In our 728th issue:
The Senate has approved a terrible bill to extend Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act—one of the NSA’s most invasive surveillance tools. This vote dealt a significant blow to Americans' Fourth Amendment rights to privacy, and allows for continued, opaque surveillance that hurts Americans and non-U.S. persons abroad for another six years.
But this fight is far from over. The failure in Congress amplifies the importance of EFF's continued fight against broad, unconstitutional surveillance that is taking place in the courts. Our signature litigation against mass surveillance, Jewel v. NSA, has survived multiple challenges and delays by the government, and the court has scheduled additional document delivery in our favor as early as mid-February.
The Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality protections in late November 2017, neglecting the law, the facts, and the voices of millions of Americans.
Still, we fight. In the coming months, we have several paths towards a better tomorrow. By utilizing the Congressional Review Act, we can continue to put pressure on Congress before the FCC's vote is written into law. In court, multiple public interest groups, state attorneys general, and Congress members are preparing legal challenges against the FCC because of the way it flouted rulemaking procedure. And on a state-by-state basis, politicians and lawmakers are already considering legislation that would require net neutrality.
Dark Caracal: Good News and Bad News
EFF, together with Lookout, uncovered a previously undetected global malware espionage campaign with possible involvement from a foreign government. In a joint report, we detail how attackers used malicious, fake apps to impersonate popular messaging apps like WhatsApp and Signal.
The legitimate messaging apps that people use and trust—like Signal and WhatsApp—have not been compromised in any way. Instead, attackers found ways to duplicate these apps and release fake versions of them on the Android mobile platform.
While many were unaffected by this attack, the attack itself—and how it was distributed online—is a new development in state-sponsored surveillance and malware.
EFF and ACLU Ask Court to Allow Legal Challenge to Proceed Against Warrantless Searches of Travelers’ Smartphones, Laptops
EFF and the ACLU filed a legal brief urging a federal judge to hear a lawsuit that involves Fourth Amendment protections for a group of 11 travelers whose smartphones and laptops were searched—without warrants—at the U.S. border.
The case, Alasaad v. Nielsen, asks the court to make a decision on whether government agents need warrants before searching electronic devices.
EFF and ACLU filed the brief in support of the 11 plaintiffs, who are journalists, students, an artist, a NASA engineer, a business owner and a military veteran.
EFF Supports Stricter Requirements for DNA Collection From Minors
A new California bill would require cops to obtain judicial approval or parental consent before collecting children's DNA. EFF strongly supports this legislation.
Current California law includes a massive loophole that allows law enforcement to collect children's DNA in many circumstances so long as that DNA data is not stored in any statewide or federal databases. Should local law enforcement choose to collect children's DNA and store it only within their own database, there are few rules to stop them.
The new bill, A.B. 1584, would impose the proper restrictions on local law enforcement and help strengthen privacy protections for California's children.
How to Assess a Vendor’s Data Security
When your company needs a new piece of software—like a tool that scans and sends sensitive documents, or a program that compiles confidential client information—making a decision can be tough. We have several questions you can ask that will help steer you towards the right products, helping you—and your business—maintain digital privacy and security.
California Police Chiefs Misrepresent License Plate Privacy Bill
A California bill that would protect individual privacy is being attacked by state police chiefs who are misrepresenting what the bill does. The bill—S.B. 712—would allow Californians to cover their cars' license plates while their vehicles are parked. Contrary to what state police chiefs say, allowing this practice would not impede Amber Alert investigations or help criminals get away from the police.
Instead, S.B. 712 would protect Californians from known, invasive surveillance practices, which have included the collection of license plate numbers parked at mosques, gay night clubs, and reproductive health centers.
Europe’s GDPR Meets WHOIS Privacy: Which Way Forward
As Europe prepares its General Data Protection Regulation ruleset, the authority on online domain name registrations is grappling with what its own rules will look like in the future.
Under current practice, ICANN—which oversees website registration information—requires personal information to be listed on publicly accessible sites called WHOIS directories. This flouts some of the privacy restrictions in Europe's GDPR. Before ICANN comes fully up to speed with GDPR compliance, it has issued three interim solutions. While not perfect, EFF supports at least a variation of one of these solutions.
Software developers blunder into a misunderstanding of sexual consent… and blockchain
A new app asks people to consent to sex with one another by using blockchain technology. (Motherboard)
Apple is “selling out” to the Communist party in China
The New York Times writes about Apple's decision to deliver enormous volumes of personal data to the "largest, and one of the harshest, authoritarian regimes in the world: the Communist government in China." (The New York Times)
The NSA may claim its collection of Americans’ emails is “incidental,” but the scope is enormous.
Despite what the NSA says, Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act is used to sweep up countless Americans' electronic communications. (Just Security)
Mapping digital rights violations in Palestine
A new paper from advocacy organization 7amleh analyzes digital rights violations and threats to Palestinians from their own government. The report also details threats from non-government actors.
Filipino bloggers organize for the right to free expression
59 bloggers in the Philippines have issued a manifesto for free speech in the wake of attempts by the government to shut down news site Rappler for criticizing the president. (Rappler)
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Editor: David Ruiz, Writer
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