bring your mobile phone so you can install the encryption applications, and a friend (and their phone) so you can test them!
February 16, 2016
San Francisco, CA